You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men

by Mike Ratliff

20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.
21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24 NASB)

During the ministries of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles there was a full understanding of the nature of slavery. It dominated their culture. Therefore, we must take that into account when we read from God’s Word the true nature of our “personal relationship” with our Lord. The Greek word for Lord or Master is Κύριον or Kurios. This title describes Jesus Christ as Lord in the sense of being the owner, possessor, or master. Some may teach that Christians can be genuine without Christ being their Lord, but that concept is alien to the Bible. We do not make Christ Lord of our lives my brethren. No, He is Lord of all those whom He bought with the price of His precious blood.

For Christ to be Κύριον then He must own slaves. The Greek word for a slave is δοῦλος or doulos. A δοῦλος is one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his or her will altogether consumed in the will of their Κύριον. In nearly every English translation of the New Testament this word, δοῦλος, is mostly rendered as either “servant” or “bond-servant.” In the few instances when a passage is referring to actual slaves then it is rendered as “slave” or “slaves.” I believe this is tragic for it gives the reader the wrong concept of our actual “personal relationship” with Christ. If δοῦλος was rendered as “slave” in every passage in the New Testament where it appears then a very different understanding of the true nature of our relationship with our Κύριον would become apparent.

Here is Ephesians 5:5-6 from the King James, the English Standard, the New American Standard, and the NET BIble.

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; (Ephesians 6:5-6 KJV)

5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye- service, as people- pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (Ephesians 6:5-6 ESV)

5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eyeservice, as men- pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (Ephesians 6:5-6 NASB)

5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ, 6 not like those who do their work only when someone is watching — as people-pleasers — but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart. (Ephesians 6:5-6 NET)

I pray you noticed that the NET Bible translators and the NASB Bible translators rendered δοῦλος as “slaves” while the other translations did not.  Nevertheless, what I wanted you to do is read all four then reread them. Doesn’t the NET version and the NASB version ring more true? All who were bought with the price of Christ’s blood are His δοῦλος. Also, think of the definition of δοῦλος from above and compare it to Paul’s admonition here. The will of the δοῦλος is  altogether consumed in the will of his or her Κύριον. This is the role of those whom Christ purchased or bought with the price of His precious blood.

Let’s look at another passage.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents:behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant:thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things:enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents:behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things:enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth:lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance:but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:14-30 KJV)

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more. ’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. ’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more. ’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. ’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours. ’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30 ESV)

14 “ For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and * settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents. ’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. ’
22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents. ’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. ’
24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours. ’
26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. ’
29 “ For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:14-30 NASB)

14 “For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two gained two more. 18 But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his masterʼs money in it. 19 After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled his accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ʻSir, you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more. ʼ 21 His master answered, ʻWell done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master. ʼ 22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ʻSir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more. ʼ 23 His master answered, ʻWell done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master. ʼ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ʻSir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours. ʼ 26 But his master answered, ʻEvil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didnʼt sow and gather where I didnʼt scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30 NET)

The Greek word δοῦλος should be translated only as “slave.” Did you notice that the NET version got it right again as did the NASB? Remember there is a huge difference between a slave and a servant. A servant is hired and paid for his or her work. He or she can also quit or be fired. However, the Κύριον owns his δοῦλοι who are required to have their will consumed by his will. They are to obey Him when they have a direct command and when they don’t then they must do what they know will please Him. The worthless δοῦλος in the passage above knew this, but did neither thereby proving that he was not a true δοῦλος of his Κύριον.

My brethren, are you a δοῦλος of our Κύριον,  a slave of our Lord, or are you merely a servant, a hireling?

Soli Deo Gloria!

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