1 Corinthians 7:21
Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Art thou called being a servant?—Better, Were you called while a slave? Do not let that make you anxious. The fact of your being in slavery does not affect the reality of completeness of your conversion; and so you need have no anxiety to try and escape from servitude. In this and the following three verses the subject of SLAVERY is treated of as the second illustration of the general principle laid down in 1Corinthians 7:17—viz., that a man’s conversion to Christianity should not lead him to change his national or social condition.

But if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.—These words may seem to imply that if a slave could obtain his liberty he was to avail himself of the opportunity to do so. Such an interpretation, however, is entirely at variance with the whole drift of the argument, which is, that he is not to seek such a change. What the Apostle does say is, that (so far from letting the servitude be a cause of distress to you) if you can even be free, prefer to use it, i.e., your condition as a converted slave. It, as well as any other position in life, can be used to God’s glory. Such an interpretation is most in accordance with the construction of the sentence in the original Greek; and it is in perfect harmony, not only with the rest of this passage, but with all St. Paul’s teaching and his universal practice on this subject.

It may be well here briefly to notice the attitude which the Apostle of the Gentiles maintains towards the great question of SLAVERY. While there were many points in which ancient slavery under the Greek and Roman Governments was similar to what has existed in modern days, there were also some striking points of difference. The slaves at such a place as Corinth would have been under Roman law, but many of its harsher provisions would doubtless have been practically modified by the traditional leniency of Greek servitude and by general usage. Although a master could sell his slave, punish him, and even put him to death, if he did so unjustly he would himself be liable to certain penalties. The power which a master could exercise over his slave was not so evidently objectionable in an age when parents had almost similar power over their children. Amongst the class called slaves were to be found, not only the commonest class who performed menial offices, but also literary men, doctors, midwives, and artificers, who were constantly employed in work suited to their ability and acquirements. Still, the fact remains that the master could sell his slave as he could sell any other species of property; and such a state of things was calculated greatly to degrade both those who trafficked and those who were trafficked in, and was contrary to those Christian principles which taught the brotherhood of men, and exalted every living soul into the high dignity of having direct communion with its Father.

How, then, are we to account for St. Paul, with his vivid realisation of the brotherhood of men in Christ, and his righteous intolerance of intolerance, never having condemned this servile system, and having here insisted on the duty of a converted slave to remain in servitude; or for his having on one occasion sent back a Christian slave to his Christian master without asking for his freedom, although he counted him his master’s “brother”? (See Ep. to Philemon.)

One point which would certainly have weighed with the Apostle in considering this question was his own belief in the near approach of the end of this dispensation. If all existing relations would be overthrown in a few years, even such a relation as was involved in slavery would not be of so great importance as if it had been regarded as a permanent institution.

But there were other grave considerations, of a more positive and imperative nature. If one single word from Christian teaching could have been quoted at Rome as tending to excite the slaves to revolt, it would have set the Roman Power in direct and active hostility to the new faith. Had St. Paul’s teaching led (as it probably would, had he urged the cessation of servitude) to a rising of the slaves—that rising and the Christian Church, which would have been identified with it, would have been crushed together. Rome would not have tolerated a repetition of those servile wars which had, twice in the previous century, deluged Sicily with blood.

Nor would the danger of preaching the abolition of servitude have been confined to that arising from external violence on the part of the Roman Government; it would have been pregnant with danger to the purity of the Church itself. Many might have been led, from wrong motives, to join a communion which would have aided them in securing their social and political freedom.

In these considerations we may find, I think, ample reasons for the position of non-interference which the Apostle maintains in regard to slavery. If men then say that Christianity approved of slavery, we would point them to the fact that it is Christianity that has abolished it. Under a particular and exceptional condition of circumstances, which cannot again arise, St. Paul, for wise reasons, did not interfere with it. To have done so would have been worse than useless. But he taught fearlessly those imperishable principles which led in after ages to its extinction. The object of Christianity—and this St. Paul over and over again insisted on—was not to overturn and destroy existing political and social institutions, but to leaven them with new principles. He did not propose to abolish slavery, but to Christianise it; and when slavery is Christianised it must cease to exist. Christianised slavery is liberty.

