Why the Bible Does NOT Condemn Slavery

by | Sep 1, 2023

Joseph Herrin (04-19-2010)

The following was written in response to a man in jail who has been writing to me to express sincere objections he has to the Bible and Christianity. He asked why Christ and the Bible did not condemn slavery, for he views it as a great evil. The answer leads one back to the purpose of this age, and reveals the misconception that many men, including Christians, are harboring in their minds. The answer leads one back to the disciple’s cross and the afflicted way.

Dear (Name Witheld),
You asked me why the Bible, and Yahshua/Jesus, did not condemn slavery. That is an excellent question, and the answer is one that provides much insight into the purpose of this present life that we are living.

So many people (Christians included) have the perspective that this present life is of paramount importance. It is the only life that many people know about. With this attitude, you can well understand why so many people are seeking to attain to the fullest, most satisfying life now. One of the most popular Christian books in recent years is Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now.

Such books and teachings reveal the apostasy (falling away from the truth) of the church. The church is doing the very thing that the Scriptures condemn. They are seeking to accumulate material possessions, and are pursuing a life of ease and comfort. They do so because they have adopted the false mindset that this present life and age was designed by God to be enjoyed by man.

It may seem bizarre to hear someone say that this present life and age was not designed to be enjoyed by man, but this is actually the case. This present age serves the purpose of developing sons of God who will share His character and image. This character can only be attained through suffering.

Hebrews 5:7-8
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.

This is the method by which ALL sons of God must be perfected (brought to spiritual maturity) and learn obedience.

Philippians 1:29
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…

The prophet Isaiah describes Christ as “a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief.” This is the experience that is required of all men in order to lead them to spiritual maturity. As we are faced with difficulties, distresses, suffering, and sorrow we are provided opportunities for the Spirit of Christ to form within mankind the image of God.

Consider those things that are described as fruits of God’s Spirit.

Galatians 5:22
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

When do people have the opportunity to exercise the peace of God? It is not proven or developed when their outer environment is one of peace. The kingdom of God must be established IN man. Divine peace is developed when our outer world is one of great distress, and unrest. This is what Christ demonstrated when He was sleeping in the boat while the storm raged all around Him. His disciples which were also in the boat became full of fear and awoke Christ saying, “Do you not care that we perish?”

Christ had found the place of rest. He knew that He was not going to perish for His Father was not done with Him yet. Despite the outer circumstances He was able to maintain calm in His soul and abide in perfect peace.

When do we have opportunity to develop gentleness? Is it not when we are provoked? It is when people mistreat us, or speak unkindly to us. The natural reaction of the Adamic man is to respond in like manner, to fight fire with fire. Yet Christ instructed those who would be perfect (spiritually mature) to speak a blessing when cursed; when slapped on the right cheek, to present to the person the left cheek as well.

Christ demonstrated this as He went to the cross. Peter tells us that “while being reviled, He did not revile in return. While suffering, He uttered no threats.” Christ was as a lamb led to the slaughter. There was no other way for Him to demonstrate spiritual maturity than to be put into very unpleasant situations.

The same is true of patience. We only can develop God’s patience when we are put in situations that our natural mind screams out to be released from. It is therefore necessary for God to subject His sons to experiences that they do not find comfortable or easy. As they come to a place of rest in the midst of what may be very difficult circumstances, the nature of God, revealed in the character of peace, is formed in them.

The same is true of self-control, perseverance, and so on. We only can develop these things when we are tested, sometimes severely.

Seeing that God has determined that this present time is for the perfecting of His sons, He must choose to subject them to many difficult things. Comfort and ease and pleasure do not promote the fruit of the Spirit.

The Bible has testified that the church would fall away from the truth. They would equate material prosperity and worldly blessing with spirituality. This is what Joel Osteen and a host of others have done. This is the predominant thinking of the church today. What they do not understand is that as they set their focus upon a life that is pleasant to them they are avoiding the experiences that are needed to develop spiritually mature sons and daughters.

In God’s sight, this present life is but a moment. There are long ages to come in which His sons are destined to share in His glory and to exercise His power and authority. Yet, many will receive very little of any of these things because they have not labored to qualify themselves. They have avoided the difficult path that alone could mold them into God’s nature and character.

When you read the Bible you find that the very ones that God loved the most, He subjected to very difficult experiences. He did this for their good, including His own Son.

David knew years of difficulty, living in wilderness places, being persecuted by Saul, knowing reproach and sorrow. Yet it was as he responded in a godly manner to these experiences that the nature of God was formed in David. Yahweh was therefore able to make David ruler of His people.

The same is seen in the life of Joseph. Joseph was given dreams of promotion, of ruling and reigning. Yet the path to this advancement and honor was exceedingly difficult. While his brothers were living as free men, doing whatever they chose to do, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt. Later Joseph was falsely accused by his master’s wife of sexual transgression and he was put in prison. His life was one of slavery and servitude. It was very difficult.

