The Bible Assumes Private Property and Business Ownership

(Originally posted February 2011)

Here is a great quote from Dr. Grudem:

A. PRIVATE PROPERTY

According to the teachings of the Bible, government should both document and protect the ownership of private property in a nation.

The Bible regularly assumes and reinforces a system in which property belongs to individuals, not to the government or to society as a whole.

We see this implied in the Ten Commandments, for example, because the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal” (Exod. 20:15), assumes that human beings will own property that belongs to them individually and not to other people. I should not steal my neighbor’s ox or donkey because it belongs to my neighbor, not to me and not to anyone else.

The tenth commandment makes this more explicit when it prohibits not just stealing but also desiring to steal what belongs to my neighbor:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exod. 20:17).

The reason I should not “covet” my neighbor’s house or anything else is that these things belong to my neighbor, not to me and not to the community or the nation.

This assumption of private ownership of property, found in this fundamental moral code of the Bible, puts the Bible in direct opposition to the communist system advocated by Karl Marx. Marx said:

The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.

One reason why communism is so incredibly dehumanizing is that when private property is abolished, government controls all economic activity. And when government controls all economic activity, it controls what you can buy, where you will live, and what job you will have (and therefore what job you are allowed to train for, and where you go to school), and how much you will earn. It essentially controls all of life, and human liberty is destroyed. Communism enslaves people and destroys human freedom of choice. The entire nation becomes one huge prison. For this reason, it seems to me that communism is the most dehumanizing economic system ever invented by man.

Other passages of Scripture also support the idea that property should belong to individuals, not to “society” or to the government (except for certain property required for proper government purposes, such as government offices, military bases, and streets and highways). The Bible contains many laws concerning punishments for stealing and appropriate restitution for damage of another person’s farm animals or agricultural fields (for example, see Exod. 21:28-36; 22:1-15; Deut. 22:1-4; 23:24-25). Another commandment guaranteed that property boundaries would be protected: “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess” (Deut. 19:14). To move the landmark was to move the boundaries of the land and thus to steal land that belonged to one’s neighbor (compare Prov. 22:28; 23:10).

Another guarantee of the ownership of private property was the fact that, even if property was sold to someone else, in the Year of Jubilee it had to return to the family that originally owned it:

It shall be a Jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan (Lev. 25:10).

This is why the land could not be sold forever: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23).

This last verse emphasizes the fact that private property is never viewed in the Bible as an absolute right, because all that people have is ultimately given to them by God, and people are viewed as God’s “stewards” to manage what he has entrusted to their care.

The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Ps. 24:1; compare Ps. 50:10-12; Hag. 2:8).

Yet the fact remains that, under the overall sovereign lordship of God himself, property is regularly said to belong to individuals, not to the government and not to “society” or the nation as a whole.

When Samuel warned the people about the evils that would be imposed upon them by a king, he emphasized the fact that the monarch, with so much government power, would “take” and “take” and “take” from the people and confiscate things for his own use:

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (1 Sam. 8:10-18).

This prediction was tragically fulfilled in the story of the theft of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite by Ahab the wicked king and Jezebel, his even more wicked queen (see 1 Kings 21:1-29). The regular tendency of human governments is to seek to take control of more and more of the property of a nation that God intends to be owned and controlled by private individuals.

SOCIALISM likewise is the taking over of private property, industry, and the capital of a man’s labor. Here is a good working definition of socialism followed by Professor Richards describing it as well:

In order to have a “favorable” view of socialism one must have either forgotten what the entire world learned about socialism from the late nineteenth century on, or have never learned anything about it in the first place. The latter is obviously true of much of the younger generation.

Socialism started out being defined as “government ownership of the means of production,” which is why the government of the Soviet Union confiscated all businesses, factories, and farms, murdering millions of dissenters and resisters in the process. It is also why socialist political parties in Europe, once in power, nationalized as many of the major industries (steel, automobiles, coal mines, electricity, telephone ser­vices) as they could. The Labour Party in post-World War II Great Britain would be an example of this. All of this was done, ostensibly, in the name of pursuing material “equality.”

In the foreword to the 1976 edition of his famous book, The Road to Serfdom, Nobel laureate economist Friedrich Hayek wrote that the definition of “socialism” evolved in the twentieth century to mean income redis­tribution in pursuit of “equality,” not through govern­ment ownership of the means of production but through the institutions of the welfare state and the “progres­sive” income tax. The means may have changed, but the ostensible end—equality—remained the same.

Hayek’s mentor, fellow Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, explained in his classic treatise Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, that the wel­fare state, the “progressive” income tax, and especially pervasive government regulation of business were all tools of “destructionism” in the eyes of the socialists of his day. That is, he observed that the proponents of socialism always employed a two-pronged approach: (1) the government takeover of as many industries and as much land as possible, and (2) attempts to destroy existing capitalist societies with onerous taxes, regula­tions, the welfare state, inflation, or whatever they thought could get the job done.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Problem with Socialism (New Jersey, NJ: Regnery, 2016), 4-5.

Major DNA Study Undermines Evolution “In A Big Way”

PJ MEDIA update:

Thanks to a new study, evolutionists and their disciples are having to reexamine some of their most revered dogma. Particularly, evolutionists are now having to make sense of conclusions stating that almost all animal species, as well as humans, showed up on the stage of human history at the same time.

