Good Masters

1 Peter 2: 18

The particular Greek word translated “servants” indicates that these were household slaves. They were Christian slaves serving for the most part in the homes of pagan masters. The fact that Peter singles them out for special admonitions indicates that slaves, as a class, formed a large part of the early Christian community. The slaves are exhorted to put themselves in subjection to their absolute lords and masters. They are to do this to the good and gentle ones. Some of these pagan masters had what the poet calls “the milk of human kindness.” They were good to their slaves. The Greek word translated “good,” refers to inner intrinsic goodness. They were good at heart. The word “gentle” in the Greek refers to that disposition which is mild, yielding, indulgent. It is derived from a Greek word meaning, “not being unduly rigorous.” Alford translates, “where not strictness of legal right, but consideration for another is the rule of practice.” The one word “reasonable” sums up its meaning pretty well.

Slaves-Obey-Your-MastersThe slaves were to put themselves into subjection as well to the froward. The Greek word means “unfair, surly, froward.” The word “froward” is from the Anglo-Saxon word “from-ward,” namely, “averse.” The masters had their faces dead set against these Christian slaves. We can understand that attitude when we remember that these slaves lived lives of singular purity, meekness, honesty, willingness to serve, and obedience in the households of their heathen masters. This was a powerful testimony for the gospel, and brought them under conviction of sin. All this irritated them, and they reacted in a most unpleasant way toward their slaves, whom they would punish without provocation. Yet they did not want to sell these Christian slaves and buy pagan ones, for the Christian slaves served them better. So they just had to make the best of the situation.

Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (1 Pe 2:18). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.