Saint – Bondslave (Updated)


I once had the following three questions posed to me in a class (This is a subject I am revisiting today, and all Believers need to remember periodically) I was taking.

What is a “Saint,” what is a (Greek) “doulos,” (translated into the English word: “servant” literally rendered: “bond slave” ~ Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1) and described how both of these titles fit into your life.

The following was my reply, and hopefully will shed some light on these two words.

1)    What is a “saint”?

2)    What is a doulos?

3)    Describe how both these titles fit into your life.

1) Hagios” is the Greek word which is translated into the English: “Saint,” (literally), it means “separated ones.”

However, this separation is not from something, as is so commonly referred too, but separated to something, as is witnessed by the preposition that it is attached to.

Philippians 4:21, states:

salute every saint in Christ Jesus…”, the preposition here is: in, indicating that the separation is to Christ Jesus, not from something else.

Romans 1:1, states:

“…separated unto the gospel of God”  the preposition here is: unto, indicating that the separation is to God, not from something else.

According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary:

hagios[generally speaking] from hagos (an awful thing); sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated): KJV– (most) holy (one, thing), saint.

According to Vine’s Greek Dictionary:

“hagios” [more specifically] for the meaning and use of which see HOLY, B, No. 1, is used as a noun in the singular in Phil 4:21, where pas, “every,” is used with it. In the plural, as used of believers, it designates all such and is not applied merely to persons of exceptional holiness, or to those who, having died, were characterized by exceptional acts of “saintliness.” See especially 2 Thess. 1:10, where “His saints” are also described as “them that believed,” i.e., the whole number of the redeemed. They are called “holy ones” in Jude 14, RV. For the term as applied to the Holy Spirit see HOLY SPIRIT. See also SANCTIFY. Notes: (1) In Rev. 15:3 the RV follows those texts which have aionon, “ages,” and assigns the reading ethnon, “nations,” to the margin; the KJV translates those which have the inferior reading hagion, “saints,” and puts “nations” and “ages” in the margin. (2) In Rev. 18:20, the best texts have hagioi and apostoloi, each with the article, each being preceeded by kai, “and,” RV, “and ye saints, and ye apostles”; the KJV, “and ye holy apostles” follows those mss. from which the 2nd kai and the article are absent. (3) In Rev. 22:21, the RV follows those mss. which have hagion, with the article, “(with) the saints”; the KJV those which simply have panton, “all,” but adds “you” (RV, marg., “with all”).

The word saint, is to be separated to something in the sense that the thing owns you.  In one sense of the word if you are separated to a cause the cause has power over you, it owns you.  and though it is possible to be hagios to anything, biblically speaking the word is used concerning that which is spiritual in a general sense, but that which is separated to God in a specific sense .

It is this denotative idea of a person who is under ownership, with a connotative reflection of the person’s behaviors (outward appearance) displaying that they are owned by someone or something else.  This Word has become abused because of the connotative nature that it has been repetitively used.

Christians normally display a stark difference in their outward manifestations, their lack of open sinfulness.

This is the reflection of being owned by God, yet not the definition.

The reflection is connotative in that we have come to use the words “holy” to refer to alack of sin.

Yet, the denotative, specific understanding of this word is to own something by the owner.

And while this separation from the world is seen many times, in a connotative sense as both away from the world, as well as displaying purity and  a greater sense of morality; yet the denotative nature of the word is much more important.

To, Rather Than From…
There are many churchgoers that from the outside appeared to be separated from the world, morally—blameless; saints.

Yet their hearts are far from God, because they are not separated to God, with Him owning them in their hearts.

Jesus repeatedly cut through this religiosity, redefining that God wanted to own men, not simply that the world did not appear own them.

This is the reason for the Shema as seen in Deuteronomy 6:4-6, in the Old Testament, which Christ reiterated in Matthew 22:36-37.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart

Separating to Good from Bad
The word “holy,” (hagios), while always meaning to separate to God, does not hold the same in reverse for the word separation.  In fact a majority of uses for the word separation, has to do with separating bad from good, as seen in: Matthew 13:49; 25:32; Luke 6:22; Acts 19:9; II Corinthians 6:17; and Galatians 2:12.

The Greek word “aphorize,” is translated into the English: “separate,” and always has the idea of discretion, with the majority of its rendering dealing with separating good from evil, especially in the sense of God’s judgment, as is seen in the following references:

According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary:

“aphorize” [generally speaking] to set off by boundary, i.e. (figuratively) limit, exclude, appoint, etc.: KJV–divide, separate, sever.

According to Vine’s Greek Dictionary:

“aphorize” [more specifically] “to mark off by bounds” (apo, “from,” horizo, “to determine”; horos, “a limit”), “to separate,” is used of “(a) the Divine action in setting men apart for the work of the gospel, Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:15; (b) the Divine judgment upon men, Matt. 13:49; 25:32; (c) the separation of Christians from unbelievers, Acts 19:9; 2 Cor. 6:17; (d) the separation of believers by unbelievers, Luke 6:22; (e) the withdrawal of Christians from their brethren, Gal. 2:12. In (c) is described what the Christian must do, in (d) what he must be prepared to suffer, and in (e) what he must avoid.”\* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 83.

