Is the Bible Pro-Slavery?

“The Bible is pro-slavery.”

This is a common charge these days. It is a part of the New Atheist attack on religion, and it also comes from various progressive circles to defend certain social views (in line with the so-called redemptive-movement hermeneutic).

It is not an incomprehensible claim. In fact, it has some apparent, face value support—and not just in Old Testament law regulations, but in New Testament epistles written by the very apostles of Jesus Christ:

  • Ephesians 6:5: “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters” (all translations ESV).
  • Colossians 3:22: “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters.”
  • I Peter 2:18: “Servants, be subject to your masters.”

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to respond to this concern. It is certainly a complicated issue that one blog post cannot resolve, but here are several initial appeals that may be helpful at least to draw attention to its complexity.

Defining the word “slavery”

When we read verses like Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, I Peter 2:18, we hear the common English translation “slave” in light of our own historical context, and we typically think of race-based, chattel slavery (in which the slave is the property of the master and lacks any legal rights). This kind of slavery is manifestly among the most despicable institutions ever to disgrace human civilization. It is not, however, what is in view in these texts.

The Greek word (doulos) can be translated “slave,” or sometimes “servant” or “bondservant,” and it often referred to people who had a surprising level of legal and social status in the first-century Greco-Roman world. Most were not “slaves” from their birth, or for their entire life, or because of their race—for instance, the Roman jurist Gaius (2nd century) claimed that most slaves were prisoners of war (who actually would have been slaughtered if not made slaves).

Similarly, in the Old Testament, Israelite regulations freed slaves every seventh year (Exodus 21:2), commanded the death penalty for manstealing (Exodus 21:16), and generally sought to limit the institution in protection of the slave. Further, slavery was generally not organized by race but by circumstance and economics (foreigners, debtors, etc.).

To be clear, slavery in any sense is a perversion of God’s created intention for human beings, and there are some harsh passages we still have to deal with.

But there is a vast difference between the deplorable wickedness we see in a film like 12 Years a Slave and, say, what Paul is addressing in the first-century Ephesian church, or Abraham’s relationship with his top servant (Genesis 24:2).

This does not answer the question, but it does more accurately frame it.

Considering the entire Bible

Christians generally believe in what is called progressive revelation. This simply means that God does not reveal His will and character to humanity all at once, but gradually over a long period of time. Thus, you have to look at the entire narrative of biblical revelation to interpret it fairly, rather than just pull a verse from here or there.

Christians also believe that God accommodates his revelation to particular historical contexts, and even to fallen social structures within those contexts. This makes sense, when you think about it—unless we require that God refrain from giving any instructions or laws to a particular people at a particular time until all societal evil has been removed. Thus, an ethical exhortation in an ad hoc document (like an epistle) may not tell you everything you need to know about God’s will and character. In fact, they will probably give you more of a picture of day-to-day life as a Christian in a certain context than the Bible’s overall ideal with respect to institutional and structural evil.

By analogy: I might say to my friend, “go vote in the next election!” Does this mean that my overall philosophy regards democracy as the ideal political system? Or what about if I encourage a soldier on the battlefront to follow the orders of his commanding officers—does this reveal my complete perspective on the military, the war he is fighting in, and war itself? Not necessarily. You would need more information to determine that.

Similarly, practices like slavery, polygamy, and divorce were common in antiquity. Biblical instruction that allows for them in certain contexts is not necessarily biblical approval of them as such. We must interpret them in relation to everything else the Bible says.

In particular, there are two massive mountain peaks in biblical revelation that must be taken into account:

  • creation, which tells us that all human beings are made equally in His image (Genesis 1:26-28, 5:1-3, 9:6);
  • the gospel, which tells us that God has overcome racial/social/religious divisions at the cross (Ephesians 2:11-22, Galatians 3:28), and will one day create a people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:19) who dwell together in perfect harmony.

Creation is essential to consider because it reveals God’s original intent for the human race. And the gospel is essential because it reveals the ultimate trajectory of God’s redemptive work.

If we latch onto Ephesians 6:5 but neglect the larger context of the biblical story, we may miss the forest for the trees. By analogy, imagine saying “you’re a bad doctor” because the incision really hurt, when we have not considered his medical degree or the purpose of the surgery.

