The Greek word for slave is soma. Soma means body, and in context refers to a ‘body-slave’. The Greek word for servant, or labourer, is doulos. Doulos comes from the Greek word doulia which means job, work, or labour. A doulos is a worker, labourer, servant, or hired hand.
The word "slave" (soma) appears only once in the New Testament King James Bible, in the book of Revelation. Also in the KJV, the word "servant" (doulos) appears 144 times and is translated as such. Other modern Bible versions often translate the word doulos as "slave" (111 times in the NASB, 81 times in the NLT, 59 times in the NIV, and 36 times in the ESV). Compare these numbers to the ZERO times the KJV uses it. Why do modern translations use this word inconsistently?
First, let's take a quick look at the difference between these words in a Biblical sense.
A servant or labourer chooses to either work, or not. They work for a wage. They receive a reward for being faithful. Their works are tried.
A slave does not have power over their own person. They have no free will. They receive no wage. Their works are demanded of them.
In the year 1579, every household in Scotland was required by law to purchase a Geneva Bible. This Bible was informed by John Calvin (1509-1564) and John Knox (1514-1572) in Geneva, Switzerland while Geneva was under Calvin's spiritual and civil dominion. It is famous for the Calvinist doctrinal annotations that were added to it. The Geneva Bible was commonly used among the Puritans, most of whom were Calvinist.
What do Calvinists teach about free will?
To the Calvinist, we are all slaves to the will of God. This means that despite the "choices" we make in life, we are unable to believe in God unto salvation. God literally forces us to go to either heaven or hell on His whim - whether we like it or not. This, to the Calvinist, is all "according to the good pleasure of [God’s] will". Is this Biblical? No. It only seems to be so for those who have been indoctrinated into accepting the extra-biblical definitions and doctrines that have been added to the Bible by the likes of Calvin and Knox. Ultimately, unbeknownst to the brainwashed, these extra-biblical doctrines guide sincere Christians towards an often dogged belief in another gospel. “Calvinism” is another gospel (See “Making Calvinists of All Nations” Part 1-3).
High-profile Calvinists do not use the King James Version of the Bible. They also discourage others from using it. In their versions, the term doulos is incorrectly translated as “slave”. This is interesting, because even the Geneva Bible translated doulos as servant more often than modern versions do. Today, even Strong’s concordance improperly translates the term doulos. Why might that be? Is it possible that there is a Calvinist agenda to convert Christians into Calvinists? Absolutely. (See Part 3 of “Making Calvinists of All Nations”.)
Galatians 2:4, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage”.
Calvinists want Christians to see themselves as slaves - not servants, not ministers, not labourers, not children, not friends, not judges of angels or judges of the world, and certainly not co-heirs with Christ. The Bible teaches that we are all of these and more: we will be glorified together with Christ (Rom. 8:17), and we will reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12a). Do we, therefore, rightly call ourselves “slaves” in this world? Ambassadors, yes; servants, yes; teachers, ministers, administrators, helpers, and preachers, yes. But slaves? Never.
The only things that bring us into bondage are men (2 Pet. 2:19), the devil (2 Tim. 2:26), the law (Gal. 3:24), and sin (Gal. 4:9).
Would a person with a slave mentality imagine themselves able to reign, to rule, to lead, or to judge? Would they have the spirit of power and of a sound mind, or would they be full of fear (2 Tim. 1:7)? Romans 8:15 says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
Slaves live in fear. They are afraid to disappoint their master, afraid to be victimized, and afraid to be replaced. Their lives are cheap. They do not know the mind of their master. They live in bondage, so they learn to think as though even their thoughts are bound. Ultimately, in a Machiavellian sense, this makes them easy to control. 2 Pet. 2:19 says, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”
Could a slave see themselves capable of perfection (Mt. 5:48), able to share the mind of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 13:11, Phil. 2:5), or are they prone to thoughts of failure and defeat? John 15:15 says, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Does this sound like a God who wants us to be oppressed, afraid, or ignorant of His ways?
What does God think about slavery? Deuteronomy 24:7 says, “And if a man should be caught stealing one of his brethren of the children of Israel, and having overcome him he should sell him, that thief shall die; so shalt thou remove that evil one from yourselves”. The Bible calls this “man-stealing”. Read 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and look for the word “menstealers”. “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine”. The law was made for the lawless and disobedient, and “menstealers” need to be convicted by the law. The word “menstealer” in Greek is literally translated as “one that owns a man’s feet”. In other words, to take away a man’s self-direction or self-determination, to control his person, to enslave him. God is clearly against such a thing. So why would He call us His “slaves”? Do you consider your children, your friends, or your colleagues to be your “slaves”?
My husband began his career in law enforcement acting as security for the courts. At that time, people who were taken into custody were referred to in a general manner by the officers as “bodies”. Once a person was incarcerated, they lost their freedom, their rights were suspended, and they became nothing more than a “body” in handcuffs, subject to the will of the court. Is this what we are under Christ?
Calvinists want you to think so. They want to force you to accept this and call it the ultimate act of obeisance to their tyrannical god.
Now, I know that many of you love God enough to call yourselves His slaves. I know that many humble Christians appreciate the magnitude of the debt Christ paid for their souls so much that they would wrestle away their own free will to prove it. But let me ask you this: Did Jesus die on the cross to make you His slave? Or:
DID HE DIE TO SET YOU FREE?
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Eph. 5:1).
Will you go into battle against the devil armed like a slave, or will you be armed like a royal heir from the kingdom of Heaven representing the King of kings and “our Father, who art in heaven”?
Know what your value is; know that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit, against whom no one and no thing can stand.