The Apostle Paul DID Condemn Slavery

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by JackHectorman, May 23, 2014.

  1. JackHectorman

    JackHectorman
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    Some have said that the Apostle Paul did not condemn slavery. I hold the position that Paul did condemn slavery and that he made his condemnation of slavery clear in:

    I Tim. 1: 8-11

    "8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (bolded by Jack)

    Adam Clark on the word "slave traders" in I Tim. 1:10

    "Men-stealers - Ανδραποδισταις· Slave-dealers; whether those who carry on the traffic in human flesh and blood; or those who steal a person in order to sell him into bondage; or those who buy such stolen men or women, no matter of what color or what country; or those who sow dissensions among barbarous tribes in order that they who are taken in war may be sold into slavery; or the nations who legalize or connive at such traffic: all these are men-stealers, and God classes them with the most flagitious of mortals." __Adam Clarke

    http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=1



    ________________




    My argument is a simple one. The Apostle Paul condemned "slave trading" [and by extension he also condemned the institution of slavery] by listing it in the same category as:

    * lawbreakers

    * rebels

    * the ungodly and sinful

    * the unholy and irreligious,

    *for those who kill their fathers or mothers,

    * for murderers

    * for the sexually immoral,

    * for those practicing homosexuality

    [*for slave traders]

    * liars and perjurers

    * and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.



    Not only did Paul list "slave trading" with such sins as murder and with those who kill their fathers and mothers,
    but in the last entry in that list up there, the Apostle Paul specifically says that "slave trading" is contrary to the
    sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel, thus Paul condemned slavery. This conclusion is compelling. There is
    no way out of it unless one wants to argue that Paul makes a distinction between the institution of "slave trading"
    and the institution of "slavery", which in my view would be a ridiculous argument to make.


    In addition the major spiritual principles strongly preached by the Apostle Paul, for example Paul's total endorsement of
    "Love thy neighbor as thyself" would prohibit both "slave trading" and "slavery." Its absurd to argue that a man can love his
    neighbor as he loves himself and at the same time buy his neighbor and enslave him.


    __________


    In another vein:
    The New Testament appears to recognize the social fact of 1st century slavery and also seems to accept the idea that slavery
    was so tightly entwined within 1st century life, that to suddenly end slavery, would have had deadly catastrophic results.
    Imo, the "suddenly end" part of this is comparable to the huge welfare states of the West. Most people would agree that it'd
    be better for humanity if we could "work our way out of welfare dependency", but imo no compassionate man would call for
    welfare's immediate dissolution [I mean right now today] which would results in mass starvation and death for millions of
    human beings, many of them very young children.

     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    I am convinced that slavery as practiced in the US up to about 150 was sin, but it looks like what Paul specifically prohibits is the slave trade, not slavery as practiced in the 1st century.

    When he sent Onesimus back to Philemon he could has specifically instructed him to free the returned slave, but he didn't. Manumission was strongly implied and even suggested, but it was not instructed.
     
    #2 NaasPreacher (C4K), May 24, 2014
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  3. prophet

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    Exo 21:16
    16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

    1Ti 1:10
    10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

    Nothing new, here...
     
  4. JackHectorman

    JackHectorman
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    Hi C4K,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I became interested in this subject while reading a thread here at BB where one of the posters made the statement that Paul never condemned slavery in his writings. When I read that I remembered Paul's severe condemnation of "slave trading" in 1 Tim. 1:10 and then I remembered some of Paul's major spiritual principles that cannot be reconciled with any kind of slavery viewed as morally acceptable under any conditions, for example its utterly impossible to reconcile any type of slavery, that is, owning another human being with "treat others as you would have them treat you." In order to reconcile these two, we'd have to make the argument that "we would not object to being owned by another human being." This, imo, would be an unsuccessful argument because we all know we would not want to be owned by another human being, and therefore we all know that slavery is a clear and inarguable violation of "treat others as you would have them treat you" [which Paul taught, in so many words, as binding on all men, that is to say, Paul taught the Golden Rule throughout his writing.]

    Based upon what I have read about the institution of slavery under the Roman Empire in the time when Paul wrote his epistles, the slavery of the 1st century was even more brutal than the slavery that existed in the South during the time of the American Civil War. If I am right about that, then it would compellingly follow that if American Slavery was a sin, then so was first century Roman slavery.


    I think its utterly impossible to separate the two institutions of "slave trading" and "slave owning" because they are joined at the hip and go together like hand and glove, in fact "slave owning" is precisely and specifically what made "slave trading" possible. I do not see how we can make a reasonable argument that will morally condemn one, but not morally condemn the other.


