Slave/Servant: The Doctrine of Doulos

Slave ServantDoctrine of DOULOS
Slave, Servant

John 13:16, “Truly, truly (listen intently to this point of doctrine), a slave (student disciple under academic discipline) is not greater than his lord (KURIOS – κύριος (koo’-ree-os), the one with teaching authority), neither is the One sent (Jesus Christ is Hypostatic Union) greater than the Sender (God the Father).

General Definition:

Slave,” servant or bond servant, is the Greek noun DOULOS  δοῦλος (doo’-los) which refers to the disciple from the standpoint of his discipleship. He is a slave. A disciple is a student under strict discipline. The English word discipline is taken from the same word as disciple. The synonymous word, disciple, is the Greek word MATHETES – μαθητής (math-ay-tes’) found in John 13:5.

(See Doctrine of Discipleship) 

“The disciple’s objective is to be under academic discipline and receive information. So, the word servant is used interchangeably with the word disciple. The servant and the disciple are two sides of the same coin. A disciple is under strict discipline with no privileges and no rights. A slave is exactly the same thing. Why does the Lord use interchangeably the words slave and disciple? If the Lord is actually teaching, He calls them disciples, or if He is giving them some principle related to His teaching. But if they are out of school, they are still not out from His academic discipline; therefore, they are called slaves.” (RB. Thieme Jr.).

Therefore, just as John used the word little children [TEKNION – τεκνίον (tek-nee’-on)] in his epistles interchangeably for students of the Word, our Lord uses the word DOULOS.

DOULOS is a very common word with a variety of meanings, all implying to a greater or lesser degree of inferiority and want of freedom:

1) The most frequent usage is as the equivalent of “slave” with its various shades in position, Gen 9:25; 24:9; Ex 21:5; Mat 10:24; Luke 17:7, etc. It can also be applied to a hired workman where “hired servant” differs from the above understanding.

2) An attendant in the service of someone, as Joshua was the “servant,” “minister,” or “attendant” of Moses, Num 11:28.

3) It is used as a term of respectful self-depreciation, referring to one’s self, “your servant.”

  •      In the presence of superiors, Gen 19:2; 32:18, etc.
  •      In addressing the Supreme Being, 1 Sam 3:9; Psa 19:11; 27:9; Luke 2:29.

4) It is used for officials of every rank who are called the “servants” of kings, princes, etc., 1 Sam 29:3; 2 Sam 16:1; 1 Kings 11:26; Prov 14:35, etc.

5) It is used for the position of a king in relation to his people, 1 Kings 12:7.

6) It is used for someone who is distinguished as obedient and faithful to God or Christ, Josh 1:2; 2 Kings 8:19; Dan 6:20; Col 4:12; 2 Tim 2:24.

7) It is used for someone who is enslaved by sin, John 8:34.

Difference in Application of Slavery:

To the Greeks, a slave was to be subject to an utterly debasing social and anthropological position. To them, freedom and individuality was the goal of life. Autonomy was the highest prize of the Hellenistic world; thus, servitude was the absence of any such freedom. The dependence of the slave upon another and his subjection in service made it repulsive to Greeks. In addition, to the Greeks, serving the gods was to experience freedom from both internal and external bounds. Freedom was used to mark the ideal citizen. (Plato)

This was not the case however of the Jews. The Old Testament gave application and guidelines for, becoming and the treatment of, a slave. This is where the New Testament meaning originates.

The Hebrew words for slave or servant are EBED – [ עָ֫בֶד (eh’-bed) ] meaning, “slave, servant, man-servant, subjects, worshippers (of God),” in a special sense as prophets, Levites, etc., of Israel as servants, and as a form of address between equals, and ABADH [ עֲבֵד (ab-bad’) ], which means, “to work, serve, become slaves, a slave or servant.” (Brown, Drive and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions) [Brackets mine]

The Septuagint [LXX], (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) used DOULOS in place of these Hebrew words.

The Hebrew concept of slaves was far different from that of the Greeks.

1) People could become slaves as a result of choice.

2) Slaves served only for 6 years, Exo 21:2, and the Old Testament provided for the protection of slaves from mistreatment, Exo 21:14, 26-27.

3) It had a religious relationship regularly conveyed by servanthood.

David was a slave of God, 1 Sam 23:11-12; [LXX 1 Kings 23:10-11]; Psa 89:50; 88:50.

God considered David His slave, 2 Sam 3:18; [LXX 2 Kings 3:18]; Psa 89:3, 20; [LXX 88:3, 20].

God’s people are His chosen servants, Psa 105:6; [104:6]; 134:1; [133:1]; Isa 49:3; 2 Kings 10:21-23; [LXX 4 Kings 10:21, 23]; 2 Kings 17:23; [LXX 4 Kings 17:23]; Amos 3:7 and Zech 1:6.

For example:

1) There were two sources of slavery in the ancient world: poverty in peacetime and captured prisoners in war.

2) A man could sell himself into slavery, Lev 25:3941. This was a way of declaring bankruptcy and paying off his debts. But he had to be freed during the year of jubilee (every fiftieth year).

3) A father could sell his daughter or son into slavery to pay off the debts, Exo 21:7; Neh 5:5.

4) A widow’s children could be sold to pay off their father’s debt, 2 Kings 4:1.

5) A woman could sell herself into slavery, Deut 15:1217.

6) Slaves were often acquired through trade, purchase, payment of debt, as a gift, through birth, plunder in war, or by self‑determination.

7) Slaves were manumitted by redemption or purchase, by the elapse of time (six years), Exo 21:24, by the year of jubilee (the fiftieth year), Jer 34:810, through physical disability or being maimed, Exo 21:26. In this case, the master was responsible to take care of the slave for life.

So, we see slavery under the Law of God in a different light. It could be a voluntary action and provided for the welfare of those in service.

Biblical Rights Under Slavery:

The Bible depicts rights for both the master of slaves and the slaves themselves.