The Logic of the Gospel

Someone might say, “okay, even if we granted that we are dealing in most cases with a less egregious form of slavery, and that perhaps God is accommodating his revelation within a historical context—still, why doesn’t the Bible say more against slavery?”

I do sympathize with this concern. However, one final consideration has really helped me think about this over the last several years, and deepened my conviction that the Bible as a whole is utterly opposed to any form of slavery: the book of Philemon.

It is surprising that Philemon is not brought into this discussion more consistently, since it was Paul’s epistle to a slaver owner (Philemon) about his runaway slave (Onesimus). In fact, the whole occasion for Paul writing is that Onesimus, since running away from Philemon, has become a Christian.

Now, if the Bible is truly pro-slavery, would you expect Paul to say in this scenario?

Strikingly, Paul instructs Philemon to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave … but as a dear brother”—and he appeals to Philemon to “receive him as you would receive me” (v. 17).

In other words, Paul dissolves the slave/master relationship, and erects in its place a brother/brother relationship, in which the former slave is treated with all the dignity that the apostle himself would be treated. Thus, even before the actual institution of slavery is abolished, the work of the gospel abolishes the assumptions and prejudices that make slavery possible.

Paul’s epistle to Philemon may not amount to a full abolitionism manifesto—after all, like the other passages above, it is operating in a particular context and does not speak at the societal level. Nonetheless, I think it shows how the logic of the gospel is utterly opposed to slavery. I wonder if this is partly why so many ardent abolitionists have been Christians.

And at the very least, considering Paul’s exhortation to Philemon makes it difficult to simply quote Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3, and then consider the issue settled.

Conclusion

I suspect that my reflections here will not fully satisfy everyone, since they do not fully satisfy me, either. There is much more than needs to be said about this very challenging topic.

Hopefully, however, it is still useful to draw attention to the differences between slavery and slavery in more recent times, and to consider how God works incrementally throughout history in imperfect situations, and to see the issue of slavery in the larger context of God’s greater purpose in creation and redemption. Above all, I find it helpful to consider the example of Christ Himself, to whom all of Scripture points. When I consider Jesus, and His sacrifice on the cross, I know that I have reason to trust that the heart of God is good.

I still have lots of questions about this topic. But this gives me the hope and perspective I need to keep wrestling with it.

43 Comments

  1. Kent Lapp

    Dang, that is solid. Well reasoned, and written.

    Kent Lapp

    >

    Like

  2. shnarkle

    Interesting topic and one I’ve also been mulling over quite a bit lately myself. I would also like to throw my two cents in for what it’s worth.

    “chattel slavery (in which the slave is the property of the master and lacks any legal rights). This kind of slavery is manifestly among the most despicable institutions ever to disgrace human civilization.”

    Careful about what you say here as this is a lifestyle choice among a growing segment of the population in the US and other countries as well. This is undoubtedly going to come under the category of “hate speech” once these microagressions get some traction in our legal system.

    “Similarly, in the Old Testament, Israelite regulations freed slaves every seventh year (Exodus 21:2)”

    Not necessarily. There were notable exceptions including those slaves who were handed down from one generation to another. There were a number of extenuating circumstances that make this a general benefit to both parties

    “To be clear, slavery in any sense is a perversion of God’s created intention for human beings, and there are some harsh passages we still have to deal with.”