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.Being a servant - (δοῦλος doulos). A slave. Slaves abounded in Greece and in every part of the pagan world. Athens, e. g., had, in her best days, 20,000 freemen, and 400,000 slaves. See the condition of the pagan world on this subject illustrated at length, and in a very learned manner, by B. B. Edwards, in the Bib. Repository for October, 1835, pp. 411-436. It was a very important subject to inquire what ought to be done in such instances. Many slaves who had been converted might argue that the institution of slavery was contrary to the rights of man; that it destroyed their equality with other people; that it was cruel, and oppressive, and unjust in the highest degree; and that therefore they ought not to submit to it, but that they should burst their bonds, and assert their rights as freemen. In order to prevent restlessness, uneasiness, and insubordination; in order to preserve the peace of society, and to prevent religion from being regarded as disorganizing and disorderly, Paul here states the principle on which the slave was to act. And by referring to this case, which was the strongest which could occur, he designed doubtless to inculcate the duty of order, and contentment in general in all the other relations in which people might be when they were converted.

care not for it - Let it not be a subject of deep anxiety and distress; do not deem it to be disgraceful; let it not affect your spirits; but be content in the lot of life where God has placed you. If you can in a proper way obtain your freedom, do it; if not let it not be a subject of painful reflection. In the sphere of life where God by his providence has placed you, strive to evince the Christian spirit, and show that you are able to bear the sorrows and endure the toils of your humble lot with submission to the will of God, and so as to advance in that relation the interest of the true religion. in that calling do your duty, and evince always the spirit of a Christian. This duty is often enjoined on those who were servants, or slaves; Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18. This duty of the slave, however, does not make the oppression of the master right or just, any more than the duty of one who is persecuted or reviled to be patient and meek makes the conduct of the persecutor or reviler just or right; nor does it prove that the master has a right to hold the slave as property, which can never be right in the sight of God; but it requires simply that the slave should evince, even in the midst of degradation and injury, the spirit of a Christian, just as it is required of a man who is injured in any way, to bear it as becomes a follower of the Lord Jesus. Nor does this passage prove that a slave ought not to desire freedom if it can be obtained, for this is supposed in the subsequent clause. Every human being has a right to desire to be free and to seek liberty. But it should be done in accordance with the rules of the gospel; so as not to dishonor the religion of Christ, and so as not to injure the true happiness of others, or overturn the foundations of society.

But if thou mayest be free - If thou canst (δύνασαι dunasai), if it is in your power to become free. That is, if your master or the laws set you free; or if you can purchase your freedom; or if the laws can be changed in a regular manner. If freedom can be obtained in "any" manner that is not sinful. In many cases a Christian master might set his slaves free; in others, perhaps, the laws might do it; in some, perhaps, the freedom of the slave might be purchased by a Christian friend. In all these instances it would be proper to embrace the opportunity of becoming free. The apostle does not speak of insurrection, and the whole scope of the passage is against an attempt on their part to obtain freedom by force and violence. He manifestly teaches them to remain in their condition, to bear it patiently and submissively, and in that relation to bear their hard lot with a Christian spirit, unless their freedom could be obtained without "violence and bloodshed." And the same duty is still binding. Evil as slavery is, and always evil, and only evil, yet the Christian religion requires patience, gentleness, forbearance; not violence, war, insurrection, and bloodshed. Christianity would teach masters to be kind, tender, and gentle; to liberate their slaves, and to change the laws so that it may be done; to be "just" toward those whom they have held in bondage. It would not teach the slave to rise on his master, and imbrue his hands in his blood; to break up the relations of society by violence; or to dishonor his religion by the indulgence of the feelings of revenge and by murder.

Use it rather - Avail yourselves of the privilege if you can, and be a freeman. There are disadvantages attending the condition era slave, and if you can escape from them in a proper manner, it is your privilege and your duty to do it.

