Qualifications of a Bond-Servant

To most of us, slavery is a part of history that we would prefer to forget.  However, because the figure of slavery is often used in the New Testament, it is important that we understand certain aspects of it.  For example, we might not expect that slave owners were ever discrete in whom they enslaved.  Our concept may be that slaves were usually untrained and unqualified for anything other than hard labor.  However, slave owners were usually very careful to acquire slaves who were well qualified for the work that they would be doing.  A highly skilled slave was of greater value than an unskilled slave and would likely receive a greater reward from his master.

For Christians, Jesus is our Master, and we are to be His slaves or bond-servants.  To be qualified as a bond-servant of the Lord, one must possess certain traits of character, which we find modeled in Christ Himself.  This was the Lord’s message to His apostles after He had washed their feet.  He said, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:15-16).  If Jesus humbled Himself to serve His own servants, then certainly His servants must humble themselves and serve one another.

Paul gave Timothy instructions regarding his service to the Lord.  He was encouraged to be a good soldier of Christ (2Tim. 2:3), a workman for Christ (2Tim. 2:15), a bond-servant of the Lord (2Tim. 2:24), and a ministering evangelist (2Tim. 4:5).  Let us focus on the description given by Paul for the Lord’s bond-servant in 2Timothy 2:24-25 and notice how that to serve Christ we must serve others:

  • And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome…”  Despite all of the animosity toward Him, Jesus never fought or lashed out against His opponents.  His servants must likewise be civil toward all men.
  • “…but be kind to all…”  This means that Christ’s bond-servants must be mild and gentle toward all men.  Harshness and abuse are not to be employed in achieving the work of the Lord.
  • “…able to teach…”  This is the same qualification (from the same Greek word) that is given for overseers in 1Timothy 3:3.  It means that the Lord’s bond-servant must be an instructor of others in the word of God.
  • “…patient when wronged…”  In the course of a Christian’s work, he is bound to suffer insults and injuries.  He must endure these with forbearance just as Christ endured persecution for the sake of righteousness.  This trait will be necessary in order for the other traits to be possible.
  • “…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition…”  Although a Christian is not to quarrel with others, this does not mean that he is not to offer correction.  The manner in which he is to correct others is with kindness and patience, but he must correct those who are in opposition to the will of God.

Notice how that all of these qualifications for the Lord’s bond-servant have to do with how one interacts with others.  By this, we see that serving Christ is truly a matter of serving one another, just as Jesus indicated to His apostles as we noticed before.

Therefore, if we would be good bond-servants of the Lord, then we must become like the Master.  If there is any question as to what makes a good bond-servant of Christ, then all we need to do is look to Him for the example.  All of these traits are perfectly modeled for us in the person of Jesus Christ.  Thus, it is an honor to be counted as His bond-servant, for it is to become like Christ, who is our kind and benevolent Master.

Stacey E. Durham


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