“Day Well Done” comes on Kinship Christian radio at 10:30 p.m. and is characterized by music outside the mainstream and some deep Christian thinking at right about the same time my brain is shutting down for the night.
Recently, announcer Jim Park was talking about what it meant to be a slave in Jesus’ day.
Unlike what we think of as slavery in this day, back then slavery was a paid position that included not only laborers but also personal advisors, businessmen, teachers, personal advisors and other positions of prominence. Slaves did not live in shacks out back, but in the home with the family. Roman laws required slave owners to provide food, shelter, and clothing. There were penalties for mistreatment of slaves and they were often trusted friends and companions.
And, a slave could save up his wages to buy not only his freedom, but also coveted Roman citizenship. Or, a master could adopt a slave as son, granting him full legal status under Roman law.
It was a much different system than the slavery practiced just prior to Abolition or the slavery of the Jews in Egypt.
As Park pointed out, it was our perception of slavery that led translators of the King James Version to use the word “servant” where “slave” had been used.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. (Romans 6:19 KJV)
The ESV presents that same verse like this:
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
Knowing the difference in the historical context sheds a whole new light on other verses as well:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 ESV) –emphasis added.
Then, there’s also:
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves. (1 Peter 2:16 NIV)
But, we do not remain as God’s slaves:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 ESV)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8: 15-17 ESV)
So, thanks to Mr. Park for that insight into Scripture, although I’m not sure we came to the same conclusions … because I fell asleep before I heard the end of the program.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8: 20-21 ESV)