Throughout the Bible, followers of Jesus are commanded to submit to Him as their King. They are told to obey and follow, faithfully and without hesitation. Every time Christians utter the word Lord, they make a subtle yet profound declaration—that God is their Master and that they belong to Him. In fact, the Bible describes believers as His slaves. They have been bought with a price and now live for Christ as a people for His own possession.
But go into most churches today, even flip through most Bible translations, and you won’t see or hear the word slave anywhere. That’s because it has been lost in translation. In this gripping book, Dr. John MacArthur uses deep Bible teaching and historical evaluation to expertly uncover the one forgotten word that restores the Bible’s definition of true Christian freedom.
What does it mean to be a Christian the way Jesus defined it? MacArthur says it all boils down to one word: Slave. "We have been bought with a price. We belong to Christ. We are His own possession."
- Must read.
Highly recommend. This book will bring you closer to the Lord.
- Must-Listen for All English Speaking Christians
I received a printed copy of MacArthur's Slave through the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program and an audiobook version through ChristianAudio's reviewers program.
I was blessed to be at the Shepherd's Conference where John MacArthur preached the sermon that would turn into this book. I had been affected by the sermon at the time, and now after reading and listening to the book, I don't think I'll ever be able to think of my relationship to Jesus the same again.
The premise of the book is that a the Greek word Doulos has been mistranslated as servant or bondservant in our English Bibles for so many centuries that we miss the point of the most commonly used analogy for the Christian's relationship to Jesus in the Bible: Slaves. Jesus is Lord, Kurios, the master of slaves and we are his douloi, his slaves. This sounds grating to so many Christian ears even though this truth of the Bible has been staring us in the faces. We just couldn't see it.
MacArthur masterfully exposes was the Bible means when it refers to us in this manner, making very good application. The common objections (doesn't it say we aren't slaves but friends?) are discussed in a balanced and fair way. MacArthur doesn't try to stretch the analogy beyond the God's intended meaning in the text, but neither will he let us settle for the watered down, mistranslation-that-misses-the-meaning servant.
Much of the book is spent helping the 21st century reading understand what it meant to be in a slave-master relationship in 1st century Rome. The Hebrew Old Testament concepts that affect the Bibles use of the terms (YHWH, etc) are also well discussed.
He also spends a few chapters discussing another very important analogy for our relationship to God that we must hold tightly as we consider the call for us to become slaves: Our sonship.
The book is saturated with Bible from front to back. Dr. MacArthur is careful to let the text speak for itself. He certainly is making a point, but he does a great job of letting the text of Scripture make it.
I cannot believe how blind I was to the glorious and gracious truth that I am now a slave to Christ, redeemed out of the slave market of sin by His own blood. I knew all of that, sure, but I did not see it permeating all the pages of Scripture. And I think Dr. MacArthur has done us a great service by helping us see a simple, profound truth that bad translation of a single word has obscured for English speakers.
The audiobook is very well done. John MacArthur himself reads the text of the book. It is a very good pace and rhythm. It's a little bit slower than many other audiobook readers, but I think that's perfect to give the listener time to digest what is being heard. I recommend that you both read and listen to this book. If you can't do both, pick one. But you will not be disappointed, and you will certainly not be unaffected.
- Is Jesus Lord or your Buddy?
Many thanks to the christianaudio.com Reviewer’s program and the opportunity to write on this audio.
Reviewer: Derek R. Iannelli-Smith
RECOMMENDED: A familial consistency from John MacArthur through strong historical grammatical reformed discipleship, reminding us of the gospel again!
A balanced view of the translational conspiracy on being a doulos (or slave, or in particular our slavery to Christ) and the role of Christ as kurios (Lord and Master).
Solid Solus Christus theme throughout, combined with great historical exposition on the stories of Huss, Spurgeon, Newton, Luther, some Piper quotes and great contextualization on doulos and kurios as it related to the 1st century church and the church today.
MacArthur says that doulos is used in the Greek New Testament 124 times, usually in describing the believer’s relationship to Christ: "Paul, a bond-servant [doulos] of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…" (Romans 1:1, NASB). At the same time, the Greek word kyrios, translated as "master," is often used for Christ. In first century Rome, where the slave/master relationship was well known, there was no avoiding what these terms signified. – Discerning Reader
This was a refreshing exhilaration for renewing my mind as I know it will be for other MacArthur fans. Having John MacArthur as the narrator of the audio book was also great. There is just something ‘better’ when the author reads their own work.
