No Partiality

Read: Colossians 3:23–4:1

For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. (v. 25)

We pondered yesterday how to make sense of Paul’s apparent acceptance of slavery. But Paul was not quite finished with that topic. In fact, what he says next may mean that for Christians, the master-slave relationship might just have to end.

Paul said to work honestly. He noted that those who do wrong would be punished and that God wouldn’t show any partiality. Wrong is wrong no matter who does it. At this point you might think Paul was still talking only to slaves/servants. Wrong! Look what comes next: “I am talking to you masters, too, by the way. Don’t forget that you have a Master named Jesus now, so if you don’t treat your servants the way Jesus treats you, watch out!”

Is it possible Paul was saying that slavery could not exist anymore as it had been? That seems likely. Paul used a similar tactic in his letter to Philemon. Paul nowhere said, “Slavery is wrong.” But by the time he was finished, it sure looked as though neither could slavery continue. The arc or trajectory of God’s kingdom has so many implications. Even an apostle like Paul could not have known every implication that would unfold over time. But the kingdom of God affects everything. It changes everything. But given who Jesus is and what he did, that should not be surprising at all! —Scott Hoezee

As you pray, ask the Spirit to open your eyes to all that may change in your life because of Jesus.

About the Author

Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.