Nine Points about Biblical Slavery and Skeptics’ Condemnation of the Bible

by SJ Thomason

“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” (Letter from Paul to Philemon about Philemon’s slave)

The horrific treatment of slaves in the United States between 1619 and 1865 has led many Bible skeptics to question the often-mentioned practice of Biblical slavery, with the assumption that the systems of the U.S. were similar to those in Biblical times. The intention of the present blog is to offer contextual evidence that counters this assertion and other condemnations of the Bible.

  1. The Bible is an historical textbook, which documented actual events in our history.
  • If we wanted a book devoid of actual events and our sometimes ugly history, the Bible would have been a fairy tale instead of an historical text.
  • Some question the historicity of the Bible. Over a hundred years ago, famed Scottish archaeologist William Ramsay, who was highly critical of the book of Acts, set out to explore the book’s history by conducting digs over two decades in Asia Minor and Greece. He came to the conclusion that Luke’s work was “trustworthy” and “exceptionally valuable” and unsurpassed for its historical and archaeological accuracy. A detailed account can be accessed here: https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ramsay/ramsay_gasque.pdf
  1. Slavery was an integral part of the functioning of societies in Biblical times.
  • “As much as two thirds of the Roman empire were slaves (before the first century it was as high as 90%). By the first century AD an increasingly large number of slaves were being freed—so much so that Caesar had to write up laws that governed the procedure!” (Wallace, 2004).
  • Ancient people would have had a difficult, if not impossible time of building societies without the manpower of slaves. Today, we have powerful electronics, motorized vehicles, and automated machines and equipment. In days of old, manual labor was the only source of labor to build pyramids, temples, homes, and other buildings and to grow and maintain crops and livestock. Slavery was an essential component that aided in fueling ancient economic and agricultural systems.

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Nine Points about Biblical Slavery and Skeptics’ Condemnation of the Bible