Must All Men Be Free?
Parsons - January 04, 2006
Sometimes the question is asked, "Does God want all men to be free? Or, does
God condone slavery?"
God has established freedom in humankind since the beginning of humanity in
the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given the choice of obeying God, or
disobeying Him. That is freedom. This freedom of choice has continued
throughout the ages.
Nevertheless, we do see servitude among the Israelites. There was a
distinction made between the Israelite as servant, versus the Gentile as
Exodus 21:2: "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and
in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
3: If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married,
then his wife shall go out with him.
4: If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or
daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go
out by himself.
5: And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my
children; I will not go out free:
6: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him
to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear
through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
7: And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out
as the menservants do.
8: If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then
shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall
have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
9: And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after
the manner of daughters.
10: If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of
marriage, shall he not diminish.
11: And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free
Leviticus 25:38: "I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the
of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
39: And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto
thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
40: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and
serve thee unto the year of jubile:
41: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him,
return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he
42: For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of
shall not be sold as bondmen.
43: Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.
44: Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of
heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and
45: Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of
shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in
and they shall be your possession.
46: And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to
them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your
brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with
47: And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that
him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to
stock of the stranger's family:
48: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may
49: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is
nigh of kin
unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem
50: And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was
him unto the year of jubile: and the price of his sale shall be according
number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with
51: If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give
price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.
52: And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubile, then he shall
with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of
53: And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall
with rigour over him in thy sight."
Deuteronomy 15:12: "And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman,
sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou
shalt let him
go free from thee.
13: And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go
14: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor,
and out of
thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou
give unto him.
15: And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt,
the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.
16: And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee;
loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;
17: Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the
door, and he
shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do
18: It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from
for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six
and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest."
Jeremiah 34:12: "Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the
13: Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; I made a covenant with your
the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house
14: At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew,
hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt
him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither
15: And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming
every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the
which is called by my name:
16: But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant,
every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to
brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.
17: Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in
proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his
behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the
and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms
Even so, it was common to grant servants their freedom. If the Hebrew
servant still served in the year of jubilee--the seventh year--he or she was
to be set
free. Not only that, the male servants were to be given enough to go away
care of their own needs. They were furnished out of the goods of the
master. The female Hebrew servants became wives, or daughters-in-law. These
were to be treated well, and sustained materially. Gentile servants were not
free in the jubilee, but were servants in perpetuity.
With the coming of Jesus Christ as our Savior, came freedom We enjoy a
measure of freedom such as the world has never known. We are free from sin;
free from ignorance; and free from guilt.
John 8:32: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:36: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free
This is freedom in the spiritual sense. Jesus spoke of a freedom that comes
hearing and believing truth.
Romans 6:18: "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of
The Apostle Paul spoke several times of being free from the Law of Moses.
book of Romans addresses this in depth, because certain Jews from Jerusalem,
professing to follow Christ, attempted to also force the converted Gentiles
and adopt the Law of Moses, including circumcision of the males.
Paul also addressed the reality of those who were servants of men, but who
became Christians. He notes that, in Christ, there is neither bond nor free.
brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of station in life. A man who was
free, or who had purchased his freedom, became a servant to Christ, and to
fellow Christians. A man who was "owned" or controlled by a master, although
servant in the human sense, was free in Christ in the spiritual sense.
1 Corinthians 7:21: "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but
mayest be made free, use it rather.
22: For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's
likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant."
1 Corinthians 9:19: "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made
servant unto all, that I might gain the more."
1 Corinthians 12:13: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,
we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made
drink into one Spirit."
As Paul instructs the Gentile Christians regarding this freedom in Christ,
reminds those who are servants to serve their masters well. This, he says,
because of their service to Christ, and not to their worldly master. The
Peter also gives the same advice.
1 Peter 2:13: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's
whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14: Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment
evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15: For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence
ignorance of foolish men:
16: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as
servants of God.
17: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
18: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good
gentle, but also to the froward.
19: For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure
20: For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall
patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently,
acceptable with God.
21: For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us,
us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he
not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:"
Peter also recognizes that masters who are not Christians might inflict pain
suffering upon their servants. Rather than rebelling against such a master,
instructs the Christian who is a servant to obey their masters, and do their
well, although the master might mistreat them. If they are so made to
reminds them that Christ became a servant for us all, and was made to
Therefore, he concludes, the suffering Christian servant must not rebel
master, but must serve him well, regardless of the treatment received at his
Ephesians 6:5: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters
the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto
6: Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing
of God from the heart;
7: With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he
of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
9: And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening:
that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with
Like Peter, Paul tells the servants, who are Christians, to give their
service. Like Peter, he emphasizes that this good service is not because
worldly master deserves it, but because it is the example that Jesus Christ
us all. Paul instructs masters, as well as servants, who are Christians. He
masters that Jesus is the master of all. They should follow the example of
heavenly master, and treat the servants with respect and kindness. In the
the Lord, master and servant are the same. He holds no greater respect for
master than he does for the servant. Our master became our servant.
Philippians 2:5: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with
7: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
was made in the likeness of men:
8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
John 13:13: "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14: If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to
one another's feet.