21. care not for it—Let it not be a trouble to thee that thou art a servant or slave.

use it rather—Continue rather in thy state as a servant (1Co 7:20; Ga 3:28; 1Ti 6:2). The Greek, "But if even thou mayest be made free, use it," and the context (1Co 7:20, 22) favors this view [Chrysostom, Bengel, and Alford]. This advice (if this translation be right) is not absolute, as the spirit of the Gospel is against slavery. What is advised here is, contentment under one's existing condition (1Co 7:24), though an undesirable one, since in our union with Christ all outward disparities of condition are compensated (1Co 7:22). Be not unduly impatient to cast off "even" thy condition as a servant by unlawful means (1Pe 2:13-18); as, for example, Onesimus did by fleeing (Phm 10-18). The precept (1Co 7:23), "Become not (so the Greek) the servants of men," implies plainly that slavery is abnormal (compare Le 25:42). "Men stealers," or slave dealers, are classed in 1Ti 1:10, with "murderers" and "perjurers." Neander, Grotius, &c., explain, "If called, being a slave, to Christianity, be content—but yet, if also thou canst be free (as a still additional good, which if thou canst not attain, be satisfied without it; but which, if offered to thee, is not to be despised), make use of the opportunity of becoming free, rather than by neglecting it to remain a slave." I prefer this latter view, as more according to the tenor of the Gospel, and fully justified by the Greek.

Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: If while thou art a servant to another in any honest employment, thou art converted to the Christian religion, let it not trouble thee, mind it not. A man may be the servant of Christ, and yet a servant to men in any honest employment.

But if thou mayest be made free, by the favour of thy friends, with the consent of thy master,

use it rather; that is, (say some), rather choose to be a servant still, (which indeed in some cases may be the duty of a good Christian), that is, if thou seest, that in that station thou canst better serve God and the interest of thy master’s or other souls. But it is more probable the sense is, make use of thy liberty rather; for certain it is, that the free-man is ordinarily at more advantage for the service of God than he that is a servant.

Art thou called being a servant?.... That is, called by grace whilst in the condition of a servant,

care not for it; do not be troubled at it, and uneasy with it; be not anxiously solicitous to be otherwise; bear the yoke patiently, go through thy servitude cheerfully, and serve thy master faithfully; do not look upon it as any objection to thy calling, any contradiction to thy Christian liberty, or as unworthy of, and a reproach upon thy profession of Christ:

but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. The Syriac renders the last clause, , "choose for thyself to serve"; perfectly agreeable to the sense given of the words, by several great critics and excellent interpreters, who take the apostle's meaning to be, that should a Christian servant have an opportunity of making his escape from his master, or could he by any art, trick, and fraudulent method, obtain his liberty, it would be much more advisable to continue a servant, than to become free by any such means: yea, some seem to carry the sense so far, that even if servants could be made free in a lawful way, yet servitude was most eligible, both for their own and their master's good: for their own to keep them humble and exercise their patience; for their master's not only temporal, but spiritual good; since by their good behaviour they might be a means of recommending the Gospel to them, and of gaining them to Christ; but one should rather think the more obvious sense is, that when a Christian servant has his freedom offered him by his master, or he can come at it in a lawful and honourable way, this being preferable to servitude, he ought rather to make use of it; since he would be in a better situation, and more at leisure to serve Christ, and the interest of religion: however, certain it is, that the apostle's design is, to make men easy in every station of life, and to teach them how to behave therein; he would not have the freeman abuse his liberty, or be elated with it, nor the servant be uneasy under his servitude, nor be depressed by it, for the reasons following.

Art thou called being a servant? {p} care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

(p) As though this calling were too unworthy a calling for Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:21. Μή σοι μελέτω] let it give thee no concern, let it be all the same to thee. Hom. Il. ii. 338, x. 92; Plato, Phaed. p. 95 B; Tim. p. 24 B; Wis 12:13; Mark 4:38, al[1172] What it is that ought to give him no concern, is plain from the immediate context, namely, his being called as a slave; not, as Hofmann would read into the text, his seeming to be doomed to lifelong slavery.

