"Doulos" and "Diakonos" are two of the Greek words that we translate as "servant." Doulos generally means a servant that is under subjection but not in bondage.1 There is even a kind of former slave known as a "bondservant" who after serving for a period of time as a slave can regain their freedom or choose to stay with their master as bondservant. Bondservants choose to give themselves up for another. To the Jew this was seen as honorable and is used to refer to the relationship of the nation of Israel to God Himself.2 The apostle Paul calls himself a bondservant of Christ. Romans 1:1 1Paul, a servant (bondservant) of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God...3 "Diakonos" then is the Greek word we have transliterated into the English word "Deacon." Thus a deacon is literally a servant.4
Facts About Bondslaves5
Exodus 21:2-6 2If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. 5But if the servant declares, "I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free, then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.5
1. They were Hebrew slaves set free who chose to be be slaves forever.
2. They had no rights, no possessions, nothing of their own.
3. They had a mark of identity, a pierced ear.
4. They became bondslaves out of love.
2 Corinthians 4:5 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.6 We are to become servants of the Lord, spreading the good news that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. Our service should be such that others see the love of Christ in us.
God's Paradigm Shift
The world views wealth, power and status as goals for attainment and that those who have them are considered significant and important. God, on the other hand, establishes service as a high calling and calls others to a life of service. He leads the way by being a servant Himself.
1 Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 347-348.
3 Romans 1:1, NIV.
4 Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 347-348.
5 Mary Yohn, Eight Qualities Of A Disciple,
6 2 Corinthians 4:5, NIV.