Romans 1:1-7 Slave

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Slave

When my appetites speak to me I sometimes obey them.  I eat too much or play too much.  My body suffers, but at least I am not a slave to my passions.  I have a choice to bring myself under the rule of God.  I am his slave.  I am his servant.  In doing that I have freedom from the other masters who would have dominion over me.

The slavery in the passage is not like the slavery in the south.  Roman slavery did relegate humans to something less than the image of God, but it did not treat them as cattle and work them on plantations in quite the same way as those who owned slaves in the South of The United States.  In Israel slavery was different again.  It had unique aspects like The Year of Jubilee.  Sex-trafficking is an example of modern slavery.  People’s rights are taken from them and their bodies are sold at a profit.  Slavery is not a positive image and so many translations soften the impact by replacing the word with ‘servant’.  Whichever way you look at it, though, Paul is talking about a person who gives up their rights and submits completely to the will of another.

Paul is a servant of Jesus, the Messiah.  We are all servants of someone.  Paul has made his choice to serve the Messiah, or Christ, Jesus.  Christ is such a loaded term.  It speaks of cosmic majesty and historical destiny.  Jesus is so transcendent to Paul that he lays his life down before him.  Paul had been a slave of the Jewish legal system, but as he will explain later that system was killing him.  Others around Paul were a slave to their passions, but Paul had not been one of them.  The truth is that human freedom is not a freedom from masters, but it is a freedom to choose which master will rule over us.  Like Paul, I choose Jesus.

Prayer

May I surrender the illusion of my own freedom from masters.  Let me choose you each day and be glad that my master is so good and gracious.

Questions

  1. How does Paul describe himself first?
  2. Who is his master?
  3. Why might Paul use this as his opening identification?
  4. To what things are people enslaved today?
  5. How does slavery to Jesus mean freedom?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to Romans 1:1-7 Slave

  1. Jung Kim says:

    I see some similarities in his life and mine. We are both servants of God and have passion for the Word of God. As Jesus came down to serve and not to be served, I am so excited to serve Him with the talents He has given me to serve young children. God is good, all the time! 🙂

  2. Paul describes himself as a servant of God, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel. Paul’s master is Jesus Christ. Paul might’ve used this as an opening description of himself because people could make a connection to the slaves living in that time and understand how Paul lives completely surrendered to God. Today, people are enslaved by money, success, and addictions. Slavery to Jesus ironically means freedom because we are set free from the sins that once controlled us.

  3. Molly says:

    I enjoyed the last prayer, Yes Lord, may we respond to you with sincere hearts who long to know you my master. Keep me from the temptation that I am my own ruler. You are so so kind to your children. I will continually sing your praise. Amen.

  4. Olyn says:

    Lord, you are my Master, and I am so grateful for that. Thank you for being my King and leading me. I know that I often reject you by the way that I act, speak and think. Please forgive me, and thank you for the salvation You have given me. Help me to submit more and more fully to You every day. Amen.

  5. 1. Paul describes himself as a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
    2. Paul’s master is Jesus Christ.
    3. Paul is making it clear that He is serving Jesus Christ and could be trying to encourage his audience to question who they’re serving.
    4. People are enslaved to money, success, work, relationships, entertainment, sex, addictions, and many other things.
    5. When a person is a slave to Jesus Christ, they are no longer slaves to other things of the world.

  6. Michael McCardle says:

    How does Paul describe himself first?
    A servant of Jesus set apart for the Gospel,
    Who is his master?
    Jesus
    Why might Paul use this as his opening identification?
    To clearly identify who he serves and to model the Christian walks
    To what things are people enslaved today?
    Self, media, addiction, violence, oppressing others, cash, success.
    How does slavery to Jesus mean freedom?
    It means that we are free from all of the things of the world that would enslave us to death. We are truly free because becoming a slave to Christ gives us eternal and new life.

  7. Christa says:

    1. How does Paul describe himself first? As a slave of Christ Jesus and as an apostle
    2. Who is his master? Christ
    3. Why might Paul use this as his opening identification? Because he is humbling himself before the Roman church and recognizing his identity in Christ
    4. To what things are people enslaved today? It seems like people enslave themselves to just about anything, from relationships to TV to instagram to friends to work
    5. How does slavery to Jesus mean freedom? Slavery to Jesus means true freedom because in Christ we are who we were designed to be and we find complete joy and acceptance in Christ alone as He renews us and forgives us of our sins and condemnation

  8. Kimberly W. says:

    Paul describes himself as a slave to Christ Jesus. Part of me rebels at that–I don’t want to be a slave to anyone, not even God. I don’t like the thought of submitting entirely to someone and following their will. With Christ, though, I know it is different. I have been designed to submit to God, and there is freedom in being what I am created to be. Submission to God is freedom. Lord, help me to follow, love, and serve You as my master and Lord. I know you are trustworthy.

