The Despised Word… “Doulos”

I recently received a letter from Voice of the Martyrs that reminded me of a very important lesson I learned a while back.  Are you aware that in the original Greek text, the word “duolos” appears in the New Testament over 100 times?  If you are not familiar with this word, I am sure you are wondering the meaning and significance of this word.  Allow me to share what I have learned.  The word “Duolos” means “slave”.  Not servant, not worker, not helper….slave.  In almost all modern english translations the word has been translated servant or bond-servant.  There were other Greek words with those meanings, but they were not used in the original text, duolos was.  “Duolos” is a slave that is owned.  Complete and total ownership.  A duolos could have no property or money himself, because he himself was owned and so anything he might possess immediately became the property of his owner.  A duolos was not allowed to seek his own happiness or do what he thought best in life’s many choices without being granted flexibility by the owner.  Do you see why this word is now translated “bond-servant”??  Talk about a box full of explosives!  Considering the view of slavery in modern times (and especially in light of American history) it is apparent that translators decided this word should be tamed down a little before printing.  But the orignal text contains no such soft corners.  It is there, plain as day…”duolos”.  And it is in reference (over 100 times) to believers.  Christians.  So when Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that, “you are not your own, you were bought with a price”  he means it.  And this lesson is evident throughout the whole New Testament. 

Before you recoil in horror at this concept, let me point something out.  You are already a slave.  If you are not in Christ you are a slave to sin. 

 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?     Romans 6:16

The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.    Romans 7:14

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.    2 Peter 2:19

The unbeliever is owned by sin and a worshiper of it.  And what a cruel master it is!  The addict will admit this more freely than the success driven business man, but it hold true to all, whether openly admitted or not!  The truth of the matter is this:  We are slaves, and we will remain slaves.  But will we be slaves to sin, leading to misery, death, and torment or will we be slaves to Christ leading to righteousness, rest and peace?

This word, duolos, has huge implications on how we should view our service to Christ.  His commands are the commands of one who owns you.  They are to be obeyed!!  But they are also the commands of one who gave His own life for you, so they are to be trusted and performed out of love and gratitude.  What about decisions involving your money, er….wait…whose money?  You are the slave, the one looking after the Master’s assets until His return.  But when the one who truly owns these funds has done the things that Christ has done for you, is it all that bitter a pill to give up your own lusts and wants?  I think not.  If the thought of being owned by Christ makes you recoil and immediately dismiss the word, and this article, then I must issue a grave warning.  You are in danger, friend.  For to be purchased by His blood means just that…purchased.  And a purchase inevitably means ownership.  I for one would have it no other way.  I treasure and protect those things which have cost me dearly.  How much more will I be treasured and protected by the Lord Jesus Christ when He considers the price He paid for me.  If you find this repulsive, I fear you are not to be found in Christ!

Before we draw this challenging little teaching to a close, let us consider how a few passages of Scripture look in this new light:

 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful slave…    Matthew 25:23

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,   Romans 1:1

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a slave of Christ.    Galatians 1:10

Interested in learning more about this??

John MacArthur gave a great teaching on this subject.  Click HERE to watch it on YouTube.

To read the short but insightful letter I received from Voice of the Martyrs, click HERE. (PDF format)

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