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Morrish Bible Dictionary


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1. The words ebed and δοῦλος (those most commonly used for 'servant') convey the idea of bondmen or slaves. Some were bought with money and some were taken in war: cf. also Exodus 22:3 . Such a servant, if circumcised, might among the Israelites eat of the Passover — as bought he belonged to the family; but a hired servant might not. Exodus 12:44,45 : cf. Leviticus 22:11 . (So Gentiles, though aliens, bought with the blood of Christ, have all the privilege of grace.) Children born of these would also be the property of the master. Exodus 21:4 . This form of servitude, though a result of sin, was recognised by the Mosaic law, and rules were given respecting it, and for the protection of the slaves.

In the N.T. Paul sent back Onesimus, a runaway slave, to his master, who was a Christian, and did not demand his liberation: but he beautifully puts before Philemon that he should possess Onesimus no longer as a slave, but as a brother beloved. The effects of sin were in the world, and God did not introduce Christianity in order to set the world right; but, while shedding light upon everything, and proclaiming grace to all, God's purpose was "to take out of the nations a people for his name." Christianity inculcated equal treatment of slaves, as we see in several of the epistles in which masters are addressed: 'men-stealers' are condemned. 1 Timothy 1:10 .

Christian bondservants are declared to be the Lord's 'freemen,' 1 Corinthians 7:22 , and words of encouragement are addressed to them.

Paul, James, Peter, and Jude all call themselves 'bondmen of the Lord,' and Christians generally are thus designated. The Lord Himself said, "I am among you as he that serveth," Luke 22:27 ; and now in heaven He serves His own as Intercessor and Advocate. He speaks also of a future day when He will gird Himself, make His servants sit down, and will come forth and serve them, thus being a minister to servants! Luke 12:37 .

2. παῖς, 'a child,' irrespective of age, and hence used for servant. Matthew 8:6,8,13 ; Matthew 14:2 ; Luke 7:7 ; Luke 12:45 ; Luke 15:26 ; Acts 4:25 . The word is applied to Christ in Matthew 12:18 ; Acts 3:13,26 (translated 'Son'); Acts 4:27,30 (translated 'child'); and to Israel and to David in Luke 1:54,69 .

3. οἰκέτης, 'household servant.' Luke 16:13 ; Acts 10:7 ; Romans 14:4 ; 1 Peter 2:18 .

4. ὑπηρέτης, 'one under authority,' an official servant. Matthew 26:58 ; Mark 14:54,65 ; John 18:36 . Also translated 'minister' and officer.'

5. θεράπων, 'retainer, servant.' Hebrews 3:5 .

6. μισθωτός, μίσθιος, 'hired servant.' Mark 1:20 ; Luke 15:17,19 ; cf. Matthew 20 . The word is translated 'hireling' in John 10:12,13 . See DEACON,and SLAVE.

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Servant '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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