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Slavery (Part 1)

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Slavery

I. Definitions
1. Slavery - n. 1. Severe toil like that of a slave; heavy labour, hard work, drudgery. 2. Conduct befitting a slave; ignoble, base, or unbecoming behaviour. Obs. rare. 3. The condition of a slave; the fact of being a slave; servitude; bondage.
2. Slave - n. I. 1. a. One who is the property of, and entirely subject to, another person, whether by capture, purchase, or birth; a servant completely divested of freedom and personal rights.
3. Servitude - 1. The condition of being a slave or a serf, or of being the property of another person; absence of personal freedom. Often, and now usually, with additional notion of subjection to the necessity of excessive labour. Also, a (more or less rigorous) state of slavery or serfdom.
4. Servant - n. A person of either sex who is in the service of a master or mistress; one who is under obligation to work for the benefit of a superior, and to obey his (or her) commands. 1. A personal or domestic attendant; one whose duty is to wait upon his master or mistress, or do certain work in his or her household. (The usual sense when no other is indicated by the context; sometimes with defining word, as domestic servant.)
5. Master - 1. a. gen. One having direction or control over the action of another or others; a director, leader, chief, commander; a ruler, governor.
6. Serf - 1. A slave, bondman.
7. Bondman - Cf. bondsman.
8. Bondsman - 1. One who becomes surety by bond. 2. A man in bondage; a villein; a serf, slave.
9. Surety - n. II. Means of being sure. 5. A formal engagement entered into, a pledge, bond, guarantee, or security given for the fulfilment of an undertaking. Chiefly in phr. to do, make, find, give, put in, take surety or sureties; in, to, under, upon surety. Now superseded by Security 8.
10. Security - 8. Property deposited or made over, or bonds, recognizances, or the like entered into, by or on behalf of a person in order to secure his fulfilment of an obligation, and forfeitable in the event of non-fulfilment; a pledge, caution. Phrases, to enter (in or into), find, give (in), go, †put in, take security. a. As securing a person's ‘good behaviour’, his appearance in court at a specified time, or his performance of some undertaking. b. As securing the payment of a debt.
11. Bond - n. I. lit. That with or by which a thing is bound. 1. a. Anything with which one's body or limbs are bound in restraint of personal liberty; a shackle, chain, fetter, manacle. arch.
III. Legal and technical senses. 9. a. Eng. Law. A deed, by which A (known as the obligor) binds himself, his heirs, executors, or assigns to pay a certain sum of money to B (known as the obligee), or his heirs, etc. A may bind himself to this payment absolutely and unconditionally, in which case the deed is known as a single or simple bond (simplex obligatio): bonds in this form are obsolete. Or a condition may be attached that the deed shall be made void by the payment, by a certain date, of money, rent, etc. due from A to B, or by some other performance or observance, the sum named being only a penalty to enforce the performance of the condition, in which case the deed is termed a penal bond.
12. Bond - adj. 1. In a state of serfdom or slavery; not free; in bondage (to).
13. Bondage - 2. The position or condition of a serf or slave; servitude, serfdom, slavery.

