When the first advertising came online for this book, it caused quite a stir among those of us who are interested in Bible translations, because the first thing we heard was that there had been a conspiracy and a cover-up for some 500 years by Bible translators to obscure the meaning of the Greek word “doulos” in order to deprive Christians of a better, fuller understanding of their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
What an unfortunate way to advertise a book! We know there was no conspiracy, no cover-up, but apparently Dr. MacArthur and/or his people assumed that we think that Bible translators are a faceless, nameless group of people that nobody really knows or cares about, so to defame Bible translators would be no big deal. Or perhaps it isn’t any big deal to Dr. MacArthur and/or his people, because to them translators and nameless and faceless. Who knows?
But I have been on John MacArthur’s mailing list for quite a number of years now, and I knew that there had to be far more to this book than such a silly accusation of a conspiracy, and I was right!
Once you get past the introduction to “Slave”, where he repeats this accusation, Dr. MacArthur gets into the ways we understand the concept of slavery today, as Americans, and how the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Jews understood it. It turns out that slavery wasn’t necessarily such a bad way to live; there were many very good masters, and to be the slave of a good (and powerful and rich) master was actually a status symbol, something we have a hard time conceiving of as Americans today, knowing the history of slavery in the US back in the 17th-19th centuries.
After reading slowly through the first several chapters, and wondering about the constant referral to our being “slaves of Christ” as opposed to Jesus’ statement in John 15:15 that he no longer calls us slaves, but now we are friends, MacArthur finally addresses this, and then expands on it, showing how the Romans would have slaves whom they trusted and befriended, but then also how often those slaves were actually adopted into the family and became beloved sons and heirs. This is exactly what happens to us, Dr. MacArthur says. He continues to explain all the parallels between the slaves of those days and Christians today, and gives us a wonderful hope of our always being loved by our adoptive Father and living with Him forever. I found this book to be a real inspiration!
While it’s very unfortunate that the first part of the book, as well as the dust jacket and the advertising all make a big thing out of the idea of a conspiracy and cover-up, once you get past that part and get into the actual text you will find an excellent devotional book from John MacArthur.
But oh, how I wish he hadn’t started off the way he did!