Currently, I have been writing a commentary on the book of Philippians. Through my studies, I have found several elements of Paul’s basic beliefs about his relationship with God, others, and his circumstances. These basic beliefs have given me great insight to what could be considered Paul’s World View.
Generally speaking, a world view is a collection of what we believe about many issues. What we believe about life, death, God what is real… all comprise our world view. However, there are some experiences in life that can challenge our basic presuppositions. Our true beliefs come out not so much when things are good, but when things are going poorly. This makes what Paul said about his beliefs all that more legitimate. He was not going through good times but bad times. He was in a prison awaiting a trial that could lead to his execution. Out of his circumstances he reveals what he believes about:
- His view of his relationship with Jesus.
- His view of salvation.
- His view of life after death.
- His view of humility.
- His view of fulfillment.
For this blog, we will examine the first feature on the list. Let us now turn our attention and explore the Apostle Paul’s world view.
First, Paul opens his letter to the Philippians by identifying himself as a slave of Jesus, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus” (emphasis added, Philippians 1:1, all quotes are from the E. S. V. unless specified otherwise).
The word servant in the Greek literally means slave. This is not slavery as we think of it today. We generally associate the term with issues relating to race. Paul was more than likely thinking of slavery in the Jewish sense. This is why most have translated the word as servant. Slaves, in the Jewish sense, were treated more like servants. However, the term servant is a little weak. The idea that is being communicated is that of ownership. One does not own a servant but a slave. Paul sees himself as being owned by Christ. This is to say that Paul sees his relationship with Jesus as a Master/Slave relationship.
Given the corpus of Paul’s writing, we know that this is not the only way he sees his relationship to Jesus, but it is an important aspect. Paul has no problem with the idea of Jesus owning him, nor should we as Christians. After all, Jesus did pay a price for our souls.
The attitude of Paul is just the opposite of what people desire in the modern world. Generally, people desire the freedom to do whatever they want. People want to be financially free to buy whatever they want; they want to be morally free to have sex with whomever they want, or to take any substance they want. Often, children want to be free from the rule of their parents. Often, married people want to be free from their spouse, or at least free to get a divorce as soon as things are no longer pleasant. And, the list could go on and on.
As long as Satan keeps people focused on these kinds of freedoms, he can keep them oblivious to what they really need to be set free from. Namely, people are in need to be set free from their bondage to sin.
The truth is, we are all going to be in bondage to something. This is where we can really learn from the apostle. Paul did not minimize this aspect of his relationship with Jesus. Instead, he featured it. We should not be afraid to identify ourselves as slaves of Jesus.