Book review: Slave (written by John MacArthur)

Title: Slave

Author: John MacArthur

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

The term “Christian” was first found in Acts 11:26. It was a term given by unbelievers to label the followers of Christ. The followers however called themselves slaves of Christ. Putting the two together, a Christian is a slave of Christ. Yet when we flip through the NT, the word “slave” appeared only a few times. According to John MacArthur, “the Greek word for slave (doulos) has been mistranslated in almost every English version – going back to both the King James Version and the Geneva bible that predated it.” I did a quick check to verify this, eg in Romans 1:1, the original Greek word for “bondservant” (NKJV) or “servant” (NIV) is indeed “doulos” and doulos indeed means slave. When the writers of the NT called themselves slaves of Christ, the masses of that time understood what they meant, but modern readers might not. Thus John MacArthur made an effort to explain the relationship between a master and his slaves, the power of the master over his slaves, the duties of a slave, and what it meant to be a slave, during that era.

John MacArthur noted that in the Roman slave market, masters chose their slaves. This matches the verses in the bible that talks about the most high one choosing his people. Besides being slaves of Christ, the most high one has also made believers his adopted children. This, John MacArthur noted, was of great significance to early believers because in ancient Rome, masters rarely adopted their slaves as children. He went on to explain what adoption entails and how it establishes the doctrine of “once saved always saved”. Finally before closing, John MacArthur touched on being citizens of heaven.

Throughout the book, there are many short quotations from great Christian writers such as Charles Spurgeon, and George Muller, to support the points raised. I would say I have benefitted from this book, with a renewed understanding regarding my relationship with Jesus – a slave is certainly different from a servant. However John MacArthur seems to keep repeating certain points, which got me a bit bored at times. Perhaps that is his way of emphasizing the importance of those points.


PS: I borrowed this book from a friend. I have not received any form of compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the publisher or author mentioned in the post.

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