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Philemon (Concordia Commentary)
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In this commentary--a 350+ commentary on a page-long book of the Bible--Nordling treats his readers to a well-written, thoroughly-researched examination of slavery in the Roman World, Roman attitudes concerning race and skin-color, and means by which the earliest Christian missionaries (specifically, the apostles) went about establishing and overseeing churches.
This background information adds a great deal of depth and liveliness to this often-overlooked book of the Bible. Through the context of Roman slavery (Onesimus was Philemon's slave), Nordling shows how the book of Philemon contributes to the Christian understanding of vocation and service. Through Paul's promise to pay all of Onesimus' debts, Nordling shows how Paul is a "type-of-Christ" in this letter. In it all, Nordling shows that this brief letter overflows with care, gentleness, pastoral concern, and a desire to teach the Christian reader about reconciliation with eachother because of our reconciliation to Jesus Christ.
In all, Nordling's commentary on Philemon ranks with the best Biblical Commentaries I've read--including Louis Brighton's commentary on Revelation and Leon Morris' commentary on John. Like me, I imagine you'll be pleasantly surprised at how in-depth and relevant to the modern Christian theis brief book is.
Nordling is well suited for this authorship, due to his training and teaching experience in the classics, and extensive study and research into slavery and relevant issues.
He follows Luther's lead in seeing Fourth Commandment application of this due to vocatio, seeing parallels with Eph. 6 and Col. 3. Thus, this short in length letter of Paul is not short in application or modern interest.
Nordling's work certainly fulfills what the best commentaries attain: solid exegesis acknowledging and interacting with the best scholarship over time.
Over 350 pages with excellent sources cited for those who wish to delve deeper into the thinking on this vital theological topic.