Did Slavery Exist When Jesus was on Earth?
When Christ came to the Earth, slavery had been around for thousands of years. Some people were slaves because they were criminals and slavery was their punishment. Others became slaves because they owed people too much money to ever pay back. And still others were born as slaves. Many people during Jesus’ time believed slaves were not as important as people who were free.
Jesus’ teachings, however, showed that slaves were just as valuable as other people and should be treated with respect. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus told His followers to do to other people what they would want other people to do to them. That meant, for example, that they were to treat slaves exactly like they would want to be treated if they were slaves.
The apostle Paul wrote that in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Did Paul mean that everybody looked alike in the Church and that there was no physical difference between men and women? No. He simply meant that anyone could be saved. No group was any more important than any other group, including free people and slaves.
Since all people are made in God’s image, we are all equally valuable to Him. Through the teachings of Christ, people learned how to treat others, even slaves, just like they would want to be treated. Only Christ’s teachings could have brought about the abolition of slavery that eventually occurred.