Book Review: Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ

In Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, Dr. John MacArthur argues that the gospel has been minimized due to many English translations of the New Testament choosing to translate the Greek word “doulos” being translated as “servant” instead of “slave.”  This initially seems like an intellectually based argument that would only be useful for theologians, but MacArthur argues that the loss of the concept of slavery in Christianity presents an incomplete theology.

MacArthur’s books typically come with a theological platform behind them where he is seeking to defend what he sees as an important aspect of biblical Christianity against a false teaching.  The false teaching addressed in Slave is the concept of “easy believeism,” which many people present a gospel where Jesus can be a person’s Savior without being his or her Lord.  Slave, like many other MacArthur books, seeks to defend a theology of lordship.

Slave is a very well argued book, which seeks to fully explain the metaphor of slavery in the New Testament and its applications for Christian living.  Slavery is explored through historical, theological, and social contexts presenting a clear picture of slavery in the Greco-Roman world and the thoughts that would come into the minds of the audience of the New Testament when this metaphor was employed.  Slavery is one side of the coin while lordship is on the other.  If believers are slaves to Christ, then Christ must therefore be their Lord and Master.

From the legal transactions that slaves could benefit, MacArthur chooses to address the issues of adoption and citizenship.  These were opportunities for a slave to gain special status along with the benefits and responsibilities that would come with these statuses.  MacArthur then biblically applies these statuses to a slave of Christ who has been adopted by God and made a citizen of heaven.

Slave faithfully applies and interprets the scriptures seeking to address the important issue of slavery in the New Testament.  MacArthur also frequently uses examples from the whole of scripture and church history to explain his point.  This is a good book that reminds readers the importance of not merely embracing Jesus as Savior but the importance of submitting to Him as Lord.