“Slave or Servant”

     “Slave or Servant“: An Exposition of Galatians 2:4b — The intent of these Judaizers at Antioch, thinking they were in the right and Paul was leading both the Gentile and Jewish Christians into heresy, was to deprive them of the “liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free” (5:1), that is, legally free from the condemnation of the law – this same tactic they were using in the churches of Galatia. The Greek word for “bring into bondage” is “katadouloo” – found elsewhere only in II Cor. 11:20. The word is a combination of the preposition “kata”, in this case meaning “into”, and the verb “douleuo”, to “become a slave or servant”. Used 799 times in the Old Testament, the Hebrew equivalent for a male slave or servant is “‘ebed”. A female was called “’ama” or a “maid”. It would be appropriate at this time to note that the King James translators never rendered the word “doulos” (noun) or “‘ebed” as “slave”, but always as “servant”. The modern versions lean toward using the word “slave”.

     To our ears, this word “slave” seems somewhat repulsive, given our past history. Now, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the word “slave” as “a person who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who has no will of his own, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another”. Whereas a “servant” is “a person, male or female, that attends another for the purpose of performing menial offices for him, or who is employed by another for such offices or for other labor, and is subject to his command. The word is correlative to ‘master’. ‘Servant’ differs from ‘slave’, as a servant’s subjection to a master is voluntary, the slave’s is not. Every slave is a servant, but every servant is not a slave”. The authors agree with these definitions, which incidently come against the consistent use of the word “servant” in the KJV, instead of letting the context determine if “slave” would be more appropriate. Now, there is another element here which must be considered which lies at the heart of the matter. That is the attitude one takes toward any subservient role, slave or servant, and whether or not the human will has anything to do with it.

     So what about these two words and the theme here of being brought “into bondage”. To start this short “Subpilgrimage” about the use of these two words and how it ties in with both the legal status of man before God and capacity of the human will, let us look at the situation of Onesimus, a runaway “doulon” from his master (“kurios”) Philemon. Applying the definitions above, it would appear that this “doulon” was not performing his duties voluntarily or else he would have not run away. His attitude or manner of thinking toward his master was not that of a servant, but of someone forced into his subservient role and resenting it at every step. Though this was probably true initially, given his situation, Onesimus, had not, at that point, come to understand his election by God and the realization of the power it brings, exclusive of his situation, and so did his tasks begrudgingly. Thus, it appears that he was a “slave” – both in name, because he was not free to leave without consequences, as would be a servant, and attitude because his heart was not yet that of a willing servant, despite his circumstances. Of course, Paul gave the key to victory over a begrudging attitude when he exhorted the believing servants and masters in this manner: “Servants [“douloi”], obey in all things your masters [“kuriois”] according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but with singleness of heart, fearing God…Masters [“Kurioi”], give unto your servants [“doulois”] that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master [“kurion”] in heaven” (Col. 3:22; 4:1; Eph. 6:5-9). The key word here is “obey”, and that only can come from the eyes of an understanding heart that “we may know the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:18-21). When the Lord gives understanding of this, and this can take time, as was the case of Onesimus and Philemon – authors included – both “doulon” and “kurios” being in Christ, are profitable in a far different and better way. To make this discussion more interesting, there are three other Greek words that are rendered “servant”: “pais” – a child slave or servant; “oiketes” – a household domestic; and “diakonos” – also translated as a “minister” and “deacon”. Notwithstanding, despite the authors’ opinion on the use of the word “servant”, the King James Version is still the superior translation, bar none, based on its textual sources.

