Text Tuesday: Owe

One of the interesting categories in Scripture is the array of metaphors used to describe sin. Both sin against God and sin against one another. The dominant metaphor in the New Testament material is debt. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see NT authors use debt, obligation, payment in their material.

The verb “to owe” in the New Testament Greek (opheilo) “conveys an idea of being in debt or under obligation and best be translated as… ‘ought.'” (Mounce)

Obligation is used both as a positive arrangement (e.g. Paul’s obligation to the Greeks and non-Greeks [Rom. 1:14]) and as a negative arrangement (e.g. Paul suggests that circumcision makes one obligated to keep the whole law that doesn’t provide freedom [Gal. 5:3]).

Debt and obligation meet together in a wonderful admonition to the church in Rome:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

 

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