    If by “harsh passages” you’re referring to Mosaic laws dealing with slaves, I would respectfully disagree. There are numerous passages that are commonly misinterpreted. Slavery was a necessary part of the ancient world. God works within the norms of society, and the Mosaic law regulates slavery with paramount importance being given to the slaves dignity as a human being. As much as that statement may sound disingenuous to modern ears one needs to take into consideration the fact that slavery was a necessary “evil” in that too many people had no other options available to them. Under the Mosaic law a Jew could purchase a foreigner who’s best opportunity for freedom was to become the slave of a Jew. It was the only chance they would ever had of upward mobility within those societies. Once they decided to become an Israelite, they automatically claimed the rights of a native born Israelite citizen who could never be involuntarily enslaved by a fellow citizen.
    This is what slavery would look like were it to be introduced today. A college student with $100k of student loan debt and no job prospects, rent due, no car, no nothing is now presented with the opportunity to have ALL of their student loan debt erased IMMEDIATELY in exchange for a new place to live with their new employer, no bills to pay, a clothing allowance, health care, they will be eating the exact same food that their employer eats, and they will be getting on the job training which they can take with them should they decide they want to move on, with some walking money; when their term of service is over.
    Who wouldn’t jump at that opportunity? Three thousand years ago the situation was considerably more bleak with people looking at immanent death if they couldn’t find someone to take them in and employ them as a slave.
    Another glaring example of just how immoral our current system of law really is when compared with the Mosaic law is the example of theft. When your property is stolen, and let’s say you’re injured during the robbery. If the thief is brought to justice, the chances of you being repaid for your losses are slim to none with a heavy emphasis on none. The thief does his time working off his debt to society, but this is really the State who has become the national god.
    Under the Mosaic system, the thief must not only repay what he’s stolen, he must return it with interest. He must work it off if that’s the only option he has available to him. This is justice. This is moral. This is paying one’s debt to the person who the debt is owed to. It also allows the thief or debtor the dignity to pay off their debts rather than just filing for bankruptcy. Today, most people would rather just skip on their debts than work them off, but I digress.
    One of the most interesting things about slavery under the regulations of the Mosaic law is the fact that slaves had the choice to walk when their term was up, or remain. The fact that this was an option indicates just what a great deal this was for some slaves.
    There is a significant lack of critical thinking skills evident today when one asks anyone why slavery is so wrong. This is how the normal person responds: “It’s wrong to own someone.” Fair enough, but why? “Because that’s slavery.” And why is that wrong? “Because it’s wrong to own someone”. The problem with this nonsense is that it’s better to be a slave living in comfort with a good job and benefits than dying of malnutrition and free to be homeless.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In addition to the OP’s point from Philemon, it is notable that in Ephesians 6 Paul tells masters (1) they cannot even threaten their slave and (2) that the master is a slave to God, who shows no partiality. Point 2 equalizes the status of master and slave. Point 1 tells masters they cannot treat their slaves as slaves.

    In a society in which Christians lacked the power to end slavery, and in a situation in which it may not be to slave’s advantage to simply be freed (where will he find employment; will he end up simply trading a Christian master for a lost one?), Paul’s instructions really do seem to undermine the system from the inside out.

    Like

    1. shnarkle

      Paul isn’t adding or changing what the Mosaic law already stipulated. The Mosaic law recognized the intrinsic value of all human beings as being image bearers of God. The Mosaic law allowed a Jew to purchase a foreigner’s freedom from a life of slavery for a limited term of employment followed by being welcomed into the community as a fellow heir to the kingdom. Paul isn’t undermining the system. He’s simply spotlighting what it already allowed.

      Like

      1. Of course, the Mosaic Law was not in force in Ephesus. Paul is undermining the Greco-Roman system of slavery.

        Like

      2. shnarkle

        I can see how that would be the case if all Christians who have slaves followed Paul’s advice. However, even then it doesn’t speak to those who aren’t Christians. I’m not sure why Paul wouldn’t necessarily take a different position with regards to those who God would necessarily have already given up on. In other words, evil people also would have slaves, and in Paul’s world, God gave them up to their own devices. Interestingly this also spotlights that slavery isn’t just for righteous Christians. Anyone can be a slave or own a slave and be just as big a part of the Christian community. Ironic that no one notices that fact, isn’t it?

        In a nutshell, while being free is to be preferred to being enslaved, Paul isn’t even suggesting that slavery is sinful. As obvious as this is, it isn’t nearly as obvious as Christ’s prohibition against Christians working for Mammon. It is far better to work for a Christian for free because one is a child of God than to be enslaved to Mammon.

        Like

  4. Esther

    God’s law given to Moses made a female slave a slave for the rest of her life. Human nature doesn’t change, so we cannot be blind to the horrifically vulnerable station of those girls and women. It is likely that there were many more female than male Israelite slaves. Parents would certainly have striven harder to keep their male children out of slavery. For this reason I would urge anyone pointing to the seven-year release of slaves to explicitly state that this applied to a minority of slaves. I feel it is disingenuous to simply comment that slaves were able to gain their freedom after seven years.

    Like

    1. shnarkle

      The female gender didn’t have as many options as male, therefore it was really a blessing for the female slave. A male slave was worth more so those who couldn’t afford a male slave were forced to purchase a female which required a much bigger commitment to take care of them for the lifetime of the slave. Ignorance isn’t necessarily disingenuous, sometimes people just don’t know what they’re talking about.

