Paul uses an interesting term in the New Testament to describe himself. In writing to the church in Rome, he introduces himself:
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, Romans 1:1 (NASB)
The word bondservant was a Roman term and mainly refers to a slave that became a permanent slave to one master out of choice. Even though the Mosaic law expected everyone in Israel to set his slaves free in the 7th year, it made provision for those that did not want to leave their master. Should a slave wish, they were allowed to remain with their master. In such a scenario, the Hebrew word that described them best was ‘ebed’ which had the connotation of the permanence of the slave
“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. Exodus 21:5-6
Paul wanted the church to know that he was not a slave but a slave for life. He willingly became a slave to righteousness, and he voluntarily opted to be a slave for the rest of his life. Paul was not looking forward to the moment of release for he loved his Master and loved serving Him. Paul wanted nothing more for his life.
This term was used over and over again in the New Testament to describe Christians who had devoted their lives wholly to God. Examples of New Testament characters described as bond servants include Jude, Peter, James, Timothy and of course, Paul (Jude 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1, James 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Romans 1:1).
Scripture further teaches that this is not a title reserved for a selected few. It challenges us to consider ourselves as bondservants, slaves by choice.
Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. – Ephesians 6:6
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. – 1 Corinthians 7:22
As followers of Jesus, we are called to live lives of total devotion to him.
- Would you consider yourself a bondservant of Jesus Christ?
- Have you totally committed yourself to serve God for the rest of your life?
- How does the commitment to Christ change the way you live your life?
Father in heaven, I ask for your help in my walk with you; as I grow into service and ministry. As a bondservant, I long to serve you for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.