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What Does the Bible Say about Slavery?

 

Slavery is an important topic to discuss in the modern day. Many people believe their lives are so far removed from slavery; however, one may be surprised to learn that there is still slavery in the world today.

Human trafficking is a part of the slave trade, and many people are falling victim to this type of slavery every day. There was slavery in the past, and there is slavery in the present.

Sadly, there will also be slavery in the future until the Lord returns. With this in mind, what does the Bible say about slavery?

The Bible on Slavery

As far as our faith is concerned, we are all free in Christ. It is for freedom that Christ has set up free. Paul tells us this directly, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Therefore, even though we are slaves, we can still be free in Christ. In fact, everyone is in slavery to sin until they place faith in Christ.

Once a person has placed faith in Christ, they are no longer held in bondage to the slavery of sin they once were bound by. Through placing faith in Jesus, we can all be set free from our slavery to sin.

When it comes to physical slavery, such as those who were held in slavery in the past as well as those in the present day, the Bible also speaks about this. During the time of Paul’s writings, there was slavery going on.

Paul urges slaves to be loyal to their masters and to serve them with a good heart. This could have been challenging teaching to the slaves since many masters didn’t treat their slaves very well.

As was the case for the African American slaves in the past, their masters wouldn’t treat them well, which is an understatement. They would be beaten, abused, and even killed if they did not do as they were commanded. If a slave ran away, the master could kill him or her.

This shows us how severe slavery was in the past and how it held a firm grip around the necks of African Americans. They were not allowed their freedom for a long period of time, and it took many endeavors before they were finally set free.

God doesn’t condone nor does He endorse slavery of any sort. Slavery is a result of sin in the world. As in the case of Israel being held in slavery, God set them free (Deuteronomy 5:15). This shows us that God desires for His people to be freed. He doesn’t desire us to live a life of slavery.

The African Americans held in bondage to slavery were notably Christians, as they brought their faith from Africa with them. It was through their faith that they were able to endure the painful situations they were in and continue to glorify God in their actions.

Therefore, even though slavery has happened and continues to occur in the present day doesn’t mean that God approves of it. There are many things God hates in the world today, and they are all due to sin, including slavery.

Simply because slavery is spoken of in the Bible doesn’t mean it is endorsed or spoken of in a positive light. While it is true that Paul tells slaves to obey their masters, he doesn’t say that it is right for them to be in the position that they are in.

Rather, Paul is urging them to glorify God in their actions, including glorifying God through their bondage to slavery.

The slaves could try to win their masters over to Christianity by showing Christ in their actions. This doesn’t mean all masters were won over by the behaviors of their slaves; however, there are many who would have come to know Christ through their slaves.

God desires all people to come to know Him and to be freed from their life of being a slave to sin. The Bible tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

As Paul tells us in this verse, all people are equal whether they are slaves or not. Many people might think masters or those who are freed are better than those who are held in slavery; however, this verse goes directly against this belief.

All people are equal, and all people are dearly loved by God. Through this deep love God has for all people, He yearns for them to be redeemed, follow Him, and be set free.

The Israelites were set free from their slavery from the Egyptians, African Americans were set free from their slavery, and once we come to know Jesus, we are set free from being a slave to sin.

Concerning the present-day crisis of human trafficking, this, too, will be demolished one day. Just as God set Israel, the African Americans, and believers free, He will also ensure the individuals involved in human trafficking will be set free.

As believers, there is much we can do to help those who are caught in this lifestyle and help set them free. David Platt has numerous resources and ways to help within his ministry, Radical.

There are many other ways to get involved to also end human trafficking. Sadly, just as was the case for the African American slaves, it might take some time before human trafficking is ended and they are finally set free.

Free in Christ

It is important to remember that we are free in Christ just as we are — whether we are physically held down by the chains of slavery, or we are spiritually struggling with being a slave to sin. It is possible to be free through Christ.

We shouldn’t engage in causing people to become enslaved, nor should we promote slavery. God desires for all people to be free, just as He created us.

He created us with free will and the ability to make our own choices. Slavery takes this freedom away and can pollute the minds of those who have been taken into slavery.

Through knowing God and following Him, we can learn more each day about helping others escape from the chains of slavery. Prayer and getting involved with ministries that set slaves free can be a great ways to help.

While it can be troubling at times to know slavery is still going on in the world, the Bible contains everything we need to know on the subject. Slavery is a result of sin in the world, and one day it will be permanently ended for all eternity.

Until then, we need to do everything. We can help those stuck in slavery to be free and to live the life that Christ died for them to live (John 10:10).

Through prayer, getting involved, and helping others learn about slavery, you will be able to do the Lord’s work and help others know the reality of slavery.

Many people try to condemn Christianity and claim it promotes slavery, but it doesn’t. Never in the Bible does God promote slavery or the imprisonment of His people. The Bible promotes freedom not only in our physical lives but also in our spiritual lives.

Matthias David
Matthias David
Working in His vine, as He does even more at mine.
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