Slavery is an anathema to modern man. The idea of being owned by another is abhorrent to us, especially those in western Europe with our cries of freedom. However, as Christians things are a little different. St John Chrysostom interprets that St Paul encourages slaves to remain as such even if given freedom because it benefits the soul. What a strange teaching to us. Why? Because we are free in Christ and slaves of Christ because He bought us with a price. We are His possession yet we are free from slavery to sin and the ways of this world. Whether in slavery or freedom we can be free as such.
We are possessed by Christ, we are no longer our own but His. Our bodies are His body and our lives are His. He does not take them forcefully but leaves it to us to freely surrender them but really we must do so because we are His. Also, wives own their husbands bodies and husbands their wives bodies. Again we are not free to use them as we will be as the other desires, except for time of prayer then the Lord’s possession takes first place but He does not prolong this overly least the partner is deprived of their possession.
We must learn to become free slaves of Christ and of husbands and wives. It is not for us to for our partners into this possession as Christ does not force us; it will be on their own head at judgement for failing to act as they should. Free slaves is an interesting paradox and that is why St John says that slaves should remain as they are because they freely choose their slavery then while they remain in the service of another the power of the slavery is broken in mind because it is a free gift to the master. We must willingly become slaves to Christ and remember that we are His not our own. We must not try to be selfish otherwise we will deny Him what is His and so lose what is ours in Him.
Let us then learn to serve others, to live in obedience to those with authority over us so that in freely doing we become free in Christ and free from the bondage of sin and the world.