One of the constants of science is that science is constantly revising as it is challenged by new data, new theories, and new ways of observing and measuring data, not to mention the changes in scientific ideology molded by larger worldview shifts. Thomas Kuhn’s landmark book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions provides a compelling argument for how scientific paradigms evolve, shift, and even jump to completely different tracks. However, within the many disciplines of science, evolution and evolutionists have remained dogmatic about the necessity of remaining committed to certain a priori assumptions. Well, as it turns out, some of evolution’s most revered a priori assumptions are now crumbling in the face of new research.

study published in the journal Human Evolution is causing quite the stir. In the words of Phys.org, “The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.”

So startling, in fact, that according to David Thaler, one of the lead authors of the study, “This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could.”

The study’s very own author was so disturbed by how the conclusions challenged current scientific dogma that he “fought against it as hard as [he] could.” His “fight” gives credence to the study’s conclusions. His eventual acceptance, not to mention publication, of the conclusions speaks well of Thaler’s commitment to being a scientist first and an ideologue second.

[….]

This is no small matter for evolutionists because, as World Magazine helpfully summarizes:

According to traditional evolutionary thinking, all living things on Earth share common ancestry, with species evolving through a slow process of random mutation, natural selection, and adaptation over roughly 3.8 billion years. The idea that humans and most animals suddenly appeared at the same time a mere 200,000 years ago or less does not fit with that model.

[….]

Speaking of the study, World provides a concise explanation:

In the past, researchers studied DNA in the nucleus of cells, which differs markedly from one species to another. But the new study analyzed a gene sequence found in mitochondrial DNA. (Mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, produce about 90 percent of a cell’s chemical energy.) Although mitochondrial DNA is similar across all humans and animals, it also contains tiny bits that are different enough to distinguish between species. This difference allows researchers to estimate the approximate age of a species.

The researchers analyzed these gene sequences in 100,000 species and concluded that the event—either the simultaneous appearance of humans and most animals, or a population crash—occurred about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. That proposal challenges the bedrock of evolutionary theory.

An aside, this is how my mind works. As I was trying to figure out the title for this post, I went with the above. But then this reminded me of a skit by the Jerky Boys which I uploaded an excerpt from a while back that I have to share:

This is really old news… but with new DNA evidence to support the issue. I will post a paper I wrote many years ago in a debate with a friend. But here are a few quotes to peak curiosity:

  • “…the fossil record doesn’t show gradual change, and every paleontologist has known that since Cuvier.”  (Dr Gould, “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?” Lecture at Hobart & William Smith Colleges; Feb 14, 1980.)

MORE:

Anthropologist Edmund R. Leach told the 1981 Annual Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science:

Missing links in the sequence of fossil evidence were a worry to Darwin.  He felt sure they would eventually turn up, but they are still missing and seem likely to remain so.”

David Raup, curator of geology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago:

He [Darwin] was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn’t look the way he predicted it would and, as a result, he devoted a long section of his Origin of Species to an attempt to explain and rationalize the differences….  Darwin’s general solution to the incompatibility of fossil evidence and his theory was to say that the fossil record is a very incomplete one…. Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin, and knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded.  We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much.  The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time.  By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information [archaeopteryx as well].”

Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, probably evolution’s leading spokesperson today, has acknowledged:

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.  The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”

George Gaylord Simpson, perhaps the twentieth century’s foremost paleontologist, said:

This regular absence of transitional forms is not confined to mammals, but is an almost universal phenomenon, as has long been noted by paleontologists.  It is true of almost all orders of all classes of animals, both vertebrate and invertebrate.”

David B. Kitts of the school of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma wrote:

Despite the bright promise that paleontology provides a means of ‘seeing’ evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists, the most notorious of which is the presence of ‘gaps’ in the fossil record.  Evolution requires [key word, requires] intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them.”

Dr. Steven Stanley of the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, John Hopkins University, says:

The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic [structural] transition and hence offers no evidence that the gradualistic model can be valid.”

BEFORE the main article excerpt… here is how the researchers explained away the issue (GULF NEWS):

…The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today including humans came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

“This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,” Thaler told AFP.

That reaction is understandable: How does one explain the fact that 90 per cent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age?

Was there some catastrophic event 200,000 years ago that nearly wiped the slate clean?…

Here is TECH TIMES dealing with the issue:

Born Around The Same Time

In analyzing the COI of 100,000 species, Stoeckle and Thaler arrived at the conclusion that most animals appeared simultaneously. They found that the neutral mutation across species were not as varied as expected. Neutral mutation refers to the slight DNA changes that occur across generations. They can be compared to tree rings because they can tell how old a certain specie or individual is.

As to how that could have happened, it’s unclear. A likely possibility is the occurrence of a sudden event that caused large-scale environmental trauma and wiped out majority of the Earth’s species.

“Viruses, ice ages, successful new competitors, loss of prey — all these may cause periods when the population of an animal drops sharply,” explains Jesse Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment.

Such times give rise to sweeping genetic changes across the planet, causing new species to appear. However, the last time such an occurrence took place was 65 million years ago, when an asteroid hit the Earth and killed off the dinosaurs and half of all other species on the planet.

The study is published in the journal Human Evolution.

So this article is an amazing confirmation in the growing body of new gene studies that have boomed in the last couple decades. It helps confirm a “creation event,” or what others would say is confirmation of a genetic bottleneck of the Great Flood, requiring new definitions and challenges to the status quo!

