1 Corinthians 7:21
Art thou called [being] a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use [it] rather.
Note 6 at 1Co 7:21: These are some amazing statements about slavery. Paul was revealing an attitude toward slavery that would be totally unacceptable to most Christians today. He instructed Christians who were slaves not to let their situations bother them. He told them to be content with their slavery. In other passages, Paul reaffirmed this teaching (Eph 6:5, Col 3:22, 1Ti 6:1-2, Tit 2:9; and 1Pe 2:18), and told Christian slave owners how to treat their slaves (Eph 6:9 and Col 4:1). He did not take a corrective stand against slavery even though he had enough influence to limit this practice among Christians.
The Scriptures do reveal that it was never God's intention for people to own others as property. This can be seen by the fact that the Lord expressly forbade slavery for His people (Le 25:42-46) and in De 28, He listed slavery as a curse, not a blessing. Yet none of the New Testament leaders, including Jesus, tried to change the practice.
In 1Co 7:22, Paul gave the reason for his social passivity. Freedom in Christ is so liberating that it doesn't really matter what people's physical conditions are. Those who have freedom in Christ are free indeed (Joh 8:32) regardless of their physical conditions. Those who don't share Paul's view are simply more occupied with the temporal world than they are the spiritual world (2Co 4:18).
If the Lord would have established a physical kingdom to ensure civil rights, such as freedom from slavery, then that kingdom would have been subject to change (2Co 4:18). By establishing a spiritual kingdom in people's hearts (Lu 17:21), the Lord guaranteed real freedom to His followers, freedom that is not subject to the whims of man (Heb 12:28). Millions of believers living under terrible oppression have discovered a peace in Jesus that passes understanding and physical circumstances. The focus of the believers should be on the invisible, spiritual kingdom instead of the temporal, physical kingdoms of man.
This is not to say that working for freedom from oppression is wrong. True Christianity of the heart will always result in godly actions. Throughout history, many godly people have given their lives for social change. Yet it can be said that among New Testament characters, the focus of Christian leaders was not on the physical kingdoms of this world but on the spiritual kingdom in people's hearts. As people's hearts are changed by the Gospel, they, in turn, will change governments and social ills. Sharing the life-changing truths of the Gospel is the greatest force for social change.
Note 7 at 1Co 7:21: This phrase--"if thou mayest be made free, use it rather"--is a little hard to understand, but most scholars agree that Paul was saying that if slaves have the opportunity to become free, they should take it. "Although if you can gain your freedom, do so" (New International Version).
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