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Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:1-2 NASB)

Paul opens his letter to his friends in Philippi by referring to himself and his protégé, Timothy (who worked closely along-side him), as “bond-servants of Christ” [Philippians 1:1]. In ancient Israel a person could become a slave to another for various reasons including paying off a debt or making restitution for crime. But God did not permit a such a person to be enslaved for more than 6 years [Exodus 21:2].

However, if after that time the “slave” decided he wanted to remain a servant to the “master” he could voluntarily chose to do so [Exodus 21:5-6].

Many people have a problem with the slavery in the Bible. But slavery in the Bible is nothing like the slavery that existed in the United States hundreds of years ago where sinful human beings cruelly enslaved others who they thought were beneath them.

God commands those who have authority over others (e.g. employers) to treat them kindly [Ephesians 6:5-9]. He also does not permit anyone to be enslaved against their will without just cause and even then for no more than six years.

By using the term “bond-servant” Paul is stating that he has chosen to be a servant of Christ. The original Greek word is δοῦλος (pronounced: doo’-los) which means someone who is intentionally devoted to another to the disregard of his/her own interests.

Biblically speaking, slavery is more like voluntary servitude to another because of the character of the “master”. The character of Jesus (who is God) has certainly made Him worthy of our service to Him. Most notably He has taken care of our biggest problem – sin – by voluntarily incurring the wrath of God the Father on our behalf. For that reason alone (but also for many more as well), He deserves to be served.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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