Thursday, February 10, 2011


     Doulos is found in several documents of Greek antiquity. It appears
in  Herodotus  (5th century B.C.),  the inscriptions,  the  papyri, Philo,
Josephus, etc.

     Doulos occurs more than 300 times in the Septuagint. It occurs
124 times in the Greek New Testament.  Doulos is a theologically
significant word. The Hebrew word 'ebed is a close correspondent to
doulos'Ebed carries a range of meaning such as servant, official,
slave. The Greek doulos literally means slave, one who is "owned
property totally and unquestionably at the behest of the   owner." 
(Concise Greek-English   Lexicon   of   the   New Testament,
F. W. Danker, page 101) 

     In  ancient  society  slaves  were  sometimes  captives  of  war.
(Deut. 20:10-18); sometimes foreigners who were bought and sold.
(Lev. 25:44-46); others  were  sold  into  slavery  because  they
defaulted   on   debts   they   owed.  (Ex. 21:2-4;  Deut. 15:12;
1 Sam. 22:3);  others  were  acquired  as  a  gift.  (Gen. 29:24).
Non-Hebrew slaves could be passed on from one generation to
the next. (Lev. 25:44-46). Others could become slaves by birth.
(Ex. 21:4; Lev. 25:54)

    In the N.T. doulos is sometimes used literally. (Eph. 6:5; Col. 4:1;
Philemon 16) The term is also used metaphorically to describe a
person who is under total obligation to surrender his will to the Lord
Christ. The person becomes the property of the deity. He has been
"immersed into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit." (Mat. 28:19)

     On  this  basis,  "Paul  is  a  slave  of  Jesus  Christ."  (Rom. 1:1)
Believers generally are slaves "of obedience that leads to righteousness."
(Rom. 6:16) The apostles were slaves of Christians for the sake of
Jesus. (2 Cor. 4:5) Paul's helpers were slaves of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:1)
James identifies himself as "a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Jas. 1:1) Peter was "a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. 1:1)
Jude was "a slave of Jesus Christ." (Jude 1). John the apostle was the
Lord's slave. (Rev. 1:1) The apostles and all believers in the apostolic
age were not averse to being known as slaves. They  considered servility
to be a privilege!

     Most English translations of the scriptures have been reluctant to use
the word slave in such contexts. They have opted for the more palatable
word "servant."  The Holman Christian Standard Bible has broken
away from tradition in this regard. It correctly interprets doulos to mean

Copyright 2011

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