Acts 16:17, Libertarian Slaves?

The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, who show to us the way of salvation.

//Sometimes a translation can be off just enough to mask a verse’s meaning. Examine today’s verse in the book of Acts. Servants/slaves (literally, in the Greek, “bond-servants”) of the most High God appear to be going around proclaiming a way of salvation/freedom/liberation. These particular “slaves” consider themselves free men, and wish to share this libertarian view with others.

These slaves were named Paul and Silas. They were visiting Philippi when a another slave girl with a penchant for fortune-telling told on them. She said they were slaves like her, but slaves to God rather than men. Her masters were not happy that Paul and Silas were insinuating that liberty was possible for those who were slaves to God, and decided to take away Paul’s and Silas’s freedom. They cast them into prison.

Of course, it didn’t work. You know the story: Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises in prison, and an earthquake rocked the prison opening the doors. Paul and Silas were freed, but they decided not to take advantage of the situation. They stayed where they were, in prison, though the lesson behind the earthquake was clear: they were slaves to no one but God. And being a willing “bond-servant” to God is what lifted them out of bondage to anyone else.

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