Early Christians had less trouble with the slave-servant role because their world was glutted with the actual concept. It has been said that as the modern world is dependent on machine power, the ancient world was dependent upon slavery. Scriptural references to this social system are manifold. The Old Testament chronicles the many facets of slavery. The principle source of slaves was either plunder in war or poverty in peace.
Slavery among the Hebrews broke into the ranks of every human relationship. A father could sell his daughter. A widow’s children might be bartered against their father’s debts. A man could sell himself. However, legal codes were established to protect the right of the slave as well as the right of the slavemaster. And, many of these demonstrated a humaneness beyond that of the surrounding primitive cultures.
The Law provided ways in which a slave could redeem his or her freedom. He or she could be purchased by an uncle, by a nephew or cousin, or by any close relative. He or she was to be freed after the lapse of seven years of servitude and always liberated at the Jubilee year of celebration. If a master caused him or her permanent physical disability, he or she was to be released.
Slavery fed the great machine of the Roman empire. It was inhuman in its voracious appetite for bondsmen, yet it provided for the advancement of any who proved to have exceptional intelligence, manual skills, or professional abilities. A common slave could be promoted to the role of steward.
Joseph in the Old Testament is an example of the gifted individual wielding authority in his master’s name over the household, over an institution, and even over an entire nation. Similar instances may be found in the Roman world.
Karen Mains has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
For decades, Karen Mains and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
In addition, pastors will find special resources to help them create effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.