      Well, knowing that there is a difference, were the translators correct in their exclusive use of the word “servant”? This carries the implication that all human activity involves a free choice at its root and if dissatisfied, we are free to leave as we please. To complicate things more, these two words, “slave” and “servant”, have to be viewed both from a legal standpoint and from one’s heart attitude. Furthermore, we have to look at things as God sees them – which only a believer can do – and also from a human standpoint. However, the authors must strongly caution that we cannot use this as an excuse to say that either God or the devil “forced” us into an action – unless it is motivated by love (II Cor. 5:14). This carries the implication that man has been granted the power to resist, even “unto blood” (Heb. 12:4). So, we must start with the first Man to examine his legal status before God and the capacity of choice given to him and go from there. To begin with, all can agree that man has a will – “that faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). The decision that will makes determines both the action and the attitude to take toward any given situation. But to what extent, if any, is the will free or unrestrained? Can finite man make an unbiased choice between two or more things presented to him? We will examine “the first Man Adam” (I Cor. 15:45) to whom the LORD God gave a command. It was a clear choice because the LORD God gave him two options – “obey” or “disobey”. For Adam to choose to disobey had deadly consequences and both he and Eve were certainly aware of this. It is also obvious that both had the ability to obey that command. This is all relevant because the most notable issue in this “Pilgrimage” is whether a man in his natural fallen state, possesses the capacity and willingness to make a “decision for Christ”, that is, choose the Christ of the Scriptures, the embodiment of the Tree of Life, above all other options presented to his will – or has that decision already been made for him (Jn. 15:16) out of God’s goodness and mercy because if left to his own will, man simply will not. The authors have come to believe that answers to these questions are found in the Scriptures to the extent that there should be, like the issue of our Lord’s deity, “without controversy” (I Tim. 3:16) regarding this. Nevertheless, due to the very fact which prompts this discussion, there is great controversy. So, is his will free to make unbiased choices or not? Since God is said to work all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), is there room for man to work some things after the counsel of his own will independent of God? In fact, is his will truly his own?

     Fundamental to all discussion is the fact that the Triune God is Master and Ruler of His creation – period!!! Being the Master and Ruler and Creator, His creation is for His glory and subservient to Him, whether they want to admit this or not. It is also paramount that everyone must possess some knowledge about the existence of this Master and Ruler and Creator who is above all gods and Lord of all lords to whom we are held accountable. If not, there would be no way for the world to be “judged in righteousness by that Man He hath ordained” (Acts 17:31). The entire universe, as we comprehend it and beyond all boundaries of human knowledge, brings glory to Him (Ps. 19:1). This is a hard fact of life for man both to grasp and to work out in life – including the authors. Therefore, since He is the Master and Ruler and Creator, by implication, His creation, including man, are legally by definition, slaves – willingly or unwillingly. We, inclusive of all mankind, are not employees of the Most High or “buddy-buddy”, as some want us to think, we are absolutely subject to His will. We cannot out-think or outmaneuver God “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (I Tim. 6:16). We cannot run away to another god, for even that god is subservient to JEHOVAH God (Ps. 97:7). “Whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there” (Ps. 139:7b-8). For those who think “with our tongue we will prevail, our lips are our own, who is lord over us” (Ps. 12:4), consider who “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). Can man will his next breath or control the action of his bodily organs? Read Job, Chapters 38-39 for a lesson on who is really in charge. There is no other conclusion the authors can reach. There is no joint agreement between man, the devil and the Triune God. Reduced to this base, it is obvious. Our legal position before the Most High God is that of a slave dependent on Him for our very existence and life (Acts 17:25). Whether or not a person comes to understand this fact and submit to His revealed will by His enabling power (Eph. 1:19; 3:20; I Pet. 1:5) and become as servants in heart, but even more so, compliant sons and daughters to Him who is now a Father by adoption, as well as Master and Ruler and Creator, remains in the secret counsel of the Most High. Why most are left in their “trespasses and sins” and only a remnant are delivered from His future wrath by being hidden in His Son is truly the elective grace of God and will remain the “Gordian knot” (a knot which cannot be untied) of human comprehension, beyond our understanding and hidden from view, given our fallen condition.

