The Blessing of the Bondservant – 2 Peter 1
“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
(2 Peter 1:1-4 NLT)
In 2 Peter 1, Peter uses a term to describe himself that we would have a hard time understanding in our society today, unless we know a bit of the culture that Peter lived in since he referred to himself as a “bondservant… of Jesus Christ.”
The term Peter used here was the “dulous,” or a bondservant. It is worth mentioning that there was a distinct difference between a bondservant and a hired servant or slave. In the Old Testament, a hired servant or a slave would serve their master for 6 years then would be set free on the seventh year. If, after the sixth year, a hired servant were to say, “My Master is great and I have come to love him and his family, so I want to stay with him. I choose to remain a slave and still be under his care,” he could become a bondservant. The bondservant then, is a slave, who is freed to make the choice to continue being a slave.
Take a look at what Deuteronomy 15:12-17 says
“12 “If a fellow Hebrew sells himself or herself to be your servant and serves you for six years, in the seventh year you must set that servant free.
13 “When you release a male servant, do not send him away empty-handed. 14 Give him a generous farewell gift from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Share with him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were once slaves in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you! That is why I am giving you this command.
16 “But suppose your servant says, ‘I will not leave you,’ because he loves you and your family, and he has done well with you. 17 In that case, take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door. After that, he will be your servant for life. And do the same for your female servants.
18 “You must not consider it a hardship when you release your servants. Remember that for six years they have given you services worth double the wages of hired workers, and the Lord your God will bless you in all you do.”
Deuteronomy 15:12-17 NLT
The slave who volunteered to be a bondservant would have his ear put against a wooden beam or post at the door of the master’s house and a nail would be driven through his ear as an act signifying that he was permanently fixed to the house, that he was not going anywhere, and that he would never be free again. It became traditional for a gold earring to be put into the ear signifying that the slave could never be sold or go free again. He would now be “bonded” to the master, thsu the term, bondservant. He was now more than a slave. He had become a bondservant. Because he was more than a slave, the bondservant was usually trusted with more of the master’s affairs than a normal slave or hired servant would be. Although he was technically still a servant, the bondservant was often considered a part of the family.
Peter chose to remain a slave or bondservant by choice because he loved his Master. He doesn’t identify himself as Peter, the first pope or Peter, the church elder you need to listen too. He doesn’t refer to himself as Peter, the itinerant Bible preacher. He identifies himself as a bondservant to Jesus; one who has chosen willingly to dedicate his life to the service of his Master.
Here is another amazing thing about that is worth learning about the bondservant. In their culture, if someone chose to remain a slave, and become a bondservant, the Master was responsible to be the provider of the slave. When someone willingly became a bondservant, it obligated the Master to care for him and to be his provider. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of Jesus being your provider? Would you like Jesus to be your provider? Maybe you need to volunteer to identify yourself, like Peter and Paul did, as a bondservant of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I willingly lay down my freedom for the great and high privilege of being Your bondservant for my entire life. Be my Lord. Be my leader. Be my provider. Amen.