ἀλλʼ εἰ καὶ κ.τ.λ[1173]] but, even if thou art in circumstances to become free, use it rather, namely, the having been called as a slave; make use rather (instead of becoming free) of thy “vocatio servi” by remaining true to thy position as a slave. Comp 1 Corinthians 7:20. So, in substance, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact. Camerarius, Estius, Wolf, Bengel, and many of the older interpreters; among more modern expositors, de Wette, Osiander, Maier, Ewald,[1175] Baur (in the theol. Jahrb. 1852, p. 26 ff.), also Vaihinger in Herzog’s Encykl. XIV. p. 474 f.; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 417 f. The ἀλλά is nothing else than the German sondern, corresponding to the preceding μή σοι μελ., and ΕἸ ΚΑΊ is etsi (Herm. a[1176] Viger. p. 832; Stallbaum, a[1177] Plat. Apol. p. 32 A; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 151), so that it conveys the sense: even although, if even; and in the conditional clause the emphasis is made by καί to fall upon ΔΎΝΑΣΑΙ. The Syriac, however (“elige tibi potius quam ut servias”), and most modern commentators, supply Τῇ ἘΛΕΥΘΕΡΊᾼ after ΧΡῆΣΑΙ, with Luther, Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Cornelius a Lapide, and many others (a view mentioned, too, by Chrysostom). Paul’s advice, they hold, is rather to avail oneself of the opportunity of becoming free. But this is grammatically incorrect, because it goes in the face of the καί,[1178] and contrary also to the connection, for Paul would thus be contravening his own thrice-repeated injunction: let each man remain, etc. The ground specially founded on (in a very unhermeneutical way) by Rückert, that the old interpretation is against the spirit of the apostle, is untenable; for the advice to use the opportunities of obtaining freedom—an advice comparatively unimportant and paltry in view of the Parousia believed to be at hand—by no means corresponds with the apostle’s lofty idea that all are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 3:11); that in Christ the slave is free and the freeman a slave (1 Corinthians 7:22); as, indeed, 1 Corinthians 7:22 can furnish a confirmation of 1 Corinthians 7:21 only on the ground of the old exposition, descending from Chrysostom, al[1179], of μᾶλλον χρῆσαι. It may be added, that that idea of true Christian equality carries in itself the germ of the abolition of slavery; the latter is the ripe fruit of the former. The moral consciousness of Christendom has not in this respect advanced beyond the standpoint of Paul (Baur); it is but a further development of the same principle which he enunciates, the future influence of which, however, upon the removal of slavery the apostle himself was not led to consider more closely from his expectation of the nearness of that great change which was to bring in for all believers the glorious liberty of the children of God. He left slavery, therefore, unassailed, as he did civil relations in general, not even asking, in his letter to Philemon, that Onesimus should be set free, but introducing the idea of Christian love, unity, and equality (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 6:8; Philemon 1:16; Colossians 4:1),—an idea, the consequence of which is necessarily the cessation of slavery, although just as necessarily it was not natural for the apostle, with his eye turned to the approaching Parousia, to single out this consequence and apply it for an age of the world which, in his view, was on the point of passing away. It may be further noted that he does not forbid an exchange of slavery for freedom, which was in itself allowable; but he dissuades from it as a trifling way of dealing with the position in question, under the circumstances of the time, when viewed from the height of the Christian standpoint.

[1172] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1173] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1175] Who, however, expounds χρῆσθαι as meaning to let oneself be used, i.e. to be dependent, without being able to establish any precedent for such a rendering Regarding χρῆσθαι without a dative of the object, see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 452 C, 489 B.

[1176] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1177] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1178] What devices have been practised of late with this καί! Billroth thinks that it indicates an accessory thought: “this, too, is not to be denied, that if thou canst be free,” etc. Rückert thinks that it denotes a climax and properly (?) belongs to ἐλεύθ.: “but if thou mayest even be free,” etc. Olshausen holds that spiritual freedom is implied in καλεῖσθαι, and that, starting from this idea, Paul goes on: “but if in addition to thy spiritual freedom thou canst obtain also bodily liberty, avail thyself of it rather.” Even Neander substantially agrees with this. But upon Billroth’s view καί would require to come before εἰ; upon Rückert’s and Olshausen’s, before ἐλεύθ.; and the turn given to the clause by the latter is but one proof out of many that men may make anything out of everything, if they—will. Hofmann considers that καί lays emphasis on the reality (comp. on ver. 11) as contrasted with the mere wish, which wish, however, is only brought in by an erroneous explanation of μή σοι μελέτω. He even maintains that, according to our understanding of the verse, Paul must have written καὶ εἰ. He might have written either, and would, had it been καὶ εἰ, have meant even in the case that; but he meant εἰ καί (if thou art even in a position to, etc.), and therefore wrote it and nothing else. The latter is as little absurd as the former.