    What argument is there, that could possibly do that? Since "slave owning" was what made "slave trading" possible.
    This argument is reinforced when we consider the fact that "slave trading" is what makes "slave owning" possible, and that "slave trading" is listed along with "murderers" and those who "kill their fathers and mothers" in 1 Tim. 1:8-11.


    I would argue that the general spiritual principles of Paul's epistles would condemn all forms of slavery as a moral evil, and that its utterly impossible to reconcile the general teachings of Paul [and the entire New Testament] with any form of slavery. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and "treat others as you would have them treat you" cannot be reconciled with giving moral acceptance to any form of slavery. In order to make this work, one would have to design an argument that said: I can buy and own another man and at the same time love him as I love myself, and I can buy and own another man and in so doing I am treating him as I would want to be treated. I do not think these arguments would be successful.

    I believe the Onesimus/Philemon matter can be satisfactorily explained by simply recognizing that the institution of slavery was so tightly intertwined with the social, political, and economic life of the 1st century, that Paul knew it was utterly impossible, at that time, to end slavery by merely issuing an apostolic proclamation that all slaves morally ought to be set free. Its reasonable to believe that Paul was aware that immediate manumission would have had catastrophic social and economic results across the entire Roman Empire at that time. To say to millions of slaves who were born into slavery and had never prepared themselves to live as free citizens, "You are now free, immediately leave and henceforth provide your own food, clothing, and shelter" would have been the same as a death sentence issued upon large numbers of them. I think Paul knew that manumission had to be done very slowly and very gradually and that only the Great commission actually realized throughout the Roman World could safely and successfully end the institution of 1st century slavery.

    It strikes me as reasonable to explain the Onesimus/Philemon matter like this: Paul recognized that slavery would continue in the Roman Empire until Christian principles gradually and incrementally infiltrated and saturated the institutions of the Roman Empire. In other words, Paul was aware that slavery had to be gradually phased out through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the gospel to change hearts and minds.


    Cheers.

    ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪


    PS

    C4K,

    I have never given this subject this much thought before.
    I enjoyed doing a little research on it and doing some thinking
    about it. I appreciate your comment because it stimulated me
    to think about the Onesimus/Philemon matter and also to think
    some more about the meaning of 1 Tim. 1:8-11.


    `
     
  5. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Just a brief reply to your informative post. US slavery in 19th century was based only on skin colour and man-stealing while there were a variety of reasons to be enslaved in Rome. Some sold themselves into slavery, some were war captives, some were paying of debts, etc. But, your point is well taken.

    Philemon/Onesimus intrigues me. The early church was counter cultural in so many ways. It would not have caused civil unrest if Christians started manumitting their slaves in a loving and compassionate manner. It would certainly have backed up their words about love and equality and non-preferential treatment. It seems like freeing Onesimis and helping his transition would have been a priority if there truly was a biblical injunction against all slavery.

    Paul speaks of paying any of Onesimus debts. This may be a hint that his slavery was a debt slavery and that debt needed to be paid to be just?
     
  6. Salty

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    How would that concide with Blacks and Americian Indians who were slaveowners
    My answer to your statement may be better in Rev Mitchells thread - but .....
     
    #6 Salty, May 24, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2014
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    We all know the number of black slave holders was extremely small, but I will amend my comment to say 'slavery as practiced by the US in the 19th was overwhelmingly based on skin colour.' It makes no difference what colour the owner's skin was.

    To add to my argument I would ask how many white slaves there were.

    While I can't see Paul condemning slavery I certainly think a point can be made that the principles behind the ownership of another human are not in synch with the character of the church.
     
    #7 NaasPreacher (C4K), May 24, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2014
  8. JackHectorman

    JackHectorman
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    Thanks :)

    C4K, good point, it may well have been that.

    ______


    Divorce. Polygamy. Slavery.

    C4K, in another vein and just as a point of interest:
    Do you think its reasonable to compare the institutions of Divorce and Polygamy with the institution of Slavery
    and then consider all three as examples of what God was morally against, but nonetheless permitted fallen
    sinful humanity to practice, all the while planning to deliver humanity from all three of these moral evils?


    ___________



    The Sovereign God did permit Divorce.
    God said "I hate divorce" in Mal. 2:16 and Jesus said “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your
    hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning" in Mt. 19:8

    It seems reasonable to conclude that God was against the institution of Divorce, yet permitted it due to the hardness
    of the human heart, but planned from the very beginning to morally condemn it and end it. [Jesus did exactly
    that here in Mt. 19:8-9 when He said Divorce was morally condemned except in the case of adultery.]



