bondservants & employees

Employees, you are not bondservants. Some would say the two are to be compared. And so we compare.

Bondservants, otherwise known as “slaves,” have nearly no rights or freedoms. They may be given room and board, but otherwise are rarely paid. They generally have no say concerning any matter and are strictly bound to their masters.

Employees live freely and enjoy rights and privileges. They are always paid and are welcome to give their two-week notice at any time.

The Bible speaks of both bondservants and hired workers. We can identify with hired workers perhaps, but not directly with bondservants, because this status or field is practically non-existent in our day.

Take note. The following instruction is for bondservants, not employees.

Bondservants [doulos], obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants [doulos] of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant [doulos] or is free. Eph 6:8

Also here.

Slaves [doulos], 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. Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Col 3:23-24

And here.

Slaves [doulos] are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing and not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. Titus 2:9-10

Concerning all Scripture, we must seek to discern what is being said, to whom the author is speaking, and what it is that we may properly learn and apply.

The bondservant-master relationship of the Scriptures is not that which comes to our minds when we think of slavery. A bondservant of this nature might actually seek such a position for its provision and livelihood, often offering themselves to a master. Though kept in a truly binding position by many standards, this bondservant was most often treated well.

This is a kind of righteous slavery, as we see Paul confirming it again and again. He doesn’t instruct the bondservant to escape, to fight, or even to endure the “trial.” He instead admonishes him to obey sincerely and to do good in a loving manner. Paul says this is the will of God. Slavery, in this context, is not condemned.

Note Paul’s instructions to the masters:

Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him. Eph 6:9

Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Col 3:1

Paul doesn’t command them to release their slaves. He rather impresses upon these masters the importance of treating their slaves properly and fairly.

Scriptural instructions to bondservants and masters, though not “workplace instructions,” are important for us. They have been preserved for us for a reason.

Yet when God speaks to wives, He’s speaking to wives. I have something to learn from it, though I am not yet a wife. When God speaks to Jonah, I have something to learn from it, though I am not Jonah. When God gives instructions to elders, I have something to learn. I will never be an elder, but the instructions to elders are important for me.

Then what shall we do with the bondservant instructions?

First, I shall remind myself that I am a bondservant. Once of sin. Now of a new Master.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves [doulos], you are slaves [doulos] of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves [doulos] of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves [douloo] of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves [doulos] to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves [doulos] to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves [doulos] of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves [douloo] of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. Rom 6:16-22

{For further study, examine the Greek word doulos/douloo and passages where it is used. Note especially Matt 25:14, Mark 13:34, Luke 12:47, 17:9-10, John 8:35, 15:15, Rom 16:6, 1 Cor 7:21-23, Gal 3:28, 4:1.}

[image credit: wikimedia.org, pixabay.com, journeyoftheword.com]


2 thoughts on “bondservants & employees

  1. Thank you so much for always upholding the Truth of the Word in your blog posts.

    I have gained many new insights about the term bondservant and the Scriptures that word appears in and realized some of those verses, I may have misapplied.

    I always leave your blog feeling edified.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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