Work like you Work for Christ

1 Timothy 6:1-5 SCC 1/13/13


            In understanding the biblical teaching about slavery and masters, we need to separate ourselves from the kind of thing which is racially discriminatory as was the slavery in America and which is, for the most part, abusive and structures itself into social strata’s that are wrong and not pleasing to God at all. Slaves in those ancient times were acquired in many different ways.

            (1). As captives from conquest. In fact, the people of Israel knew what it was to be a servant to conquering nations. They were servants to the Phoenicians, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. So rather than killing the enemy you conquered, and you would keep them and put them in the role of serving you. In ancient times, it was thought to be a very humanitarian option to conquer a people and them make them servants. In effect, that's what the Babylonians did with Daniel and his friends.

            (2). People were brought into this role of slavery through purchase. People could employ people who were willing to be bought and there were people whom one owner would sell to another owner; there were people who desired to serve life-long with a master; and there were people who desired to serve short time.

            (3). Another way that people went into slavery was through debt. If you incurred a debt you couldn't pay back, you might have to go to work for someone to work off the debt. And you became the slave until the debt was eliminated.

            There were a lot of people who were moving in and out of this kind of relationship in the society of the Middle East. There is never in the Old Testament any statement "abolish slavery." There is never a statement in the Old Testament telling masters to let their slaves go and there is a never a statement telling slaves to seek their freedom. The system was fine. It worked fine. The only abuses were abuses in attitude. The same is true of the New Testament. Here are the passages:


1. Ephesians 6:5-8: Slaves are instructed to be obedient, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, not by eye service to please only men, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God, from the heart, render service with good will, as to the Lord, not of men, knowing this good done will be given back to them by the Lord, whether slave or free—can count on equal treatment from the Lord.

2. Colossians 3:22-25: Slaves to obey masters in all things, not with external service as merely to please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord, whatever you do, do heartily for the Lord rather than men, knowing you receive reward from God since it is the Lord Christ you serve.:

3. Titus 2:9-10: Slaves to be subject to own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not contradicting them, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, that they may adorn the doctrine of God in all respects.

4. 1 Peter 2:18: Servants be submissive to your masters, with all respect, not only to ones good and gentle, but also, to those who are unreasonable, for this finds favor with God, if it includes bearing up this way when suffering unjustly. For there is no credit if you retaliate but if you patiently endure it this finds favor with God.


NB: We see consistency throughout the apostles teaching and more of the same here in 1 Timothy.

            The thinking is that slave and master were terms to describe the general employment situation of the time in which the Scripture was written. It was really a contracted method of employment. And unless it was abused, it was a very manageable, very workable, and even respectable and an honorable mode of economic and social employment. If the system itself was evil, the Lord would have spoken against the system.

            When the Apostles speak, they speak not to overturn the social order but to change the heart. In fact, Onesimus became someone Paul would have wished to keep to serve him. But not wanting to violate the contract which Onesimus had violated with his own master, he having led Onesimus to Christ, then says he have to go back to his master from whom he ran and go back into that service. Paul writes and sends the book of Philemon with him.

Now remember, Timothy is in Ephesus. And in Ephesians 6:5-9 Paul gives a lengthy exhortation to slaves and masters.

We have the relationship between an employee and a non-Christian employer 6:1

Slaves under yoke

Here is a colloquialism to express a person's relationship of subjective service (Matt 11:28-30). It's a symbol of submissive service.

Honor their masters

That means you are to count your employer worthy of all honor. You may not feel very drawn to your employer, you may not feel like honoring him, but the assessment of the position and the relationship demands respect due to one who is providing your livelihood.

In order that (here is the purpose for this)

Gods’ name (may not be spoken against)

The way you work relates to how people will perceive God and the gospel. Now if you work in such a way as to dishonor your employer, then you will bring reproach upon the name of God and the gospel.


Our teaching may not be spoken against

The reputation of the gospel is also at stake. The word doctrine refers to the gospel but also to the content of our belief. There's a tremendous responsibility upon us to live out our Christianity in the marketplace (Norton Surgical Supply; East Texas Motor Freight; Viking Foods).

WE HAVE the relationship between an employee and a Christian employer 6:2

But (Here is a change of direction from unbelieving to believing employer)

If you have a believing master don’t be disrespectful

Only in the sense that you devalue their position as your authority pulling them down and making them your equal and taking the teeth out of their authority.

Because (Here is the reason)

They are brothers (Let those who have believers as their masters)

The fact that you're a Christian and you have a Christian employer doesn't give you license to abuse that. It doesn't mean you could take an extra break because you're doing your devotions. BUT (A complete contrast with general employment)

Serve them even more (Let them serve them even more)

Do your service and do it all the more or even better. Stay in that role of submission and do it even better for that Christian boss (D & C Dime Store).

Because (Here is the reason)

They are believers

We are to serve in a right attitude a Christian master for the purpose of benefiting him because he's a brother. So we have an obligation to honor a Christian employer both because he is a brother and a believer! This is not the motivation for the manner of our work with an unbelieving employer. There is it the reputation of God and the gospel.


They are beloved believers benefiting from the service

We are the beloved of God because we are the ones who believe in His Son. And so he says since they are the believing and the beloved who partake of this benefit, that is the benefit of your work, those who are the beloved of God, you ought to give them greater service than you would give anyone else.

PT: There are many kinds of things we are to do and be especially for the household of the faith (Gal 6:10 for instance).

These things teach



1. 4:6 Pointing out these things to the brethren.

2. 4:11 Prescribe and teach these things.

3. 4:15 Take pains with these things.

4. 4:16 Persevere in these things.

5. 5:21 Maintain these things.

6. 6:2 Teach and preach these things.

            Much of the ministry is guarding and protecting what has already been advanced in the Word of God. The Word is sufficient and it is the basis of our ministry activity. So, too, for Timothy even in as practical an area as the work we do in the marketplace.



1. God's concern is not the type of work we do but the manner in which we do it.

2. We are to work as if for God Himself.

3. When working, do the very best work you possibly can knowing God will reward you for the work you do.