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What Does The Bible Have To Say About Slavery?

To download the Bible Study Preparation Materials for October 20, 2010, please click here.

Last week in Bible Study we finished up our review of the book of Colossians. Towards the end of Bible Study last week, we began to transition into the book of Philemon by briefly discussing the relationship between the prison Epistles (Ephesians, Philemon, Colossians, and Philippians).  This week  we will dive head first into the Book of Philemon and attempt to discern what the Word of God has to say to us, His people, concerning slavery.

Bible Study Scripture:  Philemon 1-25

Lesson Outline:

  1. Opening Prayer
  2. Read Philemon 1-25
  3. Redeeming the time
  4. Contentment
  5. Obedience
  6. How do Christian leaders get people to do what God wants?
  7. How do we understand God’s will in matters theological and practical?
  8. What are the limits of Christian friendship
  9. Summary
  10. Closing Prayer

Bible Study Question of the week:

How should a Christian defend the Bible against the suggestion that the Scriptures do not condemn slavery?  If you are able, please use scripture to support your response:)

Posted in Bible Study, Christian Discussion, Christian Worship.


2 Responses

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  1. Edwin says

    In the Old Testament, slavery was an institution freely entered into under Mosaic Law. There were provisions in it as to how slaves were to be acquired, how slaves who were under the law were to be treated differently from heathen slaves, and how all were to be freed. Nowhere in the Old Testament is there any condemnation of the keeping of slaves while those practices contrary to the Will of God were always explicitly condemned (such as adultery, theft, and usury). So it can be concluded that, at that time in religious history and the progress of the civilization of man, slavery was an acceptable practice under God’s Law. For instance, Abraham, who was right with God, acquired and kept Hagar as a slave and a distinction was made, by God, between the descendants of Isaac and those of Ishmael on the basis of those who were “of the family” (freemen) and those “who could never be of the family” (slaves).

    By the time of the New Testament, and the advent of Jesus, humankind had progressed to the point that slavery could be condemned (it was not “too much [for them] to bear). Spiritual slavery is condemned conditionally. That is, it is not OK to be a slave to sin but it is OK to be a slave to Christ and righteousness (Romans 6:16-22). On the other hand, physical (as opposed to spiritual) slavery accepted but no acceptable. That is, Roman law is accepted (do unto Caesar) as the way the people must live (to be obedient) but there is an imperative that Christians, if possible, free themselves (in legitimate ways) from the yoke of slavery so that they can be slaves only to Christ. This is not an explicit condemnation of the practice of physical slavery, but neither is it an endorsement of it. Therefore, slave owners in the pre-Civil War South were wrong in citing the Gospel as legitimating their practice – let alone its clear condemnation of their cruel practices.

  2. Charles Hightower says

    Does the Bible ever say that slavery is allowed or not allowed? Think about what Jesus had to say regarding certificates of divorce and Moses (Matthew 19:1-12).



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