So I'm a little confused. While going through my daily reading, I came across this verse in 1 Peter 2:16:

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves.

So we are God's slaves? I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean anything derogatory but an image of a slave in my head isn't necessary a good one... Also in 1 Corinthians 7:22 it says:

For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord's freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ's slave.

So I hope someone can clear this up for me because it's making me feel a little uneasy.

  • 3
    What is your exact question? Are you asking what the word "slave" means in this context? There's a sister site that is better suited for that, but we can still give it a go here.
    – user3961
    Oct 18, 2014 at 6:27
  • I think this is probably a good question, but I agree with @fredsbend that it needs some clarification.
    – Flimzy
    Oct 18, 2014 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


Are we God's slaves?

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”b 17But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.c

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

We are bought as one who is bought from an en-slaver, who asks a ransom be paid for our freedom. Now that we have been bought from our en-slaver (sin, devil, etc.). We are now free. Shall we then take our freedom re-enslave ourselves to sin? No, we should serve our new master that bought us. It is like God is saying, look, I know you were in a jam. You were all bound up to sin. Look, I will set you free. Now that you are free, you get to do what you want. You get a choice. If you want I can give you a better way to live, do you want to come with me? Do you want to be yoked with me, to plow though this field of life together? It is your choice, you now have been set free to choose by me. I am not going to make join me, but you can if you want. Enlist in my service, and I will be your leader and protect you. I offer excellent benefits. But you don't have to if don't want to. The choice is yours.

When I enlisted in the military service, I chose to do that. I then gave up my freedoms as normal citizen to have my rights restricted to a military code. To operate with in the parameters that the military laid out. Why would I do this? The benefits are great and the rewards include the knowledge that my sacrifice causes others in my country to remain free.

I was the government's slave, servant, service member. They basically owned me. But it was my choice, my election, my freedom, to choose to serve, enslave myself to their rules. But before I joined I was enslaved a poor life, poor options, poor outlook for the future. By enlisting in the service I was set free my old life, free a new life of adventure and challenge and reward. But at what price? 1 Luke 14:28 advices count the cost. 1 Luke 14:25-27 lets us know, if you want to be his disciple it is going to cost you. I hated my old life but traded it for a new one both by enlisting in the government's service and the Lord's service. But fortunately my new master is benevolent and kind. And the rewards are far greater than the old way. I have jumped from the fire into the frying pan to become a finally cooked and delicious meal, fit for his consumption. I have no desire to jump back into the fire.

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."


We think of slavery negatively because in our most recent examples of it the slave owners were frequently abusive, and the society gave no way to escape the slave system. The Biblical slavery system was different, but that's really a different topic.

As our creator, God is our king and ruler. We were designed to serve him, ruling over this world as his deputies. The normal human relationship to God is defying him with our claims of autonomy. The gospel brings us back to him so that we can rightfully serve him again. Our lives are not our own, they were bought by God on the cross.

Whether the translation says 'slave' or 'servant', it's describing out original, natural and good state. God is loving and never abusive. So the Bible says that the only way to truly flourish is to serve God.


Whenever one runs into a problematic verse, look it up in multiple translations.
http://biblehub.com/1_peter/2.htm Two translations there use the word servant instead of slave.

The term bondservant, more akin to indentured servitude, used in various places by several translations gives a better idea of slavery under Israel law instead of 21st century conceptions of slavery.

At least occasionally in Biblical times slavery did not necessarily have many strong negative connotations as it does to modern readers. Multiple times Paul voluntarily calls himself a bondservant or slave to Christ. Romans 1:1

The following site does an excellent job explaining God's expectations for the gracious treatment slaves and different conceptions of slavery in the Old Testament. http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2014/01/slavery-and-the-old-testament-law/

Old Testament law required slaves be set free every 7 years. This is certainly different from 21st meaning of the word slave. Exodus 21:2 and Deut. 15:13-14

A freed slave could even decide to serve his master for a lifetime. "But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,'... And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. v.5-6 http://biblehub.com/exodus/21.htm

All that being said, Scripture does suggest Christians ultimately give up their rights to freedom and instead serve Christ in any way He chooses.

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