POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

A Blessing in 1 Corinthians

I met with a student today, one of our leaders and a young man who has become very dear to me. It was an exciting appointment, for today, in the morning, this young man had met with God reading 1 Corinthians. In Chapter 7 there is a rich discourse on marriage, singleness, etc. At the end of the chapter there is some exhortation to those who are in slavery. We had a rich time looking at what the New Testament actually has to say to the issue of slavery. Some have tried to argue that the New Testament endorses slavery; is this the case? The first observation we made is that the New Testament actually addresses slaves - this fact alone shows that it is not an elitist, oppressive slavery endorsing document - for if that was the case, slaves - being the lowest people in ancient society, would not have even been spoken to. Yet the Bible addresses the people in the Roman Empire who were slaves, with terms of dignity, equality, and encouragement. A few of the examples from the text:
  • Gal 3:28 - There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. There is equality in Christ - even if you were a slave
  • Col 3:22-4:1 - 22 Slaves [greek - bondservant], obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves [greek - bondservants] justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Those who come to faith in Christ as slaves or masters - were to live as Jesus did - justly and with sincerity of heart
  • 1 Cor 7:20-23 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21Were you a slave[3] when called? Do not be concerned about it. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. 22For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. One should gain his freedom if he can - and even if one was in a situation of servitude, he was still free in Jesus Christ
The teaching is this - all can be part of the community of faith, the called out ones in Jesus Christ, even slaves. No matter what position in life you are in when God calls you into his church, you are to live in a Christ-like fashion. And for slaves...by all means gain your freedom. This is the ethic, the groundwork, the foundation that has driven slavery from Christian lands. Whether it was Wilberforce fighting in the English parliment to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire or Martin Luther King Jr. fighting the racial injustices in the United States, Christian belief and convictions have undergirded freedom for people. So when one tells you that "The New Testament endorses slavery" ask them to check the facts and context of how the text addresses slaves - not endorsing oppression, but speaking hope to the oppressed, not endorsing tyranny or racial domination, but true liberty to those in bonds - whether their shackles are removed or not. If the Son Sets You Free, You Are Free Indeed - John 8:36 ...