Slavery in the Bible

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Slavery is the condition of bondage or ownership of persons.

For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Old Testament

Slavery is implicitly condoned in the Old Testament in several instances.

  • Exodus 21:20-21 Bible-icon.png and Exodus 21:26-27 Bible-icon.png regulates the beating of slaves, and states that the owner may not be punished if the slave survives for at least two days after the beating.
  • Leviticus 19:20-22 Bible-icon.png gives instructions about the sacrifices that should be made if a slave owner has sex with or rapes an engaged female slave. The slave herself is punished with whipping, but no sacrifices or punishment are required if the slave is not engaged.
  • In Leviticus 25:44-46 Bible-icon.png, the Israelites were allowed to buy slaves from other nations, and then hand them down as an inheritance.
  • In Leviticus 25:39 Bible-icon.png, buying your brother as a slave is allowed.

New Testament

The second part of the Bible recognizes that the institution of slavery exists, but it doesn't make any attempt to criticize it.

  • In Luke 12:45-48 Bible-icon.png, the Parable of the Faithful Servant, Jesus discusses the punishment of slaves, and says that a slave may be punished for not doing something he wasn't instructed to do.
  • In Ephesians 6:5-9 Bible-icon.png, Paul instructs the slaves to be obedient.
  • Colossians 4:1 Bible-icon.png and 1 Timothy 6:1-3 Bible-icon.png also admonish slaves to obey their masters.
  • In his Epistle to Philemon, Paul is allegedly returning a runaway slave to his owner.
  • In Mark 18:25 Bible-icon.png, priests are described as holding slaves.
  • In Matthew 18:25 Bible-icon.png, people and their children are described as being sold into slavery.
  • Colossians 3:11 Bible-icon.png, 1 Corinthians 12:13 Bible-icon.png and Galatians 3:28 Bible-icon.png are sometimes used to defend NT, to show that it supports some form of egalitarianism.


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