5 [a]Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with respect for authority, and with a sincere heart [seeking to please them], as [service] to Christ— 6 not in the way of eye-service [working only when someone is watching you and only] to please men, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart; 7 rendering service with goodwill, as to the Lord, and not [only] to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, he will receive this back from the Lord, whether [he is] slave or free.
Ephesians 6:5Slavery was common in New Testament times (as well as in ancient Israel). One might become a slave through conquest, the commission of a crime, or destitution. Slaves were required to do their masters’ bidding and work without compensation (cf Luke 17:7-10). Elsewhere Paul advises slaves not to dwell on their circumstances, and to earn their freedom if they can (1 Cor 7:21). The admonitions here accurately reflect the slave/master relationship in the Roman Empire; since they were not compensated, slaves sometimes did only what they had to do to avoid punishment, and masters could be cruel disciplinarians.
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