During my message this past Sunday morning, I shared some thoughts I had on the word "enslaved" in Galatians 4:3. The root of the word is "doulos" often translated "servant" in English. But I have known for some time there are other Greek words meaning "servant" and the best translation of "doulos" is "slave". Paul repeatedly refers to himself as the "slave of Christ". In English, there is quite a difference in meaning when you compare "servant" to "slave".
My thinking on "doulos" has been supported in my reading of earlier Christian authors and preachers. English preachers such as Spurgeon will translate the word as "bond slave". Augustine refers to Christians as "slaves of Christ". There are many examples of such usage by a variety of authors, too many to list in a simple post.
Then, a few years ago, I chose to use the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) for my daily Bible readings. I was blown away when I read its translation of the New Testament and saw "doulos" consistently translated "slave"!
In Galatians 4:3, Paul explains how, prior to Christ, we were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. We were in bondage! Reformed folks frequently describe the depravity of man by noting that apart from Christ we are in "bondage to sin", a phrase using the imagery of slavery. Yet, for some reason, we do not press the usage of the word bondage and the concept of slavery when we think of our position in Christ. Why is that? Did He not buy us with a price? Are we not His peculiar possession? Do we not call Him Lord (which means "master")?
Yes, over the past couple of years I have become convinced we need to speak and write more on the subject of our "slavery to Christ". We are not simply His servants; we are truly His slaves! We are not free to our lives how we want and call ourself Christian. No, we are to live our lives as He demands!
By the Providence of God, a book from Thomas Nelson publishers arrived at my home yesterday. I am a "blogger" reviewer. I chose this book as the next one I wanted to review simply for one reason: it is written by John MacArthur. I knew the title was "Slave" but assumed Dr. MacArthur was writing on the Bible and the subject of physical slavery perhaps from a historical perspective. Needless to say, I was blown away today when I opened the first chapter and read:
"Yet, the Bible uses one metaphor more frequently than any of these. It is a word picture you might not expect, but it is absolutely critical for understanding what it means to follow Jesus. It is the image of a slave." (page 12)
Sure enough, Dr. MacArthur is writing on the Biblical usage of the word "doulos" and how it should be translated "slave" and what that image should teach us about living as a Christian. Forget the "healthy, wealthy, and wise" preachers. The Bible tells us we are to live in Christ as a slave.
Now that's radical!
I'm grateful God has put this book into my hands at this moment. In two days I will be on my December vacation and one of my objectives is to devour this book and to seek the Lord to help me better understand how I should live not simply as a Christian but as a slave of Christ.
May He be praised!