MY PREDICTION is you will here more about a flood caused by a meteor in an article from 2007:

Everything YEC’ers (young earth creationists) say happened in this mega flood has been derided for years… until recently. A Discover Magazine article entitled,

To explain this “early reporting,” see: Why Does Nearly Every Culture Have a Tradition of a Global Flood? (ICR)

This study of DNA just adds to the neo-Darwinian proposition being overturned and comes with thanks to BARBWIRE! All the emphasis is theirs:

An earth-shattering gene survey has confirmed that the best in science is perfectly consistent with the best in theology. This study, which should shake the theory of evolution to its roots, will probably get buried by the Talking Snake Media because it doesn’t fit their narrative. (Note, by the way, that evolution is a theory, not a fact. Don’t let them lie to you about this.)

In this seismic article on the www.phys.org website, Sweeping gene survey reveals new facets of evolution, author Marlowe Hood reports on a study of five million gene snapshots – referred to as “DNA barcodes” – that are on deposit in the GenBank database, which is managed by the U.S. government.

These DNA barcodes have been taken from about 100,000 animal species by researchers all over the world. The findings were published last week by Mark Stoeckle of the Rockefeller University in New York and David Thaler of the University of Basel in Switzerland.  These findings are “sure to jostle, if not overturn, more than one settled idea about how evolution unfolds.” That’s the understatement of the year.

These findings are more like an atomic bomb going off under the hoax of Darwinian evolution. This study, interestingly enough, was prompted by a handheld genetic test which is used to bust sushi bars trying to pass off tilapia for tuna.

The first nuclear bombshell is – get ready for this – that virtually all living things came into being at about the same time.

“The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

‘This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,’ Thaler told AFP.

That reaction is understandable: How does one explain the fact that 90 percent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age?” (Emphasis mine throughout.)

“Surprising” indeed. More like volcanically explosive. And the question is absolutely penetrating: how can evolution possibly be true when the scientific evidence, based on the best in genetic research, reveals that all living things came into existence at about the same time?

[….]

Here is the pull quote of seismic proportions: “In analysing the barcodes across 100,000 species, the researchers found a telltale sign showing that almost all the animals emerged about the same time as humans.

How indeed do we explain the fact that all animal life is the same age? Well, creation scientists and students of the Bible have a perfectly coherent explanation. The reason that all living things, including human beings, are the same age is that the Creator created them all at the same time, just as Genesis 1 tells us.

The study reveals another jolting discovery, which likewise is fatal for the theory of evolution. While Darwinian evolution requires an untold number of transitional forms, forms that are somewhere between one life form and another, the fossil record has no transitional fossils for which a credible case can be made, not one.

Darwin himself recognized the problem of missing links in his own day, and optimistically believed that time would solve the problem – he figured as more and more fossils were discovered, missing links would finally be found. Alas for Darwin, we actually have fewermissing links today than in his day, as advances in science have revealed that forms once considered transitional aren’t transitional forms at all.

As Stephen Jay Gould, one of the preeminent paleontologists in the world, said, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.”

That sets the stage for the second utterly revolutionary pull quote from the article. “And yet—another unexpected finding from the study—species have very clear genetic boundaries, and there’s nothing much in between.” In other words, the reason that no transitional forms have ever been found is quite simple: there aren’t any.

Predictions Made About Fossils by Papa Giorgio on Scribd

Is Christianity Bad News for Women? (Amy Orr-Ewing)

Center for Public Christianity (2017) – Amy Orr-Ewing delivers the 2017 Richard Johnson Lecture at NSW Parliament House.

Q & A

Fireside Chat with Dennis Prager: “The Rational Bible: Exodus”

Join Dennis Prager as he talks about his new best selling book, The Rational Bible: Exodus. This week, it was the #1 best-selling Non-Fiction book on Amazon! Order your copy of the Rational Bible today.

Christianity: A Bloody Religion? (An Easter Serious Saturday)

The Bible seems to be bloodier than an R-rated horror movie. Why is there such an emphasis on blood? Michael Brown explores the Bible and bloodshed with New Yorkers and tourists in and around Washington Square Park.

What do people following the primary religions of the world do to receive a clean slate with God following wrongful behavior? Find out when Dr. Michael Brown takes to the streets and even the river to obtain an answer.

Dr. Michael Brown discusses the question “was Jesus a false prophet” in this episode of Think it Thru.

Eisegesis Is The Foundation For Universalism

Here is an example of “eisegesis” and not “exegesis.” I will emphasize the text from this Evangelical Universalist book:

What I want to suggest is that we ought to ask how the language of es­chatological punishment, which was adopted from Second Temple Judaism, should be understood when situated within the theological environment of the New Testament. There was no single concept of hell in Second Temple Judaism but a cluster of images and concepts that held in common the claim that God would bring the wicked to account and punish them. Jesus and his followers took and made use of some of the language and images employed in the discourse of the time without endorsing every aspect of Second Temple Jewish beliefs about this fate. In particular, I shall argue that Jesus never ex­plicitly endorsed the claim made by some Jews that the wicked would be tormented forever nor the claim of others that they would be annihilated. My claim is that although Jesus only once mitigated his claims about hell so as to suggest that it was a temporary fate (Mark 9:47-49), there are good rhetorical reasons why he would not have done so normally. I shall argue further that when the language of hell is located within the framework of New Testament theology A REINTERPRETATION OF IT THAT ALLOWS FOR BELIEF IN REDEMPTION FROM HELL IS LEGITIMATED. This is simply a canonical expansion of my strategy for inter­preting the hell passages in Revelation…. Clearly my interpretation is underdetermined by the texts, so I cannot claim that it is obviously the only way to interpret the matter. I AM NOT SO MUCH EXEGETING THE TEXTS AS TRYING TO DRAW OUT THE LOGIC OF NEW TESTAMENT THEOLOGY AS I UN­DERSTAND IT AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THOSE TEXTS. IN THE PROCESS I MAY BE OFFER­ING WAYS OF READING THE TEXTS THAT GO BEYOND WHAT THEIR AUTHORS HAD IN MIND.

