Why special mention of bond-servants? • Some writers point out that minority religions like Christianity were suspect in the first century of subverting the traditional family values of the Roman Empire. Paul’s instructions may have been intended as a “household code” to be practiced by the church, especially since churches often met in the homes of their patrons.
Social Classes in the 1st Century • Patricians • Equestrians • Plebians • Slaves
Conditions of slaves • How slaves were treated depended upon their masters. Since “moving up in the world” depended upon wealth, masters had a vested interest in taking care of their slaves, providing medical care, food, and housing. However, slaves could also be severely mistreated. They could be beaten or even sexually abused. They were considered property and could at one time even be killed by a displeased master. All of this was the lot of a person for no other reason that where he happened to be born!
Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. (Titus 2:9-10)
…Adorn the gospel in every respect • Adorn—from “kosmeo” meaning to arrange so that beauty can be seen • The gospel—the message of Christ • In every respect—in all ways • The stereotypical view of slaves was that they were always ready to disobey, argue, and steal.
Subject to their masters in everything • “Hupotasso” means to place oneself under the authority of another • The stress is on an attitude of submissiveness toward the master
Well pleasing, not argumentative • It only other occurrence is Heb. 13:21 in the expression, “with such sacrifices God is “well pleased”. The servant adorned the gospel by wanting to please his master in everything. • The slave was not to be argumentative but cooperative.
Not pilfering but showing all good faith • There was always a temptation to steal. The word “pilfer” suggests the idea of “petty larcenies”. • To show all good faith is to prove oneself trustworthy or honest.
Lessons for us! • Like servants of the Biblical culture, we often may find ourselves in a disadvantaged position for no other reason than how we were born; but even so, rather than be resentful, we need to start where we are and seek to glorify God in our condition. • We need to be thankful for freedom and good working conditions. God has truly blessed us with opportunity for a much higher quality of life than any other people who have ever lived!
Lessons for us! • We need to let the principles of the Scriptures determine the kind of workers that we are! • Submissive • Cooperative • Honest • We need to use our jobs as a means to adorn the gospel of Christ. When your job becomes your pulpit, you can preach the gospel without speaking a word!