     Let us now take a look at the first Man. Made a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor to have dominion over the works of God’s hands (Ps. 8:5-6; Heb. 2:7) prior to the Fall, Adam was originally created in the image and likeness of God. It is written: “And God said, Let Us make (“yasar” – to squeeze into a shape as a potter forms clay) man (“adam”) in Our image (Heb. “selem”/Gr. “eikon” – a copy or reproduction of the original), after Our likeness (Heb. “demut”/Gr. “homoioma” – not another God, but very close in both outward and inward substance – see also Phil 2:7 and I Jn. 1:1-3) …so God created (“bara” – to make from something not previously in existence) man in His Own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:26-27). Therefore, since the LORD God formed man in His image and likeness, it follows that this God is the Prototype for this image and likeness. This can only refer to the Second Person of the Triune God whom we know to possess this. The First and Third Persons, as we understand it, do not possess physicality. Now, Adam and Eve must have been adorned with a visible glory or radiance that can only be compared with our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2; Mk. 9:3; Lk.;9:29), or possibly closer to that of Moses when he descended from Mount Sinai (Exod. 34:29-35; II Cor. 3:13). Without question, the Scriptures are replete with references that we will recognize this God and all humanity shall bow the knee to Him and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord (Isa. 45:23; Phil. 2:11). Therefore, His body bears a close resemblance to ours – actually, the other way around. He has a head, hair, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, hands, torso, legs, feet, and so on. Look at Genesis 3:8: we read that Adam and Eve “heard the voice of the LORD God walking [“halak” – walk – to move the legs and feet alternately in a forward direction] in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8). This does not read like Adam and Eve interacting with a spirit, but a Being possessing physicality whom they recognized to be the LORD God (note also Gen. 18:1). That only Being in the garden must have been our Lord Jesus Christ in His body of glory. As noted, the bodies of Adam and Eve also were of glory. What a contrast to now! At the present time, they are referred to as “vile” (Phil. 3:21). It is suited for this earth only – “earthy” (Cor. 15:47-49). But for the Christian only is this promise: “As we have borne the image [“eikon”] of the earthy {“choikos” – dusty or dirty; referring to Adam], we shall also bear the image [“eikon”] of the heavenly {“epouranios” – pertaining to heaven and to our Lord Jesus]” (I Cor. 15:40). Our earthy brain along with its five senses which protrude out from it (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) is highly flawed with regard to its ability to perceive, integrate and respond. Along with our finiteness, this would grievously influence our capacity to make choices – our will. This is not to be so with our heavenly brain and all that comes with it. Who has willed this? The Triune God!

     In Genesis, Chapter 2:7, Moses wrote specifically how man was formed: “the LORD God formed (“yasar”) man (“‘adam” = our physical body) of the dust (“‘aphar” – clay or soil) of the ground (“’adamah”), and breathed (“naphach” – blowing forcefully) into his nostrils (“’aph”) the breath (“neshamah” – the breath of inspiration, the opposite of expiration – death is the final expiration) of life (“chay”), and man (“’adam”) became a living (“chay”) soul (“nephesh” – being or existence)”. So, He created man in His image, after His likeness, to have dominion (“rada” – to rule) over His creation (Gen. 1:26). Moreover, his material body was formed in the image and likeness of God using the clay or soil of the earth and breathed life into that body. Now, conditional on the obedience to one command, the LORD God formed Adam and Eve in such a way that their earthly bodies would live forever. Death and decay had no dominion at that time. Now that command was this: spoken to Adam, He said, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat [“’akal” – to consume]: But of the tree of the knowledge [“da‘at” – experiential knowledge, moral cognition] of good [“tob” – sufficiently perfect in its design and thus best suited for the situation] and evil [“ra’” – therefore the opposite definition of “tob”], thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die“(Gen. 2:16-17). Implied in this command is that the LORD God created and formed Adam (note that Eve came from Adam) in such a way that they were capable of unbiased choice. In fact, prior to the Fall, and to this command of God, bias – “that which causes the mind to lean or incline from a state of indifference” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) – was always toward the things of God. (The authors would question whether the mind and heart, and thus also the will, are ever in a state of indifference, however.) Now, keeping in memory the underlying fact that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” and His “works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Heb. 4:3); yet, from Adam and Eve’s perception, the LORD would not force them to obey Him, nor the serpent – though, being omniscient, God knew and decreed what their response would be. This must have been, for He had already chosen some for salvation (Eph. 1:4) and provided a “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). This seems to indicate that, unlike our Lord Jesus Christ, but like the angelic beings, the potential for rebellion and self-deception (I Tim. 2:14) was also a part of Adam and Eve’s makeup. But, it did not have to be exercised in order to live a joyful life. Rather, keeping it simple, the LORD God stated the terrible consequence if they listened and payed heed to the voice of darkness and leaned their minds in a different direction. Choose to obey and live forever in an intimate relationship with Father and Master and Ruler and Creator, or choose, even once, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and die – both physically in that their bodies would return to the dust (Gen. 3:19), and spiritually because that relationship with their Father, barring an action to remediate the situation, would be terminated, as it was in the case of Lucifer and his angels (Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:2-10; Jude 6). Of course, the LORD God did remediate this part by providing the means to temporarily cover over sin (Gen. 3:21). He would remain their Father, and a Father to them that believe. Incidently, nowhere in Scripture is God called the Father of unbelievers. That is why believers are legally adopted into the family of God (Rom. 8:16; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). However, to all His creatures, the Almighty remains Master and Ruler and Creator “who is blessed forever, Amen” (Rom. 1:25). Regarding Adam and Eve and their descendants’ relationship to God, it would no longer be one of loving intimacy as a willing son and daughter, and also legally a slave having the heart of a servant, but would take on an adversarial tone whereby man would tend to avoid the LORD God and “do his own thing” with “eyeservice, as men-pleasers”. With believers, as Paul described, the quality of relationship would be marred: “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:15-25). It would be the exact opposite of that of our Lord Jesus with that same Father where He stated, “And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone: for I do always those things that please Him” (Jn. 8:29) – no sin issue with the flesh, no avoidance or work done begrudgingly. “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross” (Phil. 2:8; Heb. 12:1-3).

