I. History & Culture
Bondservants- doulos- slaves. In many cities, the slaves were more numerous than freemen.
Many of these slaves had heathen masters, others had Christian masters
Many slaves were very intelligent, having been captured in war and sold into slavery.
There were no movements against slavery as taught by the N.T. writers.
Masters addressed here were Christians.
No prohibition against being a Christian slave owner.
Many in the early church were slaves, and many were masters.
A slave may take orders from his master all week long, but then when they gathered for
church worship, sometimes the slave may have been an elder in the church, and the master
was just one who attended.
Moule- “The Gospel found slavery in the world; and in many regions, particularly the Roman and the Greek, it
was a very bad form of slavery. The Gospel began at once to undermine it, with its mighty principles of the
equality of all souls in the mystery and dignity of manhood, and of the equal work of redeeming love wrought for
all souls by the supreme Master. But its plan was – not to batter, but to undermine. . . . So while the Gospel in one
respect left slavery alone, it doomed it in another.”
II. Servants (Employees)
A. Their Actions V. 5a
1. These slaves were to obey their earthly masters.
2. Obey- “to listen attentively, and to heed or conform to a command.”
3. They were not counseled to learn how to rebel, or organize the overthrow of slavery.
4. Their first and most important action was to be an obedient slave.
5. They were told not just what to do but why to do it.
6. God does not give us random commands to obey without explanation of “why.”
7. God is not interested in unwilling, obedient people.
8. He desires that we who follow Jesus do so out of desire, not simply out of duty.
9. Modern day application
a. Christian employees sometimes are not happy with their workplace or their boss and decide that they don’t need to obey the boss.
i. The Christian employee begins to verbally undermine the boss’ authority.
ii. The Christian spreads a contentious & complaining spirit among employees.
b. Sadly, some Christian employees are not good workers, and have a very poor work
ethic. They are quick to complain, late to work, and inattentive on the job.
c. This is often the case due to the Christian’s disagreement w/conditions at work.
d. Some have grown up with a sense of entitlement and have been given everything by
parents that spoil them, or somehow think that the world owes them a living.
e. NOTE- The Christian ought to be the employee with the best attitude and effort.
f. Read 1 Corinthians 10:31-33
g. Exhortation- If you find that you cannot in good conscience, obey your boss, then…
i. Speak to him/her respectfully about your concerns.
ii. Try to offer solutions, don’t just point out problems.
iii. If you can’t work there with a good attitude, then trust God for another job & resign. Better to live in peace & without poisoning others & tainting your witness.
iv. Confession- I have failed at this very thing and tainted my witness before.
B. Their Attitudes Vs. 5b-8
1. God’s word to us consistently tells both what to do & why to do it.
2. Christianity is not supposed to turn people into mindless robots, but rather, people who are internally motivated & empowered by the Spirit of God. That’s why we study.
3. First/foremost- They were reminded that their true Master is God/Christ/Lord. (5x’s)
a. It is easy to get our eyes on people, looking for approval, thanks, commendation.
b. We fear men, try to gain approval, worry about their evaluations, etc.
c. Motivation for obedience is that God sees, rewards, understands, & rightly judges
d. Spurgeon- “Grace makes us the servants of God while still we are the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven.”
4. If we are mindful that we are serving Christ, then we will have these attitudes…
a. V. 5 fear & trembling- Not of the boss, but of our own potential to fail and sin.
i. We’re not exhorted to be spineless creatures before our bosses.
ii. If we serve the Lord, we can be free to work without fear of our bosses.
b. V. 5- in sincerity of heart- singleness, not w/duplicity or divided loyalty.
i. If we fear our bosses, we are not free to work well, and will worry.
ii. We may give in to undue stress, take short cuts, work dishonestly, stress out.
c. V. 6- not w/eyeservice, as men-pleasers- If you serve man, the temptation is to work only when the boss is looking; if you serve Christ, then you work hard all the time.
d. V. 6- but as bondservants of Christ– Not admirers of Jesus, but bondslaves of JC
e. V. 6- doing the will of God from the heart- having that attitude, praying for it.
i. What is God’s will for you as an employee? Serve God; serve/obey your boss.
f. V. 7- with goodwill doing service-kindness, benevolence.
g. V. 8-knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. God is the One that rewards; He is faithful.
III. Masters (Bosses)
A. Their Actions V. 9a
1. Do the same thing- The boss doesn’t become the employee, but he has the same attitude and realization that it is Christ he serves, and that his Master is Jesus
2. Giving up threatening- Indicates that threatening was occurring. Relationship w/their slaves were not to be fear driven, but respect driven. Bosses are to lead, not threaten.
B. Their Attitudes V. 9b
1. May no Christian boss consider himself superior to his employees.
2. May we understand that our standing in business doesn’t elevate us over other people.
3. We do this by being filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)