Slavery In New Testament

Slavery in New Testament: The New Testament makes much of slavery. It is discussed extensively in practically every book of the Bible and is mentioned more than 100 times. This is understandable considering that one of the most significant social and economic institutions under the Roman Empire was slavery. Slaves played a crucial role in the Roman economy and society, where they were regarded as members of extended families. Although they could not marry a free person, slaves had a number of rights, including the ability to marry other slaves and the right to have slaves as their children.

A slave could file a lawsuit against their master if they were mistreated. If they were obedient workers or had given their master many years of service (and occasionally even if they hadn’t), their owners might also release them.

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The New Testament does not call for the abolition of slavery. In fact, it explicitly condones the practice of slavery. This post will outline some examples of New Testament passages that condone slavery. We’ll also address a few common arguments from Christians who say that the Bible doesn’t condone slavery, and explain why they’re wrong.

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It’s not uncommon for people to think that slavery in the New Testament was a racial or ethnic issue. However, this is not true. Slavery was common in the Roman world, and slaves could be of any race or ethnicity.

The word “slavery” itself can refer to different things: it can refer to being owned by another person (being their property), or it can mean being forced to work for someone else without pay. When we talk about slavery in the New Testament, we’re talking about both things happening at once—a person has no rights over their own body and cannot leave their master without permission; they have no freedom over where they will live or what they will eat; they must obey every order given by their owner even if it means going against God’s commands (like stealing more food than allowed).

It provided a social safety net for those who had nothing left to offer.

The Bible does not condemn slavery. It’s a fact that people in the ancient world owned slaves. Slavery was a way of life, and no one questioned it back then. People like Paul knew this and accepted it as part of his culture. This is why the Bible never condemns slavery in any way; it simply doesn’t address it at all—it’s not an issue worth mentioning.

The poor were often enslaved by wealthier families who had taken pity on them or given them food when they were starving, and this would become an ongoing obligation between these families. Slaves were considered members of their master’s household (Luke 12:39), so they were cared for as family members instead of property owners might treat their possessions today.*

You may wonder what kind of life a slave could have under such circumstances, but many slaves enjoyed better lives than some free men did back then.* For example, most free men had to work long hours doing manual labor jobs just to survive; whereas many slaves had jobs within their master’s house where they could live comfortably with their families.* Also, because there weren’t many roads connecting cities or villages in those days (or cars for travelling), some masters let their slaves travel with them while going from place to place.* These jobs would allow them passage across Greece and Rome without having to pay expensive fees required by caravan operators who traveled through dangerous territory.* In turn they helped protect their masters on long journeys while providing valuable companionship along the way!

A slave was considered “property” in much of the Roman Empire.

Slaves were chattel in much of the Roman Empire. They could be bought and sold like other types of property, such as animals, land or houses. Slavery was a necessary part of the economy: it provided labor for farms and businesses that would otherwise have been difficult to operate without slaves. Slavery was not considered a moral issue; rather it was seen as an economic necessity and an institution with which all societies had to deal (though some cultures did not engage in slavery). The slave-owner did not see his slaves as people but rather tools—much like cattle used for labor on farms today—and treated them accordingly.

Most slaves were prisoners of war or their descendants.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be born into a family that owns slaves. That’s because most slaves were prisoners of war or their descendants. There was no stigma attached to being a slave in the ancient world: many slaves were treated well and enjoyed a better life than they would have otherwise had.

Some slaves could work up to freedom and citizenship.

  • A few slaves might be able to earn their freedom. The Bible mentions many slaves who were freed by the kindness of their masters, such as the apostle Paul’s personal secretary (Titus 1:1). It also tells of some slaves who purchased their own freedom, such as Demetrius, who earned enough money on his own to buy himself out of slavery (Philemon 1:14).
  • Slaves couldn’t just walk away from abusive masters, even if they wanted to. When people leave a job or contract early without following proper legal channels, it’s called “breaching.” In modern-day contracts, breaching usually results in penalties that can include financial compensation or other legal sanctions; however, ancient Rome was much less strict about enforcing these kinds of contracts—even when dealing with citizens—and so there were no real consequences for breaking free from an undesirable master other than having an angry ex-master after you!

In the ancient Near East, slavery often resulted from debt default.

When you think of slavery, what image do you have in your mind? An African American man whose family was torn apart as he was sold to a Southern plantation owner? A young girl being abused by her master as she works long hours picking cotton in the fields? If so, then you’ve likely been influenced by Hollywood’s portrayal of slavery rather than the Bible. The truth is that ancient Near Eastern cultures—including the culture of Israel—had several forms of “slavery” and those terms were not always used consistently across time periods or cultures.

However, if we focus just on biblical times from 1500–1000 B.C., we find three types: debt bondage (the most common), indentured servanthood, and chattel (or permanent) slavery

Slaves could be freed by their masters at any time.

Slaves could be freed at any time by their masters. This was a common practice in the Roman Empire, even though it was not required by law. In fact, many slaves earned enough money to buy their own freedom—and some were freed because of special circumstances like illness or injury.

Although this sounds like an ideal situation for a slave, there were also cases in which slaves were treated poorly and given few rights. Some masters would beat and abuse their slaves; others would sell them off as punishment for offenses such as running away or breaking tools during work hours (which would have been considered theft).

Some could earn enough money to buy their own freedom.

In the ancient world, slaves were property, and in most cases their value was based on how much work they could do. This meant that some slaves were able to earn enough money to buy their own freedom. For example, if a master needed his slave’s services for only two months out of the year, he might agree to sell the slave in exchange for 50% of what he had earned during those two months. If you were one of these lucky few who had earned enough money while working as a slave that you could pay your owner back with interest and still keep some savings—and then purchase your own freedom—you would be free!

The Bible’s view of slavery is complex and not always clear.

The Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn slavery or condone it. The Bible does, however, provide some guidelines about how to treat slaves. In Exodus 20:10, for example, we read that “you shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him.” Similarly in Colossians 4:1-2 we are told to “conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders” and later informed that “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly.” In these passages we see that Christians are called on to treat their neighbors well—including those who may be enslaved by other Christians.

Although there is no explicit command for masters to treat slaves well or for slaves themselves not to rebel against their masters (as some would have us believe), there is evidence throughout the New Testament that both groups should recognize each other as fellow image-bearers of God and therefore worthy of respect and dignity.


The New Testament does not provide anything like a complete program for the abolition of slavery, much less for social justice. It does, however, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ who came to save sinners and set men free – in both senses of the word ‘free.’ Wherever that gospel is proclaimed and believed, some degree of emancipation may be expected. The New Testament contains no explicit condemnation of slavery as such; but then it contains no explicit condemnation of lying or stealing either. In each case a variety of considerations lead us to condemn these things as incompatible with Christian teaching.

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