Free Slaves For ChristRelated Media
When people think of freedom, they most commonly associate it with civil liberty. This is probably especially true for citizens of the USA. At an early age Americans become familiar with the words of the song most commonly known as “America”:
My country, ‘tis of thee,
Our father’s God, to Thee,
Freedom can also convey many other ideas. Thus Jefferson is on record as pointing out that freedom involves, “Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment.”2 More specifically, in an address to congress President Roosevelt declared those by now well-known four freedoms:
We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.… The first is freedom of speech and expression…. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way…. The third is freedom from want…. The fourth is freedom from fear.3
Not to be forgotten as well along social and cultural lines are the famous words of Martin Luther King who looked forward to that day when freedom would so ring that, “All of God’s children … will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!’”4 King’s praise of God and the cause of freedom is a reminder and acknowledgement that true freedom of every dimension ultimately is found only in relation to the Lord. As Bowles once remarked, “The cause of Freedom is the cause of God!”5
In the following study we shall examine briefly the seemingly contrary notions of slavery and freedom, which nevertheless occur at times in parallel. Our study will close with several practical applications that support the theme, “Free slaves for Christ.”
Slavery in Biblical Times
Slavery was simply a normal fact of life for the people in ancient biblical times. As Rupprecht demonstrates in his extensive study of the subject, slavery consisted of, “The ownership of one man by another man so that the former was viewed in most respects as property rather than a person. It was a deeply rooted part of the economy and social structure of the ancient Near E. and of the Greco-Rom. World.”6 Wight points out that it existed even among the early Hebrews: “When the laws were given at Mt. Sinai, slavery was universal among the nations of the world. It was not practical to do away with it all at once. Rather, laws were given to prevent the worst abuses and evils of it from being present among the Jews.”7 It is not our purpose, however, in this study to portray the many aspects of slavery among God’s people in OT or NT times. Such would form a study in itself. Moreover, such detailed information is readily available in many biblical encyclopedias and dictionaries as well as in several individual articles and books.8
One interesting special aspect of slavery is seen in situations concerning Hebrew citizens serving as slaves to their fellow Hebrews. That Hebrews could become slaves to other Hebrews was indeed possible. As Merrill points out, “Extreme cases of poverty sometimes resulted in voluntary servitude in which a man or woman would come under the care of a benefactor who would provide for all of the needs of the destitute individual until either he had paid off his obligations or served for a six year period.”9 Nevertheless, the slave holder was to be concerned for the welfare of his fellow Hebrew—slave though he might be. Moreover, in the seventh year the slave would automatically be set free:
If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, In the seventh year you must let him go free. And when you release him, do not send him away empty handed. Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deut 15:12-14; NIV)10
This law is in accordance with Exodus 21:1-4 (cf. Jer. 34:14), which nonetheless also stipulated that, “If he came in with a wife when he came in, then his wife will go out with him. If his master gave him a wife, and she bore sons or daughters, the wife and the children will belong to her master, and he will go out by himself” (Exod. 12:3-4). In both laws the freeing of the slave in the seventh year demonstrates that the underlying principle of respect and concern for a fellow Hebrew is the same, even though the earlier law did allow the master to keep the wife and children, which the slave had acquired during those six years of servitude. Moses’ exposition of the law, then, draws out a deeper principle inherent in the law— “the principle of love, for God and for fellow man, which was so vital to the covenant community.”11 By his responsible actions the master was to reflect the same type of love that God had for the Hebrews when he delivered them from slavery in Egypt and provided for their needs (Deut 15:15).
Unlike non-Israelites, native Hebrews “could not be sold into permanent slavery.”12 Nevertheless, if the Hebrew slave wished to remain in servitude to his (or her) fellow Hebrew master, whether out of love, or loyalty and respect for him, or because he (or she) enjoyed life the way it was (cf. Deut 15:16), the law provided for the present situation to be maintained permanently. In such a case, the master was to “take an awl and pierce a hole through his ear to the door. Then he will become a servant permanently (this applies to your female servant as well)” (Deut 15:17). The servant now has freely accepted slave status. Having been set free, the slave willingly desires to remain in lasting slavery and be loyal and obedient to his (or her) master.