     Now this tree in the “midst of the garden” (Gen. 3:3), though not orchestrated by the LORD God to be more attractive than any other tree so as to tempt Adam (Jas. 1:13-14) – in fact, it would seem to the authors that the tree of life would have been more beautiful – well, this tree was obviously splendid to Adam and Eve: for “it was good for food [the lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life]” (Gen. 3:6 – see also I Cor. 1:19-20). Once Eve chose to partake, closely followed by Adam, their unbiased hearts and minds, and thus the will, were exposed to that which was not sufficiently perfect in its design and thus not best suited for the situation. However both, previously knowing only good, now had recognition of evil. “And the eyes of them were opened [passive tense, the eyes of their heart opened by the LORD God, as foretold by the serpent, verse 5; see also John. 9, especially 39-41], and they knew that they were naked [whereas in 2:25 nakedness was normal and not a source of shame]: and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons [applying their own works to cover their shame]” (Gen. 3:7). This shame or sense or guilt was and is the first reaction when we, in an act of defiance and rebellion, know we have done wrong. But instead of apologizing and seeking the means to rectify the situation with the LORD God, they continued in rebellion and self-deception. The two engaged in a literal “cover-up” (the aprons) motivated by a new-found emotion called “fear”, the opposite of love (I Jn. 4:18), regarding the certain outcome of their behavior (Gen. 3:8-10). From that time forward, before taking action as directed by the will, their hearts and minds which incites the will, unaccustomed to this sort of activity, would have to make a distinction between what was perfect and good and what was not. This memory of what perfection was in order to choose good would have vanished the moment they rebelled. After they fell, even their ability to remember would have been contorted with sin. They were the only two who had ever experienced personally the original state of glory – not so since. Now, bias started to play the major role in influencing the heart and mind, and therefore the will to act. How do people who believe in the free will of man deal with obvious bias? We will not choose good because we do not know what real and untainted good is, nor care to know (Ps. 14:1-4; 53:1-4; Jn. 3:19; Rom. 3:9-18), until we come to know God (Matt. 19:17; Mk. 10:17; Lk. 18:18). No longer desiring to know the LORD God, but to know evil as well, Adam and Eve engaged in “the open and unavowed renunciation of the authority of their Creator to whom they owed allegiance”(Webster’s 1828 – modified), which is called “rebellion”: In the eyes of the LORD and spoken through Samuel the prophet, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft [“qesem” – interaction with the powers of darkness to gain supernatural power], and stubbornness [“pasar” – to press; thus, to press against] is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Sam. 15:23). Thus, as in having an adulterous relationship, they had broken the bond of fidelity with their Creator and thus not to be trusted (Gen. 3:22). It is well nigh impossible to have untainted intimacy with one who is in this state. The LORD God would not have fellowship with anything impure, for His holiness would be compromised. They were no longer existing in a state of glory. The solution to this situation rested in the Second Person who eventually would “be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). In the meantime, before He “drove out [“garash” – to expel forcibly] the man” from the Garden (Gen. 3:23-24), the LORD God Himself rectified the relational aspect by slaying an animal to provide clothing for the man and the woman – involving a blood sacrifice to serve as a temporary covering for sin. Now, remember man was created prior to the planting of the Garden and subsequently placed into it (Gen. 2:8). But even after the Fall, Adam and Eve expressed no desire to leave, they were “living the good life”, so the LORD God forcibly expelled and prevented them from returning by placing Cherubim (plural of Cherub) “and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24). But, remaining slaves with a will, the Master and Ruler and Creator also was very specific that to continue to come against His commands – which is the norm for the natural man – would “receive a just recompense of reward” (Heb. 2:2). In summary, Adam and Eve’s will from the beginning had the ability to reject the knowledge of evil, and choose only good. But that is where it ended. With each generation forward, the knowledge of God and thus what is really good, diminished to the point where at the time of the Flood, “…the imagination [“yeser” – plans and purposes; the way concepts are arranged] of man’s heart is evil [“ra’” – same word as in the command about the tree] from his youth [“ne‘urim” – very early trainable years]” (Gen. 8:21, see also Gen. 6:5). Many years later, King David went even farther to write this: “Behold, I was shapen [“hul” – to be born] in iniquity [“‘awon” – from a verb meaning “to bend or distort”, thus to mean perversion or crooked behavior], and in sin [“het” – failure to hit the mark, turning away in disobedience] did my mother conceive [ “yaham” – to become pregnant] me” (Ps. 51:5) Their legal status was still that of a slave to the LORD God in being His property, as we all are at its core, but their attitude, that disposition of the heart, could rebel and remain a rebellious slave or cooperate and become a servant while still retaining the status of “slave”.

