He still could own property, receive wages, and go home at the end of the day.
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He could do his own thing, go his own way. He could return the next day, if he chose, or he could let someone else be hired to work in his place. It represented someone who had no personal freedom to do as he pleased. His entire life was to be given in servitude to his master, who had paid a price to purchase him from another owner.
A servant is hired, a slave is owned. A slave had no independence, no self-autonomy, and no personal rights. In fact, a slave was a piece of property that was owned by someone else. When a person was owned as a slave, it meant that he was a possession of his master, bound to obey him.
There was no negotiation by a slave with his master regarding what he could decide to do or not do. He was bought and owned by his master, and so there could be no hesitation or argument to obey him.
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To be a slave meant complete submission and total obedience to a master. It is difficult for us to fully grasp what it meant to be a slave, because none of us have ever truly been owned by a master. You may have been a servant, but that is totally different from being a slave. A slave has a master, who has the power of life and death over him.
He is held in the hand of his master, who has the right to issue commands without any explanation. He expects obedience swiftly, immediately, and completely. The master has bought the slave at a price, and the slave now belongs to him. In order to understand this passage, we must grasp the reality of this historical background. Paul began the book of Romans by identifying himself as a doulos , as a slave. He was bought with a price by the Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus now owns him. Because the Lord bought him at the cross and He now controls and governs him.
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Though an apostle, he remains a slave. Paul devoted himself completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and submitted himself entirely to His divine will. The same is true for every follower of Christ. That is true for everyone for whom Jesus died upon the cross, purchasing their salvation. As believers, we recognize that we have been redeemed and ransomed by Jesus Christ.
The Lord entered the slave market of sin and bought us with the silver and gold of His own blood. We now are the purchased possession of Jesus Christ. We have been released from our former slavery to sin, and we have been brought into a different slavery to Jesus. There is no one in this world who is not a slave. You are either a slave to sin, or a slave to the Savior. There is not a third category. There is no other option. That is the question we need to ask of ourselves. Tell me whose slave you are, and I will tell you who you will obey and how you will live.
In the first half of Romans , Paul establishes his fundamental argument.
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He does so because he anticipates the argument that will be raised against his teaching, that salvation is apart from any works. I can simply live however I want. He now addresses what he knows is in the mind of many. This is a very important argument. With this plural pronoun, Paul is referring to believers, not unbelievers. The reference is to a habitual pattern of sin.
Can a believer continue to live as he once did? That is a false presupposition that Paul knows is being raised by many. The answer is no.
We are not under law in the sense that we have to obey it in order to earn our salvation. But, as believers, we are under the law of God to obey it in our sanctification. The Ten Commandments are still on the books and are quoted in the New Testament as binding upon our lives.
Paul knows where people are going to go with this reasoning. I can live however I want, because I am under grace.
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Every sin is forgiven. It does not matter then if I sin as a Christian. This argument has come down through the ages and still prevails today.
This is not a hypothetical argument. There are people today who argue that obedience in the Christian life is entirely optional. They maintain that it is not mandatory and entirely unnecessary. They think that all you have to do is look back at your justification and remember that you are already declared righteous before God. Therefore, they conclude, obedience is optional. There are people today who think obedience is legalism or duty, which is a bad word. There are people today who say they have freedom in Christ to live however they want to live. So, if they want to leave their wife, they can, because it is covered under grace.
If they want to cheat on a business deal, it is fine, because it is covered under grace. They think they can live however they want to live. Paul knows the twisted thinking that is in many minds, and he wants to address this faulty assumption head on. There are some who only teach the indicatives of the Bible, but never its imperatives. They only teach the doctrine, but do not make any application. They never let the imperatives of the Scripture command people. In fact, in their teaching, they will not command people at all, but only interpret, teach, or explain what it says.
That is the worst form of Christianity, if you can even call it Christianity.
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It produces a warped spiritual life that does not stand the test of true discipleship. This is where Paul begins this section, with this argument. It is a very relevant and practical question. That is the question. The answer follows at the end of verse Paul immediately slams the door on this kind of flawed reasoning. In fact, he locks the door and throws the key away.
This phrase me genoito is the strongest negative denial in the Greek language. In fact, to Paul, it is monstrous. What a ghastly thought that a Christian does not have an obligation to obey God. To think that you can live your Christian life by merely looking in the rearview mirror at your justification with no thought of pursuing the holiness before you is unthinkable. Paul is saying the thought that a believer has no moral obligation to obedience under grace and under the law is disturbing.