Slave or Employee: Getting into Philippians 1:1-5
Today we start our study of Philippians. These will be updated excerpts from Finding the Power to Believe
Paul and Timothy, slaves of Jesus the Messiah, to all the saints in Jesus who are at Philippi, including the bishops and deacons
I’ve used a compilation of versions here because none of them say it all. Most, for example, say servants or bond-servants is the better translation. But actually the term means slave.
Clearly our euphemistic 21st century usage is not going to cut it here. We don’t like to think about slavery. But Jesus never condemned slavery. It was an assumed part of life. It still is. We’ve just hidden our slavery under a huge pile of politically correct phrases like employee (as if there is an option to work). But we all know we are slaves. Our only freedom is the freedom to quit and get another job—but then that ruins our résumé.
Slave or bondslave?
Jack Hayford, in his Spirit-Filled Life Bible, defines bondservant as an employee who was treated well and enjoyed legal protections, but he or she was still a slave and was not allowed to resign and leave. They could be ordinary workers but they could also be highly trained, well-educated servants of considerable skill and responsibility.
What is the reality of slavery in our society, including America? Aren’t employee and slave largely interchangeable?
I use the phrase Jesus the Messiah because Christ is not Jesus’ last name (contrary to popular belief). Jesus was called and anointed to be our Messiah—the savior and Lord of all. Messiah was Jesus’ calling just as Apostle was Paul’s.
It is especially interesting that Paul establishes his authority over the bishops and deacons at Philippi. As an evangelist or traveling teacher, this would not be so. But as the apostle to the Gentiles, he clearly knows that he has this authority. An apostle is a person sent on a specific mission or sent to do a specific task under the authority of a master.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. I thank my God whenever I remember you always offering my prayer with joy as I pray for you in view of your participation in the Good News from the first day until now
This is the normal polite chit-chat required by the culture of the day. It’s a good example of prayer.
- Beginning a verse by verse study of Philippians (radiqx.com)
- Finding the Power to Believe: A study in Philippians (radiqx.com)
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