Slavery… and Jesus’ return

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Ephesians 6:Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

You might have expected Paul to have taken a swipe at the institution of slavery here since slavery de-humanized and devalued some people over others. We know that Jesus was given by God for the sake of all people everywhere, including slaves – as Paul mentioned in v.9 above. However it’s also important to remember Paul’s expectations of Jesus’ return. Jesus had said things like the following while he was still on earth:

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” – MT 16:27-28

Paul was writing to the Ephesians some 30+ years after Jesus ascended to heaven, so Paul would have expected Jesus to literally be coming – any day. I wonder how Paul may have written differently had he known that almost 2,000 years later we’d still be waiting for Jesus and slavery would still be with us in some parts of the world.

 

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