In John MacArthur’s latest book, “Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ”, he takes the reader back to the first-century concept of slavery. Through detailed research throughout the Scriptures and outside sources, MacArthur shows that in his studies the word for “slave” in the original Greek language has been incorrectly translated down through the centuries. With the word “slave” being translated as “servant” most of the time, MacArthur argues that the intent and meaning has lost its intended meaning. He argues that our concept and understanding of being a Christian and, as a result, a “slave of Christ” does not even come close to the unflattering reality of slave life. Throughout his book, Mac Arthur goes into great detail about the life and circumstances of slavery in first century Rome. He points out the relationship between slaves toward their masters and slaves toward other slaves and how these relationships mirror those of the believer and Jesus Christ. These portraits are both enlightening and sobering.
I enjoyed this book to a point. It is well researched and well written as all of John MacArthur’s books are. I was with MacArthur until he made the stretch to tie together his affirmation of the Doctrines of Grace, most notably particular redemption, with how first-century slave masters only paid for the slaves they wanted. He wrote, “The doctrine of particular redemption is also brought out by the marketplace language of the Scripture, where a business transaction or ransom is pictured. Christ’s death on the cross actually pays the penalty for the elect sinner, redeeming him from sin and rescuing him from God’s wrath. In Roman times, the master paid only for the slave he was purchasing. So also, the saving benefits of Christ’s redemptive work are applied only to those whom God has chosen for Himself.” Although I don’t agree with MacArthur theologically on this point, he has still written a thought-provoking book worthy of your time.