      Like

  5. Barbara Burkham

    If you want to hear what the bible does say about slavery, I ask you listen to a sermon by David Platt, a pastor, author, and President of of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, The sermon can be heard here: http://radical.net/sermon/what-about-slavery-paul/. Using scripture from both the old and new testaments, he makes the case that the bible condemns slavery as it undermines God’s creation.

    Like

    1. shnarkle

      The same case for undermining God’s creation could be made for poverty which eventually creates the inevitable necessity for slavery/indentured servitude. Perhaps we need to outlaw poverty.

      Like

  6. Thanks for sharing more on this much confused subject. This is indeed a great help to discuss with such so called athiests who defend their part.
    As you said it’s indeed avery challenging topic and it needs to be addressed more. Waiting for more on this line.
    Thanks for sharing.
    With Kind Christian Love.
    ~ Philip

    Like

    1. Barbara Burkham

      Let’s not forget the church’s complicity In supporting slavery as biblical. There were many pastors including Woodrow Wilson’s father defending slavery from the pulpit. Thankfully, though many Christians supported the abolitionist movement but the federal government was not ready to yield. It took a black Baptist pastor to shake up the norm.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] Fleeing Homosexualtiy? * Bill Muehlenberg: Stop Pretending You Are a Christian * Gavin Ortlund: Is the Bible Pro-Slavery? * Richard Gardiner: The forgotten history of Memorial […]

    Like

  8. Barbara Burkham

    Not sure if your comment was sarcastic about outlawing poverty but it brought to mind when Jesus said the poor will always be with us. His listeners knew this related to the OT. “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11.

    Like

    1. shnarkle

      Barbara, I can assure you that there was no sarcasm anywhere in my post. You’re spotlighting why slavery is not only a necessity, but an inherent benefit for a fallen world. The Mosaic law articulates numerous ways of providing for the poor, but when poverty overwhelms society, indentured servitude and slavery are a benefit to a people who hold human dignity to be of paramount importance.

      Human dignity necessitates that people be allowed to work to sustain themselves. When they aren’t allowed to work, but forced to accept donations from others, this injures their self respect and self esteem. There was a time when no man would think of taking charity without being able to repay or work their debt off. Today drugs, public inculcation, and a post modern mentality deceives us into thinking we’re entitled to a handout.

      Under the Mosaic law those who had a higher image of themselves had a choice…

      Like

  9. […] Is the Bible Pro-Slavery?  There are many hot-topics in today’s day and age, one of them is slavery. Recently, my pastor and I had a discussion on slavery in the context of 1 Peter 2:18, as he was doing sermon prep. It was a fruitful discussion. I cam upon this article from Gavin Ortlund who does a masterful job addressing the subject. […]

    Like

  10. […] Is the Bible Pro-Slavery? […]

    Like

  11. There is no evidence that God supports slavery. I did a deep dive on this topic myself and did not find God supporting it. I’m not clear on why there would be doubt about this.

    https://realitydecoded.blog/2017/11/15/slavery-in-the-bible-is-god-for-it-or-against-it/

    Like

    1. shnarkle

      It is because the Mosaic law, which was given to Moses by God, regulates slavery. Regulations regarding slavery are an implicit acknowledgment of the existence of slavery. This is no mere acknowledgement though as it is explicitly regulating it WITHIN the cult of Israel. Where God supports it is in that it is a mechanism by which foreigners may become free. Outside of the Mosaic law, freedom wasn’t a practical or likely option. For a gentile, being purchased by a Israelite or Jew was their ticket to freedom, albeit with some time spent working off their debt for this service.

      Like

      1. There is no evidence that Go supports slavery as you said. I also see no verse that states that God supports slavery.

        I do see clearly where God does not support slavery:

        Galatians 5:1
        5 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.

        Do you agree with Christ or do you disagree?

        Like

      2. shnarkle

        He’s not talking about slavery in those verses. He’s talking about those who believed that they were justified by the works of the law. He pointed out that to establish one’s righteousness by the works of the law required one to keep the entire law, and if that goal wasn’t met, you were screwed. Read the entire context. He’s not talking about the regulations articulated dealing with slavery in the Mosaic law. Although they could be included if one felt that they were justified by keeping slaves. Those who felt no necessity to justify their observance of God’s laws concerning slavery didn’t have that problem. One doesn’t keep slaves in order to establish their righteousness, therefore Paul wouldn’t have a problem with owning slaves for any reason other than those who thought owning slaves justified them.

