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Resisting Rebellion

Paul is not condoning slavery in writing this portion of scripture.  He is recognizing the state of the world and, in doing so, providing the best advice someone in slavery could hear.  Outstanding service is the slave’s greatest tool to gain influence. When you demonstrate that you are trustworthy and genuinely concerned about the master’s affairs, that authority tends to make life better for you. The story of Joseph and his rise to power through his incredible service is a beautiful testament to this truth (Genesis 37:1-50:26).

The term “slavery” might make us feel disconnected from this message, but wherever we are in life, this advice applies to all of us. Whether we’re children subject to our parents (which Paul writes about just before these verses), in school under the authority of our teachers or at a job where we have a boss, God calls us to obey. And if none of these specific scenarios apply, we are still accountable to a government and, beyond that, God Himself.

A large part of the difficulty in accepting this message is overcoming pride. God wants us to know, though, that there is no shame in submitting to authority. Rebelling is easy and often childish. Perhaps a nagging boss offends your sensibility and the very prospect of submitting to his will enrages you. God does not ask you to rebel. He calls you to trust that He will enact justice, but in the meantime you are to demonstrate God’s love through your behavior.

Note that if you are in an abusive situation, you need to seek help to get out of the situation by talking with someone at church. This message applies to our hearts and asks us to embody servitude, but not quietly endure others harming us.


  • What kind of testimony is an obedient servant able to give that a rebellious servant cannot?
  • How is your obedience to God? When you feel called by Him to take a next step, do you do it immediately, or do you spend time being resistant, reluctant to follow His will?

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