Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Well Done Good and Faithful Servant?

A few weeks ago I listened to an interesting sermon by John MacArthur. I’m still thinking about it. He spoke of the Greek word “doulos” and how it was translated in the English New Testament beginning in the 1500’s.

Evidently the word caused enough social discomfort that to properly translate it is as “slave” was compromised. Instead, the words “servant” and “bondservant” were substituted. A quick search in my e-Sword revealed that in every circumstance where either of these terms is used in regards to a person, it translates back to the word “doulos”.

There’s a big difference between the word servant and the word slave. A servant is an employee with a certain level of independence. An employee takes a bit of pride in a job well done. A slave on the other hand is someone who is owned, someone who was purchased for a price or even captured. A slave has no power. No pride.

Thinking of myself as a slave in relation to what Jesus has done for me brings a truer sense of humility and gratefulness. Look at the passages below and exchange the “bondservant” or “servant” words for “slave”.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:14-15

Paul, James, Peter and Jude all referred to themselves as bondservants (slaves) of Jesus Christ.

The more I meditate on this word the more “ah-ha” moments I have. It is truly marvelous. If you would like to listen to MacArthur’s sermon you will find it at Grace to You. It’s about 40 minutes long and worth every minute! There’s much more in the sermon than my thoughts are able to convey. The title is "2009 NRB Worship Service."

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed. My chains are gone I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. (lyric from Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin)


  1. Words and the meanings they convey can become confusing if we don't take time to understand them in context - both then, now, and in the future. Thanks you for these thoughts.

  2. Sojourner: I just found it so enlightening. The sermon also touches on John Huss, a great martyr during the reformation and other language issues. All of it for edification.. no slam on the translations. It is very good.
    Thanks for coming over. I appreciate you. :-)

  3. What a thought-provoking post! I've never considered it this way. Now, I think I will...

  4. Billy ~ Thanks for coming over. I was not able to express myself well enough to do the sermon justice. Since hearing it however, I have a greater desire to obey and it is quickened in me within the moments of decision...

  5. This is a great post. Recently I purchased the Holmans Christian Standard Bible and that bible uses the word "Slave". I wondered why when I came across it. Now I know!

    Thanks Lorrie.

  6. livingjourney ~ cool! I love it because it has driven into me a bit deeper just how much I am not my own :-)

  7. thank you for this. i treasure that i am a friend to Christ.