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Jesus Is an Anarchist

James Redford

 

10. Slaves Obey Your Masters?

While although not directly related to the issue of the ethical status of government per se, some individuals have asserted that certain statements in the New Testament by Paul and Peter condone the institution of slavery, and for this reason it is important as it concerns social relations in general. Thus:

Ephesians 6:5-9: Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Colossians 3:22-4:1: Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

1 Timothy 6:1,2: Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

Titus 2:9,10: Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

1 Peter 2:18-25: Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

"Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

But to quote the above passages as condoning the institution of slavery, one would thereby be confusing the offering of pragmatic advice on how to best handle a bad situation as granting the rightness of that situation.

Yet obviously Peter and Paul didn't so regard the institution of slavery as being at all just, for then there would have been no cause for Peter compare the slave's suffering to that of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:21-25 as certainly any true Christian regards the scourging and execution of Jesus to have been unjust, to say the very least.

Thus the fact that Peter did compare the slave's suffering to that of Jesus is by itself enough to demonstrate that he considered it to be unjust.

So what of the actual ethical status of the institution of slavery as it concerns Jesus's own teachings? On this question there can be no doubt, as one of the main reasons Jesus came was to call us to liberty! Jesus said this Himself as recorded in Luke 4:16-21:

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set  at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

So here we have it: Jesus Himself said that He came to proclaim liberty to the captives and to set at liberty the oppressed!

The word "liberty" in Luke 4:18 is a translation of the Greek word aphesis, and means: release from bondage or imprisonment; forgiveness or pardon, i.e., remission of the penalty.

Thus, it is a complete and absolute negation of the condition of being a slave. And since there exists no recorded instance of Jesus qualifying the above statement, it then becomes quite clear that Jesus is very much against the institution of slavery besides of course slavery being totally incompatible with the Golden Rule.

So how are we to make better sense of Paul and Peter's above statements, since it is clear that the institution of slavery is very anti-Christian in the most literal sense of the word (i.e., as it concerns the actual doctrine as preached by Jesus Christ)?

One must bear in mind that Paul and Peter knew better than most of the injustices contained within this Satanic world system Paul himself was continuously in and out of prisons during his ministry, and would at last be beheaded by government for preaching the gospel of Christ, just as John the Baptist was beheaded by government before him for preaching the same.

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul clarifies his above statements while at the same time declaring the absoluteness of his God-given rightful liberty:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

It is here where the seeming contradiction of certain passages in the Bible whereby Paul and Peter admonish slaves to "obey their masters" (see Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22; 1 Tim. 6:1; Tit. 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18) is cleared up. Such an admonition is a pragmatic one, not a categorical moral one as Paul himself declared his absolute rightful freedom from all men (and also called for people to "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ," 1 Cor. 11:1)!

So rather than laying hands on one's Earthly "master," or trying to run away which in the end would probably only affect one's freedom in a negative way a much better and effective solution would be to convert one's Earthly "master" to Jesus, and if one has truly succeeded in doing so i.e., whereby one's Earthly "master" becomes infilled with the Holy Spirit then one will have at once gained one's God-given absolute liberty, at least in relation to what the positive law considers one's "master."

The reason that this is necessarily the case is because Jesus commanded the absolute law as treating others as you would want others to treat you (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31), yet the very institution of slavery is founded upon the exact opposite principle, as Abraham Lincoln pointed out (if only it had been that Lincoln himself had bothered to follow the logic of his below argument!):

If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A?  

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest; you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. (Abraham Lincoln, Fragments on Slavery, c. April 1, 1854)

In the above discussion on the Golden Rule as commanded by Jesus it was pointed out that to not follow the Golden Rule is to do the opposite of the Golden Rule: i.e., to treat others as you would not want others to treat you of which ethic was termed the Luciferian Principle (see the above discussion on this as to why such a designation logically follows). Yet this is the very principle on which the institution of slavery necessarily rests.

And in further support of my contention that the conversion of a slave's Earthly "master" to Jesus would be the most effective and practical solution in obtaining one's God-given absolute liberty at least in relation to what the positive law considers one's "master" consider Paul's own words on this matter:

2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The word "liberty" in 2 Corinthians 3:17 is a translation of the Greek noun eleutheria and is completely congruent in meaning with the English word "liberty," i.e., as in "freedom from slavery," "independence," "absence of external restraint," "a negation of control or domination," "freedom of access," etc. Thus, it is the complete negation of a state of slavery. But in fact, Paul even goes further than this in the very passages above which some have contended condone the institution of slavery. Thus in Ephesians 6:9 Paul writes:

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Yet it is plainly clear that if a slave's "master" were to actually and truly give up threatening of all things then there can hardly even be said to exist a state of slavery any more in relation to what the positive law considers the "master" and the "slave," as the very institution of slavery is enforced by the threat of either physical harm for non-compliance or recapture in the case of escape.

Thus, this passage is actually a case of advocating the de facto abolition of slavery even while a state of de jure slavery as considered by the positive law may still be in place!

It is for the above reasons why the above cited passages which some have contended condone the institution of slavery can only make any sense within the Christian point of view as pragmatic advice on how best to handle a bad and unjust situation, and certainly cannot be regarded as commentary on the ethical rightfulness of the institution of slavery; nor for that matter as a categorical moral imperative as to how one is always to conduct oneself as Paul and Peter were often in rebellion to what the positive law considered their "masters." Extreme problems arise for those who would try and contend otherwise for just one example of the problems presented to those who would thus contend, consider the following statement by Paul:

1 Timothy 5:23: No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.

Yet this statement by Paul is completely unqualified, and far more direct than his above advice to slaves. Thus, for those who would contend that Paul was giving a categorical moral imperative as to how a slave is always to conduct himself in relation to his "master" as opposed to merely offering advice as to the best and most practical way in which a slave could go about obtaining his God-given liberty in relation to his "master" such individuals, if they are to be consistent, would also have to contend that according to Paul it is a sin not to drink wine!

In fact the case for this contention would actually be much stronger than in that of Paul's advice to slaves, for unlike in his advice to slaves nowhere does Paul qualify the above statement! Yet obviously to make such a contention would be absurd, as in both cases it would be confusing pragmatic advice with a categorical moral imperative.

But moreover, here is what Jesus Himself had to say about the serving of masters:

Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (See also Luke 16:13.)

Yet what in the world is the institution of slavery if not mammon? If the institution of slavery does not qualify as mammon then there is nothing that possibly could! For it is a method of obtaining wealth that is a complete and utter violation of Jesus's ultimate ethical commandment:

Matthew 7:12: "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (See also Luke 6:31.)

Thus it becomes clear that the institution of slavery is just another product of this sick Satanic world system of which system Jesus is to ultimately overthrow in the time of His Judgement. Mammon indeed!

 

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11. Jesus Supported the Collecting of Interest (Usury)