        I agree with what the context is saying, I don’t agree with your out of context interpretation.

        Like

      3. I actually never use interpretation with the bible, I only go by what it actually says. You on the other hand are using interpretation.

        Let me ask you another question: Since we disagree how do we go about knowing who is correct? I believe what the verse actually says but you believe it has a different meaning than what it says, so in your mind how do we determine who is right and who is wrong?

        Like

      4. shnarkle

        Context. Paul is explicitly talking figuratively regarding slavery. He is engaging in a discussion dealing with those who believe that one is justified by keeping the law. Here’s what he says starting in chapter 4:

        “21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.
        24These things are being taken FIGURATIVELY: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”

        Paul is allegorizing the story of Hagar and Sarah and concludes ” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.” meaning that justification by the law is not what leads to salvation, but God’s promise through the faith of Christ. He says this in verses 4-6:

        “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

        So he is using this idea that keeping the law in order to be justified is tantamount to being enslaved. His letter is dealing with those who think keeping the law is the path to salvation. He isn’t dealing with slavery. He’s not telling them to stop buying slaves, or to runaway from their slave owners. He’s figuratively saying that to be under the law is making the law their slave master.

        Like

      5. I did state before that you are using interpretation where I am not. I am a Bible Literalist and never interpret scripture. It is only what it states.

        My question was a bit more focused and not addressed in this response. We obviously disagree about the scriptures so how do we go about knowing who is correct?

        Like

      6. shnarkle

        I’m not sure what you mean by bible literalist. Paul plainly states that he is speaking figuratively. That is literally what he stated. Did you read what I posted? Here’s what he states: “These things are being taken FIGURATIVELY: The women represent two covenants….etc” You’re interpretation is literally in direct opposition to what Paul is literally saying. I think you’ve misunderstood what it means to be a bible literalist. Bible literalism doesn’t negate what the texts literally state. When the text says that what the author is writing is to be taken “figuratively”, then that literally is what the author is saying. He is telling the reader that to read it literally is incorrect. That is literally what it means. The author isn’t using a figure of speech when he plainly and literally states he is speaking figuratively.

        To answer your question, I would say that Paul is correct. I agree with Paul when he says that he is speaking figuratively. I have no reason to pretend that he isn’t saying what he is actually and literally saying.

        Like

      7. You stated: “I’m not sure what you mean by bible literalist.”
        My Response: “adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense”, where literal means “in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical”.

        You stateded: “Paul plainly states that he is speaking figuratively.”

        Not in the scripture I posted which you did not acknowledge: Let me add from the range you are now speaking of which is after he ended his figurative speaking and provided a sumation:

        30 But what saith the Scripture? Put out the servant and her son: for the son of the servant shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.

        31 Then brethren, we are not children of the servant, but of the free woman.

        This was absolutely speaking of slavery which he then confirmed in the verse I provided:

        Galatians 5:1
        5 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.

        So again, God does not support slavery and you have not convinced me that he does since you have not provided any evidence supporting your statement.

        Like

      8. shnarkle

        “This was absolutely speaking of slavery which he then confirmed in the verse I provided:”

        The servant was explicitly referring to being justified by the Mosaic law. The problem with your interpretation is that Paul doesn’t do away with the Mosaic law, any more than he has done away with slavery. He isn’t absolutely speaking of slavery anymore than Jesus is speaking of bread when he says; “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” You don’t actually believe Jesus was warning his disciples about literal leaven, do you?

        To make the attempt to justify oneself by the works of the law is slavery. To say one shouldn’t be a slave to the law isn’t negating God’s explicit regulations concerning slavery any more than God’s laws dealing with money and the accumulation of wealth negate his laws dealing with taking care of the poor. It’s a non sequitur.

        Paul’s discourse here has nothing to do with God’s laws concerning slavery, but with those who believed they were justified by the works of the law. I quoted the passage showing what he was talking about. For him to say one shouldn’t go back to feeling this need to be justified by the law isn’t a negation of the law; a law which includes slavery.

        Picking one or two verses out of context probably isn’t a recommended method even for a biblical literalist. When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days” even the Pharisees knew he was referring to his body, which is why they placed guards in front of his tomb for the next three days.