One of the main themes of the work is that we are reminded that we are slaves to Christ because we have been redeemed from our old master, sin, that "cruel tyrant" and the old has gone and the new has come, and we are no longer in bondage to sin because we have been reconciled and now ambassadors or reconciliation.
MacArthur does a superb job of explaining the gospel rightly understood from a slave perspective something that is not too well received by our western hearts. He goes on further to rightly place the Lordship of Christ in the pre-eminence it deserves while sharing the hope of scriptures saturated throughout the book. No proof-texting here, all solid exegesis and excellent context.
This is not new material for MacArthur however, in that he has been sharing this information for a while. My wife and I saw a message by him last year on GTY on DirecTV that intrigued us to the point that when he came to Charleston SC recently, we we to see him speak on this topic at a small African American church downtown (think about that for a minute). It was great to hear some of these items in person as well. A well done YouTube promo for the book can be found here.
The audio book flows smoothly and MacArthur is such a great teacher that you are involved from the very moment is starts. It is well done and I highly recommend it. This book will teach, rebuke, remind, admonish and exhort you about the privilege it is to be Slaves to Christ rather than Slaves to sin.
I feel so strongly about the message of this material that I am going to give away a copy of the hard cover book if you leave a comment on why you would be interested in this material (only 1 copy for give away, media mail, and US only).
"What does it mean to be a Christian the way Jesus defined it? MacArthur says it all boils down to one word: Slave. We have been bought with a price. We belong to Christ. We are His own possession."
I agree with the GTY website, “Embrace for yourself what the Bible really teaches about slavery—your relationship with Jesus Christ will never be the same.”
Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:21-23 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F46007021-46007023(ESV)
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- Lost in Translation
A Review of Slave written and narrated by John F. MacArthur
John MacArthur takes the listener through a powerful exposition of a translation error and its devastating impact on all English-speaking believers. Tracing the error from Latin into the English language, this one word, mistranslated in all English translations, influenced English-speaking people’s Old and New Testament theology in a profound way. Besides losing a profoundly beautiful image of our relationship with God, a deep spiritual truth is literally lost in the translation. What is most disturbing (as this book makes abundantly clear) is the literally damning influence this error has on separating the status of Jesus Christ as Savior from his status as Lord in the minds of believers. This audiobook is well written and well narrated and will reshape your theology.
A special thanks to the folks at christianaudio Reviewers Program for the advance copy for review. See http://christianaudio.com
- This message needs to be spread.
The message of this book is a message that professing American Christians need to hear. The message is that as Christians we are now slaves of Christ. Many Christians understand that we were once slaves to sin and as believers we are free from that slavery. But, as MacArthur explains in this book, when we are reborn, we are born into another slavery, slavery to Christ. We are not our own, we were bought with a price.
The book starts by calling out modern bible translators as falling into a coverup in mistranslating the word slave for servant in many places. I don't know greek but he does lay down a good case showing servant to be a mistranslation of the greek word doulos and I agree that slave is a better translation, but think the word coverup might be a little strong.
MacArthur defined both servanthood and slavery and explained their differences in the book and why those differences are important. One difference that stuck out to me was that slavery is not by choice.
As I listened to this book, I couldn't help but see the parellels to MacArthur's work in 'The Gospel According to Jesus'. If we are truely slaves to Christ once we born again, doesn't that end the whole Lordship/Easy believism debate? If you have truely been born again then you are a slave and you have a loving gracious Lord and Master in Jesus Christ.
One powerful section of this book is the description of early Christian martyrs that proclaimed their slavery to Christ as a badge of honor. These martyrs died because they would not deny their master.
"To be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ."
Would you describe yourself as a slave of Christ?
Do you recognize Jesus as your master?
- A gem that needs more polish
I’ve read a book or two by John MacArthur and have enjoyed both his Study Bible and radio program for some time. My wife read and reviewed the print version of Slave, so when I had the opportunity to review the audio book, I figured it was time for me to try it as well.
The concept behind Slave is a good one. We need to be reminded just what it meant to be a slave of Christ, and since most translations prefer “servant,” MacArthur does well to remind us just what it meant to be a slave in the first century (with important comments on the slave trade in British and American history). My favorite chapter described the life of Jan (John) Huss was a fantastic overview of his life.