[1179] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

1 Corinthians 7:21. From the chief religious, the Ap. passes to the chief social distinction of the times: cf. Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11. This contrast is developed only on one side—no freeman wished to become a slave, as Gentiles wished to be Jews; but the slaves, numerous in this Church (1 Corinthians 1:26 ff.), sighed for liberty; their conversion stimulated this longing. The advice to the slave is read in two opposite ways: (a) “In slavery wast thou called? never mind (μή σοι μελέτω)! But still if thou canst also become free, rather make use of it (than not)”—so Ev[1086] excellently renders, with Cv[1087], Bz[1088], Gr[1089], Hf[1090], Bt[1091], Gd[1092], Lt[1093], supplying τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ for complement to μᾶλλον χρῆσαι; while (b) Est., Bg[1094], D.W[1095], Mr[1096], Hn[1097], Weiss, Weizsäcker, Al[1098], El[1099], Sm[1100] supply τῇ δουλείᾳ, and suppose P. to recommend the slave, with liberty offered, to “make use rather” of his servile condition. εἰ καὶ may either mean (a) “if verily” (Luke 11:18; so ἐὰν καὶ in 1 Corinthians 11:28, Galatians 6:1), or (b) “although” (Php 2:17, Luke 11:8, etc.). The ancient commentators differed on this text, with a leaning to (b). The advocates of (b) exaggerate the sense of 1 Corinthians 7:20; 1 Corinthians 7:24, which condemns change not per se but, as in the case of circumcision, because it compromises Christian faith and standing. “Freedom” is the object proximately suggested to “rather use” by “free” just above; and the sense of χράομαι in 1 Corinthians 7:31, 1 Corinthians 9:12; 1 Corinthians 9:15—to “avail oneself of an opportunity of good” (Lt[1101])—speaks in favour of (a). The οὐ δεδούλωται of 1 Corinthians 7:15 and the μὴ γίνεσθε δοῦλοι ἀνθρώπων of 1 Corinthians 7:23 indicate Paul’s feeling for freedom; and the δύνασθαι ἐλεύθερος γενέσθαι was to the Christian slave a precious item in his providential μέρος (1 Corinthians 7:17).

[1086] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[1087] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[1088] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1089] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1090]
J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1091] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[1092] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1093] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[1094] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1095]
.W. De Wette’s Handbuch z. N. T.

[1096]
Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1097] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1098] Alford’s Greek Testament.

[1099] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1100] P. Schmiedel, in Handcommentar zum N.T. (1893).

[1101] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

Upon this view, ἀλλὰχρῆσαι forms a parenthesis, resembling in its connexion the οὐ δεδούλ. clause of 1 Corinthians 7:15, by which P. intimates that in urging contentment with a slave’s lot he does not preclude his embracing liberty, should it be offered. Having said this by the way, he supports his μή σοι μελέτω by the comforting reflexion of 1 Corinthians 7:22 a, which is completed in 1 Corinthians 7:22 b by the corresponding truth for the freeman.

21. use it rather] This may either be interpreted (1) “use freedom,” or (2) “use slavery.” Dean Stanley remarks of this passage that its interpretation “is one of the most evenly balanced questions in the New Testament.” But the context, the position of the word καὶ in the former part of the sentence (its literal translation would seem to be but even if thou canst be made free), and the fact that the word translated use has often the sense undergo, endure (for examples see Dean Alford’s note), make it probable that the second is the correct interpretation, and that the slave is here instructed to refuse freedom if offered. And the strongest objection to this interpretation, namely, that Christianity has always allowed men to occupy a position of more extended usefulness if offered to them, is obviated by the fact that St Paul does not absolutely forbid his converts to accept liberty; he merely instructs them to prefer to remain in the condition in which they were called, unless some very strong indication of God’s will bade them leave it, such as was manifested in the case of Onesimus. See Ep. to Philemon. The doctrine of Christian liberty was intended to make men free in, not from, the responsibilities of their position. But as St Peter reminds us (1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19) the doctrine of Christian liberty could be abused. It was abused when it induced among the newly-converted a restlessness and dissatisfaction with their lot, which would have rendered Christianity a source, not of peace, but of confusion (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:15, and ch. 1 Corinthians 14:33).

