Obedient Slaves and Decent Masters

LeRoy Koopman

READ : Ephesians 6:5-9


This passage upsets some folks. They suggest that Paul should have initiated a “free the slaves” movement in the Roman empire, calling Christians to destroy the unjust and inhuman institution of slavery.

Eventually that did happen. Down through the years Christians have often been on the leading edge of social reform, and rightly so. Nor can we today separate our private lives from our lives as citizens.

But we also have to be realistic. It was improbable at this point that a handful of Christian indentured servants would be able to reform the social system of the empire. So what were their choices? They had two: to be rotten slaves or to be good slaves. Paul says they should be good slaves. He even uses such phrases as “in singleness of heart” (v. 5), “as slaves of Christ” (v. 6) and “with enthusiasm” (v. 7).

Most of us, at one time or another, find ourselves in somewhat parallel situations – perhaps at the work place, perhaps at school, perhaps on the athletic field, perhaps in a brush with the law. We have been unfairly treated and our rights were trampled on. We have bad bosses, crummy teachers, lousy officials, and unjust treatment. For the time being, at least, we have two choices – to be good slaves (employees, students, citizens, athletes) or rotten ones.


Help us, Lord, however unjustly we are being treated, to reflect the spirit of the living Christ. In His name. Amen.