Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
There are more people trapped in slavery today than during the height of the Afro-American slave trade industry. Slavery is definitely not a thing of the past. Pro-slavery forces used to point to the Bible to justify this horrific practice but does the Bible promote Slavery?
This passage in Ephesians might appear to endorse slavery, but it is simply acknowledging the fact that throughout history, today included, there will be people caught in this evil. This passage addresses that person telling them how to conduct themselves. There is a vast difference between acknowledging something exists and helping someone do right when in the situation and endorsing the situation. The Bible just recognizes that man’s heart is filled with sin and slavery will be a result of his selfishness and cruelty. The Bible also tells Christians how to respond when persecuted or attacked but no one would say it is endorsing persecution of Christians.
Furthermore, the type of slavery practiced in early America where Africans were kidnapped and sold as slaves to slave traders was clearly forbidden and punished by death. “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16) In 1 Timothy 1:9-10 the New Testament also condemns those who would traffic in the lives of human beings comparing them to adulterers and perverts. Clearly the Bible does, and always has, even before society at large did, condemn the evil of slavery.
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.