Slave (vs.) Free
Thus we see that in the Scriptures the themes of slavery and freedom can indeed be interrelated. It should not be surprising, therefore, that these common civil and social relationships could be readily applied metaphorically to a spiritual setting. This is precisely what Jesus did on one occasion when certain Jews appeared to respond favorably to his teaching (John 8:30). Accordingly, Jesus went on to tell them that their belief in him must most definitely continue and grow even more surely: “Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, ‘If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31). Here Jesus points out the relationship between knowledge, truth, and real freedom. Tenney points out that the Greek word knowledge:
usually implies knowledge gained from experience. Truth is formulated revealed reality, which is centered in the person of Christ Himself. Free means absence of constraint and restriction, opportunity to exercise the right of acting apart from external interference. These concepts imply a progress from ignorance to knowledge, from error or misinformation or uncertainty to truth, from slavery to liberty. 13
The mention of freedom was strange to Jesus’ hearers, for they were accustomed to thinking of slavery in accordance with civil and social practices. As descendants of Abraham they considered themselves totally free (John 8:32-33; cf. v. 41). As Kӧstenberger remarks, “Freedom was considered to be the birthright of every Jew. The law laid down that no Jew, however poor, should descend to the level of slave (Lev. 25:39-42).”14 As we noted above, however, provision was made for a Jew to be enslaved, but not permanently unless he chose to do so. The point of the Levitical legislation is that the master was not to treat a fellow Jew inhumanely. Rather, the master was told that he “must not rule over him harshly, but you must fear your God” (v. 42). Because of his hearers’ reaction, Jesus goes on to clarify matters for them concerning the basic concept of real freedom: “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin” (v. 34). Jesus’ hearers must realize that he was not talking about commonly practiced forms of slavery, but slavery to sin, a spiritual slavery that produces sinful habits, which control a person. As Jesus plainly implies, without his help they would continue to do sinful deeds and be controlled by sinful habits.
Indeed, without Christ the natural man is unable to think clearly so as to know that spiritual truth that brings true freedom to respond properly to God’s standards. As Morris observes, “The man who sins is a slave to his sin and this whether he realizes it or not. This means also that he cannot break away from his sin. For that he needs a power greater than himself.”15 Such is obtained only through accepting God’s Son, Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of one’s life. Indeed, it is really true, not just for the Jew but for all people, “If the son sets you free, you will be really free” (John 8:36).
The bringing together of slavery and freedom, then, has a meaningful purpose in Scripture. It involves not only theological truth but has a most practical end. It contrasts a sinful lifestyle and its results with an ability to live a life of true freedom. True freedom does indeed involve the ability to know the Lord through Christ so as to think God’s thoughts after him and thus to discern properly the difference between truth and error. This will result in the ability to live in accordance with God’s designed purpose for man. The believer can therefore enjoy life to its fullest for God’s glory and his own good. Genuine knowledge leads to real truth and to the God-intended freedom to conduct one’s self in godly wisdom.
Those who have received Christ have had the dominating shackles of inborn sin removed. The natural man is indeed a slave to sin. In an interesting play on words and terms, Moo remarks, “As ‘slaves to sin,’ people are ‘free’ from the power and influence of the conduct that pleases God; they are deaf to God’s righteous demands and incapable of responding to them even were they to hear and respect them….and therefore incapable of doing God’s will.”16 The Christian believer, however, has had that dominating influence through the work of Christ’s death and resurrection (cf. Rom. 5:20-21; 6:4-7, 11). Accordingly, the believer, now freed from slavery to sin may freely live for Christ. All of this is possible because by accepting Christ, the believer is taken into a living union with him, the One who alone has the power to enable him to experience that life of true freedom (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8-10; Col. 1:21-22). Such is reflected in a familiar Christian song by Koch and Craig. Having mentioned the reality of Christ’s crucifixion and victorious resurrection, the song writers declare:
And as He stands in victory,
Sins curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I stand.17
Twin Figurative uses of “Slave” and “Free”
It is of further interest to note that the metaphors “slave” and “free” frequently appear together. A metaphor may be defined simply as an “imaginative identification of two distinct objects or ideas.”18 “Slave” is used together with its antonym, “free” to depict the vast difference between being mastered by sin or righteousness.18 Thus Paul declares:
Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either in sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness. But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. (Rom. 6:16-18; cf. vv.19-21)
The big difference, of course, is that although born as a slave to sin, as united to Christ the believer freely now chooses to be obedient to the Lord and be mastered by God.19 He thus is so committed and dedicated to the Lord that he desires to live according to God’s standards. The result is the assurance of eternal life with God: “Now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life” (Rom 6:22). 20 Commenting on this, Hodge remarks,