We read, however, that every place Joseph was put he was faithful. He did not wallow in self-pity, or grow angry with God. He did not abandon his faith. He continued to pursue behavior that Yahweh could honor and the day came when he was spiritually mature enough for God to promote him. God made Joseph ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. He was given honor and power and authority.

The process of Joseph’s preparation serves as a parable for all mankind. God is seeking sons that He can promote. He is looking for those that He can bestow His honor and authority upon. These sons must be matured spiritually first. They must all walk a very difficult path so that patience, gentleness, humility, self-control, perseverance, peace, and such things as these might be formed in them.

This is the reason God has not condemned slavery. God takes a much larger view of things than man does. He knows that the experiences of Joseph as a slave and a prisoner were used to bring about godly character. So too will godly character be formed in all who can experience such things while yielding to the leading of the Spirit of God rather than responding according to the natural man’s fallen nature.

Of course, it does not benefit a man at all to experience hardships, distresses, difficulties, and injustice if he does not choose to respond with peace, forgiveness, and other behaviors manifesting the nature of God. He will merely be hardened in his fallen nature, and will become bitter, angry, vengeful, depressed, or self-pitying.

This is why Christians are called to fight the good fight of faith. Responding in a godly manner to adversity is not the natural man’s normal response. It is a position that must be fought to attain unto.

God takes a much larger view of things, and He knows that a man can develop spiritually while a slave as well as a free man. It is all about attitude. Indeed, being free can be a great hindrance to a man unless he becomes a willing slave to God.

I Corinthians 7:20-22
Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.

Do you see what is proclaimed here? To be acceptable in God’s sight a man who is free must surrender his freedom to Christ. He must choose to not live for his own will and desires, but rather for the will and desires of God. He must make himself God’s bondservant, a willing slave.

Philippians 2:5-7
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Yahshua, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…

Christ was the perfect example of this principle. He freely subjected Himself to the will of His Father. He never sought to please Himself. He always sought to please God. Even when His Father revealed that it was His will for Yahshua to die a death on the cross, He said, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” This is true submission to the will of another.

The apostles and church leaders manifested this same attitude.

Romans 1:1
Paul, a bondservant of Yahshua Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God…

James 1:1
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Yahshua Christ…

II Peter 1:1
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Yahshua Christ…

Jude 1
Jude, a bondservant of Yahshua Christ…

These men had freedom, but they gave up their freedom to become slaves of another. It is no more difficult for a slave to do such a thing than for a freeman. All can be conformed to the nature of Christ if they will surrender their own will to do the will of another.

Slavery in the eyes of God is therefore not harmful to a man’s spiritual development. In truth, it may be quite helpful. This is why God chose to subject Joseph to a life of slavery while his brother lived as freemen.

If our mind is upon pleasing ourselves, then slavery will certainly appear as a great evil. If we think this life is all there is, then it will seem unjust for any man to be deprived of liberty and a pursuit of happiness. If we have the mind of Christ we will understand that we are not called to please ourselves and this life is far from all there is.

I Timothy 5:6
But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

God has testified that His thoughts are not man’s thoughts, nor are His ways man’s ways. He considers the one who is living for pleasure to be dead already. They will forfeit long ages of ruling with Christ, sharing in His glory, power and authority.

1 Comment

  1. John Atwood

    I agree, all true. Here are a few thoughts to think about.
    I would only add that because in my opinion that the Christian religion needed free will because in Natural law that is what is necessary for a moral personality–knowledge and a will to choose [1] which is the foundation of the legal personality in civil law. Paul speaks out of the Law and the Prophets saying that we were slaves to sin (Rom 3:20) and that now we are to be slaves to righteousness [Our Father’s will] which I see righteousness and righteous judgment defined by our Lord Jesus Christ in John 5:30–“I am not able of myself to do anything; according as I hear I judge, and my judgment is righteous, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me.” This is our status and condition in Christ–“I am the vine, you the branches; he who is remaining in me, and I in him, this one does bear much fruit, because apart from me you are not able to do anything” (Jn 15:5).
    Are you able to see? The Constitution of the United States and its so called God given rights are of a natural–soulish foundation. I know this will rankle many, but it is the truth. See the word confound in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary–Latin., to pour out. Literally, to pour or throw together.]

    1. To mingle and blend different things, so that their forms or natures cannot be distinguished; to mix in a mass or crowd, so that individuals cannot be distinguished.

    This explains a lot and exposes what E.W. Bullinger says in his Two Natures in the Child of God–that all religion is of the flesh and the Christian religion is no exception. Search a digital PDF for religion and exact phrase Christian religion and all cites should reveal.

