Bondservants

Do we really understand what it means to belong to God Almighty?

In Romans 1:1, Paul introduces himself as “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God”. He repeats this introduction in Titus 1:1, “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ“. Simon Peter does the same in 2 Peter 1:1, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ“, as does Jude in Jude 1:1, “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James“.

Paul, Simon Peter and Jude were all Jewish, and as such they were brought up under Jewish law and tradition. The word “bondservant” was not a throwaway line used to sound cool. It’s meaning has a bit of history.

According to the law in Deuteronomy 15:12-18 and Exodus 21:2-6, slavery was permissible on the condition that the slaves were to be released after 6 years of service (please note that the number 6 is referred to in the Bible as the number of “the flesh”). However, if the slave loved his or her master and did not want to leave, they could request to be a “bondservant”. If they did so, their ear would be pierced as a public declaration of their commitment and they would be a slave for life.

This scenario is a beautiful picture of our Christian walk. When we receive Jesus Christ we are set free from the slavery of sin, which is controlled by the desires of our flesh. Due to the powerful and abundant grace of God, we are moved with love and commit ourselves to him forever. We often make a public declaration of it (eg baptism), which is symbolic of our commitment to God as well as our new lives as Christians. The ear piercing also represents the “seal” God places over us, as illustrated in 2 Corinthians 1:22, “[God] also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 

We have been sealed by God and now we belong to him! This means we have protection, provision and covering. The question is, do we live as if this is a reality in our lives? Bondservants are people who love their master, have a spirit of commitment, and are willing to pay any price to keep their master’s interests a priority. Do Christians display these qualities?

I think it’s time we get out of our comfort zones and start living for Christ in the way we are called to. We need to stop fearing the opinions of man and start putting God back in the centre of our lives.

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