It is of God, that those who were once the servants of sin, become the servants of righteousness. …When a man is the slave of sin, he commonly thinks himself free; and when most degraded, is often the most proud. When truly free, he feels himself most strongly bound to God; and when most elevated, is most humble.21
What a blessing, then, believers now enjoy. For now they may freely commit themselves as slaves to do God’s will and so with confidence look forward to the assured hope to an everlasting life with the eternal Lord of glory: “For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:23; see NLT note). As an interesting aside, because the word “gift” is used in parallel to “payoff” (or “wages”), some suggest that Paul was “thinking of the Latin word donativum or largess given to each soldier by the emperor or imperial heir on his accession, introduction to public life or other extraordinary occasion.” 22 Despite attempts to make this relation, however, the Greek word rendered “gift” commonly refers to a gift “freely and graciously given.”23 Thus Paul closes this chapter of his work “by reminding us that, though our sin merits the sentence of death, eternal life must always be understood as a sheer gift of God’s grace….So we must never rely on the quality of our moral life itself to save us—that will always be insufficient; but genuine, saving faith in Christ will change the quality of our moral life.”24
James, the brother of Jesus and a leading member in the early church, who also reckoned himself a “slave of God” (James 1:1), declares that true faith is one that is evidenced in an active life for God. Citing Abraham’s full commitment to God even to the point of sacrificing his son as proof of genuine faith, he says:
You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by his works. And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:22-24)
James is not suggesting that the justification that the believer receives at conversion, which is a judicial act whereby God pardons the believer of all his sins and accepts him as righteous (cf. Rom. 3:23-24) is by works, not faith. Rather James is declaring that a person’s salvation is demonstrated by his Christian works and walk. As Osborne remarks,
Paul [in Romans] is concerned with the issue of regeneration, James with the issue of sanctification; Paul with how a person is saved, James with how a person lives out that salvation. For Paul justification refers to that moment when God declares a person right with him, while for James it refers to God vindicating a person’s faith and showing it to be right with him, leading to the final vindication at the Last Judgment…. Putting Paul and James together, works cannot bring about justification, but works must result from justification.” 25
That Paul and James were not in disagreement as to true faith and its outworking can be seen in his challenging message to the Ephesians that true faith is one that is active, a faith that serves God and does good things for others:
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so that we may do them. (Eph. 2:8-10)
Still further, as “slaves of righteousness” believers have the privilege of sharing the gospel message with others. Thus Paul declares that as free he willingly made himself “a slave to all in order to gain even more people” (1 Cor: 9:19). This included both Jew and gentile (vv. 20-22). He goes on to say, “I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it” (v. 23). What a privilege indeed it is to so live as to be a willing, dedicated messenger of the good news of God’s free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus! For Paul, this meant the full commitment of his whole self, soul and body, not only in dedicated, faithful service, but as living in such a way as to represent Christ in a righteous manner: “I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified” (v. 27). As I have written elsewhere, in this context Paul goes on to compare himself to a dedicated athlete who is so completely dedicated not only to participation in an athletic competition and to winning, but doing so in accordance with the rules:
If athletes can strive to fulfill their fixed goals, how much more should he in his spiritual ministry…. Paul thus declares his willing self denial in order to achieve his high calling in Christ Jesus. No selfish desires, plans or ambitions would be allowed to distract him. He was totally dedicated and committed to the task for which he had been called by the Lord. He expresses another pressing concern: having shown others the way of true Christian faith and conduct, Paul is anxious that he himself would not do anything that would compromise his continuing in the ministry. 26
An interesting contrast may be seen in a comparison of Paul and Onesimus. On the one hand, Paul formerly lived as a free, yet committed Jewish Pharisee. So committed to his religious beliefs was he, that he persecuted harshly the early Christians (Acts 22:2-4; 26:4-11). Now, however, he was truly free--spiritually free-- through genuine faith in Christ Jesus and had become an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-21). He now considered himself a slave to all in order that he might help in spreading the gospel message. On the other hand, Omnesimus had formerly lived as a slave. He then had escaped from his master and had fled to Rome, where he met Paul and was led to faith in Christ. Now as spiritually free, Paul was sending him back to his master, Philemon. As he did so, Paul urged Philemon to regard Onesimus not just as his slave, “but more than a slave, as a dear brother. He is especially so to me, and even more so to you now, both humanly speaking and in the Lord. Therefore, if you regard me as a partner, accept him as you would me.” (Philemon, vv. 16-17).