As we note the laws of slavery, each right will be accompanied by the application for the believer in the Church Age in italic parentheses.

Rights of the Master:

We will use Abraham as the master of slaves in which he had certain rights. In application to the Church Age believer, God the Father is our Master, and we are bondservants of God. There are 13 rights in all for the master of slaves.

1) He had the right to hold his slaves as chattel, Lev 25:45.

(We are God’s property or possession. Rom 9:21; Eph 1:14; 1 Peter 2:9)

Eph 1:14, “Who (God the Holy Spirit) is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

2) He had the right to leave non-Hebrew slaves as an inheritance to his children, Lev 25:46.

(We are Christ’s inheritance from the Father. John 13:3; 16:15; 17:10; Eph 1:22. In addition, Gentiles are grafted into the family of God (true Israel), which is the main theme of point 10 below.)

John 16:15, “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

3) He had the right to hold as property the wife and children of all slaves who were unmarried at the time they became slaves, Exo 21:4.

(It’s a family affair. The unbelieving members of the household of the believer can also be saved. Acts 16:31-34)

Acts 16:31, 34, “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”… 34And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”

4) He had the right to pursue and recover run-away slaves, 1 Kings 2:39-41.

(God will pursue the unbeliever and the believer in reversionism in the hopes of recovery back into the fold. Matt 18:12-14; Luke 15:4; 1 Cor 11:28-32)

Matt 18:12-14, “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”

5) He had the right to free slaves on the sabbatical year or the year of jubilee, or at any time.

(God has freed us from sins, and as a result will imminently bring us home jubilantly either through death or the Rapture. Rom 6:1-22; 1 Thess 4:13-18)

6) He was commanded to circumcise his slaves, Gen 17:1213, 23, 27. (This was for identification with God.)

(In the Church Age, we have identification through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Eph 4:5 [one baptism]; Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor 12:13; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 2:10-22; 4:30)

7) He had the right to sell*, trade, or give away slaves as a gift, Gen 29:24.

(This speaks to the sovereignty of God in election, and leaving the unbeliever is just condemnation. Rom 11:5-7; Eph 1:1-23; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 1:4; Titus 1:1; Rev 17:14; 20:11-15)

Rom 11:5-7, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is still not on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.”

Titus 1:1, “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.”

8) He had the right to punish or discipline slaves, but not to kill them, Exo 21:20.

(He disciplines His own whom He loves. 1 Cor 11:27-32; Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19)

Rev 3:19, ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

9) He had the right to marry a slave or give slaves in marriage, 1 Chron 2:35.

(We are betrothed to Jesus Christ; we are His bride. Rom 7:1-4; Eph 5:22-33; Rev 19:7-8)

10) He had the right to marry a daughter to a slave, 1 Chron 2:34.

(In this analogy, the daughter is Israel and the slaves are Gentile believers who are grafted into the family of God. Rom 11:17-23; Gal 4:7)

Gal 4:7, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

11) He had the right to purchase slaves in foreign markets, Lev 25:44.

(No Jew or Gentile, Greek or Barbarian, slave or free. All can be part of God’s family. Mat 13:31-32 (mustard tree); Rom 10:12; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11)

Gal 3:28 (NLT), “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Col 3:11, “A renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

12) He had the right to enslave or sell* as a slave anyone caught stealing his property, Gen 44:833.

(Sinners have entrance into the family of God.  Sinners without repentance can be cast into the Lake of Fire. Mat 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:30-32 [physician heals the sick]; Rom 5:8, 19; 1 Tim 1:15-16)

Rom 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

13) He had the right to demand service from his slaves, Gen 14:14, 24.

(We are His workmen and workmanship. Luke 12:37-38; Rom 6:22; 9:21-24 [Potter]; 2 Cor 3:6; 4:5-6; 9:8; Eph 2:10; 2 Tim 2:15 with Eph 6:5 ff; Col 3:22)

Rom 6:22, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God…”

2 Cor 3:6, “Who also made us adequate servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

2 Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Eph 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Luke 12:37, “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

* Wherever the word “sell” appears in the lists above, it also refers to God’s right over the unbeliever to cast them into the Lake of Fire.

Rights of the Slave:

1) He had the right to freedom by the purchase of his redemption, or by the elapse of time, or in the year of jubilee, or he could work his way into freedom.

(Jesus Christ has purchased our freedom so that we would not have to. He laid down the money, His life, for our redemption. He is also our Kinsman Redeemer who has purchased us from the slave market of sin. Jer 32:7-8 [Jeremiah the kinsman redeemer as a type of Jesus Christ]; See also Job 19:25; Psa 19:14; Isa 44:6; Luke 1:68; Rom 3:24-25; 4:7-8; 8:23; 1 Cor 1:30; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:12-15)

Luke 1:68, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.”

Rom 3:24, “Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

Rom 4:7, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

2) He had the right to good treatment, Lev 25:43, 46.

(We have the Royal Family Honor Code. John 13:34; 15:12-13; Rom 12:19-20; 13:8-11; James 2:8)

James 2:8, “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.”

John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Rom 12:19-21, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

3) He had the right to justice, Ex 21:20; Job 31:13 ff.

(Jesus Christ is our advocate who defends us. Job 16:19; Isa 54:7; Mat 12:18-20; 18:21-25; Luke 18:7-8; Col 4:1; 1 John 2:1)

Col 4:1, “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.”

1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

Isa 54:17, “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.”

4) He had the right to marry, have children and live a normal life, Ex 21:5.

(We can enter the family of God through union with Jesus Christ. We have a right to be married to Him. We are His bride in waiting. Rom 7:1-7 [we have been legally divorced from sin so that we can be united with Christ]; Any scripture that says, “in Christ;” Eph 5:22-33, or “bride of Christ” [Refer back to, “Right of the Master” above – for Scriptures].)

5) He had the right to voluntary slavery, where having been freed could choose to remain a slave, Exo 21:5-6; Deut 15:16-17. His request had to be honored. This was done in front of two witnesses. The mark of this voluntary slavery was having his ear lobe (system of perception) nailed to a door.