    ____________



    The Sovereign God did permit Polygamy.
    "7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king
    over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s
    wives into your arms.
    I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you
    even more.
    9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the
    Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own."
    2 Sam. 12:8-9


    Many of the Old Testament heros had many wives and I think everybody agrees that its clear and inarguable that God
    permitted polygamy in Old Testament times, yet planned all along to morally condemn and bring an end to polygamy,
    and of course the New Testament does exactly that [at least in the view of mainstream orthodox Christendom.]



    _____________



    The Sovereign God did permit Slavery.
    Could we not say that the New Testament has declared all forms of Slavery to be immoral and on that basis has ended Slavery,
    just as the New Testament has declared *Divorce and Polygamy to be immoral and has ended both these institutions?

    *except in the case of adultery


    _____________



    These were just some thoughts I had. They strike me as reasonable comparisons because all three [Divorce, Polygamy, Slavery]
    were at one time permitted by the Sovereign God and then later morally condemned and ended by Him.
    At least in my view they were. :)

    Do you think its reasonable [as presented above] to compare Divorce and Polygamy with Slavery? I'd appreciate any pros or cons you have on this.

    Its an interesting subject!




    `
     
  9. thisnumbersdisconnected

    thisnumbersdisconnected
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    Jack ...

    Adam Clarke is not inspired, and his interpretation of the passage was influenced by the debate over the evils of slavery during his lifetime.

    What was called "slavery" in the Old Testament, and continued during the first century (and beyond, really, but the Bible does not address anything after John finished writing in 96 A.D.) was not the slavery of the last 500 years, nor the slavery of Africa, which has gone on for thousands of years.

    Slaves in the biblical sense were paid servants. In fact, the term more correctly applied is as Paul calls his relationship with Christ, that of a bond-servant. He in fact calls us to such servanthood as well, so he would not condemn slavery as it was known in his time. The evil type of slavery existed also, but not in Israel. So your premise lacks basis in Scripture.
     
  10. JackHectorman

    JackHectorman
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    Hello thisnumbersdisconnected,

    Forced Servitude.
    The slaves [your "paid servants"] in New Testament times were human beings
    legally owned by other human beings and were in forced servitude to their masters.
    They did not have the freedom to decide to work, or not to work, for their masters.
    They could be punished severely for refusing to work and ultimately physically forced
    to work for their masters. They did not have the freedom to leave their masters if
    they wanted to leave them.

    One Scriptural bases of my argument is the fact that Paul preached
    "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and "Love thy neighbor as thyself"
    clearly and inarguably prohibits any human being from doing what I
    described in my paragraph up there titled Forced Servitude.

    "Love they neighbor as thyself" is not talking about one's literal next door
    neighbor to the exclusion of the rest of humanity. It means, de facto, love
    other people as you love yourself. Therefore in order to defeat this argument,
    you will have to show how men can love other men as they love themselves
    and at the same time own other men and put them into forced servitude.


    Another Scriptural bases of my argument is the fact that Paul preached
    "Treat your neighbor as you would have him treat you" and "Treat your
    neighbor as you would have him treat you" clearly and inarguably prohibits
    any human being from doing what I described in my paragraph up there titled
    Forced Servitude.


    Therefore in order to defeat this argument, you will have to demonstrate how men
    can "Treat other men as they would want to be treated" and at the same time
    own other men and put them into forced servitude.


    __________


    Also I have a very good argument based in logic and reason: It is simply an airtight fact
    that "slave trading" was made possible by "slave owning" ~~ if there had been no "slave owning"
    then the "slave trading" would have ceased, and so with this fact in mind we have the Apostle Paul,
    under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, listing "slave trading" in the same category as "murder"
    and those that "kill their fathers and mothers" in 1 Tim. 1:8-11. This is a very strong argument
    and to defeat this argument you will have to demonstrate why the Apostle Paul would
    not condemn as immoral the "slave owning" that alone made possible the "slave trading"
    that he had just listed as being in the same category as "murder."



    ♫ ♪
     
  11. Gina B

    Gina B
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    Thank you Mr. J., I enjoyed reading that post and will be sharing it with others.
     
  12. JackHectorman

    JackHectorman
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    Hi Gina B,

    You're welcome and I'm glad you found the post enjoyable [and hopefully helpful] and thanks for reading it.

    Btw, you can just call me Jack, I feel old enough as it is .. lol .. 'sides I'm just a spring chicken in my outlook on life.

    Cheers.

    ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪
     

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