Obey as to the Lord: Christian Slaves and the Call to Worship
Certain NT passages present challenges to the modern reader in regard to the their content and their implications for contemporary life. Two of these more difficult passages are the household codes of Ephesians and Colossians, which discuss the role of slaves in the early Christian households. These have come under significant scrutiny, particularly from more skeptical critics, as they appear to “endorse” slavery, or at the very least, indicate an archaic, irrelevant religion. The most pressing difficulty for the interpreter is “how can such instructions be reconciled with the liberating message of the cross?” The present paper seeks to engage this question. By locating the passages in their socio-historical setting, it will be suggested that Paul’s advice to these slaves is in fact a radical challenge to reinterpret their present situation as an opportunity to worship Christ.
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