  9. Maelynn says:

    4. People are enslave by themselves and their own lusts and desires. Today, an individual sees himself as his own master. Thus, food can enslave people. Over-working can enslave people. Sex can enslave people. Developing self-image can enslave people. Anything can be taken to the extreme and ultimately worshiped.
    5. I love the paradigm of our slavery in Christ which sets us free. God knows our frailty. He knows our humanity and finite-ness. We willingly enslave ourselves to the things of this world. In Him, we have the freedom to become more like him. We don’t have to choose sin! Through God we have power over sin!! This is what makes us free!

  10. Maria T. says:

    I have been wrestling through submission to God lately. I am so proud that I forget that I am serving someone, either sin or Christ. But in Christ I have freedom to choose Him! Oh, thank God that when I am struggling to bring my will under His submission, I am reminded that He has already given me the freedom to do so. I often roll over and play dead if I think that I can’t accomplish something. If I feel failure is inevitable, I stop trying. So this was extremely helpful because it reminded me that the fight has already been won through Christ and I just need to surrender to Him. Christ accomplished what i could not and brought me under submission to His will, and I am thankful for that.

  11. 1. He describes himself firstly as a servant of Christ Jesus.
    2. Christ Jesus is.
    3. Paul wanted it to be clear I think that his Lord Jesus Christ was and is the One worthy of all praise. Paul does not want any for himself in this introduction. He points out briefly that he is a servant of Christ and called by the Lord to be an apostle before identifying Christ.
    4. People are enslaved to attention, self, pleasures of all kinds, and so many other things it would be impossible to list them all.
    5. Slavery to Christ brings freedom because it is through Christ that we are able to be transformed, sanctified, and eventually glorified into all we were originally intended to be. We are free because in nothing or no one else are we able to be restored.

  12. Nate Silvieus says:

    The concept of being a slave to someone is so hard for me to get my life around. I want my freedom to do the things that I want to do, and a lot of times those desires are sinful, and even if they are not sinful, they are not productive or helpful to me or anyone else whatsoever. In a sense I am slave to myself which only brings disappointment and despair. However submitting all that I am and every aspect of my will to the will of God will only bring complete freedom. He restores me and pulls my life from the pit and blesses me to be in his will.

  13. Andrew Moore says:

    When thinking about slavery, it can be easy and reasonable to develop a very negative view toward the concept. However, it seems to me that ultimately everyone is bound to be a slave. You are either a slave to your own desires and passions or a slave to righteousness and the Lord.

  14. Being a slave can also have its benefits (I’m not saying owning a slave in the South was at all in any way morally right), but think about the “emancipation proclamation”. Do you think slaves up and left when this bill was passed? No. First of all they probably wouldnt have even heard about it right away. Plus, if they did choose to leave the plantation how do you think they would have survived? They couldn’t just move down the road and get an apartment. The plantation was their home, they had shelter and food. Some even had been born on the plantation and never had known anything but. So, in one sense, we can see why someone would choose to continue to be a slave to something/someone inferior. And sometimes people don’t have a choice. Just a thought. On another note we can see why someone can’t understand why living in sin and being a slave to sin is altogether bad. They haven’t known anything else, they were born into it, and is it hurting another person? Maybe not necessarily. How would you combat this with the Roman road? How do you help someone understand that they are serving the wrong master? Because they sure can’t see it.

  15. Megumi says:

    1. a servant
    2. Jesus Christ
    3. it shows his bias and perspective
    4. addictions, habits, schedules, themselves, other manipulative people, school, careers, etc.
    5. everyone is a slave to something, by choosing to serve Jesus we become free to pursue our designed purpose

  16. Christina W. says:

    “The truth is that human freedom is not a freedom from masters, but it is a freedom to choose which master will rule over us.” I thought that this was a very interesting way of putting it. It is so true though! As humans, we are free to choose what thing or person we will make our master. As Christians, we are called to be servants to Christ Jesus and to have his as the master of our lives.

  17. Emmy R says:

    I just finished many hours of studying the book of Romans for my midterm tomorrow, and this is one thing that continues to stand out to me. We are slaves to Christ, but while the word holds negative connotation, it actually has positive effects on our lives. I am thankful to be a slave to Christ, because it means I am no longer a slave to sin.

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