(We have free will to believe, and to execute the Plan of God for our lives. We should not serve Him under compulsion. Matt 10:18; Rom 6:22; 1 Cor 9:16-19; 2 Cor 9:7; Philemon 1:14; 1 Peter 5:2)

Rom 6:22, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

2 Cor 9:7, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily.”

6) He had the right to own property and money, Lev 25:29.

(Blessings in time and eternity through the righteousness and justice of God. We are qualified to be blessed by God when we do His will. John 14:1-4; 1 Cor 3:10-15; Eph 1:11-18; Col 1:12; 3:24; 1 Peter 1:4-5; [plus other Scriptures promising the believer an inheritance]; Rev 2:7, 10-11, 17, 26, 28; 3:5, 12, 21; 22:14).

Eph 1:11, “In whom also we have received an allotment (escrow blessings), having been predestined for a predetermined plan from Him.”

Col 3:24, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

7) He had the right to promotion, Gen 15:2; 39:4.

(If God doesn’t promote you, you are not promoted in service. Psa 75:6-7; Nevertheless, we are ultimately promoted when God takes us home and we receive our resurrection bodies. 1 Cor 6:3; 15:42-44, 55-57; Phil 1:21)

1 Cor 6:3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”

8) He had the right to worship God without interference from the master, Exo 12:44; Deut 12:12.

(God has given us free will volition to worship Him. Freely we come before Him. We are not to judge or hinder one another. Matt 7:1; 18:6-14; 19:14; Mark 9:42; 10:14; Luke 6:37; 17:2; 18:16; Heb 4:14-16)

Mat 19:14, “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.””

Mat 7:1-5, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

Heb 4:14-16, “Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Definition and Etymology:

Joseph Thayer’s Lexicon defines the use of DOULOS in Scripture as, “a slave, servant, attendant, bondman, man of servile condition.” Metaphorically, one who gives himself up to another’s will. Those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men. One devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.

Strong’s Concordance defines DOULOS as from the root DEO meaning, “a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency), bond (-man), or servant.”

Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon defines DOULOS properly as, “a born bondman or slave,” opposed to one made a slave as used by extra Biblical Greek writings of Thucydides. Then generally, a bondman, slave, by Herodotus. Homer has only the feminine DOULE a bondwoman. It was a slave to money, by Euripides. And as an adjective, “slavish, servile, or subject,” by Sophocles.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines DOULOS as, “to bind, or a slave or servant.” Frequently indicating, subjection without the idea of bondage. Originally, the lowest term in the scale of servitude, came also to mean, “one who gives himself up to the will of another,” (1 Cor 7:23; Rom 6:16-17, 20) and became the most common and general word for “servant” as in Matt 8:9. It is without any idea of bondage. In calling himself; however, a bondslave of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1), Paul intimates, 1) that he had been formerly a bondslave of Satan, and 2) that having been bought by Christ, he was now a willing slave, bound to his new Master.

DOULOS – δολος, a noun from the root word for DOULOS is DEO – δέω (deh’-o), which is a primary verb meaning, “to bind (in various applications, literally or figuratively), bind, be in bonds, knit, tie, or wind.”

Being a DOULOS meant service that is not a matter of choice by the one who renders it, which he has to perform whether he likes it or not, because he is subject as a slave to another’s will, to the will of his owner.

DOULOS as an adjective means, “slavish or servile.” “In bondage,” Rom 6:19 in the neuter plural.

We formerly offered our bodies in slavery to uncleanness, but now we offer them in slavery to righteousness, Rom 6:20-22.

SUNDOULOS – σύνδουλος (soon’-doo-los), a noun that means, “a fellow servant,” and is used:

1) Of natural conditions, Matt 18:28, 29, 31, 33; 24:49.

2) Of servants of the same Divine Lord in Col 1:7; 4:7; Rev 6:11; of angels in Rev 19:10; 22:9

PAIS  παῖς, (paheece), is another noun used for servant. It means, “child, but denotes an attendant or servant in:”

1) Natural conditions, Mat 8:6, 8, 13; 14:2; Luke 7:7 (menservants in 12:45); 15:26

2) Of spiritual relation to God:

  •      Of Israel, Luke 1:54
  •      Of David, Luke 1:69; Acts 4:25,
  •      Of Christ, so declared by God the Father, Matt 12:18; spoken of in prayer, Acts 4:27, 30.

PAIDISKE – παιδίσκη (pahee-dis’-kay), is the Greek noun used in regards to, “a female servant, bondwoman, or young girl maiden or handmaid.” This is used in Gal 4:22-31 in reference to Hagar, Sarah’s servant given to Abraham to bring forth an heir. As Gal 4 tells us, our heritage is not from the bondwomen but a free woman.

DOULE δούλη (doo’-lay), is also, “a female slave, bondmaid, or bondwoman,” used in Luke 1:38, 48 and Acts 2:18

DOULEUO δουλεύω (dool-yoo’-o), is a verb meaning, “to be a slave, to serve or be subject to, to be a slave to one’s land, (i.e. submit to indignities that one may keep it), to serve as a slave, be subject to obey, and to be in bondage.” It is frequently used without any association of slavery, e.g. John 8:33; but in regards to the Law, it is used in Rom 6:6; 7:6, 25. In service to Christ, Acts 20:19; Rom 12:11; 14:18; 16:18; Eph 6:7; Col 3:24. In service to God, Mat 6:24; Luke 16:13; Rom 7:6; Phil 2:22. In service to one another, Gal 5:13.

DOULOO  δουλόω (doo-lo’-o), is a verb which means, “to enslave, bring under subjection, became slaves, enslaved, held in bondage, made a slave, under bondage. To enslave (literally or figuratively), bring into (be under) bondage, given, become (make) servant.”

