A word study on the Greek word δουλος and its use in
the New Testament Scriptures.
We will walk through Scripture sampling its varying
uses in the New Testament.
We will then key in on a particular use of the word, as
it pertains to the life of present day believers and their
relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
The basic word for slave in the New Testament is
A related term is δουλη, which is the word for a female
Related terms include: δουλευω, δουλοω, καταδουλοω,
Most English translations only translate this word as
“slave” when it refers to the following:
Bondage to an inanimate object or reality (i.e. sin or
When slavery is personalized in the text, translators
generally do not translate it as “slave.”
The substitution of “bond-servant” or “servant” for
“slave” is largely confined to Biblical translation and
early American times, and is generally translated as
slave in other Greek literature (BDAG). In other words,
they’re trying to be politically correct.
There are 6 Greek words for “servant” and δουλος is
not one of them.
Differences between slaves & servants:
Servants were hired workers that were paid; slaves were
not hired, but owned.
Servants could quit if/when they desired; slaves could
Servants could have more than one job; slaves solely
worked for their master.
LaRosa’s opinion: Not using “slave” causes the text to
lose some of its power, forcefulness, and meaning.
Greeks found their personal dignity in the fact that
they were free, and able to do according to their own
will. Slavery was a repugnant idea to them.
In Greek religious literature, they never referred to
themselves as slaved of their gods, instead they
considered themselves to be friends (φιλος) to their
Slavery, then, involves the removal of human
autonomy and is replaced with an alien will that takes
precedence over one’s own.
A slave to a Master (Matt. 8:9; 10:24*; 13:27; 1 Tim. 6:1;
Titus 2:9; Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22).
A Slave to a Free Man (1 Cor. 7:21; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:8;
Col. 3:11; Rev. 6:15; 13:16).
A Slave in contrast to being a fellow Christian
The Kenosis (Philippians 2:7).
Washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1ff, 16).
Even as a Son to God the Father, He allowed the
Father’s will to take precedence over His own, like a
slave (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38).
A title used by & of the Apostles to show their
submission to Christ (Acts 4:29; 16:17; Rom. 1:1; Phil.
1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1; Rev. 1:1).
As a sign of submission and openness to serve their
fellow believers (1 Cor. 9:19; 2 Cor. 4:5; Gal. 1:10; Eph.
Formerly a slave to sin and the flesh (John 8:34, 35; 2
We were purchased by God to be His slaves (1 Cor. 7:21-
As slaves of God, we choose whether or not we will
obey Him or our previous master (1 Pet. 2:16; Rom. 6).
In being slaves to God, we have the best slave master
possible because we are not only slaves, but we are
called His sons (John 15:15; Gal. 4:7).
Since we have a kind slave master in God, who loves us,
let us live lives that are pleasing to Him.