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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 2 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Servants, be subject to your masters. On the duty here enjoined, See Barnes "Eph 6:5, seq. The Greek word here used (oiketai) is not the same which is employed in Ephesians, (douloi). The word here means properly domestics—those employed about a house, or living in the same house—from oikov, house. These persons might have been slaves, or might not. The word would apply to them, whether they were hired, or whether they were owned as slaves. The word should not and cannot be employed to prove that slavery existed in the churches to which Peter wrote, and still less to prove that he approved of slavery, or regarded it as a good institution. The exhortation here would be, and still is, strictly applicable to any persons employed as domestics, though they had voluntarily hired themselves out to be such. It would be incumbent on them, while they remained in that condition, to perform with fidelity their duties as Christians, and to bear with Christian meekness all the wrongs which they might suffer from those in whose service they were. Those who are hired, and who are under a necessity of "going out to service" for a living, are not always free from hard usage, for there are trials incident to that condition of life which cannot be always avoided. It might be better, in many cases, to bear much than to attempt a change of situation, even though they were entirely at liberty to do so. It must be admitted, however, that the exhortation here will have more force if it is supposed that the reference is to slaves, and there can be no doubt that many of this class were early converted to the Christian faith. The word here rendered masters (despotaiv) is not the same which is used in Eph 6:5, (kurioiv.) Neither of these words necessarily implies that those who were under them were slaves. The word here used is applicable to the head of a family, whatever may be the condition of those under him. It is frequently applied to God, and to Christ; and it cannot be maintained that those to whom God sustains the relation of despothv, or master, are slaves. See Barnes "Lu 2:29"; Ac 4:24; 2 Ti 2:21; 2 Pe 2:1; Jude 1:4; Re 6:10.

The word, indeed, is one that "might be applied to those who were owners of slaves. If that be the meaning here, it is not said, however, that those to whom it is applied were Christians. It is rather implied that they were pursuing such a course as was inconsistent with real piety. Those who were under them are represented as suffering grievous wrongs.

With all fear. That is, with all proper reverence and respect. See Barnes "Eph 6:6".

Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. The word rendered froward (skolioiv) means properly crooked, bent; then perverse, wicked, unjust, peevish. Any one who is a servant or domestic is liable to be employed in the service of such a master; but while the relation continues, the servant should perform his duty with fidelity, whatever may be the character of the master. Slaves are certainly liable to this; and even those who voluntarily engage as servants to others, cannot always be sure that they will have kind employers. Though the terms used here do not necessarily imply that those to whom the apostle gave this direction were slaves, yet it may be presumed that they probably were, since slavery abounded throughout the Roman empire; but the directions will apply to all who are engaged in the service of others, and are therefore of permanent value. Slavery will, sooner or later, under the influence of the gospel, wholly cease in the world, and instructions addressed to masters and slaves will have no permanent value; but it will always be true that there will be those employed as domestics, and it is the duty of all who are thus engaged to evince true fidelity and a Christian spirit themselves, whatever may be the character of their employers.

{e} "Servants" Eph 6:5

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