In the Passive voice, “to be brought under bondage,” 2 Peter 2:19; “to be held in or reduced to bondage,” Gal 4:3. In Titus 2:3, “of being enslaved to sin.” And in Rom 6:18, “of service to righteousness, were made bondservants.”

Metaphorically it means, “to give myself wholly to one’s needs and service, make myself a bondman to him,” Acts 7:6. Paul stated he would be willing to enslave himself to men if it would win men to Christ, 1 Cor 9:19.

This word conveys the radical change of the believer, as a result of the gospel received. Believers who were formerly salves to sin, Rom 6:17; Gal 4:3; 2 Peter 2:19, are now set free from sin, Rom 6:18.

KATADOULOO – καταδουλόω (kat-ad-oo-lo’-o) is a verb meaning, “to bring into bondage,” in 2 Cor 11:20; Gal 2:4.

DOULAGOGEO – δουλαγωγεω (doo-lag-ogue-eh’-o) is a verb that means, “to make a slave, treat as such.” Metaphorically, to bring into subjection. In the New Testament, to bring into bondage. It is from DOULEUO plus AGOἄγω (ag’-o) meaning, “to bring.” In classical Greek, it refers to the act of making slaves from captives after victory in a battle. In 1 Cor 9:27, it is used concerning the body. Paul tells the Corinthians how he must control his bodily desires in order to practice what he preached without hypocrisy.

DOULEIA –  δουλεία (doo-li’-ah) – is a noun that means, “servitude, slavery, or bondage.” In a collective sense, the slaves, slave-class. It also is from DOULEUO meaning, “the condition of being a slave.”

It came to denote any kind of bondage(s):

1) Of the condition imposed by the Mosaic Law (bondage to sin), Gal 4:24; 5:1.

2) Of that fallen condition of man himself which makes him dread God, Rom 8:15, and fear death, Heb 2:15.

3) Of the condition of creation, Rom 8:21.

DIAKONOS – διάκονος (dee-ak’-on-os), a noun meaning, “Deacon (one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church participates in the administration of the church).” Sometimes it is used as a servant, as in Matt 22:13; 23:11; Mark 9:35; John 2:5, 9; 12:26; Rom 16:1, for one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister. It is used as the servant of a king, and also means a waiter, one who serves food and drink, in its original it means, “a deacon.”

OIKETES – οκέτης (oy-ket’-ace), is a noun used for, “a house-servant” (OIKEO –οκέ (oy-keh’-o) to dwell, OIKOS – οἶκος (oy’-kos), a house), and is translated “servant” in Luke 16:13; Rom 14:4 and 1 Peter 2:18; Acts 10:7. It doesn’t stress dependence on his Lord as does DOULOS. It emphasizes his position in relation to the outside world and in society.

HUPERETES – πηρέτης (hoop-ay-ret’-ace), a noun that means minister or officer, and is translate, “servant” in some translations in Mat 26:58; Mark 14:65; John 18:36.

HUPERETEO  ὑπηρετέω (hoop-ay-ret-eh’-o), is a verb that means, “minister or to serve” in Acts 13:36 (This shows us the contrast between David’s service for a generation and the eternal character of Christ’s ministry, as the One who not having seen corruption was raised from the dead).

THERAPON  θεράπων (ther-ap’-ohn), is a noun that means, “to serve, to heal an attendant, or servant.” It is a term of dignity and freedom used of Moses in Heb 3:5.

LATREUO – λατρεύω (lat-ryoo’-o), is a verb that primarily means, “to work for hire,”

(See Doctrine of Serving God)

It also signifies:

  • To worship.
  • To serve:

a) God; Mat 4:10 Luke 1:74(without fear); 4:8; Acts 7:7; 24:14; 26:7; 27:23; Rom 1:9(with my spirit); 2Tim 1:3; Heb 9:14; 12:28; Rev 7:15.

b) To God and Christ, Rev 22:3.

c) In the tabernacle, Heb 8:5: 13:10.

d) To “the host of heaven,” Acts 7:42.

e) To the creature, instead of the Creator, Rom 1:25.

SOMA –  σῶμα (so’-mah), is a noun meaning, “body” and is translated “slave” once in Rev 18:13, in reference to the unrighteous control over the bodily activity of slaves.

Other cognates include:

DOULEIOS –  δουλείος, meaning slavish or servile.

DOULEUMA – δουλευμα, meaning a service, a slave.

DOULEUTEON – δουλευτεων, meaning one must be a slave.

DOULICHOS – δουλίχος, meaning of or for a slave, servile.

DOULIOS – δουλίος, meaning slavish, servile, (as in the day of slavery).

DOULOCHREPEIA – δουλοχρεπεία, a slavish spirit.

DOULOPREPES – δουλοπρεπες, befitting a slave or servile.

DOULOSUNE – δουλοςυνε, slavery or slavish work.

DOULOSUNOS – δουλοςυνος, enslaved.

DOULOSIS – δουλοςίς, enslaving or subjugation.

Scriptures:

1) DOULOS:

a) Servant, Matt 8:9; Matt 18:24-28 (5) ; Matt 18:32; Matt 20:27; Matt 24:45-46 (2); Matt 24:48; Matt 24:50; Matt 25:21; Matt 25:23; Matt 25:26; Matt 25:30; Matt 26:51; Mark 10:44; Mark 12:2; Mark 12:4; Mark 14:47; Luke 2:29; Luke 7:2-3 (2); Luke 7:8; Luke 7:10; Luke 12:43; Luke 12:45-47 (3); Luke 14:17; Luke 14:21-23 (4); Luke 17:7; Luke 17:9; Luke 19:17; Luke 19:22; Luke 20:10-11 (2); Luke 22:50; John 8:34-35 (2); John 13:16; John 15:15; John 15:20; John 18:10; Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 7:21-22 (3); Gal 1:10; Gal 4:1; Phil 2:7 (2); Col 4:12; 2 Tim 2:24; Titus 1:1; Philem 1:16 (2); James 1:1; 2 Pet 1:1; Rev 1:1 (2); Rev 15:3

