Things Paul Wrote About – Slaves to Sin

“Slaves” is a complex subject with many parts: slaves, servants, serve, bonds, bondsmen, and the ability to sell yourself to pay off debts in Israel.  Another part is the Gentile/Roman practices and views that Paul used in writing his Letters.  Another aspect to work with is KJV vs NIV and other translations.  The word “doulos” is the major word used for slave in the New Testament (see notes in Slave); KJV translate it “servant” while NIV uses “slave”. Then there are about thirteen other words that reflect slavery and serving. I thought I would add chains into the word search but Paul connects then to prisoners more than slaves.

In Romans 6:19 Paul explains why he compares our spiritual life to one of slavery, it was very a common practice.   Just because it was a common practice does not mean that it was a good or moral practice.  I think that is why slave traders are singled out as someone who will receive harsh judgement.

Doulos is a word that stresses the slave as serving the will of the master.  In Israel you could sell yourself to someone and the Jubilee determined the price.  (I wish I could say that these men and women were treated better but you need to read Exodus 21.)   So, when Paul is using the servant/slave to describe our relationship to sin it is not a pretty one.  Sin controls everything in your life because you allow it to have that authority over you.

The verses below are my attempts at paraphrasing.

Romans 6:6– Our body was ruled by sin but we crucified our old self so we are no longer slaves to sin.

Romans 6:16– If you offer yourself to obey someone you are their slave; if it is sin, that leads to death. (17) We use to be slaves to sin but now we obey from our hearts and follow the teaching that has claimed our hearts.  (19)  Comparing us to slaves is something we can see every day in our lives.  We use to offer ourselves as slaves to impurity and we wanted more wickedness.  (20) If you do not want Jesus and righteousness just be a slave to sin.

Romans 7:14– I have sold myself to sin as a slave because I am unspiritual, I do not understand the Law of God. (25) My sin nature makes me a slave to the law of sin.

*Romans 8:18 – 27 is part of Paul’s use of the idea of slavery to/because of sin. Creation was also forced into slavery and is not free.  It also is waiting for the return of Jesus so it can share in the freedom that is to come.

Things Paul Wrote About – Slaves


Writers Note – even though I will try to focus on Paul’s writings and ideas this topic will go beyond just Paul and his words.  In studying “slaves” I remembered that I will not have all the answers and that I am working through this as I write these posts.  To get a better picture of the topic of slaves I will go into the Gospels, Acts, the other New Testament writers and the Old Testament references.

There is a notable difference in terminology depending on the translation of the Bible you use. KJV uses the word “servant” while NIV uses the word “slave” when you compare most passages. The KJV also uses the term bond______ man, maid, servant, etc. which for the most part is rendered slave in the NIV.

To start this study, I think it is important to begin with 1 Timothy 1:10. This “paragraph” should start in verse eight.  Paul is talking about the Law and how it is for lawbreakers and in this list is slave traders.  The word is “andrapodistes” it is used once as slave trader in the New Testament and its explanation, in my concordance, gives the idea that these people use/treat animals and humans the same.  Paul condemns them!  The other references to slaves by Paul, generally, fall into two groups- (1.) slaves to sin or righteousness and (2.) how slaves and masters are to act toward each other.

These references are from The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible for King James.  These are notes to myself and are not the complete explanation.

NT –     1401, 1402 –doulos: slave; #2 to enslave, stresses relationship; they are subject to the will of another

 5257- huperetes – minister- a subordinate that acts under another’s supervision

 341 – anakainoo renewal of spiritual power 2 Corinthians 4:16, Colossians 3:10 (Mark    1:20). I have to wonder if this is not a mistake in the concordance as the definition does not fit the verse!

3407 – misthios – hired servant Luke 15:17

3816 – pais – child/son/maid; manservant

1249 – diakonnos – waiter, teacher or pastor, deacon, focus is on activity and not on the relationship

3610 – oiketes – one of the family, household servant

1248 – diakonia – aid,

2324 – therapon – higher dignity than a doulos, menial attendant, Moses Hebrews 3:5

1398 – douleuo– to be a slave, serve, be in bondage, do service (not necessary associated with slavery)

1397 – douleia– any kind of bondage – creation (Rom 8:15,21)

1396 – doulagogeo– a slave driver, to enslave 1 Cor 9:27 (mastery of your own body)

Slave- 4983- soma – Only time slave is used in KJV; Revelations 18: 13. It usually deals with the body.

405– menstealers/slave traders; 1 Timothy 1:10 – a brutal word that only differs animals and men because of the number of feet they have

pic from: Christian

Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Greeks

The trains of thought, Passover to Pentecost to Persecution and Things Paul Taught, are coming together in this post.  In Acts 21:21 Paul was in trouble in Jerusalem and was talking to an angary crowd when he mentions that he was sent to the Greeks.  Jesus had told him that he was to go to them and preach the Word.  The crowd went crazy and Paul would be sent off to Rome.

Paul’s part in the Great Commission was the non-Jewish world.  The Twelve eventually went but they were not going very fast “to all the world” and they seem to think that only people who believed in the Law were worthy of God.  The death of Stephen had started moving disciples out of Jerusalem but the Twelve did not seem like they were going to leave their comfort zone.

Antioch was the church that really started bringing in non-Jews.  It would be Paul’s base church for his missionary journeys.  It would have the appearance of being the second most important church in Christianity for many years.  There are several stories in Acts/ New Testament that take place in Antioch.