Gregory MacDonald,  The Evangelical Universalist: The Biblical Hope That God’s Love Will Save Us All (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012), 140.

A stark warning from many a year ago:

“Beware of manufacturing a god of your own: a god who is all mercy but not just, a god who is all love but not holy, a god who has a heaven for everybody but a hell for none, a god who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a god is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible, there is no God at all. Beware of making selections from your Bible to suit your taste. Dare not to say, ‘I believe this verse, for I like it. I refuse that, for I cannot reconcile it with my views.’ Nay! But O man, who art thou that repliest against God? By what right do you talk in this way? Surely it were better to say over EVERY chapter in the word, ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.’ Ah! If men would do this, they would never deny the unquenchable fire.”

— J.C. Ryle (1878)

  • ex·e·ge·sis – From the Greek meaning “interpretation,” from ex, “out,” and hegeisthai, “to guide.” Exegesis is a method of attempting to understand a Bible passage. The reader of Scripture studies the word meanings and grammar of the text to discern what… was communicated, drawing the meaning out of the text rather than reading what he wants into the text (isegesis). The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words, 1988
  • ex·e·ge·sis – (Gk., explanation) Critical exposition or explanation of the meaning of a scriptural passage in the context of the whole Bible. Nelson’e New Christian Dictionary 2001

Slavery and the Bible – Dennis Prager

On the Ultimate Issues Hour, Dennis Prager speaks about his upcoming book to be published and the topic of “Slavery and the Bible.” Previously I uploaded a shorter dealing with this topic, here: “Prager Deals with Three Misconceptions Obama & Liberals Have of the Bible

Slavery and the Bible ~ A Response by J. Warner Wallace

Updated Nov 28, 2017 (Originally posted June 20, 2014)

D. Instructions for slaves (6:1–2). Paul gives instructions to Christian slaves in the situation in which they find themselves. He does not defend the institution (see 1 Cor. 7:21; Philem. 15–17) but gives general principles and specific instructions for living in that situation as Christians. Full respect, good service, and a proper attitude should be given to masters. Even slavery does not invalidate Paul’s principles concerning work. Poor work and a poor attitude will give cause for non-Christians to speak evil of God and the teachings of Christianity. Some Christian slaves apparently concluded that because they and their masters were brothers (spiritually equal and in the same “family”) that therefore they could act in a familiar and disrespectful way. Paul argues that Christian slaves should give even better service since they serve believers whom they love.

George W. III Knight, “1-2 Timothy/Titus,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 1108.

(More commentaries at the end)

Previously I attributed this audio to Jonathan Morrow. A viewer corrected me that this was J. Warner Wallace. I will include, still, the previous links to Jonathan’s works below, as they are still great resources to indulge in.

(From video description)

This was an audio I mistakenly attributed to Jonathan Morrow, but in fact (thanks to a compatriot) this is J. Warner Wallace:

http://coldcasechristianity.com/
http://pleaseconvinceme.com/
http://www.str.org/

Detective Wallace rightly places over the matrix of the question the time-stamp in which the text was written, and the context it was written, and whom the text was written for… assuming these persons culture and surroundings and their practices. Not a 21st century understanding of slavery and the American experience.

Jonathan Morrow is the founder of Think Christianly. He is the author of:

Jonathan also contributed several articles to the Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He graduated with an M.Div. and an M.A. in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology where he is pursuing a D.Min in engaging mind and culture.

Here is Dennis Prager also responding to the issue in his “patented” way (take note that the last audio below is a full show of Prager dealing with slavery):

DENNY BURK has a great article that gets to the point, seven points exactly… I will post a clip of two of the body of his thinking:

2. The Bible Often Condemns the Means by Which Slaves Were Taken as Slaves.

In the first century, slavery wasn’t race-based like it was in the American South. People were taken as slaves through a number of means: warfare, piracy, highway robbery, infant exposure, and punishment of criminals. In all of this, there was always prevalent the issue of kidnapping people in order to enslave them. What does the Bible say about kidnapping?

In 1 Timothy 1:10, the apostle Paul says that kidnapping or man-stealing is against God’s law. Most interpreters recognize that this man-stealing was for the purpose of slavery. That is why the ESV has it as “enslavers” and the NIV as “slave traders.”Certainly, the background for Paul’s command is the Old Testament law:

Exodus 21:16 “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (ESV).

Who is to be put to death? The one who takes the man and the one who holds him. This is significant because some people have made the case that while the Bible does condemn slave-trading it does not condemn slave-holding (e.g., Douglas Wilson, Black and Tan, 56). If this view were correct, there would not necessarily have been any moral problem with Christians owning slaves in the American South during and before the Civil War.

