I’m still very, very uncomfortable with this. But here we go.
Neither the Old Testament or the New Testament call for the abolition of Slavery. Instead, they make laws to regulate it. What is going on?
Slavery is built upon the Master-Slave relationship. Slavery has to have both a Master and a Slave. No one can be called a Master unless they own a Slave. No one can be a Slave unless they are owned by a Master. Slavery does not exist without the root of a Master-Slave relationship. If you abolish Slavery, then you abolish the Master-Slave relationship. If you prefer, you can use the terms Lord-Servant relationship.
The Biblical Greek word for Lord is Kurios. Kurios means, “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord the possessor and disposer of a thing. The owner; one who has control of the person”. Now, read that again and let it sink in.
Dictionary Definition of Lord: Someone or something having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler.
Instead of asking why didn’t God abolish slavery, let’s go to the foundation and ask why didn’t God declare the Master-Slave relationship to be immoral.
If God called the Master-Slave relationship immoral, then He would no longer be “Lord”. That title would be meaningless. Philippians 2: 10-11 tells us, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is LORD (Kurios)”. Look again and ask yourself: Do you think that bowing and calling Him “LORD” is just a symbolic ceremony? Is this just a meaningless inauguration? Or, do you think that this is the beginning of a new reality?
There is a very real Master in Heaven who makes it very clear that the Master-Slave relationship exists in Heaven. He speaks to earthly masters knowing that they understand this exact relationship.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.–Colossians 4:1
If He is Lord, if He is Kurios, then who is actually owned? Ephesians 6:6, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 2:16 and more tell us that we are the “slaves of Christ”. We are His slaves. You are not a hired servant, butler, or maid. God doesn’t hire servants in His Kingdom. No one has off-time. You don’t clock-in or clock-out. Did you think when we got to Heaven we are going to do as we please? Did you think you were going to keep your freewill? No, you’ve surrendered that. Your freewill has been surrendered to Christ.
Being an adopted Son or Daughter of God is based first on being “bought with a price”. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price”—1 Cor. 6:20. You were “bought first” before you were “born again”. Too many people think that you become saved first and then make Him “Lord” later at their convenience. The Thief on the cross got it right; He said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your “basileia” (absolute total rule). It took extraordinary faith to recognize a bloody, beaten, humiliated man who was dying on a cross as the ultimate Master. Wow.
Paul’s primary identity in Christ was “doulos” which means slave. Paul said “slave”, but the English translators try to lessen the blow by saying “servant”. There are 5 Greek words for servant and none of them are “doulos”. There is one Greek word for slave, “doulos”. If you don’t believe me, then read John MacArthur’s book on the coverup of slavery in the Bible.
- Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus–Rom. 1:1
- Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus–Phil. 1:1
- Paul, a slave of God–Titus 1:1
- (What does the half brother of Jesus call himself?) James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ–James 1:1. He calls himself a slave to his own brother. That’s his identity in Christ.
- Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ–2 Peter 1:1
- Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ–Jude 1:1
If the big dogs submit their identity to being slaves of Christ, then how should we proceed in our thinking? Paul says we should follow him in the manner that He follows Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). So what is your primary identity in Christ? Do you primarily think of yourself as His slave? We have to change our way of thinking. A hired servant will often quit before they have to do something against their nature. Jesus says we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.
If God called the Master-Slave relationship immoral, then He would have to dismantle His authority in Heaven and let the angels do as they please. He wouldn’t be Lord of Hosts, or Lord over the angels. He is their master. The angels are His servants, his slaves. Their only purpose is to do His bidding, to obey. “Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word”–Psalm 103:20. The angels who disobeyed were considered rebellious and will be thrown into the lake of fire.
I’m a bit amazed when I hear preachers say things like, “God neither condemned slavery, nor did He condone it”. I’m amazed they ignore the fact that He is the originator of the Master-Slave relationship! He is LORD. He is Kurios. He is the Lord of Hosts, over the angels. Preachers who ignore this are inadvertently denying His Lordship. They act as if He borrowed the whole idea of being Master-Slave from us and incorporated it into His laws and relationships. He was the originator of being LORD-Kurios. The Master-Slave relationship existed with the angels before we were created. And it will continue throughout eternity.
Here is a hard truth for me to swallow: God originated the Master-Slave/Lord-Servant relationship and it was originally good. God also authorized Laws of Slavery that allowed men to do some cruel things. Read it here. BUT we have to remember that this same God also authorized a command to Satan that allowed him to freely kill Job’s kids and wreck havoc upon the man. Even though God gave authorization freely allowing certain severities to take place, both Satan and sinful man are responsible for what they do with these freedoms. Satan didn’t have to kill Job’s kids, and a Master didn’t have to be harsh with his slaves. It is sinful man who perverted and abused the Master-Slave relationship. Because of sinful man, we have been blinded to God’s goodness in this relationship. Let me be clear: I hate slavery. I hate its abuses. Fallen mankind was shown that we are failures with this kind of authority. The laws of God, even the slavery laws, revealed our inability and sinfulness. However, I must not allow the abuses of man to cloud me from understanding Master God and relating to Him in this way without hindrance.
God is a benevolent Master to those who choose Him. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.–Romans 11:22. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.–Matthew 11:29
John MacArthur in his revealing sermon “Slaves For Christ” said, “You’re going to be a slave to someone. Being a slave to Jesus Christ is beyond any kind of slavery that anybody ever knew because this master, listen to this one, makes us sons and gives us all the rights of His own sons. He adopts us into His family, calls us joint-heirs with Christ, takes us to heaven where we rule and reign from His own throne and pours out all the lavish riches in His possession forever and ever and ever for our own unmitigated joy and His own glory. Who wouldn’t want to be a slave under that master? What a joy to be a slave of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus left the comforts of being in Heaven as God, and enslaved Himself to a physical body to suffer and live as a human being. The Son of God became the Son of Man. He became the servant of man, washed our feet, and used His own blood to pay the price for our freedom from sin, so we could become the slaves of righteousness. In a sense, Jesus saves and Jesus slaves. He will forever be the Son of Man and keep His body. He is our example.
So, if you have been obedient to God, then don’t be surprised when you hear Him use “doulos” and say, “Well done thou good and faithful slave”.
- Knowing Our God Deeper: The Slavery Verses (defrostingwindows.wordpress.com)
- Becoming a Slave to the Master at Home, at Work, and in the Community (thehighcalling.org)