The Christian life as slavery: Paul's subversive metaphor

Heythrop Journal 54 (1):1-12 (2013)

Recent scholarship has shown chattel slavery in the Roman Empire to have been a deeply oppressive experience. Paul knew that reality well and used the language of slavery metaphorically in Galatians and Romans to describe humanity's subjection to sin. However, he also made a remarkable shift in his use of the metaphor to indicate a new form of slavery to God which brings freedom, thereby subverting conventional ways of understanding slavery.In Paul's sense, slavery is an ineluctable part of human existence in which we have a choice of being a slave to sin or a slave to God. Becoming a slave means giving up all claims to status and relates to Christ's humble-mindedness in Philippians. The slave is also a model of faithfulness, comparable with God's faithfulness to Israel and Christ's faithfulness to the mission given him by his Father. Being a slave (in Paul's sense) is at the heart of the Christian life, exemplifying the ‘obedience of faith’, for it is through this faithfulness that we become righteous
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2010.00591.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,483
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
43 ( #208,642 of 2,286,540 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #128,420 of 2,286,540 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature