Slaves of a Good Master

I recent years the re-writing of American history has meant that anything having to do with slavery is nearly taboo subject especially if it is associated with the “Southern States” or “Confederacy.”  

The writer of this article equally points out that most modern translations of the bible have re-written the full impact of it, by rendering the Greek word doulos, used some 119 times in the New Testament as servant. The stronger and more (my opinion) proper rendering, in most instances, would be Slave.

I can not say for certain if the intent is not to offend, but we need to ask questions like: are we merely serving Christ? Or are we willingly slaves of Christs, indentured to Him for the unrepayable gift of Calvary?


The Master's Seminary Blog

Slaves of a Good Master

Mike Riccardi | 

When I began to preach the book of Philippians several years ago, I noticed that Paul immediately identifies himself and Timothy as slaves of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:1). Now, most English versions translate this word as “servants” or “bond-servants,” but the Greek word is doulos, which is properly rendered “slave.”

In identifying himself as a slave of Christ at the very beginning of the letter, Paul intended that the Philippians—who had been struggling with issues of steadfastness amidst conflict (Phil. 1:27–30; 4:1), unity amongst believers (Phil. 2:1–2; 4:2–3), humility (Phil. 2:3–9), and joy amidst persecution (Phil. 2:17–18; 3:1; 4:4)—would be reminded that they too are slaves of Christ Jesus, and that this identity would inform their responses to those situations.

The essence of the Christian life can be described in terms of slavery to Christ. It is interesting to note that slave is a favorite self-designation for the apostles and other writers of Scripture. James claims this title for himself in the opening verse of his epistle (James 1:1). The same is true for Peter (2 Pet. 1:1), Jude (Jude 1:1), and John (Rev. 1:1). In addition, Paul repeats that he is Christ’s doulos throughout his other letters, in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Timothy, and Titus. The term is used at least forty times in the New Testament to refer to the believer, and the Hebrew equivalent is used over 250 times to refer to believers in the Old Testament. We may safely conclude that the Lord wants His people to understand themselves in this way.

At its core, the essence of the Christian life can be described in terms of slavery to Christ.

Five Parallels

So what does it mean to be a slave in the biblical sense? In his excellent book, entitled simply, Slave, John MacArthur outlines five parallels between biblical Christianity and first-century slavery.

Exclusive ownership

Slaves are owned by their masters. As Paul says to believers so clearly: “You are not your own. You have been bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). Christians do not exist in untethered autonomy. We are not the masters of our fate nor the captains of our souls. We were bought with a price, and so we belong to the One who has paid that price.

Complete submission

“Therefore,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:20, because you were bought with a price and are not your own, “glorify God in your body.”Exclusive ownership implies complete submission. If we belong to Christ—if He owns us—then the rule of our lives is not our will, but His will—our Master’s will.

Singular devotion

No slave concerned himself with obeying other masters; his chief concern was carrying out the will of the one to whom he belonged. Our Master, the Lord Jesus Himself, reminds us in Matthew 6:24 that “no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

The nineteenth-century evangelist George Müller captured the spirit of slavery to Christ beautifully when he wrote:

There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Müller and his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of even my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God. (cited in Slave, 153)

Total dependence

The slave is also marked by a total dependence—that is, he was completely dependent on his master for the provision of the basic necessities of life. In the same way, the Christian must humbly depend entirely upon the beneficence of our Master, and not at all on ourselves (Matt. 5:3; 1 Pet. 4:11). And because He is a loving, kind Master, all our needs are met, and we are free to serve our Master unhindered and with all eagerness and joy.

Personally accountable

Finally, the slave was personally accountable to his master. And in the same way, Christ is the One to whom we will answer—the One to whom we will give an account. And that reality will have bearing on how we conduct ourselves now (2 Cor. 5:9–10).

Christians, most fundamentally, are slaves of Christ.

A Delightful Bond

But as you contemplate those five characteristics, I hope you recognize that slavery to Christ is not a drudgery. This is not a tyrannical, despotic relationship fueled by abject fear and forced submission. The picture is not someone whose will is constantly frustrated over and against the whims of his master, but of someone whose will is, over time and repeated exposure to that Master, lovingly and happily conformed to the Master’s will. Alexander Maclaren called it “the blending and absorption of my own will in His will.” So it is not just, “I do what He wants, not what I want,” but, “As He teaches me and shows me more of Himself, what I want conforms to what He wants.”

Nor was a slave’s status always automatically dishonorable. Instead, the status of the slave was linked to the status of his master. It was a great honor to be accounted a slave of Caesar. In the same way, for Christians, being slaves of Christ was, as MacArthur says, “not only an affirmation of their complete submission to the Master; it was also a declaration of the privileged position every Christian enjoys by being associated with the Lord. No affiliation could be greater than that” (Slave, 97).

In fact, Scripture applies that designation to Christ Himself in Philippians 2:7, where we’re told that in His incarnation, Christ took the form of a slave. And as we submit ourselves fully to His loving rule, we not only honor Him as our Master, but follow Him in His example.

[This article was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.]


Since Before The World Began


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“In the beginning… the Spirit of God hovered over the waters…”

“… I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Therefore, with loving kindness,

I havedrawn you.” 

“He chose us in Christ,

[actually selected us for Himself as His own]

Before the world began…” 

 -Genesis 1:2 – Jeremiah 31:3 – Ephesians 4:1

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Worthy of God – Digno de dios

 We are charged in all parts of our life to exemplify Christ

Estamos encargados en todas las partes de nuestra vida de ejemplificar a Cristo

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11 así como sabéis de qué manera os exhortábamos, alentábamos e implorábamos[a] a cada uno de vosotros, como un padre lo haría con sus propios hijos, 12 para que anduvierais como es digno del Dios que os ha llamado[b] a su reino y a su gloria. (LBLA)


Because God who has called us from sin and redeemed us is Holy; we too are called to live a Holy life.

