This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:1a NLT
There is so much in this first sentence, but the word that jumps out in the NLT translation is “slaves”. And you will find various translations as servants, bond-servants, slaves, bondsmen — all of which come with an understanding of a relationship where one party is in authority over another.
The word here is Strong’s G1401 – δοῦλος
Outline of Biblical Usage:
a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests
a servant, attendant
My favorite coach, Dabo Swinney, might have started a similar stirring speech to his team with the description of “being all-in”. It speaks of dedication and submission.
Some great cross references to consider —
Mar 13:34; Jhn 12:26; Tit 1:1; Jas 1:1; 2Pe 1:1; Jde 1:1
What does Mark share with us about the Kingdom of God:
“The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”
Mark 13:34-37 NLT
And John on this topic of being servants:
Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
John 12:25-26 NLT
And isn’t it wonderful to see Paul again professing this title in his letter to Titus:
This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.
Titus 1:1 NLT
And James following suit in his letter to the Jewish believers:
This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!
James 1:1 NLT
This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:1a NLT
This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
Jude 1:1a NLT
It seems that we too should be living lives worthy of beginning our letters with “Harold Ballinger, a slave of Christ” and it not be a joke and a farce that anyone might laugh at such a statement and stop their reading right there without going any further!
Shouldn’t we examine ourselves and find out the truth about who it is we are a slave to?
Whether or is our desires that rule over us, or if it really is true that Christ is our Lord and master and that we are not just “make believe slaves of righteousnes” who are really adherents and servants of darkness — but we are slaves to righteousness — slaves to Christ — slaves to God in all His holiness, mercy, glory and honor.
Yes, we know that we cannot serve two masters. And as much as pride might tempt us with whispers that “nothing is my master” — yes, that satanic mantra of “do as you wish” has always sounded suspiciously like it leaves room for a man to be lord and ruler of his own life — but like the unscrupulous loan officer and the witless man signing away decades of his life away in trade — you will never win trading the only thing of any lasting value for something that fades away and will not even be worth a hand full of dirt in the end.
Are you a slave?
Yes you are!
Either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness.
Either a slave to your father the father of lies — or you are a slave to God the Father Almighty.
Who were you a slave to today?
Was it to anxiety, or your job, or your grumblings, or your hangups, or your addictions, or to your desires, or to your pride, or to your seeking honour in the eyes of others, or to laziness and complacency, or to arguing and causing division and strife?
Or are you a slave to Christ?
Don’t put it down on paper if it isn’t true — God knows the truth and the truth will come out. Might as well admit your shortcomings and fall into His grace and beg Him for His Lordship truly over your whole life now rather than pretend for appearances sake just to harden your heart and march off further into the darkness. It is the humble and contrite spirit that He desires and it is the proud that He resists.
Slave! Who is your master?