II. What does the scripture say about slavery?
1. The word "slavery" is not found in the scripture.
2. The word "slave" is only found once in the entire scripture (Jer 2:14), and it in no way promotes or condones slavery.
3. The word "slaves" is only found once in the entire scripture (Rev 18:13).
A. This verse is speaking of wicked Babylon and is certainly not promoting or condoning slavery.
B. If anything, this verse would be a condemnation of slavery (Rev 18:4).
4. Tyrus "traded the persons of men" in its market (Eze 27:2,13).
A. This was not necessarily a condemnation of Tyrus anymore than trading silver, iron, tin, lead, horses, and mules was (Eze 27:12,14).
5. The N.T. condemns people who make merchandise of other people (2Pe 2:3).
A. Merchandise - n. 1. The action or business of buying and selling goods or commodities for profit; the exchange of commodities for other commodities or for money.
B. This is not referring to slavery in context, but rather to false teachers who exploit people with religion.
6. The N.T. condemns rich people who oppress poor people (Jam 2:6).
A. The N.T. condemns people who do not pay people for their labor (Jam 5:4).
B. Neither of these censures would apply to people who have sold themselves to be slaves/bondmen because they were in poverty or debt (more on this later).
7. The N.T. and the O.T. condemns menstealing and selling men that were stolen (1Ti 1:10; Deu 24:7).
A. Steal - v. 1. a. trans. To take away dishonestly (portable property, cattle, etc., belonging to another); esp. to do this secretly or unobserved by the owner or the person in charge.
B. Menstealing is to steal (take away dishonestly) men, which is what we would call kidnapping today.
C. Kidnap - v. Originally, to steal or carry off (children or others) in order to provide servants or labourers for the American plantations; hence, in general use, to steal (a child), to carry off (a person) by illegal force.
D. These verses condemn slavery when a person becomes a slave by being captured (see definition of slave).
E. It is therefore wrong to buy a person who was stolen and made a slave.
i. This would include some despot in another country who claimed to own all of his citizens and could sell them.
ii. It was therefore immoral and wrong for people in the US to buy men and women who were stolen and made slaves in Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.
8. What about bondmen?
A. The N.T. does speak of those who are bond as opposed to free.
i. Bond - adj. 1. In a state of serfdom or slavery; not free; in bondage (to).
ii. Bondage - 2. The position or condition of a serf or slave; servitude, serfdom, slavery.
iii. There is no distinction between bond and free in the church (1Co 12:13).
iv. There is no distinction between bond and free in Christ (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11).
v. These verses show that the N.T. doesn't condemn the fact that a person could be bond (in a state of serfdom or slavery) in a general sense, though other scripture does prohibit a person from being a slave by kidnapping.
B. Slavery is servitude; servitude is the condition of being a serf; a serf is a bondman.
i. The word bondman is only used once in the N.T. (Rev 6:15), which doesn't promote or condone slavery.
ii. The word bondmen is never used in the N.T.
C. A bondman is one who becomes surety by bond; to be surety by bond is to be a security or guarantee for a debt in which you will become bound to pay, either physically or figuratively.
i. This would be like a debtor's prison.
ii. The Bible allows for "slavery" in this sense.
iii. Jesus taught this in a parable (Mat 18:23-34).
iv. In the OT, an Israelite woman's husband died leaving unpaid debt and the creditor was going to take her two sons to be bondmen (2Ki 4:1).
a. The prophet Elisha didn't condemn the action of the creditor, but rather helped the woman to raise the money to pay the debt so that her sons would not have to become bondmen (2Ki 4:2-7).
b. This was in the OT and is not binding in the NT, but Jesus' parable taught a very similar principle.
v. The book of Proverbs gives much warning about being surety for the debt of another, but it nonetheless allows for it and says that people will pay the consequences of it.
a. Those who are surety for a stranger will hurt for it (Pro 11:15).
b. Stupid people become surety for friends (co-signing for a loan) (Pro 17:18).
c. If you are surety for someone else, you might lose your property (Pro 20:16).
d. If you have become surety for someone else, then try to get out of that snare (Pro 6:1-5).
vi. This could include a person who joined himself to another person because he was in poverty (Luk 15:11-15).
a. Join - v. IV. trans. To come into contact, contiguity, company, or union with. ellipt. for join oneself to 15. a. To come or go into local contact or association with; to go to and accompany (a person); to come to and take up one's post in (one's regiment, ship, or the like).
b. Post - n.³ 1. Mil. a. The place where a soldier is stationed; sometimes, a sentinel's or sentry's beat or round. b. transf. and fig. The appointed place; the place of duty.
c. The prodigal son became the servant of a man out of necessity because he was in poverty.
d. He placed himself under that man's control who sent him into his fields to feed swine (Luk 15:15).
In this case though, the prodigal son was free to leave his servitude because a debt was not due.

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