Does the Bible support slavery?
Are you in the mood to buy yourself a nice slave? Are you wondering what the Bible has to say about this important decision? There are legal and moral considerations to be made on this huge and life changing choice that is before you. Let us discuss what the Bible has to say to you.
Now obviously basically all societies currently on earth frown on slavery. In the United States where I live owning a slave is highly illegal. If a Christian should or should not obey the laws of their land is a complex topic and another study for another day. We do not have time to cover that issue today, but surely we should value Gods perfect laws over the laws of man.
Now one thing is for sure, the Bible speaks about slavery frequently. It covers instructions for slaves, instructions on how masters should treat slaves, the Israelites escape out of the land of slavery, metaphorical slavery, and how slaves can get to heaven. Slavery is mentioned many times in many different contexts. Without doubt this is a topic that is covered far and wide in the Bible.
So let us open up the Holy Word of God and see what is brings to us.
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. 46You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
This seems like a very clear word from God. But it’s not, you have to look more carefully. This is very clearly aimed at the Israelites. So unless you live in Israel and have a Palistinian laying around, we have a bit more work to do. We certainly want to uncover the full mysteries of the Bible. Now we do know that no where in the Bible does it say we cannot or should not own slaves. The Bible lists out many sins and many things that we should not be doing, owning slaves is not one of those things.
In fact, the Bible clearly says that we are all one in Christ, both slave and free men.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 12:13
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all
When the Bible repeats itself with this much frequency, PAY ATTENTION! It is not often that Bible repeats itself over and over like this. So when it does, it must mean something important. Slaves are important and they are one with us in Christ. As the Bible did, I will repeat that: In Christ Jesus we are one in the Spirit together, both free man and slaves. This is exciting news for all of us!
Now there may be some slaves taking part in this study. I do not know how you have gained the ability to read, but if so, good on you! Be cheerful slaves, the Bible has many good words for you. There are several choice passages written in the New Testament with your name right on them. Let us see what the Holy Word has for you.
1 Timothy 6:1-2
1 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 are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.
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 like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
1 Peter 2:18-20
18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
This is not to say that the Good Book has no word for those who would own a slave. It certainly does!
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
20 If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
There are many more verses on the owning of slaves. Within the Bible this is a deep and well covered subject. So why would the Bible spend so much time telling us how to treat our slaves, and telling our slaves how to act if we were not supposed to have one? It wouldn’t, and we are supposed to have slaves! Slave ownership is a wonderful and pure gift that the Lord God has given us. Some of us are meant to own slaves and some of us are meant to be slaves. Together we are all one in the body of Christ and each of us part of his plan. So go forth and seek God’s will, and if this leads to you owning a slave or two, you will be all the more blessed for doing such a thing in his name.
2 Kings 4:1