b) Servants, Matt 13:27-28 (2); Matt 18:23; Matt 21:34-36 (3); Matt 22:3-4 (2); Matt 22:6; Matt 22:8; Matt 22:10; Matt 25:14; Matt 25:19; Mark 13:34; Luke 12:37-38 (2), Luke 15:22, Luke 17:10, Luke 19:13, Luke 19:15, John 4:51, John 15:15, John 18:18, John 18:26, Acts 2:18, Acts 4:29, Acts 16:17, Rom 6:16-17 (3), Rom 6:19-20 (3), 1 Cor 7:23, 2 Cor 4:5, Eph 6:5-6 (2), Phil 1:1, Col 3:22, Col 4:1, 1 Tim 6:1, Titus 2:9, 1 Pet 2:16, 2 Pet 2:19, Rev 1:1, Rev 2:20, Rev 7:3, Rev 10:7, Rev 11:18, Rev 19:2, Rev 19:5, Rev 22:3;, Rev 22:6

c) Bond, 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; Eph 6:8; Col 3:11; Rev 13:16; Rev 19:18

d) Bondman, Rev 6:15

e) Servant’s, John 18:10

2) DOULOO:

a) Bondage, Acts 7:6; 1 Cor 7:15; Gal 4:3; 2 Pet 2:19

b) Servants, Rom 6:18, Rom 6:22

c) BecameRom 6:18

d) BecomeRom 6:22

e) BringActs 7:6

f) Brought2 Pet 2:19

g) GivenTitus 2:3

h) Made1 Cor 9:19

i) Servant1 Cor 9:19

The Use of DOULOS Includes:

1) Christ is the DOULOS of God.

2) The believer is a DOULOS of God and Christ.

3) The believer is a DOULOS to others.

(1) Christ is the servant / DOULOS of God, Mat 12:15-21; Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27-30.

Acts 3:13, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant-son (PAIS) Jesus.”

  • Jesus is prophesized to be God’s servant in Isa 42-53, where EBED is used 20 times and the LXX uses DOULOS six of the 20 times.
  • As a servant of God, He became a servant to the Jews fulfilling the Father’s promises. Rom 15:18.

Rom 15:18, “For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers.”

  • The precedence for His servanthood leading to the Cross is found in Phil 2:5-8, “Keep on having this mental attitude (understanding)in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, though He existed in the essence of God, He did not think equality with God a gain to be seized and held. 7Therefore He deprived Himself of the proper function of deity when He received the form of a servant (DOULOS), when He had been born in the likeness of mankind. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross.”
  • Jesus demonstrated that He was the servant of God the Father by fulfilling the Father’s Plan of salvation for mankind on the Cross. Mark 10:43-45.

Mark 10:43-45, “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

  • In our text, John 13:5-16, the washing of the disciple’s feet was a picture or type of the Cross, not only for salvation but for post salvation washing with the Word. That too was made possible at the Cross of Calvary.

When Jesus took on the position of a slave to wash the disciples’ feet, where the slave was typically a non-Jew, He displayed to them the degree of condescension and self-sacrifice which that office entailed. This picture revealed to the disciples the meaning of their own lives, as lives in His APOSTOLATE (His message).

The phrase, “The apostle of a man is as the man himself,” tells us that Jesus as their DIDASKOLOS διδάσκαλος (did-as’-kal-os) (teacher) conveyed a message (APOSTOLATE) to them that should become their own. That’s why Paul refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ as, “my gospel,” in Rom 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim 2:8. Likewise, the message and mode of operation (life style) of Jesus should be ours too. So, the washing of the disciple’s feet is an object lesson for all believers to serve God by washing each other with the Word of God, just as our Lord does as a servant of God.

  • Being a DOULOS of God bonds Him entirely with humanity’s condition. He identified with mankind’s subjection to the Law, sin, and death, Heb 2:15.As such, servanthood to God is uniquely expressed in Jesus Christ’s obedience even unto death, Phil 2:8.

(See Doctrine of Jesus Christ – King of the Jews

(2) The believer is a DOULOS of God and Christ.

Everyone has a choice, we are either slaves of sin or slaves of God’s righteousness, Luke 6:13; John 8:34, 36; Rom 6:16-23.

Luke 6:13, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

John 8:34, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. … 36So if the Son makes you free (from sin), you will be free indeed.’” (Italic mine)

Believing in Christ’s atoning work makes it possible for man to be freed from their enslavement to sin and to enjoy a new status as sons and daughters of God, Gal 4:7; 2 Peter 2:19.

2 Peter 2:19b, “For by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”

Gal 4:7, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Servants then should proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as servant ambassadors of God, John 12:26; Rom 1:1-9; 2 Cor 4:5-6; Phil 1:1.

John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”

Rom 1:9, “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you.”

2 Cor 4:5-6, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

That is why Paul, when presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ, was able to say, “my gospel”, in Romans 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim 2:8.

The writers of the New Testament understood their position in Christ as DOULOS‘ unto Him. Rom 1:1-7; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1-2; Titus 1:1-3; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1-2; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1-3.

The DOULOS of God is under obligation to be totally committed to his Lord, Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13. Even unto death, Rev 19:2.

The DOULOS of God will sing praises in worship of Him. Rev 15:3.

Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The slave depends upon his Lord to provide for his every need, including sustenance and protection, while he serves in the ministry God has designed for him, Lam 3:20-25; 2 Cor 9:8-15.

Lam 3:20-25, “Surely my soul remembers and is humbled within me (Jeremiah’s grace orientation)21This I recall to mind; therefore I have hope (faith under pressure)22The Lord’s lovingkindnesses (gracious functions) never cease (perpetuation of logistical grace even for enslaved believers); His compassion never fails. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24`The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul (logistical grace rationale); `Therefore I have hope (faith under pressure) in Him.’ 25The Lord is good to those who wait (trust) in Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

Jeremiah’s testimony above was written as the fifth cycle of discipline was being administered to Israel. That is the heart of the slave of God who is totally dependent on His Lord and Master.

