Book Review: Slave

Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity In Christ, recently authored by John MacArthur (2010), provides an extensive look at what it truly means to be a slave of Christ. The basic premise for the book lies in defining the Greek word doulos, which is often translated as servant in our English Bible, but actually carries more the meaning of slave. By poorly translating this one word, MacArthur postulates that we as modern day believers miss some of the rich depth that New Testament believers inherently understood regarding their relationship with Christ.

MacArthur’s book begins with a chapter dedicated to defining the word Christian as it was first used in New Testament times, including its literal definition as well as its apparent implications, namely that of being a slave of Christ. His next few chapters provide an overview of slavery, from ancient Egypt to first century Greece and Rome. This history is integral to understanding what comes next – a parallel of historical slavery and spiritual slavery, as taught by Christ during His time on earth. After laying this foundation of knowledge, MacArthur then delves into what it means for Christ to be the Lord and Master over His church and His entire creation. He then moves on to the transformation of the believer, from being a slave of sin to a slave of grace. This leads into the next few chapters, which cover our dual standing before God, both as His slaves (owned by Him) and His sons/children (adopted by Him).The final few chapters include an injunction to be serving and preparing to meet Him one day, as a slave readies himself to meet his master, and a reflection on some of the paradoxes of slavery to Christ (ie, that it brings freedom, ends prejudice, magnifies grace, and brings salvation). MacArthur also includes a brief Appendix, which provides quotations from church history (Polycarp, Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, Alexander Maclaren, Jim Elliot, etc) on the subject of slavery to Christ.

I would highly recommend Slave to any believer who desires a deeper understanding of his relationship with Christ. It provides many practical implications for living as a slave of Christ, such as obeying without complaint or hesitation, trusting the Master to provide our necessities (food and lodging), and being wise stewards of what He has entrusted to us during this lifetime. It parallels the high praise and reward (often eventual freedom) that slaves would receive for being obedient and trustworthy to the heavenly praise and eventual crowns that believers will receive for being faithful and obedient. Rather than being derogatory, as the western world often considers slavery to be, this book exalts the role of slave to Christ as something to be highly esteemed, a role to be taken seriously and looked upon with favor, since we carry the name of our Creator and are owned by the infinite King of Kings. As MacArthur states in his final chapter:

“Slavery to Christ is much more than mere duty; it is motivated by a heart filled with loving devotion and pure delight. Because God first loved us and sent His Son to redeem us from sin, we now love Him – longing from the heart to worship, honor, and obey Him in everything. Our slavery to Him is not drudgery but a joy-filled privilege made possible by His saving grace and the Spirit’s continued working in our lives. As loyal citizens and grateful children, we now serve our King and our Father out of hearts brimming with thankfulness.”

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from in exchange for writing an objective review on my blog and on one commercial site (see

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