|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:17-24 The rules of Christianity reach every condition; and in every state a man may live so as to be a credit to it. It is the duty of every Christian to be content with his lot, and to conduct himself in his rank and place as becomes a Christian. Our comfort and happiness depend on what we are to Christ, not what we are in the world. No man should think to make his faith or religion, an argument to break through any natural or civil obligations. He should quietly and contentedly abide in the condition in which he is placed by Divine Providence.
Verse 23. - Ye are bought with a price; rather, ye were bought, namely, by Christ; and the price paid for you was his blood (see 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18, 19). Be not ye; rather, become not. The servants of men. There is a grand play of words in the advice to them not to become slaves, at the very moment when he is advising them to continue in slavery. In that which the world called "slavery" the Christian slave might enjoy absolute liberty. The price which a master paid for them was but an unmeaning shadow; they had been bought once and eternally by an infinitely nobler price, and that purchase was the pledge of absolute emancipation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye are bought with a price,.... Some read these words interrogatively, as 1 Corinthians 7:18, "are ye bought with a price?" and suppose them directed to such who had bought out their time of servitude with a sum of money, and ought not to return to their former condition; but they are rather to be read affirmatively, and to be understood of all, whether freemen or servants, that are bought with the inestimable price of Christ's blood, as in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and contain in them a reason why such as are called by the grace of God, whilst in a state of civil servitude, are Christ's freemen, because they are redeemed by him from sin, Satan, the law, and from among men; and also why such as are called by the grace of God, being in a state of civil liberty, are Christ's servants, because he has purchased them with his blood, and therefore has a right unto them, both to their persons and service:
be not ye the servants of men: not that the apostle dissuades such as are redeemed by Christ, and are believers in him, from being the servants of men in a civil sense; for this would be to contradict himself, who here and elsewhere exhorts servants to continue in the service of their masters, and to perform it heartily and cheerfully, and with great sincerity and integrity; but his meaning is, that since they were redeemed from a vain conversation by the blood of Christ, they should not be servants to the lusts of men, nor obey them in things sinful and wicked, which were contrary to law and Gospel, and which were made unlawful by the word of God, and were a breach of the command of their Lord and master Christ; nor should they in matters of religion and the worship of God submit to the authority of any set of men whatever, or be subject to the doctrines and commandments of men; whether these relate to Jewish ceremonies, or Gentile superstitions, or be a mixture of both: they were to call no man master upon earth; nor suffer any to lord it over them, as the false teachers very much did in this church; but to acknowledge Christ, who had bought them to be their only Lord and master. The allusion seems to he to a tradition of the Jews, that the Israelites being redeemed out of Egypt were the servants of God, and not of men (p);
"R. Jochanan ben Zaccai was explaining this Scripture, Exodus 21:6 how different the ear is from all the members of the body; says the holy blessed God, the ear that heard my voice on Mount Sinai, at the time I said, the children of Israel are my servants, , and "not servants to servants"; and this goes and gets itself a master, let it be bored: R. Simeon ben Ribbi was explaining the same Scripture, how different the door and the door post were from all the parts of the house; says the holy blessed God, the door and the door post, which were witnesses in Egypt, at the time that I passed by the threshold, and by the two door posts, and I said, the children of Israel are my servants, and not servants to servants, and I brought them out of bondage to liberty; and this goes and gets itself a master, let it be bored before them.''
(p) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 22. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. be not ye—Greek, "become not ye." Paul here changes from "thou" (1Co 7:21) to "ye." Ye all are "bought" with the blood of Christ, whatever be your earthly state (1Co 6:20). "Become not servants to men," either externally, or spiritually; the former sense applying to the free alone: the latter to Christian freemen and slaves alike, that they should not be servile adherents to their party leaders at Corinth (1Co 3:21, 22; Mt 23:8-10; 2Co 11:20); nor indeed slaves to men generally, so far as their condition admits. The external and internal conditions, so far as is attainable, should correspond, and the former be subservient to the latter (compare 1Co 7:21, 32-35).
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