"Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:1).
A faithful slave fulfills the will of his master.
The metaphor of Christians as slaves to Christ is common in Paul's writings. It is one his readers would have readily understood because of the prevalence of slavery in the Roman Empire.
Peter, James, John, and Jude used the same metaphor of their own ministries, as did Jesus in Mark 10:45: "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." In Philippians 2:7 Paul refers to Christ as a bond-servant who set aside the glory He was due and humbled Himself to the point of death.
The Greek word translated "bond-servant" in Philippians 1:1 was commonly used of those who, out of devotion to their masters, chose to remain as slaves when having the opportunity to be released. They were also known as love slaves because they served out of love, not compulsion.
That is a beautiful picture of the believer. We are God's bond-servants (Rev. 1:1), having been freed from sin and enslaved to Him (Rom. 6:22).
While slavery brings to mind deprivation and inhumane treatment of one's fellow man, slaves in the Roman Empire usually were treated with dignity and respect. Although most had no personal possessions, their masters supplied everything they needed for life and health. Additionally, many were entrusted with significant responsibilities in their master's home.
A disobedient or self-willed slave was of no use to his master, but faithful slaves, who set aside their personal interests to accomplish their master's will, were a precious possession.
Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work" (John 4:34). As God's bond-servant that should be your goal as well. Be faithful so God can use you mightily.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Thank God for the privilege of serving Him.
- Seek wisdom to appropriate your spiritual resources as you perform the tasks God has entrusted to you.
For Further Study
Philemon is a letter Paul wrote to accompany Onesimus, a runaway slave, whom Paul had led to the Lord and was now returning to his master, Philemon.
- Read Philemon.
- What was Paul's desire for Onesimus?
- What does this letter reveal about Philemon's character?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.