What does the New Testament say about slavery?

Do not confuse regulation of an activity for support of said activity. The Bible does not suggest slavery is good, but regulates abuse.

Yes, there are cases where God says to not takes slaves from within the family of God, that slaves must come from outside Israel. There were limitations of how one could treat a slave. Hebrews might be able to be ‘bought’, but had to go free on the seventh year (the sabbath year) – Ex 21:2. However, if you examine the Old Testament, much of what has been translated as slavery was in fact indentured servitude. This is where someone has to work to pay off debt – sounds like credit today.

While some might have used the Bible to try to indicate that what we think of as actual slavery is condoned, in fact the Word of God indicates that slavery as we understand it is a bad thing. In 1 Timothy 1:6-11, Paul equated slave traders to murderers.

1 Timothy 1:6-11

 6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. 8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Paul said  in 1 Corinthians 7:21 to get out of slavery if you could.

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you–although if you can gain your freedom, do so.

In Philemon, Paul wrote that Onesimus was no longer a slave and that Philemon should charge anything to Paul’s account.

15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good– 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back–not to mention that you owe me your very self

So no, God does not condone slavery.

The church condemned slavery many centuries ago. 

In conjunction with the New Testament, the church has condemned slavery as well.
In 1435 (almost 60 years before the ‘New World’ was discovered), Pope Eugene IV condemned slavery in Sicut Dudum. Again, Pope Paul III: Sublimis Deus, 1537, and then again by Pope Gregory XVI: In Supremo, 1839.


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