The book was a little disjointed and at times it seemed like MacArthur was forcing connections back to slavery where there were none. Early on he mentions that he was originally asked to write about the doctrines of grace, so he kind of blended the two themes together when they would have been better done separately.
Still, the recognizable voice of MacArthur makes a great reading companion and the gems in the book are worth looking at. I just wish they could have been a little more polished.
- Audio book: Slave
Audio book: "Slave" by John MacArthur
I have listened to a book called Slave by John MacArthur. In this book MacArthur's point is that as Christians we are slaves to Christ. This is something that has been lost in translations through the years, and many Bible translations rarely use the word "slave" as it is used in the Greek "doulos." Instead the word "servant" is used, which has an entirely different meaning than slave. MacArthur shares a history of slavery and compares human slavery to our role as slaves of Christ. It is rather interesting to note all the similarities. One part I found interesting was the history of John Newton, who wrote the song "Amazing Grace."
This book is read by the author. He has a pleasant voice and is easy to hear. It always gives a more personal touch to have the author read his own work.
Thank you to the christianaudio Reviewers Program for providing this audio book to me for my honest review.
- Falls short of potential
In Slave, John MacArthur teaches readers what it means to be a slave of Christ
The idea of being a slave to Christ is a good one to discuss as it isn’t something we talk about often. Some of the historical detail of what slavery actually entailed in the 1st century were also quite interesting. Despite this good potential, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the book. One weakness of the book is that it feels a bit repetitive. I occasionally wondered if I had accidently skipped the audiobook back a chapter or two. It would have been much better to deal with this material in the context of the other ways the bible explains our relationship to God rather than stretching it out to a book on its own. That would solve the repetitiveness and give a much fuller understanding. The other thing that frustrated me was the extensive discussion about how the Greek word for slave has been allegedly mistranslated in many English Bible translations. While it is quite possible that slave is indeed the better translation, I worry that the force with which it was argued may lead some new or weak Christians to doubt the reliability of their English bible translation.
I “read” this book in audiobook. It was nice to have the book narrated by the author as many audiobooks are not. His speaking style works well for audiobook.
Overall, this book didn’t impress me enough to recommend reading it in full. Reading the concluding summary chapter is probably enough.
- Slave or Servant
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV) The implications of being the slave of Christ are astounding. And the practical applications of this book are too numerous to count. This book has me wondering, “What Would a Slave Do.” John Macarthur does an excellent job showing that the Christians are not mere servant of Christ, but the slaves of Christ. I disagree with Macarthur when he says that the Church purposely covered up the word “slave” by translating doulos as “servant.” No doubt, the word “slave” conjures up ideas of the African slave trade. In the book, he tries to show that the slavery talked about here is very different than what happened in recent centuries. However, Macarthur does a good job restoring the meaning of doulos “slave.” A servant has rights, a slave does not. Tracing his argument through the two Testaments and Greco-Roman literature, Macarthur expounds on what it means to be Christ’s slave. This is what Christians mean when they confess, “Christ is Lord.” This book is balanced, as it deals in depth with the imagery that the Bible uses to describe people who have been taken as God’s “treasured possession.” Believers are both heirs and slaves. They are both free and bound. They were fatherless, now they are adopted as sons and daughters. Thank you Christian audio reviewers program.
- Slaves of the Master
Slave-The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ
by John MacArthur
The background to this book is a translation issue and the implications in a Christian’s life based upon their understanding of their relationship to Christ. The Greek word doulos literally means “slave”. This is how I learned it in my two semesters of New Testament Greek. I remember translating sentences my professor had created for practice and over and over we would be translating ‘o doulos- “the slave”. It seemed to me at the time that we were practicing this word a lot for the relatively few times that the New Testament references slaves. What I came to learn, what MacArthur points out in his book, is that doulos is often translated as “servant” rather than “slave” (see Romans 1:1 and James 1:1 as easy to locate examples).
MacArthur discusses the reasoning behind this translation choice, essentially reasoning that it is in order not to offend our modern sensibilities. Personally, I think it is a complex issue. Mention the word slavery and Western minds will automatically think of American/British chattel slavery. In fact, you have probably heard an atheist/agnostic attack the Bible, claiming it supports slavery. Their reference point when doing so is American/British chattel slavery. But, as MacArthur points out, this is not the reference point of doulos. MacArthur explains the differences between the modern concept of slavery and slavery of the Greco-Roman world. Without idealizing slavery (it is still slavery) MacArthur says that slaves of this time could find considerable standing (serving as doctors or teachers), even respect and honor based upon who their master was. If they had a benevolent master they, in many cases, would even enjoy a more enviable lifestyle than the free poor.