        When he took bread in his hands and said, “This is my body”, do you believe that bread was literally his body as all Roman Catholics do? Something tells me you’re not as much of a literalist as you think you are.

        Jesus says “With God all things are possible”. Wouldn’t that include keeping the law? Or as all of Christianity believes, this isn’t possible. Are you able to keep all of the law perfectly as Christ instructs. “Be perfect like your father in heaven is perfect”. Do you interpret that literally?

        Here’s my favorite, which I am confident you wouldn’t dare take literally. “”for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth…
        Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment…O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
        33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth….And they all with one consent began to make excuse…whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he CANNOT be my disciple.” – Luke 12:15,22;28-33;14:18,33

        By Christ’s own definition(and who is there better to determine who can be a Christian than Christ?), you can’t be a Christian unless you have sold all your possessions, and given the proceeds to the poor, you’re not a follower of Christ. That’s literally what he says here. There are hundreds of figures of speech used throughout the biblical texts, yet not one of them is being used here. Something tells me you’re not really a biblical literalist after all…

        Like

      9. Avoiding the numerous side discussions in your response we are left with this: You believe that God supports slavery and I do not not believe God supports slavery.

        How do we determine who is right in their belief?

        Like

      10. shnarkle

        I think the first thing to note is that God doesn’t just support any type of slavery. The question then becomes what type of slavery does God support? The answer to that question can be found in the Mosaic law where slavery is regulated according to God’s will which includes the imperative command to remember to treat one’s slave with dignity. All people are created in the image of God, and should be treated with dignity, regardless of their station in life. Fortunately, the Mosaic law contains quite a bit of information on the subject of slavery; call it the proper care and feeding of slaves as well as how to help a slave move up in the world after they’ve performed their service. This is just one of the benefits of slavery as regulated in the biblical texts.

        Like

      11. Incorrect: The Bible is clear on where God stands on slavery and it is not supported. Taking verses out of context will not make something into what it is not. I covered this in detail with an article I wrote.

        https://realitydecoded.blog/2017/11/15/slavery-in-the-bible-is-god-for-it-or-against-it/

        Like

      12. shnarkle

        I showed you your verse in context, and you spurned it so no one here is deceived by your protestations to the contrary. Here’s a short list of God’s views on slavery. All can be taken literally so the biblical literalist should have no problem becoming or owning a slave.

        “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Peter 2:18: )

        Colossians 4:1 ESV
        Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

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

        Colossians 3:22 ESV
        Slaves, 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.

        1 Timothy 6:1-2 ESV
        Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things.

        Ephesians 6:9
        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.

        1 Corinthians 12:13
        For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

        Luke 12:47-48 ESV
        And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

        Note that the next verse is one that most assume is only found in the New Testament when the reality is that it is simply Paul upholding the Mosaic law.

        Deuteronomy 23:15
        “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.

        Exodus 21:1-4 1″These are the laws you are to set before them: 2″If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him.

        Ephesians 6:5
        Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

        Leviticus 25:44-46
        As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

        Deuteronomy 15:12-18
        “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. But if he says to you, ‘I will not

        Like

      13. Clearly you are not looking at these in context. God has clearly denounced slavery. There is a difference between what God said we should do and what we are allowed to do. Once we do that which we should not there are rules in place and that is what you focused on. Here is my evidence of what I am saying.

        Also don’t be so dramatic as to state verses are being spurned, we are not children. We have different belief systems and we are discussing the differences between them. I have no emotional position just scripture. If we disagree then so be it but do it in peace not with drama.

        Slavery In The Bible, Is God For It Or Against It?

        Verses in the Bible have been used by some to promote slavery and bigotry while others use those same verses to turn people away from Christianity. Below I offer you the entire picture so you can see what all the verses say together. Come to your own conclusion, Think On Your Own.

        I have provided the full set of verses for those who are having these discussions with Theist and Atheist so that both sides are better equipped to have a meaningful conversation. I’ve seen too many bad arguments on both sides due to a lack of full verse perspective. It is not my goal to force my opinion on anyone for this post but rather that they are fully acclimated to what is listed in the bible.

        The start of slavery in the Bible
        Exodus 1: 11,14
        11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
        14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

        Was God aware of it?
        Exodus 2: 23
        23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.