I have often wondered why Jesus would call Paul when He had trained the Apostles to do the job?  I have come to think that it is because Paul could/would do the Great Commission with Grace in mind!  I have to wonder if Paul’s extensive schooling in the Law and his life as a Pharisee opened his eyes to the fact that the Law could not be kept.  He understood his sin against Jesus very well so he knew the true mercy that the Messiah had.  Matthew and Peter should have had that revelation: Matthew was a hated tax collector and Peter denied Jesus and got to talk to Cornelius and his family. It seems that Paul alone had the strength and understanding to see beyond the Law into Grace and what actually was finished at the cross.

I am not trying to discount what the Apostles did, but as a group they had several “red flag” moments: Mark 8:14-21 when they forgot bread, Mark 9:34 they argued about who was greatest, and other times when they just did not get it.  Their reluctance to go to non-Jews is possible another example of them not see clearly.  It might seem that their closeness to Jesus clouded their eyes to what was really needed, maybe they felt they “had all the truth”.

Paul, on the other hand, understood the traditions of his religion but saw clearly the freedom the cross brought to mankind.  For him, teaching Greeks and pagans about Jesus was done with the knowledge that Jesus had completed the Law.  But many times, in Acts his teaching with his freedom in Jesus upset both Jews and pagans.  It is a shame to see we have slipped back to wrong thinking!  We will uphold our religious thoughts and favorite doctrines before fellowshipping in Jesus.

Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Ananias

Ananias – Jah has favored or covered.  I like to start studies by looking up the meanings of names of people and places.  Sometimes the name reflects what is happening in the story, this time it seems like a split decision on how well these three men fit the name.  This a variant of several Old Testament names.

Ananias the Liar Acts 5:1

Ananias and his wife Sapphira are only remembered for their creed and lying to the Holy Spirit.  The value of this passage is not that they dropped dead, but that attempting to deceive the Spirit will not get you where you want to go!  In the context of its position in the book you have to wonder why it happened. Certainly, people have and are doing acts similar or worse today.

It is very easy for me to believe that Ananias was attempting to become a leaderin this church.  It is easy to imagine that a great deal of resources was starting to be available to the church as it grew in numbers.  Luke sandwiches this story with Barnabas (4:37), mighty miracles, a showdown with the religious government, and then talks about a new level of leaders that would control a great amount of resources (6:1).

There are similarities between Ananias and Simon, the witch, in 8:9 – 25.  Simon was a threat to the work in Samaria because he saw the Baptism in the Spirit as a money maker.  If Simon could wield this gift people may be favorable to his needs and wants because once again he would be someone of importance.

The mystery here is the final outcome is not mentioned like it was with Ananias.  Grace has to let me think he turned out okay!  Unlike Ananias, Luke mentions that he believed and was baptized (8:13), was astonished by real miracles, and asked for forgiveness (24).  I want to think Simon saw his mistake and was not willing to mock the Spirit once his error was pointed out to him.  Sounds like the Gospel at work to me.

Ananias of Damascus  Acts – Chapter 9 and 22:12

This man may be the most underrated person in the Bible.  Yes, I have heard sermons about him but this study opened my eyes to his great qualities!  In 9:12 Jesus sent him because He knew he would go.  Ananias had to overcome come his fears to lay hands on Saul/Paul.  It is reasonable to believe that he was also Paul’s first tutor and mentor in the Way.  Ananias was important enough that Paul shared this story with Luke.  In 22:12 Paul again talks about Ananias and praises him for his faith in Jesus and his faithfulness to the traditions he had grown up with.  This is the second time that Luke records about him and Paul was bragging on him to a hostile crowd. This is what we know; now let us think of some possibilities.

Ananias may have gone to Damascus because of the persecution after Stephen’s death.  But it is possible that he just lived there. Damascus is close to Galilee so it is possible that he heard Jesus speak around the lake.  It is also possible that he was among the 3000 on the day of Pentecost.  He may have been a leader of the Way in Damascus.  At the very least people knew him and trusted him (Paul would have only been accepted because of someone like him).

Ananias the High Priest – Acts Chapter 23 – 26

As honorable as Ananias of Damascus was this one is not!  As a member of the High Priest family it is very probable that he was present for the death of Jesus, Pentecost, the trials of the Apostles, and the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of the Way!  He may have even been the one who gave Saul permission to go to Damascus. Control is the issueI see as the problem the Sadducees had with Jesus and His followers.  They had a good moneymaker in the Temple and they did not want anyone to disturb their income.

Among his questionable acts: ordering Paul struck, and agreeing to the killing of Paul (at least twice). He played loose and fast with the rules and it is probable that he could justified everything he did under some rule in the Law.


Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Peter

Acts 12: 1-18 Peter’s escape from prison.  It seems that I missed a very important New Testament Passover.  Herod was trying to please the Jews and decided to kill the Apostles.  This took place during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover).

Imagine Peter seating in jail waiting to be killed.  All of the thoughts that must have been going through his mind: The Last Supper, the Garden, the rooster, and the morning on the Lake when Jesus questioned his love three times.  No wonder he thought the angel was just a dream!

This story brings in John Mark (writer of the Gospel and Peter’s nephew) as a witness to many things in story of the New Church.  It does not say that Mark left with Peter just that Peter very wisely got out of town. The James (Book of James)  in verse 17 is Jesus’ brother who must have already been very important in leading the new church.

Rhoda and those praying are frequently the stars of this story for all the wrong reasons.  The group was praying (supposedly for Peter), Jesus released him and they could not believe the miracle had happened as they had prayed for.

There is no time stamp to tell us how many years since Pentecost this story took place.  So, if I was doing a movie of this I would put the sixteen soldiers who were executed because of the disappearance as the ones who beat Jesus and gambled for His clothes and arrested the Apostles the first time.