Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Ichthys Letters: The Letter to Philadelphia (The One that Began it All)


With my introduction to the Ichthys Letters being released just under a week ago now, I thought it would be really fun to share the very first letter, as it was written for my college assignment, here for everyone to see. I am going to re-write this one in the tone, and mindset, that I write today, and will also give you more background into these characters in another post, but it's always fun to remember, isn't it? I will publish the second one soon as well. Without further ado? 

The Epistle to the Philadelphians

Nathaniel, a servant of Christ Jesus by the will of God, who now writes to you from Troas as one of your own, once a slave from Colossae, now freed, a mand of the lower class, from the tribe of Judah, who is now serving the Lord most high all through Asia Minor.

To the Church of our Lord in Philadelphia, and the Churches throughout Asia Minor, May the hope of God be ever present with you in everything you do. I thank our Lord always for you, because his hope remains in you, for we have learned many things that ensure that this hope will remain in us. Let us not be concerned about the slaves and their masters more than we need to be. 

You have read in Brother Paul's letter to Timothy that "all who are slaves should respect their masters, even if our masters are not believers so that God's name will not be insulted" 1 Tim 6:1-2, but we must be careful not to lose sight of the true meaning of that statement. 

We have already been taught that "he who was a slave when he was called by God becomes free," 1 Cor 7:22, and that "We are not meant to 'Lord it over' one another" 2 Cor 1:24. As we know our dear brother in Christ, Paul, has written down all these words, I admit that these teachings of Paul seem to teach two different ideas, but let us take a deeper look at this topic so that we may be able to truly understand that our brother Paul has not changes his view on slaves and their masters. In truth, we have misunderstood that Paul is teaching us a deeper understanding of how a slave should treat their master.

As a former slave, it is important to respect one's master, and it must not be forgotten, because it shows our love for God. We have also been taught that God commands us to "obey our earthly masters of respect and fear, with a sincere heart just as we would obey Christ-- because it brings favor in the eyes of the Lord." Eph 6:5. When our brother tells us to respect our master, he is teaching us to respect our masters in the same way we respect God. “We must remember that we have been set free from sin and have not become slaves to righteousness.” Rom 9:18. In knowing this, we understand that yes we are free, but from sin, not from our earthly masters.

As I continue to serve our master, I will always be free, but while I may be free and my spirit belongs to no man, it will forever belong to God, and as such the message Paul teaches, applies to us all, “we are all called to serve everyone, so that we may win more into the kingdom of God." 1 Cor 9:19.

Our hope must remain in the Lord most high, so that his will, will be done, and we are called to be respectful to those that have authority over us, as if they were Christ himself. Knowing this, we can establish that Paul is teaching us that those in authority over us were given that power because God has willed it to take place. We must offer the same respect to our masters that we offer God, and this is what Paul is teaching us through his view on slavery.

This is why we can have hope because the Kingdom of God will prevail when the end comes. We have been taught about how the Living Hope sets us free in spirit from all that surrounds us. Let us continue to press into this hope we have come to possess. As you have read this letter, remember to show respect for those God puts in authority over you, in the same way you show respect for God.

Tell Jabez he must remember to stand firm and continue to place his hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. While his days in the hole that has become his home, his faith must remain. Tell Zadok, my brother, God is with you always and that I hope to visit soon. Greet the elders, Onesimus and Demas, and also the saints in the church at Laodicea the message I have written you today, so that they may know they are in my prayers. 

In Christ alone, my hope will always be found.


Post Script: (Required by the Professor)

My Character, Nathaniel, was once a slave in Colossae. He became a believer along with his brother Zadok when Paul first visited Galatia on his first missionary Journey. Nathaniel and Zadok were sent to Galation on an errand for their slave owner, Jabez, who also became a believer after he saw the way faith changed Nathaniel, his brother, and even their sister Elena. After Jabez was converted, he freed and pardoned Nathaniel and his siblings. The Brothers became missionaries in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece while Paul was traveling with Luke and others on the second and third missionary journeys. They often interacted with other characters from the biblical narrative. 

When Nathaniel received word that the churches in Asia Minor were confused after receiving Paul's first letter to Timothy, he was compelled to write this short letter to clear up any misunderstandings that had taken place.  He understood that if he did not clarify what Paul was teaching, believers everywhere would become lost and confused about what Paul was actually saying. In many ways, this is what Paul did when he went on his journey through the world he lived in. Just as Nathaniel wanted to make sure he didn’t lose any of the newly converted believers, Paul encouraged him to do the same. 

Nathaniel speaks of hope and what it means to embrace that in everything we do. In responding to Paul's letter this way, he implies that hope is required when loving others, even those in authority over us. Nathaniel believes that man can be freed from their inner sin, as well as the masters placed in authority over them, but not necessarily in the physical sense. He encouraged others to treat their masters as they would want to be treated. God wants us to respect those who have authority over us because it is what he would do, and what we would want others to do if we were that authority over them. We should be honored to offer our respect to those who have been placed in authority over us, in the same way we show our respect to God.

Thanks again for visiting 'The Gathering Room' and I’ll see you in the pages. 


PS (You can find all episodes of my new Episodic Series, Finding Philemon, currently available to download at this Affiliate Link. You can also follow my author hub, Writing the Journey,  on Facebook.)

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