Paul’s sending Onesimus back to his master may seem strange to modern ears, but was in keeping with his own earlier teaching on the basis of current social standards.27 Thus Paul told the Corinthians:
Let each on remain in the situation in which he was called. Were you called as a slave? Don’t worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity. For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. In the same way, the one who was called as a free person is Christ’s slave…. In whatever situation someone was called, let him remain in it with God. (1 Cor. 7:20-22, 24).
As Baker observes,
In 7:22 Paul reminds the Corinthians of an important theological truth. Even if they are slaves currently (and had been when they became Christians) and their prospects for release were distant or questionable, they should take heart because they were already free in the most important sense of the word. That is, they are free from slavery to sin and the world because God paid the ransom price with the life of his Son, Jesus Christ. They have become slaves of Christ now, as are all believers, a status that supersedes their economic slavery. 28
Paul goes on to say, “You were bought with a price! Do not become slaves of men.” Although social practices and theological truth are in view in verse 23, there also is moral and spiritual application. One such application is that believers should not allow themselves to become so enslaved to their fellow man that they live as men pleasers and pursue their sinful practices and habits.
Similarly, Paul tells the people in his letter to the Ephesians (6: 6-9) that both slaves and their masters should treat each other with respect and kindness. Slaves were to remember that they were to serve and obey their masters as “slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart …because you know that each person, whether slave or free, if he does something good, this will be rewarded by the Lord” (vv.6-8). Indeed,
Believing slaves should be motivated to serve their human masters well because ultimately their indenturing is to Christ alone, that is, they are ‘slaves of Christ.’ … They belong to someone who has far greater authority and far more honor than any human slave owner or even the emperor himself.29
Masters were instructed and encouraged to “treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him” (v.9). Truly, “The principle of v.8 obtains for masters too; those who do well will receive the Lord’s reward—whether they are slave or free.” 30 Not only in ancient times but today as well, whatever their social status may be, believers should find their primary sense of duty in living so as to be pleasing to God, serving as the Lord’s representative so well that others see Christ in them. As Pollard expresses it,
Have Thine own way, Lord!
Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!31
These same principles are well illustrated in Paul’s words to the Roman Christians (Rom. 8: 12-15). He reminds the believers there that they no longer need to be enslaved by human passions and standards (vv. 12-13). In a forensic sense, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (vv. 14-15). The NLT is certainly correct in gendering the word “spirit” in two ways. The spirit of slavery to sin contrasts the natural man with the Spirit (Holy Spirit) as, “The agent through whom the believer’s sonship is both bestowed and confirmed.”32 Therefore, not only does the believer have access to the Father, but God the Father is so honored and treasured by the believer that he can cry out through the leading of the Holy Spirit with a term of endearment and respect: “Abba.”
Jesus’ use of “Abba, Father” in his prayer in Gethsemane, just before his arrest and crucifixion, gives credence to his legitimate family relationship and to his intimacy with God the Father (Mark 14:36). Thus France point out that Jesus’ use of the term, “Abba,” “Conveys the respectful intimacy of a son in a patriarchal family. And in that sense Jesus’ use of this form of address to God is striking and unparalleled , until it was taken over by his followers.”33 Mohrlang adds, “The Spirit does more than simply give us new power for living. Deep within, moving us to address God as ‘Abba, Father…, the Spirit of God assures us that we are indeed children of God, part of God’s own dearly loved family—and that we can therefore boldly lay claim to children’s privileges.”34 Having been taken into union with Christ, today’s believers may also have such a sense of a family relationship and deep intimacy with God that they honor him, stay in communion with him, and do their best to reflect his will and standards in their lives.