But Exodus 21:16 says that both the kidnapping and the enslavement are punishable by death. And this is the background for Paul’s own thinking about the matter in 1 Timothy. The entire system of Southern slavery was based on kidnapping people from Africa. The slave-traders stuffed these Africans into ship holds where they suffered and died by the thousands. That slave-trade was an abomination. And it is fallacious to suggest that the slave-holders are not morally implicated in the slave-trade. You cannot defend those who participated in the slave trade, nor can you defend those slave owners who created the market for man-stealing.

So the Bible definitely condemns the means by which slaves were taken as slaves—especially kidnapping, which was punishable by death.

3. The New Testament forbids Christians from coercive violence against slaves.

Ephesians 6:9 “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”

Yes, there were Christian slave owners in the New Testament. But no, they were not allowed to threaten their slaves with violence. And obviously, if they weren’t allowed to threaten with violence, they weren’t allowed to actually do violence against their slaves. It may have been allowable under Roman law for a master to abuse or even kill his slave. But it was not allowable under God’s law to do such things. You might call that slavery in some sense, but what kind of slavery is it that doesn’t allow the master to coerce his slave through violence? It’s certainly not Roman slavery. It’s certainly not like slavery in the American South. This is something so different one wonders if you can call it slavery at all.

4. The New Testament commands Christians to treat slaves like brothers.

When Paul wrote to the slave-owner Philemon about his run-away slave Onesimus, Paul told Philemon to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me” (Phlm 16-17).

What kind of slavery is it that tells a master to give up threatening and to treat his slaves like his brother? Again, it’s not Roman slavery. It’s nothing like slavery in the American South. So the Bible isn’t endorsing either one of those. This is something else entirely. And that is why slavery cannot continue where the Kingdom of God holds sway. The Bible completely undermines all the defining features of slavery: kidnapping, coercive violence, treating people like property rather like brothers created in the image of God.

[….]

7. The Bible condemns racism.

As I mentioned earlier, slavery in the New Testament was not race-based. But slavery in the American South was. The Bible forbids treating someone else as less than human because of their race. God created man in his own image—all men—not just white ones or black ones or red ones or yellow ones. Because of that, every person—not just some people—every person has inherent dignity and worth as image-bearers of almighty God. For this reason, the diversity of races is not an evil to be abolished but a glory to be celebrated. God intends to gather worshipers for Himself from every “tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). And we know that in Christ “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11).

So no, the Bible does not endorse slavery nor the evils inherent in slavery. On the contrary, it abolishes them in the name of Jesus. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not command us to take up arms in violent revolution to abolish slavery. It does, however, introduce a new kingdom in the world that will one day overthrow all unjust authorities. And we are called as the church to be an outpost of that coming kingdom. And wherever the church goes, slavery must flee because the Kingdom of Christ will not abide unjust authorities.

When the critics assail scripture, they often make confident assertions about things they know very little about (1 Tim. 1:7). In this case, when they rail against the Bible’s alleged endorsement of slavery, they are misrepresenting what the Bible actually teaches. Every word of God is pure and good and wise and right and good for us–including what it says to us about those under the yoke.

“Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.” –Psalm 119:140

Likewise, a great article by APOLOGETIC PRESS notes the following…

TAKING PAUL’S TEACHING TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION

Over time, with the spread of Christianity (cf. Acts 19:10,26; 21:20) and with increasing numbers of slave masters becoming Christians, the physical lives of many slaves would have improved dramatically. As slave owners with honest and good hearts learned (1) to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2) to love their neighbors (including their slaves) as themselves (Matthew 22:36-40), they would give up “threatening” (Ephesians 6:9). As Christian slave owners contemplated treating others how they want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), they would give their slaves “what is just and fair,” knowing that they, too, had a Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1). As slave owners submitted to Christ, they would be transformed by the Gospel, learning to be “kindly affectionate” to everyone (Romans 12:2,10), including all those who served them. In short, far from endorsing sinful slavery, Paul’s teachings, taken to their logical conclusion, would eventually lead truth-seeking masters and government officials to help bring an end to any kind of cruel, sinful captivity.

For an extensive and in-depth writing on this, see Kyle Butt’s article, “Defending the Bible’s Position on Slavery,” originally in Reason & Revelation, 25[6]:41-47.

On the Ultimate Issues Hour, Dennis Prager speaks about his upcoming book to be published and the topic of “Slavery and the Bible.”


COMMENTARIES


Slaves in the Church 6:1–2a

Slaves comprised a third group of persons in the household of God who needed instruction. In the Roman world a small percentage of people were very rich. Persons serving in the Roman Senate and the equestrians made up the privileged classes of people and numbered less than 1 percent of the population (Bell: 187). Most persons were patrons or clients. Patrons provided for the well-being of clients by providing jobs, food, shelter, and so forth. In some wealthy households, even some of the slaves had clients, who hoped that they would influence their owner to secure favors for them (Bell: 192). Slavery was not limited to poor persons in Roman society, nor was it based on race. Roman law did not formally recognize slave marriages. Slaves were considered property. David A. de Silva suggests that fully 25 percent of the Roman population were slaves (de Silva: 141), while another writer thinks that slaves may have constituted a majority in society (Collins: 152).

Persons became slaves if their country was conquered by another country. Criminals, persons who defaulted on their debts, and those born into slave families were all considered slaves in the first century. Some slaves served in high levels of administration, while others worked in domestic and fieldwork. Though Aristotle defined a slave as a “living tool” (Nicomachean Ethics 8.11; de Silva: 142), Stoics and Christians recognized the humanness of slaves (Bell: 194).

