Are you a servant or a slave? Or both?
1401 doúlos (a masculine noun of uncertain derivation) – properly, someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rightsof their own. Ironically, 1401 /doúlos(“bond-slave”) is used with the highest dignity in the NT – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers.
I came across this today. Please read all the way to the end. “If you go to the New Testament, you will find the Greek word for “slave” about 150 times in all its forms. And you will find it actually translated “slave” only a few of those 150 times. The New Testament translators only translate the Greek word for slave “slave” when it’s referring to an actual physical slave, or when it’s referring to an inanimate object, like “slaves of sin” or “slaves of righteousness.”
So there is this concept of slavery in the Scripture that has been completely hidden to the English reader. Now this was by design because the word “slave” is the most important, all-encompassing, and clarifying word to describe a Christian used in the New Testament, and yet whenever a Christian is in view, it’s not translated “slave.” The word is doulos. Have you heard that word? The word is doulos. In the Greek, that word means “slave”–never means anything but “slave.” It doesn’t mean “servant”; it doesn’t mean “worker”; it doesn’t mean “hired hand”; it doesn’t mean “helper.” There are six or seven Greek words that mean “servant” in some form. Doulos never means “servant.” A servant is someone hired to do something. The slave is someone owned. Big difference–huge difference–and yet all through the New Testament the word “slave” is masked by the word “servant,” or some form of the word “servant.” Truly a remarkable thing.” (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/GTY129/servant-or-slave)
So you can see that this word doúlos means slave, literally, but was used by the translators as a servant. In the Greek, both of these English words are used for slave/servant. A servant is always paid wages but slaves are owned and are not. We as Christians were bought for a ransom that was paid by Jesus. We are slaves to Christ hence we are His servants. We see this word used for “those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men: used of apostles, Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; of other preachers and teachers of the gospel, Colossians 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:24; Jude 1:1; of the true worshippers of Christ (who is κύριοςπάντων, Acts 10:36), Ephesians 6:6.” (http://biblehub.com/greek/1401.htm)
“When Adam sinned, willfully transgressing the one commandment he had from God (Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – Genesis 2:16-17), he died spiritually, and lost communion with God. By sinning, Adam became a slave of sin. Under Roman law, the children of slaves, were slaves themselves. Once someone was sold into slavery, they and their offspring remained as such until somehow they were set free. Likewise, all of Adam’s offspring were automatically sold under sin, as the slaves of sin, just by being the offspring of Adam and Eve. Once Adam sinned, all of his offspring from that point on were condemned, and in need of a savior. Someone had to purchase them, to ransom them from that which they were sold under, lest they remain forever in that state of bondage to sin. When God the Father sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross, he (Jesus) became “sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God, through Jesus, purchased us from the bondage of sin (to whom we were slaves), and brought us into his own household as his slaves instead. Legally speaking, slaves are not persons under the law, they answer to their Lord and master. If someone has something against a certain slave, he must take the argument up with the master of that slave, and receive justice/restitution through the master. Jesus purchased us with his blood, the sinless sacrifice which was pleasing to the Father. He paid the ultimate price to purchase us, a price which no one could ever begin to match.” (https://slavesandsons.wordpress.com/tag/doulos/)
Now I said all of that to say this. The concept behind doulos is a Slave or servant who pierces his right ear to the door post. They take the hole of the pierced right ear, put a ring in it and connect it to the doorpost. It’s denoted as a position of Honor. This was only done if the servant chose to be with his master forever. You see this in Deuteronomy 15 17 and Exodus 21:6.
“And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise. It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.”
