Jesus never addressed the issue of humans being enslaved by other men, but He did speak about men (and women) being “slaves of sin” (see John 8:32-36). Having said that, Jesus is God, so we can learn something of how Jesus viewed slavery by seeing what God’s Word says about it. Before we consider some scriptures, you can read a question we had on this subject in March of 2016 by clicking on this Answers From the Book link:

The Bible neither condones nor condemns slavery, but it does address the issue and gives instructions to slaves and to their masters. In short, we see that slaves were to be obedient to their masters and they were treated fairly by their masters. In Ephesians 6:5-9 we read, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as SLAVES OF CHRIST, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him” (NASB). I capitalized three key words in this passage, for every Christian slave was to realize that first and foremost, they were “slaves of Christ.” They were to look beyond their human master and see, by faith, their heavenly Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. This would give them the motivation to serve their master on earth faithfully, for in doing so they would be serving Christ. As an incentive, they are told they would one day be rewarded for every “good thing” they had done. Christian masters are essentially exhorted to do the same; that is, to keep their eye on their heavenly Master, for they too are “slaves of Christ.” This would enable them to treat their slaves kindly and fairly.

I had said the Bible never condoned or condemned slavery, but in time the truth of Christianity eventually led to the end of slavery in many parts of the world. You may be thinking, “If God wanted slavery to end, why didn’t Jesus (or His apostles) speak out against slavery?” That’s a fair question. The answer is quite simple. Jesus was not here as a revolutionist to REFORM the world; He was here to offer salvation to the world so men could be REGENERATED. He knew that real change must occur “from the inside out,” for if men would accept Him as their Savior they would be given a new life (i.e. eternal life—see John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:27-28). This new life would cause them to think and act differently; to think and act like Jesus Himself! We saw in Ephesians 6:9 that with God “there is no partiality,” meaning He does favor one man over another. He loves all men alike! This THOUGHT alone would lead Christian masters to eventually “set their slaves free.”

In closing, it is important to note that in most cases, slavery in Biblical times was NOT based on RACE or SKIN COLOR, but on ECONOMICS. Oftentimes people couldn’t pay their debts so they willingly offered themselves as slaves in order to provide for their families. In that sense, it is much like the employee/employer relationship today. In fact, the passage we looked at earlier (Ephesians 6:5-9) can and should be applied in the workplace today. If those principles are followed (Christian) employees will be faithful workers, (Christian) employers will be kind, and last, but not least, Christ will be glorified. (316.2) (DO)