The Gospel Changes Culture: Colossians 3:22-4:1
“22) Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23) Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25) For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality. 1) Masters, grant to you slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. Colossians‬ ‭3:22-4:1
Some people are offended that the Bible talks about slavery. It was a universal practice in the ancient world. Changing culture and society is a monumental task, but that’s exactly what the Gospel and Christianity did in the Roman Empire.
The concept of slaves honoring their master and masters treating slaves with dignity and respect was foreign thinking in Rome. The book of Philemon adds the concept of brotherhood to the discussion. When both the slave and the master became Christians, they were suddenly brothers in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 7:21, Paul encouraged slaves to work toward freedom. Ending slavery soon became the goal of the early Christians. Shortly after Christianity was embraced as the state religion of Rome, slavery was ended.
The Bible uses slavery as an example of what sin does to people. The gospel is about Jesus Christ “redeeming” us from slavery to sin and setting us free. The idea is that He purchased with His own blood on the cross to set us free. That is the root meaning of the concept of “redeeming.”
Soon, Christians in the early church started doing the same thing for those in slavery. They bought them to set them free. They “redeemed them.” This fueled the initiative to end slavery entirely.
We can see the early seeds to this movement in the Colossians text. Paul told slaves to serve as if they were serving Christ, and masters that God was going to hold them accountable for justice and fairness. Ephesians 6:5-9 drives these nails home with even greater force.
Christianity not only ended slavery, it also exposed prejudice, discrimination and racism. In Christ, Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, slave and freeman are the same. Jesus died for all. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Jesus values all people and died for the whole world. (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2)
Jesus wants us to treat all people with dignity, respect and Agape love. When the gospel is embraced and applied biblically, it offers genuine healing for broken humanity. It embraces all people and not a select few. Only the true gospel can bring racial healing and reconciliation. The gospel fights against human exploitation and abuse. It values the widow and the orphan. (See James 1:27)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global