on 1-timothy 6 :1
Let as many servants as are under the yoke - The word δουλοι here means slaves converted to the Christian faith; and the ζυγον, or yoke, is the state of slavery; and by δεσποται, masters, despots, we are to understand the heathen masters of those Christianized slaves. Even these, in such circumstances, and under such domination, are commanded to treat their masters with all honor and respect, that the name of God, by which they were called, and the doctrine of God, Christianity, which they had professed, might not be blasphemed - might not be evilly spoken of in consequence of their improper conduct. Civil rights are never abolished by any communications from God's Spirit. The civil state in which a man was before his conversion is not altered by that conversion; nor does the grace of God absolve him from any claims, which either the state or his neighbor may have on him. All these outward things continue unaltered. See the notes on Ephesians 6:5, etc.; and 1 Corinthians 7:21 (note), etc., and especially the observations at the end of that chapter.
on 1-timothy 6 :1
Let as many servants - On the word here rendered "servants" - δοῦλοι douloi - see the notes on Ephesians 6:5. The word is that which was commonly applied to a slave, but it is so extensive in its signification as to be applicable to any species of servitude, whether voluntary or involuntary. If slavery existed in Ephesus at the time when this Epistle was written, it would be applicable to slaves; if any other kind of servitude existed, the word would be equally applicable to that. There is nothing in the word itself which essentially limits it to slavery; examine Matthew 13:27; Matthew 20:27; Mark 10:44; Luke 2:29; John 15:15; Acts 2:18; Acts 4:29; Acts 16:17; Romans 1:1; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Jde 1:1; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 7:3. The addition of the phrase "under the yoke," however, shows undoubtedly that it is to be understood here of slavery.
As are under the yoke - On the word yoke, see the notes on Matthew 11:29. The phrase here properly denotes slavery, as it would not be applied to any other species of servitude; see Leviticus 26:13; Dem. 322, 12. ζεῦγος δουλοσύνης zeugos doulosunēs. Robinson's Lexicon. It sometimes denotes the bondage of the Mosaic law as being a severe and oppressive burden; Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1. It may be remarked here that the apostle did not regard slavery as a light or desirable thing. He would not have applied this term to the condition of a wife or of a child.
Count their own masters worthy of all honour - Treat them with all proper respect. They were to manifest the right spirit themselves, whatever their masters did; they were not to do anything that would dishonor religion. The injunction here would seem to have particular reference to those whose masters were not Christians. In the following verse, the apostle gives particular instructions to those who had pious masters. The meaning here is, that the slave ought to show the Christian spirit toward his master who was not a Christian; he ought to conduct himself so that religion would not be dishonored; he ought not to give his master occasion to say that the only effect of the Christian religion on the mind of a servant was to make him restless, discontented, dissatisfied, and disobedient. In the humble and trying situation in which he confessedly was - under the yoke of bondage - he ought to evince patience, kindness, and respect for his master, and as long as the relation continued he was to be obedient. This command, however, was by no means inconsistent with his desiring his freedom, and securing it, if the opportunity presented itself; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 7:21; compare, on the passage before us, the Ephesians 6:5-8 notes, and 1 Peter 2:18 note.
That the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed - That religion be not dishonored and reproached, and that there may be no occasion to say that Christianity tends to produce discontent and to lead to insurrection. If the effect of religion had been to teach all who were servants that they should no longer obey their masters, or that they should rise upon them and assert their freedom by violence, or that their masters were to be treated with indignity on account of their usurped rights over others, the effect would have been obvious. There would have been a loud and united outcry against the new religion, and it could have made no progress in the world. Instead of this, Christianity taught the necessity of patience, and meekness, and forbearance in the endurance of all wrong - whether from private individuals Matthew 5:39-41; 1 Corinthians 6:7, or under the oppressions and exactions of Nero Romans 13:1-7, or amidst the hardships and cruelties of slavery. These peaceful injunctions, however, did not demonstrate that Christ approved the act of him "that smote on the one cheek," or that Paul regarded the government of Nero as a good government, - and as little do they prove that Paul or the Saviour approved of slavery.
on 1-timothy 6 :1
6:1 Let servants under the yoke - Of heathen masters. Account them worthy of all honour - All the honour due from a servant to a master. Lest the name of God and his doctrine be blasphemed - As it surely will, if they do otherwise.