Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Christian Service

καὶ ὃς ἐὰν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔστω ὑμῶν δοῦλος.
Matthew 20:27         

It's hard to deny that out of all the well-known preachers on the airwaves today John MacArthur is one of the best, albeit of a bad lot. His sermons are usually well thought-out and his unabashed apologetics on shows like Larry King are nearly always exciting to hear. Most of the problems I do have with him are related to how he manages his ministry's commercial interests...ah, but this is not the time to get into that.

Recently I watched another of his highly capable sermons and it got me thinking. In the sermon, MacArthur examines some of the unfortunate ramifications stemming from the majority of English Bible's having translated the Greek word δουλος [doulos] as “servant”, rather than “slave”:

In thinking about this mistranslation in most English New Testaments, I realized that the very concept of Christian service is now suspect. It is only because of the semantic differences between "servant" and "slave" that the whole transforming of service to God into service to unbelievers thing happened. The term "Christian slavery" would've evolved in an entirely different way. We'd be much more careful about who we slaved for; and rightly so (Romans 6:16). Being Christ's slave is one thing, enslaving yourself to the wicked of the world is a whole other prospect altogether.

Hah! Another blow to the Ghoul of Calcutta, eh?

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