Paul’s instructions on slaves connect to those regarding widows and elders in the church through the use of the term honor. In the Pauline mission, slaves became Christians and participated in the household of God. A Christian slave owner could go to the worship service in his household and see his slave(s) in the gathering. The slave may even be leading worship. On the one hand, Christian slaves needed instruction on how to conduct themselves in a social and cultural context with its own expectations about what slaves could or could not do. On the other hand, the church understood that freedom in Christ meant that the slave was a brother or sister in the congregation (Gal 3:28). Therefore the church had to learn how to live out its life of freedom and faithfulness to Christ in the midst of a culture that generally treated slaves poorly. The church could withdraw from society, or it could simply accommodate itself to society, both of which would destroy its life and mission.

Paul instructs Christian slaves about how they should live in two kinds of settings within the larger culture. First, he instructs slaves who have non-Christian masters (6:1). Second, he instructs slaves who have Christian masters (6:2). With both, Paul is concerned about the mission of the church (6:1b, 2b; Titus 2:10b) [Contextualizing the Gospel, p. 339]. As with widows (1 Tim 5:7, 14–15) and elders (5:20), the behavior of Christian slaves has a direct effect upon the mission of the church (6:1b). Paul’s teaching on slaves here in 1 Timothy 6:1–2 is similar to other NT household codes (Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–4:1; 1 Pet 2:18–25), with two major exceptions. First, in 1 Timothy, Christian masters are not told how to treat slaves (Verner: 140–41). And second, a major distinction is made between the way slaves treat non-Christian masters and Christian masters. This distinction is significant because the religion of the master of the household often determined the religion of the whole household, including the slaves.

Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor (6:1a). The phrase under the yoke of slavery refers to Christians who live under the power and rule of a master. It is the normal phrase used for being under a tyrant, or in slavery, and calls attention to its burdensome character (I. H. Marshall 1999: 629). The exhortation to attribute honor to a non-Christian master indicates that Christian slaves who have found freedom in Christ likely want to be free of their masters. If slaves show disrespect and even rebel against their masters, their attitude becomes diametrically opposed to the social practice of the day. To prevent major conflict within that social and cultural context, slaves are exhorted to show respect to their masters. Disrespect to masters will bring disrepute upon the church and clash with the commonly accepted cultural practice.

Respect toward non-Christian masters is emphasized with a purpose clause: so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed (6:1b). Respect and honor may lead some masters to Christ. In words reminiscent of Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Paul exhorts Christian slaves to align their attitude toward masters with the mission of the church. Paul considers the success of the gospel to hold more importance than the immediate abolition of slavery in Roman society, for if the gospel reaches many in Roman society, slavery itself will eventually be abolished. A similar statement in Titus 2:10 says that slaves are to live in submission to their masters so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior. Lack of submission can bring the Christian message into disrepute, while submission to non-Christian masters enhances it (Bassler 1996: 104). Since God desires that everyone be saved (1 Tim 2:4), Paul apparently thinks it best not to be too disruptive of Roman society or to bring slander upon the church. Instead, Paul believes the mission of the church should lead the way. As more citizens became Christians, the institution of slavery may be eliminated. The church at Ephesus cannot afford a reputation that denies Christian teaching and blasphemes the name of God.

Next, Paul addresses slaves who have Christian masters (6:2). The Christian slave and the Christian master are brothers (NIV) and sisters in Christ. Does this mean that the master-slave relationship should also change? Paul says that those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them (6:2a). The term be disrespectful means to hold or show contempt toward another. Some Christian slaves think that since both master and slave are fellow members in the church family, they no longer need to be subordinate to their masters (Verner: 143). The Christian gospel was a radical leveler in Greco-Roman society, and communities of faith were hard-pressed to negotiate the implications of the gospel in terms of social roles. The fact that a slaveholder was a Christian could not become an excuse for the slave to take advantage of the master’s religion to further one’s own cause. On the contrary, the slave should offer willing service all the more, since servanthood brings a benefit. Paul argues from the lesser to the greater by saying the slave must serve them all the more. Even the master who is a Christian is still the master, and the slave is still the slave. Moreover, the service of an obedient slave results in a benefit. The word benefit means good deed, benefit, service, or benefit of service. Knight indicates that this term was used in the first century to describe the actions of one in authority who was a benefactor toward one under him (Knight 1992: 247). Thus a Christian slave’s willing service for a Christian master bestows good on the master. The master in response returns that good to the slave by providing a good living for the slave.

Paul has deliberately picked up the language of honor and shame common in the ancient world (1 Tim 6:1–2) [Honor and Shame, p. 354]. But he reverses it. In the ancient world only masters could be benefactors. Masters as benefactors are worthy of honor (Johnson 2001: 290). But here Paul places the slave in the position of being the benefactor! A slave’s service represents a position of strength and brings honor not only to the master, but also to the name of God and the Christian teaching. By slaves treating the master as beloved, both master and slaves can be brothers and sisters together in Christ and enjoy life together in the church. Both master and slaves exercise what it means to serve a higher authority (i.e., Christ) and become slaves of Christ. This Christian attitude greatly enhanced the Christian mission within Roman society with its cultural and social stratification, while also giving the church freedom to live as Christians.

Paul M. Zehr, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2010), 119–122.