    It [the U.S. Constitution] was a great experiment all right but it is founded upon the lie that the Law of God is natural contrary to what we know intuitively (oida G1492 Zodhiates Word Study Dict.) that the Law is spiritual. According to natural law theory rights inhere. Men are purported to be born with them. To act on right you are inherently doing something from yourself and in your own name contrary to Col 3:17 and Jn 5:19, 30. Joseph you have written much about resting from our own works I believe. I find only authority in Holy Scripture. Our Lord and King was given all authority in heaven and earth (Matt 28:18). The word for authority is exousia from ek (G1537) and ousia (G3776). We hear His voice and know it intuitively (oida) Jn 10:4 because having been begotten from above out of God we hear the words (rhema) of God (Jn 1:13, 3:3, 8:47).

    begat, begotten, see Companion Bible note for γεννάω gennáō G1080 on Matt 1:2. Also because we are the promised SEED and His seed abides in us (Rom 4:13, 15; 1Jn 3:9) which is why we are not adopted but having overcome sin–evil (1Jn 2:13) which root is found in Adam in Gen 3 who became subject–a slave to a condition. πονηρός ponērós; fem. ponērá, neut. ponērón, adj. from pónos (G4192), labor, sorrow, pain.

    [1] I agree with Barclay and Bullinger. Sin is first a universal condition–a root–darkened in the intellect and alienated from the life of God (Gen 3:22-24; Eph 4:17-18) which bears fruit–sins. Paul illustrates this condition in the phrase, “sin dwelling in me”. Bullinger’s note on Rom 5:12 says, “Having described the fruits of sin, the apostle now goes on to deal with the root.” Paul illustrates again, “because of this, even as through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin the death; and thus into all men the death did pass through, upon which [Eph 4:18, mortality–Jn 6:53–eat … drink=Heb. idiom] See Companion Bible note. (Rom 5:19)

    How could God abolish slavery? It is a major part of His plan and purpose. We become slaves of Christ Jesus our Lord and of Righteousness (Rom 6:19) through the law of redemption. Joseph I know you know this that the Greek word for lord is κύριος kúrios G2968=means owner among other attributes. We are not our own for we are bought or purchased with the price of His precious blood (1Pet 1:18-19). We are exhorted though, not to become the slaves of men. Hmm. (1Cor 7:23).

    The Living Most High God is awesome beyond my comprehension! Life comes out of death (1Cor 15:36) and true freedom is slavery to righteousness leading into holiness! Just wow. The nature and quality of this slavery-freedom is in the bond of perfection–agape and I like the way Bullinger sums it up in our responsibility to the new nature:

    2.) In Rom_7:6 this new sphere of life is used in connection with service “but now we were cleared [or discharged] from the law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we [are now privileged] to serve in newness of spirit (i.e., in the new sphere of the new nature), and not in the old sphere of [the] letter [of the law]”. This tells us that our service is no longer to be governed by the “letter” of the law, but by its “spirit”; and our service is to spring from a new motive altogether; the other is old41 and antiquated and out of date. Now it is to be not from duty, but from love; not from the observance of rules and regulations, but from delight; not from vows or pledges, but in perfect freedom of action; not as being bondservants, but as sons. A totally new sphere of service is brought to us with the new nature; and our responsibility henceforth is to serve God on this line and plane of service. Unless we are most watchful we shall find ourselves constantly dropping into the bondage of the antiquated letter, and acting in a servant-spirit instead of a sonship-spirit.

    But I say, Over so long a time the heir is an infant, he being lord of all does not differ from a slave, but is under guardians and housemasters until the term set before by the father. So we also, when we were infants, we were under the elements of the world, being enslaved. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem the ones under law, that we might receive the placing of sons. (Gal 4:1-5 LITV)

    adoption = sonship. Greek. huiothesia. Occurs here, Rom_8:23; Rom_9:4. Gal_1:4, Gal_1:5. Eph_1:5. An “adopted” child may partake of all the privileges of the family, yet it is not begotten and born in the family. But the subjects of this verse are begotten of the Spirit (Joh_3:6) and are, therefore, sons of God by spiritual generation. It is thus a real sonship-spirit that enables them to cry, “Abba, Father. ” Adoption is a legal fiction from the law of the Roman beast systematizing of the error [τηνG3588 μεθοδειανG3180 τηςG3588 πλανηςG4106]

    method (n.)
    early 15c., “regular, systematic treatment of disease,” from Latin methodus “way of teaching or going,” from Greek methodos “scientific inquiry, method of inquiry, investigation,” originally “pursuit, a following after,” from meta “in pursuit or quest of” (see meta-) + hodos “a method, system; a way or manner” (of doing, saying, etc.), also “a traveling, journey,” literally “a path, track, road,” a word of uncertain origin (see Exodus).

    Grace, peace and mercy from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ
    no debt men=Romans 13:8-10.

    P.S. Almost no one among the believers I meet know anything about the natural law. Amazing. To get the gist of the essence of the “Matrix” or how Mystery Babylon has enslave mankind the introduction to Dr. Otto Von Gierke’s book, Natural Law and the Theory of Society from 1500-1800 lays it all out. Particularly pages xlii-xlv and lxx-lxxvi. If you are interested I can e-mail them to you.

    And last of all a quote from Frederick William Maitland’s introduction to Gierke’s, Political Theories of the Middle Age (1900).:
    The corporation is and must be a creature of the State [a corporation]. Into its nostrils the State must breath the breath of a fictitious life, for otherwise it would be no animated body but individualistic dust. Pg xxx. Introduction.


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