Slavery and the Bible (Part Three)


          The leavening influence of Christianity led to a gradual and widespread improvement of the treatment of slaves in the Roman Empire from the first century onward. This did not come through loud public demonstrations, violent armed conflict, or even governmental legislation. Rather, it came because of the revolutionary instructions given in Ephesians 6:5-9—”Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”

          Foundational to these directives is the transformative truth of the universal brotherhood of humanity.

          Every person—male or female, Jew or Gentile, bond or free—lives under the omniscient eye of the God who will judge all without any partiality. Servants are accountable to Him for their actions. Masters are accountable to Him for their actions.

          Each will be judged by the standard of specific expectations He has for them. Servants are to be obedient, sincere, trustworthy, and focused on serving their Lord as they serve their lords. Masters are to be thoughtful, not harsh, and genuinely concerned about the well-being of their slaves, just like their heavenly Master.

         The gospel of the Lord of lords revolutionizes and improves all human relationships, even the practice of slavery.

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Author: jchowning

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