Porque Dios que nos llamó del pecado y nos redimió es Santo; nosotros también estamos llamados a vivir una vida santa.

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sino que así como aquel que os llamó es santo[a], así también sed vosotros santos en toda vuestra manera de vivir; 16 porque escrito está: Sed santos, porque Yo soy santo.


We should never have to boast of our Christianity, others should see it in us and God should be the proud Father bragging on us. 

Nunca deberíamos jactarnos de nuestro cristianismo, otros deberían verlo en nosotros y Dios debería ser el orgulloso Padre que se jacta de nosotros.

17 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. 2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Pero el que se gloria, que se glorie en el Señor. 18 Porque no es aprobado el que se alaba a sí mismo, sino aquel a quien el Señor alaba.


We should live each day as Paul did with this conflict in mind; that to live and serve Christ is a great blessing, yet to die and be with Him in glory someday all the more. 

Deberíamos vivir cada día como lo hizo Pablo con este conflicto en mente; que vivir y servir a Cristo es una gran bendición, pero morir y estar con Él en gloria algún día más.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21




Jesus Knows His Sheep

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There are many verses in the bible that should bring comfort to the believer, these among them. How precious a promise to know that our Great Shepherd knows each of us by name. I hope you enjoy John Piper’s Devotional on the subject – Mike

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them.” (John 10:27)

Jesus knows those who are his. What is this knowledge?

John 10:3 is a close parallel to John 10:27. It says, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

So, when Jesus says, “I know them,” this means at least that he knows them by name; that is, he knows them individually and intimately. They are not anonymous, lost in the flock.

John 10:14–15 provides another insight: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”

There is a real similarity between the way Jesus knows his Father in heaven and the way he knows his sheep. Jesus sees himself in the Father, and he sees himself in his disciples.

To some degree Jesus recognizes his own character in his disciples. He sees his own brand mark on the sheep. This endears them to him.

He is like a husband waiting for his wife at the airport, watching as each person disembarks from the plane. When she appears, he knows her, he recognizes her features, he sees in her eyes a happy reflection of his own love. He delights in her. She is the only one he embraces.

The apostle Paul puts it like this: “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Timothy 2:19).

It is hard to overemphasize what a tremendous privilege it is to be known personally, intimately, lovingly by the Son of God. It is a precious gift to all his sheep, and it contains within it profound, personal fellowship and affection and the promise of eternal life.


Wait and Renew

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31


Matthew Poole’s Commentary

That wait upon the Lord; that rely upon him for strength to bear their burdens, and for deliverance from them in due time. 

Shall renew their strength; shall grow stronger and stronger in faith, and patience, and fortitude, whereby they shall be more than conquerors over all their enemies and adversities.

They shall mount up with wings as eagles; which fly most strongly, and swiftly, and high, out of the reach of all danger.

They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint; they shall be enabled to run or walk in their way as they please, without any weariness.

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40 Men Died on Ice for Christ – March 9, 320



Governor Agricola of Armenia was confronted with “mutiny.” Forty soldiers refused to offer the sacrifice ordered by emperor Licinius. The forty who stood before him that wintry fourth-century day in Sevaste were fine specimens of manhood who radiated an aura of courage. He was determined to make them see reason.

But the soldiers were adamant. They refused to sacrifice. To do so was to betray their faith in Christ. “But what about your comrades?” asked Agricola. “Consider–you alone of all Caesar’s thousands of troops defy him! Think of the disgrace you bring upon your legion!”

“To disgrace the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is more terrible still,” replied the men. Exasperated, the governor threatened to flog and torture them. The soldiers stood firm, although they knew he would carry out his threat. In the fourth century, there were few civil rights. Boldly the men answered, “Nothing you can offer us would replace what we would lose in the next world. As for your threats– we despise our bodies when the welfare of our souls is at stake.”

Pairs of guards seized each man and dragged them out into the cold where they were stripped and tied to posts. Whips laid open their backs and iron hooks tore their sides. Still the forty refused to surrender. Agricola chained them in his dungeons. Finally, he commanded that they be stripped naked and driven onto the ice of a pond below Sevaste.

The “rebels” did not wait for the sentence to be imposed, but tearing off their own clothes, ran to the pond in the raw March air. “We are soldiers of the Lord and fear no hardship,” they said. “What is death for us but an entrance into eternal life?” On this day, March 9, 320, singing hymns, they stood shivering on the pond as the sun sank.

Baffled, Agricola ordered hot baths placed around the pond. Surely the warm water would lure the men off the ice! But the crisp night air carried a prayer to all ears: “Lord, there are forty of us engaged in this battle; grant that forty may be crowned and not one be wanting from this sacred number.”

One of the men did lose his nerve, however, and crawled off the ice to a bath. He died the instant he touched the hot water. This was too much for one of the guards. He shucked off his clothes, marched onto the ice and took the place of the man who had failed.

Source: 40 Men Died on Ice for Christ



Ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone – Luke 11:42

It is safer eating with unwashed hands than unwashed hearts. – Henry Smith

Outward decency in the church is a harbinger to provide lodging for inward devotion to follow after. – Thomas Fuller

Never content yourself with Elijah’s mantle, without the Lord God of that mantle. – Christopher Neese

Taken from: The Puritans Day by Day © The Banner of Truth Trust 2016

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