The Service of Passionate Devotion, “… do you love Me? … Tend My sheep” (John 21:16), Oswald Chambers.

Jesus did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him. We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. “If anyone comes to Me and does not love less his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, “If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me.” A person touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says, “Now I see who Jesus is!”—that is the source of devotion.

     Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people—the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a “doormat.” The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that “falls into the ground and dies”—it will spring up and change the entire landscape (John 12:24).

(3) The believer is a DOULOS to others.

Col 1:7, “Just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,”

Col 4:7, “As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.”

Amongst believers, slavery is not a distinction. There are no societal classes inside the Royal Family of God. Matt 23:11; 1 Cor 7:20-24; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11; Philemon 16.

Col 3:11, “A renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

Mat 23:11, “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”

The example of our servitude towards others is found in our Lord as He demonstrated the prototype of our unique spiritual life for the Church Age. Mat 4:1-11; 20:26-28; Mark 9:35; 10:43-45; John 13:15-17.

Having obtained a new and unique spiritual heritage as Church Age believers, we are to live in our new life, in our new royal priesthood unto God as ambassadors for Christ. Rom 6:6-14; 2 Cor 5:15-21; 1 Peter 2:5, 9.

The New Testament writers understood their position in Christ as bondservants to God, which meant they were to serve others through the dissemination of His Word. John 13:16; Rom 1:1-7; 2 Cor 4:5; Phil 1:1-2; Titus 1:1-3; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1-2; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1-3.

2 Cor 4:5, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.”

All believers are servants of the “New Covenant” in that we are to witness the gospel to unbelievers, 2 Cor 3:6.

2 Cor 3:6, “Who (God) also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Servant-hood is our expression of impersonal and unconditional love, kindness, and social responsibility under the Royal Family Honor Code, Rom 14:1-23; 16:1-2; Gal 5:13 – 6:10; 2 Tim 2:20-26.

Gal 5:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

Rom 14:4, “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Honoring and respecting all legitimate authority is part of our servant-hood unto God, 1 Peter 2:13-20.

1 Peter 2:13-17, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

In relationship to your daily jobs, you are to have the servant-hood mentality by respecting authority and performing well as unto the Lord. The slave / worker is to be obedient to his master / boss on the job, Eph 6:5 ff; Col 3:22; 1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18-20.

Titus 2:9, “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”

The Pastor is a servant to others, as a result of doing his job correctly. He is to study the Word diligently and teach his congregation the truth of God’s word, exhorting, reproving, and correcting, while leading them to spiritual maturity as demonstrated by his own spiritual walk and conduct1 Tim 4:1-15; 2 Tim 2:24.

1 Tim 4:6, “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”

Warren Wiersbe, (“On Being a Servant of God”, Chapter 27, pages 129-130), states;

Good Days and Bad Days

“We all have them, and we have to accept them and learn to make the most of them. I’m talking about those bad days that every Christian worker experiences from time to time. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well, you woke up with a headache, or the telephone awakened you earlier than usual and opened your day with a crisis. If your bad day happens to be on a Sunday, the difficulties are multiplied and magnified. People are depending on you, you don’t want to fail them or the Lord, and yet you just don’t feel like doing anything. You really feel like going back to bed! So, what do you do?

Unless you have a serious physical problem, in which case you ought to call a doctor, the best thing to do is accept the situation, smile, take a shower, get ready for the day, and determine to do your best. If you pamper yourself every time you don’t feel good, you’ll end up doing less and less and eventually will do nothing.

Fortunately, acceptable Christian service isn’t based on feelings; it’s based on obedience. It’s a matter of the will and not the feelings. When He was dying for us on the cross, our Lord was never more in the will of God; yet His body certainly didn’t feel good. I think of that when my arthritis bothers me. What’s arthritis compared to nails driven through your hands and feet? Christian service that is based only on feelings will be a roller-coaster kind of experience, up one day and down the next. It will also lead to a shallow ministry that thinks more about pleasing ourselves than helping others. In the long run, service that’s motivated only by our good feelings is likely to become undependable (“She doesn’t have a headache-she is a headache!”), selfish (“I just don’t feel like it!”), and inconsiderate (“Well, I can’t help it!”).

We as Christian workers, like Christian soldiers, must endure our share of hardship, or the battle may be lost (2 Tim. 2:3, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”). Other people are depending on us, and the “greatest ability is dependability.” (I don’t know who first said that, but Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. used it a lot). I would rather serve with an average worker who is reliable than a talented one who can’t be depended on from one week to the next.

Make up your mind that you’re going to serve God, no matter how you feel. Then you can stop wasting precious time and energy having a debate with yourself every time you don’t feel good. You’d be surprised how it helps just to be committed and not have to fight the same battle over and over again.”

The Discipline of the DOULOS:

The believer servant is a disciple who has self-discipline, in order to grow personally, so that he is able to teach unbelievers the way of salvation and believers the strength of the Word in their soul. 1 Tim 4:6-8

1 Tim 4:6-8, “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and sound doctrine which you have been following. 7But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of your spiritual life; 8for physical exercise has some value, but the spiritual life is profitable for all things, having a promise for the present life and for the life to come.”

The role for the servant is exemplified in vs. 7, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables…   On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”  

We are to be disciplined disciples. We are to be disciplined enough to say no to things we ought not to be doing, to say no to things we ought not to be watching, reading, or hearing.

2 Chron 19:7, “Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”

Eph 5:15-18, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”

We are to be disciplined in our decision making so that it won’t bring a cesspool of living into our souls. Likewise, we shouldn’t be so arrogant to think that the garbage of the world won’t impact our soul, it will.

You never know when and where or how God will use you. If the garbage has penetrated your soul, it will certainly impact those around you as well. You don’t know whom you are impacting. So, the good slave guards his soul through self-sacrificial discipline in order to serve others.

With the servant’s heart of discipline, you will have tremendous impact on others and the Lord will say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Mat 25:14-30.

