(On this topic, I am indebted to John MacArthur, Jr. and his excellent book, "Slave".)
Christians are “slaves” of Jesus.
Jesus is Lord (“Kurios”), and Believers are slaves (“doulos”).
In New Testament (NT) times, the Lord (kurios) was the “Lord” because he owned slaves. Therefore, in NT times those who called Jesus "Lord" understood themselves to be His “slave” (doulos).
When the NT describes a Believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ, the relationship to Him is described as being His slave.
The NT is filled with "slave" language.
Luke 6:46 "And why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?”
As a believer, we give up all control, all rights, all authority over our lives to our Lord and Master -- Jesus Christ! This is salvation!
"Then how has this gotten so lost in the church"
NT writers often described themselves as slaves of Jesus.
Doulos (“slave”) is used over 100 times in the NT, with multiple forms
Kittel: “All forms have to do with slavery … they denote compulsory [mandatory, enforced] service … The meaning is so unequivocal and self-contained that it is superfluous to give examples of the individual terms or to trace the history of the [word] group .... Hence we have a service which is not a matter of choice … he has to perform [it] whether he likes [it] or not, because he is subject as a slave to an alien will, to the will of his owner."
In other words, doulos is too obvious to define! A doulos ("slave") is enslaved to another person's will!
In NT Greek, Roman, and Jewish culture, slaves were looked at as so low that to be called a slave was a complete insult!
Kittel: "For Judaism in the time of Jesus, as for the Greek world, the slave was on a lower level of humanity. By law the Canaanite slave was classed with immobile goods, had no rights at law and could not own property. Even his family did not belong to him; it was the property of his master, who might give him a favorite slave in marriage. Above all, however, slaves were ethically inferior … was a chattel, his master could do with him as he desired … none to hinder him … In the Rabbis, therefore, the word “slave” constitutes one of the worst insults one man can hurl at another;"
That's pretty bad! Therefore, “Doulos” (slave) evoked some bad images! But the Apostle Paul knew this! And the Holy Spirit obviously knew this! But Paul still used this word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to DEFINE the RELATIONSHP of the CHRISTIAN to CHRIST!
Take a needed big deep breath after that one …
Therefore, I have no right to my own life! My will and my future is surrendered to Christ!
Even though in NT times 20% of the population were slaves, to translate doulos as "Slave" was never popular. Even though the definition was historically accurate, it still appeared offensive. Therefore, translators started translating doulos as “servant” instead of “slave.”
So in most translations now, doulos is not slave, but servant.
NAS Romans 1:1 “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, [this is a “made-up” up word].”
ESV Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,”
NIV Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,”
Same with the KJV and NKJV.
Doulos is rarely ever translated as “slave” (unless defining a literal slave or speaking metaphorically, e.g., slave of sin (Rom. 6:17).
Yet this idea of the Christian’s being a slave of Jesus is all over the NT!
NAS Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve [from doulos] two masters [from kurios]; … You cannot serve God and mammon.
Literally, it’s "No one can be a slave of two masters!" "Servant" makes no sense! One can “serve” two people.
"Well, I don't want to be a slave!"
Too late … as a believer, you already are … As an unbeliever you were a slave of sin (Rom. 6:6), but salvation switched your master Now you are (happily) a slave of God!
Romans 6:22 "… become slaves to God"
We exist for Jesus, to glorify Him, not ourselves. Your trial is no accident, God has a purpose, it’s designed specifically for you, to transform you into the image of Christ. And Jesus is a LOVING Lord! We just need to surrender and trust Him that He will continue to PROVIDE … from redemption through sanctification to glorification!
Amen … and if you need any help, please call us.