First Baptist Church St. John

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Slaves to Christ

Series: Titus

Speaker: Jeremiah Greever


Slaves to Christ

Titus 2:9-10

  1. First Century Slavery
    1. Different Form of Slavery
      1. I would encourage each one of us this morning to boldly lay down any preconceived notions that we might bring to the text, and honestly seek the truth that is being presented to us today.
      2. Perhaps the first thing that we need to address is the sin that has permeated our nation’s history and left us with a wound that has been difficult to repair – the sin of American slavery.
  • Regrettably, these same Christians used biblical texts such as these in front of us this morning to argue for the legitimacy of continuing the sin of owning another human being.
  1. Let us be quick to state the wrong doings of the past – anyone, regardless of who it is, who attempts or tries to argue for the legitimacy of owning another human being or calling someone lesser based on their race through biblical texts such as these, are flat our wrong and incorrect.
  2. There’s no debate that the Bible succinctly respects and values each and every human life, regardless of social position, race, or any other factor.
  3. So first we need to condemn the systematic enslavement of any people group and demeaning of any one people group that is in our history.
  • Secondly, need to understand historically what slavery looked like in the first century when the Bible was written.
  • American slavery was predominantly the enslavement of the Africans race, solely based upon availability and a sinful view that Africans were a lesser people with less God given rights.
  1. Slaves in the first century were primarily made slaves as a result of a war, or a rebellion.
    1. and as for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines. Titus also sent a great number into the provinces, as a present to them, that they might be destroyed upon their theaters, by the sword and by the wild beasts; but those that were under seventeen years of age were sold for slaves.” Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews Book 17.
    2. As historian Peter Shafer puts it, “In the writings of Josephus and the New Testament, slaves often appear as agricultural workers or supervisors, alongside seasonal day laborers, and as household servants.” The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture p. 99.
    3. People not only became slaves as a result of war, but also for economic reasons. The poorest of society, as a last resort, would sell themselves, their children, or even their new-born babies in order to survive and not starve.
    4. The poor would sold themselves into slavery as a last result believed, as R.H. Barrow puts it, that “a sheltered and tolerable slavery may be preferable to a precarious existence in freedom and poverty.”
    5. It is estimated that up to 1/3 of the entire Roman Empire were slaves, which would mean that in Italy alone, there were upwards to 3 million slaves.
    6. These slaves were treated relatively well, had rights, were often Roman citizens, and could become doctors, teachers, librarians, and accountants.
  2. I think it’s important that we understand the historical context of slavery in biblical times.
  1. Urging Slaves
    1. This term, bondslave, literally means a person held in bondage. This is the same term that Paul frequently uses of himself (as in Titus 1:1) to describe his relationship to Christ.
    2. This is an inclusive word that would categorize every person who was in some form of slavery – whether willingly or forcefully.
  • The word, “urge” or “encourage” is not in the original text, but more than likely the same exhortation that Paul had given in verse 6 is continuing here in verse 9.
  1. Paul’s referring to the heart of these slaves. Are slaves supposed to be obedient?
    1. Paul is saying that these slaves in the church at Crete need to be godly while under the authority of their master.
    2. Paul calls these Christians to not only honor and respect those above them, but also to do so in all things.
    3. Paul is calling slaves to this high level of submission not because anyone deserves it, but because this is how all Christians should respond to God!


  1. Being Subject as Unto the Master
    1. How are the Christian slaves called to respond to their masters?
      1. We need to remember our natural inclination to sin.
      2. Paul is going to address the different aspects of how these Christians can battle the natural inclination of sin that they should resist.
  • Well-Pleasing –Instead of responding to their masters in the same way that other slaves responded to their masters, Paul is telling these believers to fight the temptation of being disrespectful.
  1. Not Argumentative –After encouraging slaves to be well-pleasing to their masters, he now says to not contradict, or argue.
  2. Not pilfering (stealing or wrongfully taking) –This is a practical outpouring from respecting and honoring those in authority over you.
  3. Showing all good faith –Paul is saying, slaves, show yourself to your master first as a Christian. Believer, in all things, your personal godliness is what is necessary, because when you are godly, there is a direct and immediate result.
  1. Purpose of Respecting and Honoring Those Above us
    1. Paul’s stating a purpose, or a result of godly slaves responding in godly conduct.
    2. The result is that personal holiness will make the Gospel of Christ even more attractive to all those around.
  • Christian, when you live in a godly manner, when you turn away from your natural inclinations to sin and away from sinful temptations, then people around you notice!
  1. Christian, are you demonstrating the sweetness of the Gospel in your life?
  1. Modern Day Application
    1. As mentioned earlier, slavery in every form and in every way is absolutely unacceptable, wrong, and in direct opposition to God’s intended manner of unity and fellowship among his creation.
    2. Though there are no indentured servants today, and though there are no prisoners of war or the poorest and most destitute who sell themselves into slavery today, I think that we can use the essence of what Paul is saying today and apply this passage in a few different ways.
      1. First, it is necessary due to our nation’s history and our current social climate for the church to denounce past forms of slavery, and any current forms of social degradation to any one race, nationality, or creed. It must be wholly unacceptable to the church for any form of debasement or lessening of any of our brothers and sisters in Christ to accepted or tolerated.
        1. Any rhetoric that puts down any of our Christian family must be denounced, rebuked, and corrected. We must be very clear about this. As Christians, we must understand that the Bible does not condone slavery or the debasing of any person. We are all made in God’s image, have the same inherent worth before God, and are washed by the same blood of the lamb.
        2. To my African American brothers and sisters especially, I cannot speak for the rest of this nation, but I can say that here in this church, as we continue to preach God’s Word and strive to obey it accurately, we will denounce any and all forms of oppression against you. I realize that there are aspects to your pain and struggle that I personally will not be able to understand, but what we can do is make this promise – We will strive to hurt when you hurt. We will strive to love you when you feel unloved, we will strive to speak on your behalf when possible, we will strive to love and accept you at all times, and we will strive to study God’s Word with you for the glory of God and to the betterment of human flourishing here in this church and this community. Whatever race or ethnicity you might be, we believe that God has made you exactly the way that you should be, we want you to know that you’re accepted here, and we want you to know Christian brother and sister, when you’re here, you are home among friends and family.
      2. Secondly, whatever socio-economic group that you personally associate with, Paul is saying that it is wise for you to understand the temptations that come with your status in life.
      3. Thirdly, in the same way that these bondslaves in the church at Crete were to honor and respect their masters, so too do each one of us need to honor, respect, and be subject to those who are in authority over us.
      4. Fourthly and most importantly, for all of us, we are called to honor, respect, and treat kindly those in authority over us because when we do so, it is as if we are doing it to God.
        1. Colossians 3:22-24, “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
        2. Paul is saying that in whatever work we do, we are called to do it as though we are doing it to the Lord.

Tags: authority, christ, first century, god's image, godliness, greever, jeremiah, masters, slaves, titus

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