6:1–2. Slavery was widespread in the pre-Christian era. By the time of Christ, treatment of slaves had greatly improved.

Romans freed slaves in great numbers in the first century, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also because the freeborn citizenship was declining and thus there were fewer to serve in the military. Only a freed slave could serve in the military.

The church of Ephesus over which Timothy was ministering had slaves and masters as members. Paul wouldn’t give these instructions otherwise.

The expression under the yoke may suggest that slavery in that day was a difficult situation in which many owners viewed their slaves as little more than cattle.

Paul doesn’t instruct bondservants (slaves) to seek to escape. Rather, he tells them to count their own masters worthy of all honor. They were to do this whether the master was worthy of such honor or not.

The reason was so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. God’s name and His doctrine are put in a bad light when slaves fail serve wholeheartedly. Wholehearted service, however, exalts God’s name and His doctrine.

It’s easy to see how Christian slaves who have believing masters might despise their masters because they are brethren. They might expect preferential treatment, or even outright release (see Philemon).

Yet slaves were not to have such a narrow world view. This life is all about pleasing God (cf. Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–4:1; and 1 Pet 2:18–21).

Robert N. Wilkin, “The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy,” in The Grace New Testament Commentary, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2010), 985.

6:1, 2 The Ephesian believers may have been struggling to maintain a biblical work ethic in the world of slavery, so these verses form Paul’s instruction on that subject. Essentially, first century slaves resembled the indentured servants of the American colonial period. In many cases, slaves were better off than day-laborers, since much of their food, clothing, and shelter was provided. The system of slavery served as the economic structure in the Roman world, and the master-slave relationship closely parallels the twentieth-century employer-employee relationship. For more on slaves, see Introduction to Philemon: Background and Setting.

6:1 under the yoke. A colloquial expression describing submissive service under another’s authority, not necessarily describing an abusive relationship (cf. Mt 11:28–30). slaves. They are people who are in submission to another. It carries no negative connotation and is often positive when used in connection with the Lord serving the Father (Php 2:7), and believers serving God (1Pe 2:16), the Lord (Ro 1:1; Gal 1:10; 2Ti 2:24; Jas 1:1), non-Christians (1Co 9:19), and other believers (Gal 5:13). masters. The Gr. word for “master,” while giving us the Eng. word “despot,” does not carry a negative connotation. Instead, it refers to one with absolute and unrestricted authority. all honor. This translates into diligent and faithful labor for one’s employer. See notes on Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–25. our doctrine. The revelation of God summed up in the gospel. How believers act while under the authority of another affects how people view the message of salvation Christians proclaim (see notes on Tit 2:5–14). Displaying a proper attitude of submission and respect, and performing quality work, help make the gospel message believable (Mt 5:48).

6:2 believers as their masters. The tendency might be to assume one’s equality in Christ with a Christian master, and disdain the authority related to work roles. On the contrary, working for a Christian should produce more loyal and diligent service out of love for the brethren. preach. Lit. “to call to one’s side.” The particular emphasis here is on a strong urging, directing, and insisting on following the principles for correct behavior in the workplace.

John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 1 Ti 5:25–6:2.

D. Bondservants and Masters (6:1, 2)

6:1 The conduct of slaves is now brought before us. They are spoken of as bondservants who are under the yoke, that is, the yoke of slavery. The apostle, first of all, speaks to slaves who have unsaved masters. Should slaves in such a case act insolently toward their masters? Should they rebel or run away? Should they do as little work as possible? On the contrary, they should count their own masters worthy of all honor. This means that they should give them due respect, work obediently and faithfully, and in general seek to be a help rather than a hindrance. The great motive for such diligent service is that the testimony for Christ is involved. If a Christian slave were to act rudely or rebelliously, then the master would blaspheme the name of God and the Christian faith. He would conclude that believers were a worthless lot.

The history of the early church reveals that Christian slaves generally commanded a higher price on the slave market than unbelievers. If a master knew that a certain slave on the auction block was a Christian, he would generally be willing to pay more for that slave, since he knew that the slave would serve him faithfully and well. This is high tribute to the Christian faith.

This verse reminds us that no matter how low a person’s position may be on the social scale, yet he has every opportunity for witnessing for Christ and bringing glory to His name.

It has often been pointed out that the institution of slavery is not openly condemned in the NT. However, as the teachings of Christianity have spread, the abuses of slavery have been abolished.

Every true believer should realize that he is a bondslave of Jesus Christ. He has been bought with a price; he no longer belongs to himself. Jesus Christ owns him—spirit, soul, and body, and deserves the very best he has.

6:2 This verse deals with slaves who have believing masters. Doubtless there would be a very great temptation for such slaves to despise their masters. It is not at all unlikely that when the local church met together on Lord’s Day evening for the breaking of bread (Acts 20:7), there would be Christian masters and Christian slaves seated around the table—all brethren in Christ Jesus. But the slaves were not, on this account, to think that the social distinctions of life were thereby abolished. Just because a master was a Christian did not mean that the slave did not owe him honor and service. The fact that the master was both a believer and a beloved brother should influence the slave to serve him faithfully.

Christian masters are here spoken of not only as faithful (believers) and beloved, but also as those who are benefited. This is generally taken to mean that they, too, are sharers in the blessing of salvation. However, the words might also be understood to mean that since both slaves and masters are interested in doing good, they should serve together, each trying to help the other.