15: For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to
16: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his
lord; neither he
that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17: If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
In Paul's treatment of the subject of the oneness of the servant and the
he shows the qualities that Christians are to have toward one another, and
Charity--that love that is not earned or deserved--is to be that which binds
together in the Lord. So, the servant should love his Christian master, and
master is to love his Christian servant.
Colossians 3:11: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor
uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and
12: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a
against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14: And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of
Galatians 3:27: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have
28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is
male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
The lesson is epitomized in the letter that Paul wrote to Philemon about his
runaway servant, Onesimus. Paul urged love and kindness, rather than anger
retribution, upon the return of Onesimus to the service of Philemon. Paul
Philemon that, with the conversion of Onesimus to Christ, the servant is now
servant in the flesh, and in the Lord. He begged Philemon to receive the
a brother, and as a partner in the work of the Lord.
Philemon 10: "I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my
11: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee
12: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own
13: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have
ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
14: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be
were of necessity, but willingly.
15: For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest
him for ever;
16: Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially
but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
17: If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
18: If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;
19: I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do
not say to
thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides."
We are made free in Christ. We are free to serve. True leadership comes
Matthew 20:25: "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the
princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great
exercise authority upon them.
26: But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you,
him be your minister;
27: And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
give his life a ransom for many."
The gospel of Christ is about freedom--from ignorance, sin, and guilt. It is
about servitude. We are set free spiritually in order to serve each other,
thereby serve the Lord.
Matthew 25:31: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the
angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them
from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
35: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me
drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in
ye came unto me.
37: Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an
hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38: When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed
39: Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40: And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,
as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done
41: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave
43: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not:
and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44: Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an
or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not
45: Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye
not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.46: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous
When we serve one another, we serve Christ. We are free to serve! Our
comes by understanding the truth of God, and His love toward us. Once we
that understanding, we understand that our role is to serve. We choose to
just as Jesus chose to serve. We do not use our freedom in Christ to place
stumblingblocks in the way of others. Rather, we use it to bring them to
Galatians 4:22: "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a
bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23: But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the
freewoman was by promise.
24: Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one
mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25: For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which
is, and is in bondage with her children.
26: But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27: For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth
and cry, thou
that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which
28: Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29: But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was
the Spirit, even so it is now.
30: Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her
for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the
31: So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the
5:1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:13: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use
for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love
neighbour as thyself.
15: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed
16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of
17: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things
18: But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
James 2:12: "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law
13: For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and
mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
14: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and
works? can faith save him?
15: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16: And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;
notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body;
doth it profit?"
By meeting the needs of others--which is the meaning of service--we lead
to Christ, and in the love of Christ, showing charity to all.
2 Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of
the Lord is,
there is liberty.
18: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the
Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of
We are free to choose to serve the Lord. We are free to learn of Him, and
become like Him! In doing so, we understand that our freedom is to be put to
in the service of others.
Hebrews 5:8: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things
which he suffered;"
We must learn to be obedient servants, even if that means that we are
and mistreated. There is no call from Christ to rise in rebellion against
masters. On the contrary, Christians are called to be good servants.
Does God demand that all men be set free? God desires that we become free
from sin, ignorance, and guilt. Jesus died to give us that freedom. He gave
that we might be free.
Both Old and New Testaments contain the language of servants and masters. A
master who is a Christian is to be kind, wise, and respectful. It should be
not to demean the servant, or reduce him to poverty. On the contrary, the
scriptures plainly teach a godly master will see that his servant's lot in
improved. He will seek to elevate his standard of living.
On the other hand, the servant is to be respectful to his master, doing his
In our times, an employee is basically a hired servant. The employer is a
his employees. As such, whether we discharge the role of employer, or
we should follow the teachings of the apostles in our relationships with
Borrowers become servants to the banks, credit card companies, and other
Proverbs 22:7: "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant
The borrower has a responsibility to be a good servant to his lender,
debt as agreed.
Psalms 37:21: "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous
sheweth mercy, and giveth."
If possible, we should try to get out of debt, so that we are not servants
lenders. If we follow the instructions given to the Israelites, we will
brothers in Christ to rise from poverty and prosper in the Lord.
Deuteronomy 15:6: "For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee:
and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou
reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee."
Deuteronomy 28:12: "The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the
heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the
work of thine
hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow."
This is reflected in the Apostle Paul's writings to the Corinthian church.
2 Corinthians 8:12: "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted
that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
13: For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
14: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply
their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that
15: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he
gathered little had no lack."
Paul told the Romans to owe no man any thing, except to love one another.
Romans 13:8: "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that
another hath fulfilled the law.
9: For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt
Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any
commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt
thy neighbour as thyself.
10: Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling
of the law."
If we find ourselves to be masters in this life, as Christians, it is our
duty to improve
the lot of those who might find themselves our servants. We are to treat
kindness, respect, and love. We should do our best to arrange for their
If we Christians find ourselves to be servants in this life, we are to be
servants, obedient to our masters. If the opportunity comes to be free from
master in this world, it is a welcome opportunity to futher do the work of
by freely serving our fellow Christians, and our fellow man.
1 Corinthians 7:20: "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was
21: Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be
free, use it rather.
22: For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's
likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.
23: Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
24: Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."
There is no condemnation in scripture of a just master. There is no
in scripture of a faithful servant. The call is for us to use our position
in life to serve
the Lord faithfully, and to lead others into the path of righteousness.
Love, in Christ,
Back To Top