     Are we slaves of Christ or servants? Based on what has been written above, it can be concluded that all of creation are, in the legal sense, slaves of Christ and thus synonymous with being slaves of the Triune God. Adam and Eve were legally slaves who had been granted freedom of choice, that is, without perceived restraint or bias. This is the key: freedom is a qualified word in that it has to be viewed in the context of the stark fact that God is always in control because of His omniscience, immutability, omnipotence and omnipresence. Adam and Eve must have had a clear awareness of these four attributes, but still chose to partake of that forbidden tree. Why? Probably not so much of the subtleness of the serpent’s words of Genesis 3:1-5, for even though Eve had added to the command of the LORD God “neither shall ye touch it”, they still understood the gist. So, obedience was an exercise in faith: Believe in the veracity of the LORD God and accept the good consequence of joy and bliss as willing servants, or disbelieve and as rebellious slaves, see if something better lay ahead . What could be better than perfection. This sort of curiosity really “killed the cat”! By following and obeying God, who is good, they would have come to understand what is was like to have delegated authority over His creation as willing servants. But, for reasons which ultimately have to center around the glorifying of His eternal Son – the perfection of a servant – it was not to be. To fallen mankind, after all is said and done, He remains Master and Ruler and Creator – and a Father to them that believe on His Son for eternal life. Our lips are actually not our own (Ps. 12:4). We are not free to do as we please. Even at our most vile moments, maybe in a fit of unrighteous rage and anger where we think we are acting on our own and openly defying God’s will, or we read of or witness some heinous act of barbarism, though the Most High God is not the perpetrator, He remains in complete control. There is an eternal divine purpose to all activity of life. However, we are not mere irrational puppets either who are being manipulated by a cosmic puppeteer. Though our lips are not our own, our thoughts are and will serve to condemn those who are outside of Christ on Judgment Day. These thoughts can be traced back to the womb. They are thoughts of rebellion if they are not of the Triune God. If we were irrational beings, we could not be held accountable for our actions. We remain beings in the image and likeness of the Most High, but so severely tarnished by the image of Adam superimposed (Gen. 5:3) that for all practical purposes that image and likeness of perfection is gone – dead. So, other than an awareness of the existence as proved by His very creation that there must be a God who is King of kings and Lord of lords, the natural man is relationally dead to His ways. Though not a perfect analogy by any means, it is like a son who was born in the “spittin’ image and likeness” of his father, but because he (and all of us to a greater or lesser extent) was so rebellious to his father’s instruction and so obdurate in his thoughts and outward behavior, he actually came to believe a lie from the “father of lies” and concluded that he had no father whom he was to be held accountable. He was a being independent of all other beings, free to act as he pleased – so he thought. He lived his life pursuing the status of “self-godhood” as though his father did not exist – though he was distantly aware of him. It must be said that another example is our wonderful country which was founded on principles contrary to the clear teaching of Holy Writ. Here, we live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, yet this is not really the case. Many are brave, but none are free.

