Christian Household Servants
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Slaves 127

Early Church Servants of God

4000 Christian SlavesThe most illuminating adaptation of household terms to theological ideas is the constant assertion that Christian household servants are really the servants of God. Household leaders are told by 1 Corinthians 4.1 that they are God's stewards, "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God."

Discharge the Trust

The duty with which they are entrusted in 1 Corinthians 9.17 is the administration of God's goods for the benefit of the household. Saint Paul writes, "If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me." More commonly still, they are simply household servants, stressing the subjection rather than the trust.✞

Loyal to the Master

The Early Church history professor E. A. Judge (1928- present) writing in "The Social Pattern of Christian Groups in the First Century" asserts that these metaphors from slavery suggest how far the institution was appreciated as a means of support for the otherwise unrepresented and helpless. The bond frequently excited feelings not of resentment, but of personal devotion and loyalty towards the master by household servants. Moreover, as with the centurion in Luke 7.2 "There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die." This Christian servant was dear to the centurion, the bond could be the basis of mutual affection.✞

"Christian Household Servants"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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