The first thing that caught my attention in this study of slaves was that the KJV only used the term once, in the Book of Revelation. Some research I did revealed that King James’ England was a land with slaves that would have qualified as doulos. Were the writers of James’ Bible trying to downplay slavery? I cannot answer that question but it does show that you need to study the things you read, especially the Bible.
The second thing that stood out was that our paradigm of slavery was not condemned and denounced. Paul clearly spoke against the slave traders but not owners. The instructions to both the owner and the slave were to do right by the other. Paul did encourage slaves to gain their freedom, if possible. Slavery was a complex part of that society. In the Greco-Roman world it is clear that there were levels of slavery. In Israel, by Law, you could own foreign slaves and you could have Jewish slaves. The Jewish slaves were to be freed every seven years, that may not have been obeyed as it is one of the things that brought about the downfall of Judah in the Book of Jeremiah. To add to this thought a Jew could choose to stay the property of someone by having his ear pierced on the owner’s door frame.
The third thing that is challenging my thoughts is the terms lord and master. Those terms are easy to throw around, but in calling Jesus Lord and Master we are identifying ourselves as His. We are His doulos and need to look to Him as the one who controls ALL aspects of our life. That is a very deep thought and one that is very easy to downplay. (see Slaves to Righteousness)