9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back,
We come now to the fifth category of believers in the church. Verses 9 and 10 show how slaves could honor God’s truth. Slaves were a large part of congregations in the first century. The application would be similar to the employee today.
9 Exhort bondservants [slaves]
Slavery was widespread in the Roman Empire. The government protected the institution of slavery by civil law. Slavery was rampant but slaves had no rights.
This system was not racially restricted to an ethnic group, as was the case in the U.S. system of slavery. First-century slaves were often well educated and skilled in varying areas because many were previously leaders in their conquered countries. The condition of slaves ranged from abject poverty to positions of great authority in spheres of responsibility.
to be obedient [submissive] to their own masters,
“To be obedient” means to be submissive. Ancient Greek used this word for a soldier’s submission to his superior officers. There was no option as to whether or not a soldier should submit to his leaders in war. The obligation of servants to their masters was not optional.
The New Testament does not sanction slavery. It recognized the reality of the situation in the Roman Empire. The Bible asserts equality of all believers, whether free or bond. The church had a great hand in abolishing this unjust institution.
to be well pleasing in all things,
“In all things” means in all respects. Slaves were, in a pleasing manner, to respect the authority of those over them. This was the high standard of excellence expected of them in doing their jobs—as unto the Lord. It must have been at first a galling idea for Christian slaves to please their masters in all things. Masters treated some slaves like animals.
not answering back,
Slaves were admonished not to answer back to their masters in a way that does not represent Jesus Christ. The root of the Greek word is to speak against, carrying the idea of contradiction. In our society, there is nothing wrong with giving an opposing idea to our employer, but the idea here is of being contentious or an obstructionist.
The Christian’s relationship to his employer is a priority.
Christians are to respect the authority of their employers. The obligation of the believer to his boss is not optional. The issue is not how reasonable a boss might be. If a boss makes insufferable demands on his employee, then the employee is to seek employment elsewhere.
Some employees are just disagreeable. They are on the positive side of every negative question and the on the negative side of every positive question. They are born inside out. This is the opposite of submission to an employer.