In vs. 24-30, we see a picture of the unbelieving Jew of the Tribulation. From Chapter 24:16 through 24:30, the Tribulation is in view which is the completion of the Jewish Age. The example here of the unfaithful servant verses the faithful servants shows that the unfaithful had responsibility, yet fails in it because of his rejection of Jesus Christ as his Savior.

“I knew you to be a hard man,” is religion speaking. This is the way in which religion rejects the Lord Jesus Christ. They reject anything that isn’t sweetness and light. In addition, “reaping where you did not sow” refers to reaping the benefits of being part of a religion, yet never coming to salvation. Finally, vs. 30, as well as 24:51 are speaking to the unbeliever who will be thrown into the Eternal Lake of Fire. In essence, this is a picture of the redistribution of wealth. The Lord will take what could have been given to the unbeliever in eternity and give it to the faithful servant.

Paul expounds further on being a faithful servant in 1 Cor 9:16-23.

1 Cor 9:16-23; “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more20To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”

In vs. 19, “Even though I was free from all, I personally restricted my freedom so as never to abuse my rights.”

Paul’s goal of course was to win more souls, as should be our goal. His hope in life was to present a message that was so appealing and so attractive and rich with such integrity that the lost person upon hearing it and seeing it could not refuse it. That should be our goal too as a DOULOS of God, Jesus Christ, and others.

All believers must discipline themselves. Self-discipline is related to several things: your motivation in life, your priorities related to that motivation, and your decisions based on your priorities. You must crowd out the garbage from both your stream of consciousness and your subconscious.

1 Cor 9:26-27, “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Titus 1:1, “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of those chosen of God and the epignosis knowledge of the truth which is the basis of the spiritual life.” 

Col 2:5-7, “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ6Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”

The DOULOS Must Exercise His Spiritual Gift:

A servant is one who is willing to serve and sacrifice, willing to give up their way for the good of a greater agenda, God’s way. When you do so, it makes for great discipleship and it makes for hard living.

It goes against everything in our nature to give rather than take, and to serve rather than to be served, and to promote another rather than promote yourself.

The message that Christ brought which was revolutionary then, is 2000 years later still revolutionary. It was a message to wake up the world.

So, in Him we have our example. The person who is truly a servant at heart will demonstrate Christ’s servant-hood to others with the effect of awaking them from the dead as they see Christ in you.

1 Tim 4:6, “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus…”

This includes the application of your spiritual gift.

1 Tim 4:14; “Do not neglect the spiritual gift (found) within you…”

Good servants have a significant role in an evil world as they exercise their gift and carry out their calling.

Remember that you don’t have all the gifts, but you have at least one as a Christian, and you should be centering your energy and your attention on the cultivation of your gift. We are good servants when we do that.

The question is; “are you a good servant?”  If the answer is yes, you are paying attention to your gift. You are developing it, trying it out, testing it without worrying of failure. In fact, failure is the greatest teacher. So, the good servant is applying their gift without fear, worry, or anxiety, trusting in the Lord and the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

(See Doctrine of Spiritual Gifts) 

The Rewards of the Faithful Servant:

(See Doctrine of Rewards) 

We have noted, in our Sunday morning series on 1 John 4:4, the rewards for the NIKAO – νικάω (nik-ah’-o), the Overcomer. In that discussion, we saw two categories of overcomers in 1 John 5:4-5,

1) All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and

2) Believers who advance and excel in the spiritual life.

There we noted 2 Cor 5:10 and 1 Cor 3:10-16 as the BEMA – βῆμα (bay’-ma) of Jesus Christ, where every believer’s works will be judged. Works performed through the filling of the Spirit in right motivation and virtue will receive reward. Works performed without the filling of the Spirit done in wrong motivation will suffer loss of reward and shame at the BEMA1 John 2:28.

Then in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, we noted the promise of rewards for overcomers; some referring to category one and others to category two overcomers. In addition, we noted the various crowns that will be awarded to overcomers; the crowns of Life, Righteousness, Joy, and Glory.

As we conclude this doctrine of servant hood, we must also recognize that a category one overcomer is synonymous with being a servant of God, all believers, and a category two overcomer is synonymous with the faithful servant, those advancing and excelling spiritually.

Therefore, there is baseline rewards for being a believer and additional rewards for being a faithful servant unto God.

In Matthew 25:14-30, our Lord discussed rewards for the faithful servant. We note here the principles of God’s righteousness and justice in application to rewards, even though this is a passage about believers versus unbelievers of the Tribulation. The difference in this parable is that He is differentiating between believers called “faithful servants” and unbelievers called “wicked and lazy servants.” In this parable, all members of the human race are servants. The believer will receive and use what the Master has entrusted to them, the gospel message, and the unbeliever does not and hides it away.

We understand these meanings given the entire context of Matthew 25. The entire chapter is speaking to the people of the Tribulation. The virgins in vs. 1-13, distinguish the “prudent,” i.e. believers, versus the “foolish,” unbelievers. Also in vs. 31-46, the “sheep” are believers and the “goats” are unbelievers, in reference to Our Lord’s Second Coming.

Therefore, in vs. 14-30, the servants too are distinguished between believers and unbelievers, as the “wicked and lazy or worthless” servants are unbelievers cast into the Eternal Lake of Fire in vs. 30.

Nevertheless, we see something interesting regarding rewards for the believer servant of God. The fact that we are given 5 or 2 or 1 talent is not the issue regarding our rewards. What really matters is our faithfulness. (A talent was a weight measurement tool used for precious metals. It was somewhere between 58 and 80 pounds).

In the case of the 5 and 2 talent recipients, because they used what they were given, (for discussion and relevance to our recent topic of Spiritual Gifts, let us say the talents are varying gifts), they received reward. Notice that in both cases, the commendation given to each is identical, even though they had different gifts, vs. 21 & 23.

In addition, we see that the reward that could have been given to the “wicked” servant is redistributed to the “faithful,” vs. 28-29.

