The issue slavery, and especially equality is still a prevalent matter, as much discussion of it is incorporated in our daily lives today. It’s extremely important to note that slavery was viewed as a normal part of life in the ancient world, and many people have since changed their views. This topic interests me, because the world is not all evil, and to search for hope amidst a pile of destruction and hurt is empowering. According to Bart D. Ehrman, author of “A Brief Introduction to the New Testament” there is insignificant proof that Paul actually wrote all of the letters that many Christians attribute Him to have. Thus, as a way to be historically correct, or not falsify myself, I will be speaking of the Pauline Corpus(that which we think Paul is attributed to). The Pauline Corpus teaches that all humans are equal under God and that only God is the Master, not anyone/anything else.
There are no social hierarchies or biases towards anyone; we are equal in the eyes of God. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7:21-24 that it does not matter what you are “called” slave, or free, it doesn’t matter where you are in life, keep working and glorifying God in all that you do. God frees the slaves and the free are still slaves of God. Repeatedly The Pauline Corpus teaches that all are equal in the eyes of God. In accordance to this, in Galatians 3:28 Paul writes that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Jesus”. If you live for Christ and belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham and will go to the Promise Land. Once again, Paul teaches of equality under Christ in Colossians 3:5-10. There are no social standings, Christ is in all of creation and that is the only definition to which one should live under/by. Masters are not any more authoritative than their slaved brother, for only God is. We are all slaves for God (Colossians 4:1) . Free people, especially those who didn’t believe in Christ probably found this statement outrageous; however, Paul is teaching that no humanly standings matter, only that which we do to better God’s kingdom. Lastly, in relation to that which people own, in First Timothy 6:1-2, Paul teaches that “honor has no financial significance; God will be blasphemed when outsiders use the behavior of Christian slaves to defame the church”(Study Bible). It does not matter how much wealth, or lack of wealth one possesses, for honor is in the heart and actions of a person. God does not judge upon the works and standings of a person, He judges upon the love in their heart for Him.
The Pauline Corpus also believes and teaches that God is the master over all and we are all slaves for Christ, not each other or anything else. In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul tells his listeners to obey their masters but also for masters to treat their slaves with respect and fairness as they would treat themselves. Paul encourages slaves to serve whatever they are serving with enthusiasm and love for God. He explains to his listeners to follow the will of God from within your heart no matter what they are doing/their circumstances, and this will lad them to freedom. Another one of Paul’s teachings of slavery and the benevolence of Christ Jesus over all humans is in Titus 2:9-10. These verses imply that The Pauline Corpus views slaves as a perfect show piece when searching for the good of God and to those truly living their lives for Him. To slaves, being free in Christ meant being free in their hearts/souls and one day having glorious salvation in heaven.
The Pauline Corpus also speaks of slavery and the will of God over anything/everything else in the world in his letter to Philemon. Paul writes to Philemon from prison awaiting his trial, since christianity was highly persecuted at that time. Philemon was a slave owner of Onesimus who also owns a church. In the letter Paul tells that he is going to send Onesimus back to Philemon because he believes that he would be great in helping spread the word of the lord and preaching the gospel to better the kingdom of God. He says that he has confidence that Philemon will do what is proper and right (Philemon 21). This indicates that Paul does not encourage nor does he support slavery and wants Philemon to free Onesimus.
Oneimus was a slave that converted to whole-heartedly follow Christ while with Paul in prison. Paul believes that Onesimus now can help better the kingdom of heaven. Here is a specific example of the significance in repent, forgiveness and unfailing love for all.
Ehrman, Bart D. A Brief Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Meeks, Wayne A. The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1993. Print.