The words teach and exhort these things doubtless refer to the preceding instructions to Christian slaves. The present-day application would be, of course, to the employer-employee relationship.

William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2098–2099.

D. Concerning Slaves And Masters (6:1–2).

6:1. Under normal circumstances slaves and masters had no associations outside the institution of slavery. With the advent of the gospel, however, these two groups found themselves thrown together in the congregation in new ways, creating problems the apostles were forced to address repeatedly (cf. 1 Cor. 7:20–24; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:5–9; Col. 3:22–25; Phile.; 1 Peter 2:13–25). Paul’s instructions here correspond entirely with what is taught elsewhere in the New Testament on the subject, with one major exception: in this passage he addresses only slaves. Usually his exhortations to submit to authority were immediately buttressed by warning masters against abusing their authority (cf. Eph. 6:5–9; Col. 3:22–4:1).

The matter of the uses and abuses of authority is first and foremost a problem of attitude. Thus Paul wrote repeatedly of how slaves and masters should see themselves and one another. Here he wrote that slaves are to view their masters as worthy of full respect (timēs, “honor”). The same word is used of God in 1 Timothy 1:17 and 6:16, and of elders in 5:17. Such honor or respect should be granted lest God’s reputation and the Christian faith (hē didaskalia, “the teaching”; cf. 1:10; 4:1, 6, 13, 16; 5:17) be slandered (lit., “be blasphemed”). Social goals should always be subordinate to spiritual values.

6:2. Paul’s thought here is totally foreign to the world, and can be fully appreciated only by those who view their lives through the eyes of Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 10:42–45). Christian slaves whose masters are also believers should redouble rather than reduce their service. This should stem purely from the realization that the one who is receiving the benefits is a beloved brother or sister in Christ. The attitude undergirding this instruction is complete nonsense to anyone who does not understand the Lord Jesus, but it is the genius of Christlikeness and the ultimate source of all meaning and joy in life to those who have eyes to see (cf. John 13:4–17; 15:9–14). Thus Timothy was commanded once again to teach and urge … these things on the congregation (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6, 11; 5:7).

A. Duane Litfin, “1 Timothy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 745.

Witness In The Workplace (6:1–2)

Paul is not endorsing slavery in these verses. Rather, he is addressing a reality that existed at that time. Slavery was common in the Roman Empire and many of the people who became Christians would have been slaves.

What were they to do now that they were free in Christ? They were to act in a way that would bring glory to Christ ‘so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered’ (v. 1, NIV). They would do so by showing respect to their masters. It seems that some slaves in Christian households had become disrespectful to their masters and this had resulted in a bad witness. So Paul corrects it by telling Timothy to teach them to work even harder ‘because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them’ (v. 2, NIV).

These principles apply to the workplace in the modern world. Christians should make sure that they are not ‘too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use’. We may have had the opportunity to tell our colleagues and employers the good news, but if we are lazy and unreliable, we will undermine the message we have communicated. We must also be careful not to take advantage of a Christian boss and expect favouritism from him or her. Instead, we should work even harder than we would for someone who is not a believer. This will be a great encouragement to that boss and help his or her own witness in the workplace.

Simon J. Robinson, Opening up 1 Timothy, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2004), 94–95.

Light-n-Salt In A World of Politics

Just wanted to share this comment on Scripture from a 1987 book I am reading. Front and back cover follow the quote, click to enlarge.

2. Light and Salt

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

MATTHEW 5:13-16, KJV

Christ reminded the disciples of their twofold obligation: they were to be salt and light. The illustration of salt implies both the concept of a covenant people and a moral conscience in the culture at large. In the Old Testament salt was symbolic of a covenant (Num. 18:19). in ancient Greek and Arab societies, legal agreements were confirmed by eating bread dipped in salt. Jesus is suggesting that we who are his disciples are the salt of the earth—we are his covenant people. Salt was also utilized in ancient cultures for preserving and flavoring meat. Jesus seems to be implying that we are also a moral preservative and ethical conscience to ‘the society in which we live. As representatives of his righteous standards, we should be involved in preserving Judeo-Christian values as founda­tional for the health of the society in which we live.

Jesus also refers to us as the light of the world. Most commentators interpret this to mean that we have an evangelistic obligation to society. We are to shed the light of the gospel on the dark world around us. While this is certainly true, Jesus is also speaking of the light of our “good deeds” (v. 16). We are to be a moral conscience (salt), but at the same time we are to demonstrate that moral standard through our good deeds (light). In other words, we have no right to call for justice unless we are ourselves just in dealing with others….

  • Richard John Neuhaus, Gen. Ed., The Bible, Politics, and Democracy (Grand Rapids, MI: William J. Eerdmans Publishing, 1987), 10-11; from chpt 1, “The Bible, Politics, and Democracy,” by Edward Dobson.

Eye For An Eye, A Tooth For A Tooth (Dennis Prager)

I just pre-ordered via Amanon, “THE RATIONAL BIBLE: EXODUS,” by Dennis Prager (due out April 2, 2018). This is the first in a commentary series by Prager on the first five books of the Bible, the Torah.As a Bible student and bibliophile, I am excited for this new series.

I clipped the above section to compliment some other uploads I have by Prager:

And my post on 2 Kings, “ATHEISTS CHALLENGE TO BIBLICAL ETHICS (2 KINGS 2:23-25)” — where I note ORIGINAL understandings in an apologetic defense of this event.