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Slavery Should Still Exist

Updated on November 17, 2019
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Paul, the writer of 13 New Testament books, called himself a slave of Jesus Christ. He was called to be an apostle. He was set apart for the gospel of God, according to Romans 1:1 and the first verse in many of his other books. Paul was honored to be called a slave. Otherwise, he would not have referred to it so many times throughout his writings.

Paul called himself a slave because it was his title of honor. Surely, he could have called himself many other things. However, at the beginning of most of his books, he identified himself as a slave, a servant or a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1; I Corinthians 7:22; Philippians 1:1; and Titus 1:1).

He used the word "slave" of Jesus Christ as well as "servant" to indicate his devotion to the one he called his Master. Other than what Paul said about being a slave, the Bible records the words "servant," "service," or "serve" in various forms over 1,100 times. Most of these terms have the same meaning as "slave."

Paul explained that people are either slaves to God or slaves to people. Both "servant" and "slave" have similar meanings. Both have the same two actions that involve work and obedience.

Slave: Definition

A slave is one who belongs to a master. Also, a slave can be defined as a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to do everything he is told to do. A slave must work and be obedient to his master because he is bound to him or her. Paul explains that followers of Christ should be bound to Him in the same way.

A slave is one who follows every order that is given to him by his master. He doesn't have a choice. He has to do exactly what his master tells him to do. It makes us slaves when we are mandated to do exactly what Jesus commands us to do. While a master has full ownership of his slave, the slave has to be fully committed to his master.


The Book of Philemon

The book of Philemon is the shortest of Paul's letters consisting of only 335 words in the original Greek text. Paul called himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ while he himself was in prison.

The entire book of Philemon consists of only one chapter with 25 verses. It is about Onesimus, a slave who ran away from Philemon, his master who was a wealthy Christian and a leader in the Colossian church. Onesimus visited Paul in prison in Rome that was 1,200 miles away from Colosse. Paul wrote a letter to Philemon asking him to forgive his slave and take him back and receive him as “a beloved brother.” Paul also said he would return any money Philemon might have stolen to finance his long trip.

The name "Onesimus" meant "useless" before he escaped because he was not a Christian. Paul sent him back to Philemon as a Christian. Then his name meant "useful" because now the slave could be more useful to his master as a brother in Christ and as a fellow worker in the Kingdom of God.

Paul's Idea of Spiritual Slavery

It would be helpful if people would accept the fact that they are more useful to God as his slaves by working for Him and being obedient to Him. It might seem like an oxymoron, but the people who are slaves to God and to His Son Jesus Christ have more freedom than those who are not slaves in the spiritual sense.

Paul taught that in order to free, one must become a slave and prove it by their work and obedience. In other words, slavery should still exist when it comes to serving God.

Another Slave in the Bible

According to Genesis 37:18-36, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. Then when Joseph arrived in Egypt with his masters, he was sold into slavery a second time. These two times are examples of physical slavery instead of spiritual slavery like Paul's.

Even though he was a slave, Joseph never gave up on God. He endured his trials and ended up being second in command of all Egypt.

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