What significance does this have to my relationship with Christ? Well, if I am merely Christ’s servant then I have chosen to hire myself out to him. If I don’t like the work or the wages I can choose to hire myself out to another master. However if I am a doulos (slave) then I am not my own, for I was bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20), that price being the precious blood of Christ Jesus himself! In this economy Christ has chosen me, I am His, He sets the work before me and I have no choice but to do it, after all, I belong to Him.
Two final points are worth consideration: First, we may think ourselves to be free, but the clear teaching of Scripture is that we are born slaves to sin (Romans 6:17). However, through the shed blood of Christ we have been set free from slavery to sin, whose wage is death, in order to become slaves to righteousness, the wages being eternal life (Romans 6:18)! Second, no master could be more benevolent than Christ. In the Greco-Roman system of slavery a slave might enjoy considerable prestige based upon his masters standing in society. For Christians, our master is the King of king and Lord of lords. The glorious doctrine of adoption shows us that though we are slaves we become sons, sons whom Jesus is not ashamed to call brothers (Hebrews 2:1).
This book is worth a read (or a listen) and will challenge your commitment to your master. Personally, I listened to the book narrated by MacArthur. The audio book is available from christianaudio.com
I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.
- Slaves of Christ
In “Slave” by John MacArthur, Christians are reminded that we are slaves to Christ. This is a fact that has been ignored by modern Christianity due to the Greek word “doulos” being mistranslated as servant. The translators most likely avoided the term “slave” because of the western preconceived notions of slavery. In western society, slavery is an offensive idea, because of the evil that has occurred in western slavery.
Slaves of Christ should be understood in the context of Greco-Roman and Hebrew slavery. Many slaves were treated very well, although, there were slaves that were treated cruelly. Slaves with wealthy and influential masters enjoyed a high status in society because of their masters' statuses. If the Cesar's slaves were proud to be his slaves, how much more should we enjoy being the slaves of Christ?
John MacArthur also supports his view that we are slaves of Christ with the testimonies of faithful Christians throughout history. Early Christians boasted of the freedom that they found in being slaves of Christ. Martyrs could not deny their Master, because He had purchased them. Throughout history Christians have enjoyed a privileged position as slaves of Christ.
If you are not a slave of Christ, then you are a slave of sin. Sin is a harsh taskmaster, whereas Christ is pleased to welcome His slaves as members of His own family. Indeed, slaves of Christ are His brothers and sisters.
Let us be faithful slaves while our Master is away, so that He will be overjoyed upon His return.
I received this book free from christianaudio.com through the christianaudio Reviewers program.
- Slave – John MacArthur
It was with uncertainty that I received the news of a ‘great coverup’ which was about to be righted, being naturally cautious of those who seem to suggest they’ve found something crucial in the Bible that has been missed for centuries. However, John MacArthur does take pains to explain his introduction and then discusses the nuance left by what he has discovered.
The book revolves around questioning the translation of the Greek word doulos (δοῦλος) - often translated with a form of ‘servant’ but more literally rendered ‘slave’. The book is carefully structured to achieve three things; to explain what the word doulos meant to the original audience, to discuss passages of scripture which use the word in this light, and to paint a picture of our relationship to Christ understood through a more historically accurate understanding of the term.
With an eclectic mix of everything from ancient Hebrew customs and stories from recent church history the text is refreshing and enjoyable as well as containing a serious theological focus. John MacArthur is a natural story-teller and it shows in this work.
The theological points he makes seem to be generally well founded. There is a lot which is not well substantiated, particularly references to ancient customs outside of the Biblical narrative, leaving doubts in some places as to how strong the evidence is for a given point or how widespread a practice was.
As to whether there is a ‘great coverup’ regarding the word doulos, it is clear that there is variation in the way the word is translated and that the word cannot be directly correlated to either servant or slave, as we understand them today. Quite what English word John MacArthur thinks is correct remains unclear, given he himself notes many problems with using the word ‘slave’. On the other hand, it is worth remembering that Greek is common to the vast majority of Bible college curricula, and so the word has remained unchanged and open to trained pastors as they prepare to preach – and explain – a passage.
