When sin entered the world, slavery followed
In the beginning, God created man in his own image, after his likeness. God gave man dominion over everything He created — except another human being.
In Genesis, chapter 3, we see the fall of mankind from this position of dominion and authority. According to 2nd Corinthians 4:4, Satan becomes the god of this world, and the perfect order that God created is no longer in existence on earth.
In John 8:44, Satan is a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies. Adam allowed Satan to take authority away from him and corrupt God’s perfect order. Genesis 6:5 states: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Not only does man dominate animals but now, because of sin, he also begins to abuse and dominate other people, thus bringing slavery into the earth.
We must understand that the Bible does not say that God supports slavery. Slavery in the Old Testament and the slavery we are familiar with are different.
In Old Testament law, it was forbidden for a man to capture another man and sell him into slavery. If he was caught, he would be executed (Exodus 21:16).
Until God restores all things back into perfect order, we will always have one person thinking he is superior to another.
— Winfred Logan, Heart to Heart Ministries
A free man, but a slave to Christ
Slavery, where slaves are not treated as humans but things to be exploited, is thought of as the worst possible life imaginable.
This is why Paul’s use of slavery as a metaphor for salvation is confusing. Why would anyone want to be a “slave to Christ or all?”
Paul says that he is a free man, but a few verses later says that he is a “slave to Christ. And a “slave to all” (1 Corinthians 9:1, 16, 19-23).
Slavery in the Greco-Roman society was very complex and contradictory. For example, although slaves legally could own nothing, we know from legal as well as non-legal sources that some slaves controlled quite a bit of property and amassed considerable wealth and chose not to buy their freedom.
Slaves were not permitted to marry, but thousands of tombstones exist which list the name of a slave and their spouse.
Although slavery was certainly oppressive, some slaves with powerful owners had power, status and lived better than the majority of the poor but free people in the empire. Slaves and sons were treated the same in some families.
Slavery could be used as a means for upward social mobility. Records indicate slaves owned businesses, plantations and other slaves. Perhaps the idea of being a slave to a powerful God like Jesus Christ, which assured a better life, appealed to a 1st-century, Greek-Roman culture.
— Dale Clem, First United Methodist Church, Anniston