Nearly every English translation of the NT- including the “infallible” KJV – mistakenly translates doulos “servant,” as in a house servant like a butler. However, the word specifically means slave – one who is owned by and subservient to a master. Translating doulos as “servant” supposedly minimizes the stigma of slavery that once plague our western society, but it isn’t honest exegesis and does not handle accurately the definition of the word.
The mishandling of the translation of this word has serious theological ramifications when we consider the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and our spiritual union with Him.
For example, it is important when considering the extent of Christ’s atonement: It will only be for those people He specifically redeems with His blood and has chosen to make His slaves.
Additionally, He has the authority to command the loyalty of those people he bought with His blood. In other words, Jesus is their Lord and Master. The idea of Christ being our Lord and we His slaves is a significant point when we consider the so-called “Lordship/non-Lordship salvation” controversy and it wrecks havoc upon the IFBs who argue vainly for “non-Lordship.” By the very fact we are called slaves of Christ through out the NT indicates Christ is Lord over His people and their individual spiritual lives, period. There is none of this second level Christianity where a person prays a prayer and simply believes and is saved, and then sometime later in his spiritual journey with Jesus enters into a deeper relationship with Christ by making Him Lord. There is no such thing as “non-Lordship salvation.” Being identified as a Slave of Christ means He is your Lord. There can be no middle ground.
Again, the transcript is here: Slaves of Christ and is worth the time reading. If you can get a hold of the sermon, I would certainly encourage it. My hope is that GTY will make the message available as a monthly free offer to our supporters.
Also, the book I believe John references is by Murray J. Harris entitled, Slaves of Christ: A NT metaphor for total devotion to Jesus Christ.