Paul goes on to point out that adoption carries with it the further promise that we believers, “who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (v. 23). Truly, as believers in Christ led by the Holy Spirit, not only was this true for the Roman Christians but even now believers do not belong to Satan, they are not his slaves, but are free citizens. Even more, they have been adopted— formally become members of God’s family. As spiritually the “new birth” pictures believers’ being born into the family of God (John 3:5-7), adoption portrays them as being granted the privileged and responsible position of children of God (Gal. 3:23-29) as well as the living and assured hope of the eventual redemption of our bodies.
At the outset of our study we suggested that the word freedom is thought of by most people as civil liberty. This is particularly the case in the United States. As we have noted, such freedom is embedded in many of our patriotic songs and hymns. It is true even in our national anthem, especially in the last verse, which unfortunately is largely overlooked by many Americans and seldom sung. This verse intertwines the grounds of America’s liberty with a firm belief in God:
O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Our national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key during America’s conflict with Britain on the night of September 13, 1814. Few Americans probably realize that Key was a dedicated Christian, who was very involved in the early activity of establishing Sunday schools. 35 Freedom is related to more than civil or social matters as also is slavery. Freedom, however, can also be illusionary:
It isn’t always others who enslave us. Sometimes we let circumstances enslave us; sometimes we let routines enslave us; sometimes we let things enslave us; sometimes, with weak wills, we enslave ourselves. … No man is free if he is running away from reality. And no man is free if he is running away from himself.36
Even more basically, true freedom has a spiritual foundation. As Scherer describes it, “We find freedom when we find God; we lose it when we lose Him.”37
Longenecker appropriately points to three areas of liberty found in the Apostle Paul’s writings: (1) the believer’s relationship to God or (“forensic”) freedom; the believer’s ordering of his own personal life; and the believer’s relationship to others (i.e., social freedom). 38 Even more broadly, we have noted that the words freedom and slavery are used in the Scriptures in dealing with civil or social affairs, but are most meaningfully utilized as contrasting metaphors dealing with one’s moral and spiritual life: intellectually, emotionally, or volitionally. Thus although Peter warned his readers: “Whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19), as we noted above, Jesus proclaimed that he is the true source of freedom, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Under the direction of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the wise believer will use his freedom wisely. As Paul told the Galatian believers, “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. …But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:13, 16).
Thus as believers we are not to be self-centered, but committed to the Lord and his standards. Too often personal desires overtake us, such as the love of money, and even greed (cf. Heb. 1:5). As Paul told the Philippian Christians, “Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in true humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself” (Phil. 2:3). Paul reminds Timothy that this is to be exemplary in a Christian leader, for he should be “temperate, self controlled, hospitable, an able teacher, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money” (1Tim 3:2-3). If our leaders are to set such an example, should it not be followed by all Christians? We all can be leaders in the sense of taking proper control of our lives. We can do this by freely submitting to the Lord as Christ’s “slaves.” That is, we should be totally dedicated to the Lord and be concerned for the needs of others, not ourselves. Jesus once told his disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). Such should be true for today’s followers of Christ. As the song writer reminds us,
He said, “Freely, freely, you have received—
Freely, freely, give;
Go in my name, and because you believe,
Others will know that I live.”39
On another occasion Jesus taught in one of his many parables that the wise and faithful servant is mindful of his master -- even while he is away—for when his master returns, he will reward the servant in accordance to what he deserves (Luke 12: 41-48). May we be faithful servants eagerly awaiting the coming of our master the Lord Jesus Christ! As Lila Morris, writes,
Faithful and true would He find us here
If He should come today?
Watching in gladness and not in fear,
If He should come today?
Signs of His coming multiply,
Morning light breaks in eastern sky;
Watch, for time is drawing nigh—
What if it were today?40
Free slaves for Christ—yes, but even more than that, we are members of God’s earthly family through faith in Christ. Far greater than the opportunity of the freed slave in OT times to remain a slave to his master, we have the blessed privilege and joy of living in daily communion with The Lord. Still further, having been taken into union with Christ, we can be conscious of his presence and have the confident hope of living in God’s presence eternally.
Are we free?—Yes!-- free from sin’s enslavement through faith in Christ’s provision of salvation for all. Are we slaves? Yes!—those who willingly commit ourselves to the Lord’s service. As we await the joy of an everlasting life in the presence of our master, let us conduct ourselves as good and faithful free slaves for Christ.