This fact is driven home by giving the rewards of the 1 talent person to the now 10 talent believer. It emphasizes God’s superabundant grace on the believer who already has much.

In actuality, the 5 and 2 talent servants are both category one overcomers. But there is relevance to rewards in that no matter what spiritual gift(s) you have been given, if you utilize your gift faithfully, in service to God and man, you will be a “faithful” servant and receive reward at the BEMA.

But if you bury your gift, as the “wicked” servant buried the gospel message of Christ, you will lose rewards, just as the “wicked” servant lost his opportunity for eternal life.

Rest assured though in the confidence we have as believers, according to 1 Cor 3:15. Even if you do not use your Spiritual Gift faithfully, you will still be a category one overcomer.

1 Cor 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

The Servant’s Primary Goal, “We make it our aim … to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9), Oswald Chambers.

“We make it our aim…” It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week, examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.

Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest … I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?”

Summary of DOULOS:

1) The true disciple is evidenced by his servant-hood, expressing and continuing the servant-hood of our Lord. “A servant is not greater than his Master!” (John 13:16a) and “Follow me!” (Matt 4:19Luke 9:23; John 10:27; 12:26).

2) In the righteousness and justice of God, the master of a slave has certain rights over the slave and the slave also has rights regarding his servant-hood.

3) Servant-hood is rooted in and motivated by your love for Jesus Christ and God the Father, Col 2:5-6.

Col 2:5-7, “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. 6Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”

4) With that love, the servant is motivated to learn the mind of Christ, 2 Peter 3:17-18.

5) Servant-hood involves evangelism and shepherding. It seeks both to save the lost and to strengthen the believer, 2 Cor 3:6; 1 Peter 5:2; Heb 10:25.

2 Cor 3:6, “Who (God) also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

6) Servant-hood is your expression of impersonal and unconditional love, kindness and social responsibility under the Royal Family Honor Code, Rom 14:1-23; 16:1-2; Gal 5:13 – 6:10, 2 Tim 2:20-26.

Gal 5:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””

7) Servant-hood involves self-sacrifice, even unto death, John 13:34; 15:12 w/ Phil 2:1-8.

8) Servant-hood concentrates on God’s will for your life, and does not compare your calling with that of others, 2 Cor 10:7-18.

9) The servant is encouraged to learn that his fellowship with the Lord Jesus is not one inferior to that of the apostles. Intimate fellowship with Christ was only possible after His ascension, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. John 14:26: 16:7-15

10) The servant is to learn and apply his spiritual gift in the edification of the Body of Christ, Romans 12:1-18; 1 Cor 12:1-13; 13; Eph 4:11-16.

11) God has promised fantastic rewards and blessing to the faithful servant, Matt 25:14-30 by analogy w/ 1 Cor 3:10-16; Rev 2-3.

L.S. Chafer, Systematic Theology Volume 4, Chapter 7, states regarding THE CHURCH AND HER SERVICE.

“No responsibility or service is imposed on the church per se. Service, like the gifts of the Spirit by whom service is wrought, is individual. It could not be otherwise. The common phrase, “the church’s task or the churches responsibility,” is, therefore, without Biblical foundation. It is only when individuals sense their personal responsibility and claim personal divine enablement that Christian work is done. On the other hand, there is no word written which by implication would hinder believers from being associated in a common cause, which may be for convenience considered in the light of a combined result. Relative to the mission of the visible church, Dr. C. I. Scofield writes: “Much is said concerning the ‘mission of the church.’ The ‘church which is his body’ has for its mission to build itself up until the body is complete (Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 2:19), but the visible church, as such, is charged with no mission. The commission to evangelize the world is personal, and not corporate (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-16; Luke 24:47, 48; Acts 1:8). So far as the Scripture story goes, the work of evangelization was done by individuals called directly of the Spirit to that work (Acts 8:5, 26, 27, 39; 13:2, etc.). Churches (Phil. 4:15) and individuals (Acts 16:14, 15; Rom. 16:6, 23; 2 Tim. 1:16, 17) helped on the work of these men, but there is no trace of any corporate responsibility attaching to ‘the church.’ Doubtless the local church may be called upon by the Spirit to ‘separate’ individuals to that work, as at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3)” (Bible Correspondence Course, 111, 431).

A HUMBLE SERVANT, by Charles R. Swindoll

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13“God saw in David the quality of humility. The Lord had gone to the home of Jesse in spirit form. Jesse didn’t know God was there. Nobody did. God was on a secret surveillance mission in that home, and he spotted Jesse’s youngest son and said, in effect, “That’s My man!”

Why? Because, as we saw before, the Lord saw in David a heart that was completely His. The boy was faithfully keeping his father’s sheep. God saw humility: He saw a servant’s heart. If you want further confirmation of this, go to the Psalms: “I have found David My servant; With My holy oil, I have anointed him” (Psalm 89:20).

It’s as if God says, “I don’t care about all that slick public image business. Show me a person who has the character, and I’ll give him all the image he needs. I don’t require some certain temperament, I don’t care if he has a lot of charisma, I don’t care about size, I don’t care about an impressive education or résumé. I care about character! First, is the person deeply authentic in his or her spiritual walk or is he faking it? And second, is he or she a servant?”

When you have a servant’s heart, you’re humble. You do as you’re told. You don’t rebel. You respect those in charge. You serve faithfully and quietly without concern over who gets the credit.

That’s David. God looked at David, out in the fields in the foothills surrounding Bethlehem, keeping his father’s sheep, faithfully doing his father’s bidding, and God passed His approval on him.

I repeat, a servant doesn’t care who gets the glory. Remember that. A servant has one great goal, and that is to make the person he serves look better, to make that person even more successful. A servant does not want the person he serves to fail. A servant doesn’t care who thinks what, just so the job gets done.

So, while David’s brothers were off in the army making rank and fighting big, impressive battles, David was all alone keeping the sheep. God loved his servant’s heart.”

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