1 Corinthians 7:21. Μή σοι μελέτω, care not for it) Do not anxiously seek to be set free; so, do not seek [a wife], 1 Corinthians 7:27.—μᾶλλον χρῆσαι, use it rather) use the power of obtaining liberty, or rather use [continue in] slavery; for he, who might become free, has a kind master, whom it is better to serve, than to follow any other course of life, 1 Timothy 6:2; comp. the beginning of the next verse: therefore in 1 Corinthians 7:23, he does not say, be not, but do not become the servants of men.

Verse 21. - Being a servant. This is the second instance of the rule. One who was converted whilst he was a slave is not to strive over anxiously for freedom. The word "emancipation" sometimes seems (as in the letter to Philemon) to be "trembling on Paul's lips," but he never utters it, because to do so would have been to kindle social revolt, and lead to the total overthrow of Christianity at the very commencement of its career. Our Lord had taught the apostles to adapt means to ends; and the method of Christianity was to inculcate great principles, the acceptance of which involved, with all the certainty of a law, the ultimate regeneration of the world. Christianity came into the world as the dawn, not as the noon - a shining light, which brightened more and more unto the perfect day. Care not for it. Do not be troubled by the fact, because in Christ "there is neither bond nor free" (Galatians 3:28), and because earthly freedom is as nothing in comparison with the freedom which Christ gives (John 8:36). But if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. The words may mean,

(1) "use freedom" - avail yourself of the opportunity of emancipation; or

(2) "use slavery" - be content to remain a slave. In favour of the first interpretation is the fact that there is nothing extravagant or fantastic in Christian morality; and that, considering what ancient slavery was - how terrible its miseries, how shameful and perilously full of temptations were its conditions - it sounds unnatural to advise a Christian slave to remain a slave when he might gain his freedom. Yet the other interpretation, remain a slave by preference, seems to be required:

1. By the strict interpretation of the Greek particles.

2. By the entire context, which turns on the rule that each man should stay in the earthly condition in which he first received God's call.

3. By the fact that even the Stoic moralists - like Epictetus, who was himself a slave - gave similar advice (Epict., 'Dissert.,' 3:26; 'Enchir.,' 10:32.)

4. By the indifference which St. Paul felt and expressed towards mere earthly conditions (Galatians 3:28), as things of no real significance (Colossians 3:22).

5. By his appeal to the nearness of the day of Christ (vers. 29-31).

6. By the preponderance of high authorities - Chrysostom, Theodoret, Luther, Bengel, De Wette, Meyer, Alford, etc. - in favour of this view

7. By its parallelism to the advice given to Christian slaves in 1 Timothy 6:2, where they are urged to serve Christian masters all the more zealously because they were brethren.

8. Lastly, all the apparent harshness of the advice is removed when we remember that St. Paul was probably thinking only of the Christian slaves of Christian masters, between whom the relation might be as happy as that of Philemon to the forgiven Onesimus. 1 Corinthians 7:21Use it rather

Whether the apostle means, use the bondage or use the freedom - whether, take advantage of the offer of freedom, or, remain in slavery - is, as Dean Stanley remarks, one of the most evenly balanced questions in the interpretation of the New Testament. The force of καὶ even, and the positive injunction of the apostle in 1 Corinthians 7:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:24, seem to favor the meaning, remain in slavery. The injunction is to be read in the light of 1 Corinthians 7:22, and of Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13, that freeman and slave are one in Christ; and also of the feeling pervading the Church of the speedy termination of the present economy by the second coming of the Lord. See 1 Corinthians 7:26, 1 Corinthians 7:29. We must be careful to avoid basing our conclusion on the modern sentiment respecting freedom and slavery.

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