Some day life’s journey will be o’er,
And I shall reach that distant shore:
I’ll sing while ent’ring heaven’s door,
“Jesus led me all the way.”41
1 Samuel F. Smith, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”
2 Thomas Jefferson, “First Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1801.
3 Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Message to Congress,” January 6, 1941.
4 Martin Luther King, Jr., “Speech in Detroit,” June 23, 1963.
5 William Lisle Bowles, “The Right Honorable Edmund Burke,” 1791.
6 A. Rupprecht, “Slave, Slavery,” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill C. Tenney and Steven Barabas, 5 vols. (Grand rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 5: 453.
7 Fred H. Wight, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Chicago: Moody, 1953), 291. See further, Rupprecht, ibid. 454-58.
8 In addition to Rupprecht’s already cited article, see, for example, see S. S. Bartchy, “Slavery,” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, eds. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, et al., 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rev. ed. 1988) 4:539-46; I. Mendelsohn, “Slavery in the OT,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, eds. George Arthur Buttrick, et al., 4 vols. (New York: Abingdon, 1962) 4:383-91. See also the data for the OT and NT in the supplementary volume by W. Zimmerli “Slavery in the OT,” and W. G. Rollins, “Slavery in the NT,” eds. Keith Crum et al. (1976, 829-32). Especially helpful are the observations in “Slave, Slavery,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, amd Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: 1998), 797-99.
9 Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, The New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 245.
10 Unless, as here, otherwise noted, all scriptural citations will be taken from the NET.
11 Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976.
12 John H. Walton, Victor H. Mathews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 186.
13 Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief (Grand rapids: Eerdmans, reprint edition, 1989), 147.
14 Andreas J. Kӧstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 262. Kӧstenbeger goes on to point out proper Jewish attitude standards with regard to the status of their fellow Jewish citizens as recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud.
15 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1971), 458.
16 Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 406.
17 Donald A. Koch and Andrew Shawn Craig, “In Christ Alone,” (vv. 6, 8; punctuation, mine).
18 Andreas J. Kӧstenberger and Richard d. Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011), 677.
19 Even were we to think of “slaves to righteousness” as being dominated by God, this would be a vast difference between serving an overbearing, even wicked, master like Satan and being controlled by a gracious master like God who desires our best!
20 For the extensive use of metaphors by the apostle Paul, see David J. Williams, Paul’s Metaphors (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999.)
21 Charles Hodge, Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), 213. Moo, Romans, 405, strongly, points out that the imperative in verse 19b means that, “We can, and must, serve righteousness because God has freed us from sin and made us slaves of righteousness.”
22 C. E. B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary, eds. J. A. Emerton and C.E. B. Cranfield (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2 vols., 1975) 1:330.
23 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Cambridge, University Press, 1957), 887. See also Paul’s use of this term already in Romans 5:16.
24 Roger Mohrlang, “Romans,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2007) 14:110.
25 Grant R. Osborne, “James,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House. 2011) 18: 65.
26 Richard D. Patterson, “Christians as Athletes,” Biblical Studies Press. 2013, 4.
27 For details as to those social conditions, see David W. J. Gill, “1 Corinthians,” in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, [New testament] ed. Clinton E. Arnold, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 2002- 3:139.
28 William Baker, “1 Corinthians,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009), 15: 109.
29 Clinton E. Arnold, Ephesians, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 423.
30 William W. Klein, “Ephesians,” The Expositor’s Biblical Commentary , eds. Tremper Longman II and David E. Garland, 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 12:160.
31 Adelaide A. Pollard, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!”
32 Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 502.
33 R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark, The new International Greek Testament Commentary, eds. I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 2002), 584.
34 Mohrlang, “Romans,” 130.
35 For details, see E. Michael and Sharon Rusten, The One Year Book of Christian History (Wheaton, Tyndale House, 2003), 428.
36 “Good Reading,” as cited in Lloyd Cory, Quotable Quotations (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 145.
37 Paul Scherer, as cited in Lloyd Cory, Quotable Quotations, 356.
38 Richard N. Longenecker, Paul, Apostle of Liberty (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1964), 170-80.
39 Carl Owens, “Freely, Freely.”
40 Lila Morris, “What If It Were Today?”
41 John W. Peterson, “Jesus Led Me All The Way.”
Related Topics: Christian Life