The First Christians – Servants of God and Christ

John the servant

A stroll through the books of the New Testament reveals a common expression for how the earliest Christians viewed themselves: as servants of God and Jesus Christ:

Romans 1:1 – “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus”

Titus 1:1 – “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ”

James 1:1 – “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”

2 Peter 1:1 – “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ”

Jude 1:1 – “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James”

Revelation 1:1 – God gave his revelation to “his servant John.”

Five different Christian ministers – Paul, James, Peter, Jude, and John – identify themselves as servants of God and Christ. Two (James and Jude) were likely Jesus’ own brothers! Still, they didn’t play the “brother-of-Jesus card” but represented themselves as his servants. Peter, the apostle to the Jews, Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, and John, the last surviving apostle, each adopted the title “servant.” All five disciples placed this label front and center – at the beginning of their letters or writings.

The title “servant” captured the early Christians’ complete, undivided loyalty to Christ. The term comes from the Greek word doulos and typically referred to an actual slave in the Roman era. The Holman Christian Standard Bible actually insists on translating the term as “slave” in the verses mentioned above.

Christians serve the Lord exclusively. They buy into his lordship and kingdom, and they respond to his call. They make it their goal to know how to serve him through prayer and a careful study of Scriptures. They recognize the privilege of serving him, and they love to bring glory to his name. In the end, they long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

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Filed under Biblical Theology, Church History, Discipleship, Greek, New Testament

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