Slave or Servant – Which is Correct in the Bible???

Which is it?  Which is the correct translation of the Bible, slave or servant?  There are those critics of the King James Bible that claim slave is the correct translation of the Greek and that servant in the King James Bible is wrong.

Romans 1:1 (KJV) ¶ Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Philippians 1:1 (KJV) ¶ Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Titus 1:1 (KJV) ¶ Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

Was the Apostle Paul a slave or a servant?  In America the word slave has a bad name.  Are you going to tell a black man that he has to be a slave in order to be a Christian?  Yeah, that will go over really well.  A slave is someone that is forced to serve a master that he has no love for, against his will.  If the slave refuses to serve his master he can be beaten or punished in some other way.  In other words he is forced to serve his master and punished if he doesn’t.  A rebellious slave can be sold to another slave owner as well.  The slave is subject to any and all cruelty of his master.  This does not sound like the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul.  The correct and obvious translation of the Greek is servant.  A servant is someone that willing gives up their rights to serve their master.  In the case of the apostle Paul, he willing serves the Lord Jesus Christ because the Lord saved him from an eternity in hell.  Paul serves the Lord Jesus Christ out of love for his great God and Saviour.  A person that serves customers at a restaurant does so because they want to serve their customers.  Even though a waiter is paid to serve customers, they do so willing.  A public servant is an elected official that serves the people that elected them to office.  Servant leadership is a leadership style in corporate America, where management serves the employees that work under them.  A pastor of a church should be the servant of the members of his church.  These are just a few examples of a person that willing serves others.  A servant and a slave are not the same.  The correct translation is servant not slave.

Let’s take a look at other translations and see what they did.

(Romans 1:1 NASB) Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

(Philippians 1:1 NASB) Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:

(Titus 1:1 NASB) Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,

(Romans 1:1 NIV) Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God–

(Philippians 1:1 NIV) Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

(Titus 1:1 NIV) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness–

(Romans 1:1 ESV) Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

(Philippians 1:1 ESV) Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

(Titus 1:1 ESV) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,

(Romans 1:1 NKJV) Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

(Philippians 1:1 NKJV) Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

(Titus 1:1 NKJV) Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,

The NASV and NKJV both us bond servant while the NIV and ESV use servant.  So all the NASV, NKJV, NIV, and ESV all agree with the translators of the King James Bible and use servant.  There are other instances where the new bibles replace servant with slave and in these instances, they are just wrong to disagree with the King James Bible.

 

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2 Replies to “Slave or Servant – Which is Correct in the Bible???”

  1. I was satan’s slave for 29 years and Christ came into my life and set me free! Now I am Christ’s “love slave”–willingly!!!

    1. Tom, thank you for your interest in the King James Bible Study of Tulsa. I am certainly glad to hear about your salvation in Christ. However, I think you missed the point of the blog. A servant willing serves. A slave is forced to serve against their will. If you serve the Lord Jesus Christ willing out of gratitude for what He has done for you at Calvary, dying for your sin, in your place, then you are not a slave, but a servant.

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