        Exodus 3: 9
        9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.

        How did God feel about it?
        Exodus 2: 25
        25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

        Exodus 3: 7
        7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.

        What was Gods response to it?
        Exodus 3: 8
        8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

        Exodus 12: 36
        36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

        Exodus 20: -2
        And God spake all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

        What did God put in place for the future?
        Exodus 15: -26
        There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

        Exodus 20: 20
        20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

        Exodus 21: -2
        2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.

        Exodus 21: 3-11
        3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him.4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. 5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. 7 “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

        Restrictions for mankind
        Exodus 20: 15
        15 “You shall not steal.

        Exodus 21: 16
        16 “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

        Exodus 22: 21
        21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

        Exodus 20: 17
        17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

        Exodus 13: 13
        13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

        Exodus 22: 22-24
        22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

        Leviticus 25: 39-42
        39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves.

        Leviticus 25: 47-48,53
        47 “‘If a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48 they retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves. One of their relatives may redeem them:
        53 They are to be treated as workers hired from year to year; you must see to it that those to whom they owe service do not rule over them ruthlessly.

        Exceptions for mankind
        Leviticus 25: 44-46
        44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        Is this like slavery in America’s history?
        Exodus 21:20-21
        20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

        Where does this leave us?
        Galatians 5:13
        13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. ,

        Leviticus 25: 44-46
        45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        Colossians 3: 22
        22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

        Titus 2: 9
        9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,

        1 Timothy 6:1-3
        6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,

        Ephesians 6:5-9
        5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. 9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

        Galatians 5:1
        5 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.

        Final Message:
        There you have it, all the verses listed. Come to your own conclusion and think on your own. If anything needs to be added please post a reply for me to review.

        Like

      14. shnarkle

        To simply point out the fact that you spurned my posts isn’t engaging in drama or behaving childish. It’s a simply observation. The fact is that you’ve done it again. You haven’t addressed any of the passages I provided from the New Testament which clearly allow and condone slavery. Nothing needs to be added as you’ve failed to address what’s already been provided.

        Like

      15. Your verses are literally in my response with a header above them to provide context.

        Did you fully read what I posted as a reply to your comments?

        Like

      16. shnarkle

        Is this like slavery in America’s history?
        Exodus 21:20-21
        20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

        To answer your question: Not even close.

        I also pointed out that slavery according to the Mosaic law was nothing like slavery practiced anywhere else, that would include slavery as practiced in the US

        Like

      17. So to be clear you don’t believe that slaves in the United States were beaten with rods? Of which some lived or some died?

        I am providing this for for you since this is common knowledge for most who know history.

        Flagellation (Latin flagellum, “whip”), flogging, whipping or lashing is the act of beating the human body with special implements such as whips, lashes, rods, switches, the cat o’ nine tails, the sjambok, etc. Typically, flogging is imposed on an unwilling subject as a punishment; however, it can also be submitted to willingly, or performed on oneself, in religious or sadomasochistic contexts.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagellation

        Like

      18. shnarkle

        Exodus 21:20-21
        20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result,”

        This wasn’t a standard punishment in the US.

        ” 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”
        Recovery meant no signs of punishment evident. A bruise would last at least two days. These standards are expanded and elaborated in the Oral law as well.

        None of those standards were recognized in the US.

        Like

      19. You are incorrect and the evidence is plentiful. The treatment of slaves in the United States varied by time and place, but was generally brutal and degrading. Whipping and sexual abuse, including rape, were common.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treatment_of_slaves_in_the_United_States

        https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-3f6b5618cb81476b056077b8e4b70181-c

        The evidence is overwhelming.
        Hebrews 5:11
        11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand

        Like

      20. shnarkle

        You have a profound reading comprehension problem. I am in no way showing that the two are in any way equivalent. I am showing that slavery as outlined in the Mosaic law resembled nothing like slavery in the US. If you did understand what I was posting then you are simply trolling.

        Like

      21. You may have forgotten this but that was on of the points we disagreed on. I believe they are equivalent.

        Since you are not in a mindset to keep up with this discussion let’s end it.

        Like

      22. It was frequently carried out during the period of slavery in the United States, by slave owners and their slaves.

        Like

  12. Daniel Graves

    Exodus 21 talks about Hebrew slaves going free after 6 years.

    Like

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s