I believe that if you are in Christ Jesus, on Judgement Day He will look at you and he will see himself in you. Jesus as a judge cannot judge against himself but he will judge those that he doesn’t see himself in. Does that make sense? In Revelation 3, Jesus speaks to the laodiceans. The laodiceans are neither hot nor cold and are lukewarm and this is what we see this very day with Christians. These are Christians who cannot make up their mind one way or another and if they’re not careful they will be spit out of his mouth. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says he will stand at the door and knock, and remember that this is specifically for those lukewarm Christians.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Now this isn’t a thus saith the Lord or anything like that, but I do find it interesting that Jesus goes to the lukewarm Christians and stands at the door and knocks. He also calls Himself the DOOR of the sheep. John 10:7-9 “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” We also can see a reference here the the right hand of Jesus is where we are to put our ear. This is compared to the goats being at His left hand and the sheep at His right. We also see an allusion to Passover with the blood on the doorpost and the hand at the beam of the cross.
Remember the concept of a doulos is one who has his right ear pierced and connected to the doorpost of the door. If you are a servant or slave to Christ, a doulos, he will not have to knock on the door because you will be waiting at the door. Remember, this is a position of Honor and was done by the servant or slave who chose to be with his master forever. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. The metaphor here is to have a open ear to hear. Will we be slaves to this Babylonian world or slaves to Christ.
Here are a few more thoughts on the Greek word doulos. Doulos comes from the word Deo which means “to bind”. In the Old Testament when the Israelites are called the house of bondage that actually translates to the house of doulos in the Greek Septuagint and in the ancient Orient, the servants who washed the guests feet at the door were called doulos. Jews say the worst insult is to be called a doulos while the Romans say the doulos is the exact opposite of being free. Paul says this about Jesus to the Philippians in 2:7, “and took him the form of a servant” or doulos. Jesus was a great example of a “doulos”.
There are 7 characteristics of a doulos or a servant. The first one (1), is that a doulos always obeys his master without question. If they did not obey their master, they would be killed by their master. Matthew 8:9 and Matthew 10:24. Number two (2),a doulos belongs only to his master. There were no genealogies kept for a doulos. You can find this in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. Also look at 1st Corinthians 6:19, 1st Corinthians 7:22-23. Number three (3), a doulos honors his master at all times. When their Master would get out of a chariot, they would put their shirt down so he could walk on it. You can find an example of this in 1st Timothy 6:1 and Revelation 19:5. Number four (4), a doulos never argues with his master. Number five (5), and doulos does what he is commanded to do without receiving anything, this is regardless of any appreciation he might want to receive. Number six (6), a doulos accepts full responsibility for what the master has entrusted to him. Matthew 25. And finally number seven (7), a doulos desires to please only his master. Roman law says no doulos should seek to please another doulos master. This reminds me that you cannot serve God or Mammon. Galatians 1:10, we are not a doulos to Christ if our motivation is to please all men. And 1st Corinthians 9:19-22 is Paul’s testimony, Paul was a doulos to Jesus and all men.
Sidenote: The only other time in the New Testament where the right ear is mentioned, is in the garden of Gethsename. Ironically we see Malchus, the servant of the High Priest has his right ear cut off by Peter. John 18:10 “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.” Luke 22:50:51 “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.” Peter swung for the head but luckily Malchus (whose name means King or kingdom and comes from the Hebrew melek) ducked. Malchus had his ear severed from the old worldly kingdom and institution to only have it healed by the King of Kings and our forever High Priest. He then would have a new ear to hear (literally) and could then symbolically attach to the door post of the kingdom of God. Will we see Malchus someday? After this incident I would say probably so.
I’ll leave you with this comment. “Peter judged these men for failing to acknowledge Jesus as King, but in the process, attacked the man whose name was “king”. Didn’t Jesus say “what you do to the least of these, you do to Me”? Peter’s attack on this servant was also a direct attack against the plan of God our King, which is why he was rebuked. It is also important to note that in Leviticus, a priest is forbidden to serve in the temple if he has any physical blemish. Peter, having memorized the Torah as every Jewish boy would have, would know this. Peter is essentially judging the servant of the high priest (likely in-training to serve in that position) for rejecting the Kingship of Jesus by removing his ability to serve God in the temple. However, Jesus essentially restores the man’s position to serve in the temple through his healing! Jesus then warns Peter that “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” (https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4974/why-does-john-note-the-name-of-the-servant-whose-ear-was-cut-off)