     So, the King James translators clearly demonstrated a belief that at its core, man is a servant or as written before, “a person, male or female, that attends another for the purpose of performing menial offices for him, or who is employed by another for such offices or for other labor, and is subject to his command. The word is correlative to ‘master’”. But as one reads the Scriptures, it should become clear that the inspired writers, though using the same word for both, “doulon” and “‘ebed”, writing in the Greek or Hebrew tongue, did not draw as sharp a distinction between “slave” and “servant” as we do today. It was common for both the Hebrew and Greek cultures to own slaves. So we, who have made the distinction, must look to the context to determine which word to use. Now slavery, as previously defined, was practiced in ancient Israel – except far more humanely than our modern perceptions of the institution. It was regulated by the law as written in Exodus 21:1-11. “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing…” (v. 2). It would seem that he was not free to leave until the seventh year – he was a slave for six years. But the seventh year he was free. He was first bought as property and subsequently owned as property for those six years. There were also those who were hired to perform menial tasks. They were called “sakir” – hired servants (Exod. 12:45; Lev. 22:10; 25:6, 40, 50, 53; Deut. 15:18; 24:14). In fact, there is a clear difference recorded in Leviticus 25:6 as follows: “And the Sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant [“‘ebed”], and for thy maid [“’ama”], and for thy hired servant [“sakir”], and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee”. Our English defines a servant as generally one who is hired or employed.