Regarding the narration - John MacArthur reads this clearly and really brings his work to life.
- A Must read for all Christians.
"To be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ."
That is how pastor and author John MacArthur's latest book Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ ends. Christianity is defined by slavery to their Lord Jesus Christ. That is anything but what the average believer hears on Sunday mornings or in popular Christian and spiritual books today. We emphasize self-esteem, self-help, pragmatic theology, and church growth strategies rather than the call to be slaves of Christ.
This is not a new message of MacArthur. A few years ago MacArthur preached a sermon on this subject and has sense opened the eyes of many believers around the world. Here's the truth. Those who embrace the gospel message is embracing slavery. We are slaves of Christ.
Certainly this is offensive to our sensitive modern ears, but let us not think that somehow it wouldn't be equally offensive to the early Christians who lived in a culture where slavery was still being practiced. What MacArthur is not saying is that slavery is biblical or should be legal, but what he is saying is that the the imagery of the slave adequately illustrates what it means to be a Christian. When we embrace Christ as our Lord - thus embrace the gospel - we enter the world of slavery as Christ as our Master.
MacArthur takes the time to offer the reader brief historical, cultural, and biblical survey of the issue. He looks at Old Testament slavery and Greco-Roman slavery. He survey's some of the cultural issues surrounding slavery and then adoption, economics, etc. Though MacArthur does not go into great detail, he offers enough for the reader to understand why Scripture utilizes slavery image to describe the gospel.
But MacArthur goes beyond that. We are not just slaves of Christ, but we are at the same time adopted sons and daughters of God (see Romans 8 among other places), heirs with Christ, and we are considered friends of Christ (see John 15). In other words, to be a slave of Christ, is to be a free son of God beloved by our Father and Lord. How does this makes sense? As MacArthur shows, only the gospel can explain it.
MacArthur rightly points out that Scripture reveals that all of us are slaves. We are either slaves of Christ or slaves of sin. Admittedly MacArthur could have nuanced this a little more, but he does raise the issue. I have found this truth particularly helpful in my own ministry. Many who are repulsed by the idea of embracing Christ and becoming His slave fail to see that Jesus is calling us out of slavery to sin. The question isn't if we slaves, but who or what are we enslaved to?
Let me ask you, what one thing that if you were to have, possess, or achieve would bring you joy, peace, contentment, and love? Do you ever think that if you had that job or career you'd be at peace and in contentment? Do you think that if you were married you would be happy and loved? In your everyday life are you pursuing things that you believe that will bring you joy, peace, contentment, and love and yet when you possess them they seem to fail? You might get married, but eventually you start fighting and suddenly you want out. You might get that job, but your boss hates you. You may be able to live that lifestyle, but now your over your head. You might be considered beautiful by all of your peers, but guys treat you like meat. It seems that we foolishly pursue things thinking that they will give us what we want and when we don't, we pursue them even more.
That is slavery. And I have seen countless people pursue their slavery thinking that it will bring them freedom, but only more bondage.
MacArthur doesn't explore this point in the sort of detail that I believe it warrants, He does raise it and it is something that everyone, believers and nonbelievers, should take more seriously.
I cannot recommend this book enough. This is an issue that Christians need to take more seriously. MacArthur certainly is right when he states, "To be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ." I received a digital audio copy of this book for free through christianaudio.com. The quality was the recording is what virtually all of their audio books are. What I particularly love about this recording (and most MacArthur books) is that John MacArthur reads the book himself. MacArthur has a good voice for this and I have a preference for author's reading their books.
At the end of the day, however, what is important regarding this book is the truth that I am a joyful slave of a benevolent Master named Christ. Are you?
- Excellent book!
Slave was written by John Mcarthur and read by John Mcarthur. It was written after years of feeling like something was missing in the modern church, said Mcarthur. It was the fact that we are slaves to Christ. He claims this comes from a mis translation of our english bible. English bible's have translated the original word for slave into 'softer' words such as servant. Mcarthur, through scripture, argues that we completely miss the point when we use words like servant. A servant keeps some separation from his employer. We are nothing apart from Christ and we are commanded by scripture to be a slave to his will. This is a candid look at our Identity in Christ and how we have allowed culture to dictate how we approach our life in Christ. I highly recommend it.
I received this audiobook from christianaudio.com as a part of the reviewers program.
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