Ramsay: Christianity & servitude
I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel...
—Philemon 1:10-13 (ESV)
Undoubtedly, messengers had often to be sent with letters round the congregations of the province. In the earlier stages of Church development, probably, those messengers were volunteers, discharging a duty which among the pagans was almost entirely performed by slaves: just as Luke and Aristarchus, when they travelled with St. Paul to Rome, must have voluntarily passed as his servants, i.e. as slaves, in order to be admitted to the convoy. In such cases, it is apparent how much this sense of duty ennobled labour and raised the social standing of the labourer, who was now a volunteer, making himself like a slave in the service of the Church. In this there is already involved the germ of a general emancipation of slaves and the substitution of free for slave labour.
... Sir William M. Ramsay (1851-1939), The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1904, p. 33 (see the book)
See also Mark 10:43-44; Acts 19:29; Col. 4:10; Philem.1:10-13,24
Quiet time reflection:
Lord, accept me into the service of Your church.
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