     In what manner should we look at all this? How did the Apostle Paul, born a Jew in Tarsus and thus not an Israelite, view his status in light of what has been discussed? Well, on one occasion he called himself as “a servant [“doulos”] of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:1). Another time he wrote, “a servant [“doulos”] of God, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). And in this epistle he viewed himself as “the servant [“doulos”] of Christ” (1:10). These passages could be translated with either English word, given no other information. However, what is quite significant which will clarify the situation is that he also referred to himself as “the prisoner of Christ” and “the prisoner of the Lord” in his epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:1; 4:1). In writing his second epistle to Timothy, he said, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner” (II Tim. 1:8). Finally, in his epistle to Philemon he wrote, “a prisoner of Jesus Christ” and “being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philem. 1, 9). Now the Greek word for “prisoner” is “desmios” – being bound with chains or fetters, usually around the ankles. This argues strongly that the Apostle to the Gentiles viewed himself in both capacities – legally a slave, as a prisoner is not free to leave at will, but with the implanted heart of a servant. In his mind, he was really not a prisoner of the Roman government, but of the Lord – sharing a similar perception as did King David (Ps. 69:33 – see context). Having a legal understanding of the true nature of salvation and man’s relation to his Master and Ruler and Creator – he was a slave, also a prisoner. He was not free to leave and rejoin the prince of darkness. Nor did he want to. In the authors’ experience, upon reflection, the terms “slave” and “prisoner” can be quite consoling when we have “blown it” and made a mess of things. In fact, what believer ever wants to be a willing servant of Satan. Yet, at times we get deceived and unwittingly propagate lies from the father of lies. To the authors, for a pastor to be informed that the King James Version is the superior text to the modern versions and not checking this out for himself before proceeding further is to be cooperating with the prince of darkness whose aim is to convince the world that our Lord Jesus Christ is not “God manifest in the flesh” – rather, he is a mere man. One way to achieve this goal is to dilute the force of the Biblical text to make it universally acceptable. On the other hand, to lose one’s temper and have a verbal outburst also achieves Satan’s aim. The guilty party does not lose his salvation, but he acts contrary to who he really is. Paul was in Christ as a prisoner and yet possessed eternal life – as all of us. Since we are really not free moral agents, this is a great prison to be in. That reality could not be undone either by God or himself (Rom. 8:31-39) and provided a great sense of security – unlike modern preaching which places the burden of security on our performance – including the level of our faith. He came to understand that while unbeknownst to him, he had been separated from his mother’s womb, as with Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) and others, and called by God’s grace to preach (1:15). If this was the case with Paul and others, it is also true of all believers – captured by our Lord Jesus and now His prisoner – despite our struggling against the chains of real freedom from the condemnation of the law. He did not “choose” the Lord Jesus, he was chosen by God and given marching orders with the gifts thereupon. He was a prisoner of Love Incarnate from which there was no escape. The “love of Christ constrained him” to do what he did (II Cor. 5:14). Now, to constrain (“sunecho”) is “to compel or force; to urge with irresistible power, or with a power sufficient to produce the effect” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). It was a heart realization of the Lord Jesus’ love for him, despite his shortcomings, and to reveal truth to him which he and others felt compelled to proclaim. There was no escape. This Apostle wrote about the “comfort of the Scriptures [that] we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Paul certainly had his moments: “troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Cor. 4:8-9). Look at Jeremiah and what he recorded: “O LORD, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, everyone mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name’. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, ‘Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him’. But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. But, O LORD of Hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see Thy vengeance on them; for unto Thee have I opened my cause” (Jer. 20:7-12). He, too, was constrained by the love of God to preach to those who would not want to hear anything but good. This was not to be for the nation of Israel. Still, the “weeping Prophet” must have remembered those words spoken in the beginning: “Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant…for, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee” ( Jer 1:8-10; 18-19 ).

     Well, the use of the word “servant” clearly conveyed the bias of the translators toward the free will of man, even though the import of Scripture refers far more about what God is doing in space, time, history and beyond than man’s doings. This is hard for the natural man to stomach – and obviously so for many Christians, on occasion – including the authors. But again, this is what the flesh supposes. Man is striving for freedom and liberty to do as “what is right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25). The gospel, God’s Word, speaks of bringing glory to the Son of God. Thus, in retrospect, the King James translators should have studied the context of each passage and rendered either “servant” or “slave” as defined in our language.

     In Christ, we are eternally free from the condemnation of the law of Moses. But we are never free to act as we please, for in fact, we are in some way still carrying out God’s will. When Paul spoke of liberty versus bondage, he was speaking of freedom to worship and serve Him as His child in spirit and in truth – not in the vanity of religious exercise of rules and regulations in an effort to please God who can only be pleased by faith. These Judaizers were dangerous. As he said earlier, they were under a curse. So, since we are servants, willingly or not, do we want to be servants of sin or of righteousness? Do we want to be enslaved by these sort of people to a system of belief which keeps us from knowing by experience the “Complete Lord Jesus”? Do you enjoy being called names that are not consistent with your identity in Christ? If you enjoy a religion where you compare your progress or lack thereof with others, you had better check with the Scriptures to see if you really belong to Him.

(Copyright © February, 2013: All Rights Reserved – Includes “Broken Cross” image with verse – Reprints can be obtained by contacting us at galatianspilgrimage.com)

 (Note: Don’t let our “Broken Cross” image fool you into thinking this particular cross is pagan in its origin. Actually, designed by the authors, it is intended to depict what legalism and lies has attempted to do to the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike other “crosses” you may see which carry a negative connotation, ours is a sign of victory for those “in Christ”.)