2) “Doulos” is the Greek word which is translated into the English: “bondslave,” (literally – wow translated into the word servant in many Bibles ), yet is rendered slave or servant many times, as seen in the following references.

According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary:

“doulos” [generally speaking] a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): KJV–bond(-man), servant.

According to Vine’s Greek Dictionary:

“doulos” [more specifically] Bondman, Bondmaid.  From deo, “to bind,” “a slave,” originally the lowest term in the scale of servitude, came also to mean “one who gives himself up to the will of another,” e.g., 1 Cor. 7:23; Rom. 6:17, 20, and became the most common and general word for “servant,” as in Matt. 8:9, without any idea of bondage. In calling himself, however, a “bondslave of Jesus Christ,” e.g., Rom. 1:1, the apostle Paul intimates (1) that he had been formerly a “bondslave” of Satan, and (2) that, having been bought by Christ, he was now a willing slave, bound to his new Master.

Paul’s Example
According to Galatians 1:10, where Paul referring to himself as a doulos, he states:

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  (KJV)

Paul referred to himself as a “doulos” in: Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1, yet, in describing the relationship of the believer to God, Paul repeatedly used this term as noted in: Romans 6:16,17,20; I Corinthians 7:23; II Corinthians 4:25; Ephesians 6:6; and II Timothy 2:24.  This underscores both Paul’s understanding and teaching of our relationship as believers to God, and of the mindset we need to maintain.

A Spiritual Principle
Even the “demon” (“Puthon”) who possessed the woman that followed Paul (& Luke) in Philippi, understood and proclaimed that they were “doulos (bondservants) of The Most High, indicating that spirit beings understood the significance of this word, and the commitment in entailed.  (Acts 16:17)

However, more specifically than the word servant  translated in the King James version, which is a connotative rendering of the Greek word “doulos(which can be servant, hired servant, or slave), is that denotative rendering, which is bondslave, which points back to an ancient history established by God for the Hebrews as recorded in Exodus 20 1:1-6, which states:

“Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.  If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.  If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.  If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.  And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”  (KJV)

The Typology
The idea behind this memorial act of being pinned to the door frame, is lost upon our 21st-century lack of understanding concerning the Hebrew insights and cultural typology.

The Gate of the City
The gate to the city was potentially the weakest area in protecting the city as the walls were solid except for small gates surrounding its perimeter.  It was the strong men, the leaders that assembled themselves at the gates in the early days of man’s history.  Subsequently this became the meeting spot of the leaders and dignitaries of the city.

The Door of the House
In the same way, the weakest part of a house is the door, it is the man (leader) of the house that would stand in the doorway to determine who would inner his house, it was the power that he held at the door that was signified concerning the threshold, or doorway.

The Doulos = Love
Therefore, when a servant had served his time and desired to stay on, he would have his ear pinned to the doorway, which would embed his flesh in the wood, being ingrained within the doorpost for ever, being bonded to it.  This was a commitment that he became fastened to the master of the house, who exercised power over the doorway, and subsequently to those things that were part of that household.  The code that the servant used to indicate that he wished to stay at the household was that he loved is master, and this was based upon the concept that truly he did, which was is motivation to stay there.

Christ Typology
Yet we see when this procedure was codified in Exodus 22, it transcended the servant only, but spoke specifically to him redeeming  is wife and child.  When a male slave would spend six years in a household, if he wasn’t married before it became common that romantic interest would spark between the servants.  Therefore was very common for relationships to transpire.  In the Oral Law always allowed for marriage is between servants.  This was a form of civil liberty, it was also prudent as it would ingratiate the male servant to stay in the household, developing greater loyalties.

It was common that when a slave would meet another slave and be allowed to marry her, that if he was released from the slavery first, he would bind himself to the household in order to maintain is wife and children.  This was a way for a slave to marry another slave, and not have families broken up.  This is exactly what Jesus did for you and I.

According to Philippians 2:7, which states:

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men”  (KJV) 

Jesus became the ultimate bondslave, He became a human and redeemed us by his sacrifice.  In His incarnation He purchased for Himself a wife out of slavery, the bride of Christ, which included the church.

It is hard to believe that Jesus, having always been God, changed it is being by becoming a human, and is human for all of eternity.  Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit  have always been one, yet Jesus bonded Himself to God’s house to redeem us in our humanity.

3)  Up till now this is has been an academic pursuit, yet this third area is the most important in each one of our lives.

Personally, having lived the life of a sinner and a saint; a long-haired dope smoke teenage hippie (thank God for Costa Mesa Calvary Chapel in the 1960s and 70’s), that became a pastor; and yet has experienced the life of the prodigal.

I’ve learned the difference between being separated from the world, and being separated to Jesus Christ.

There are many people that are separated from the world, yet have a destiny in hell; yet, there is no not one single person separated to Jesus Christ that will not spend eternity with Him.

What is real unusual about the abusive tone that the word “holy” has went through in the last hundred years, is that someone saved will eventually display it on the outside; but Christ was always interested the most on the inside of the cup.

There have been too many times in my life where the outside did not reflect what was on the inside, this is truly God’s grace and love in my life.

For it is in those times I was least deserving of anything from God, that I became the most appreciative of His grace and mercy.

It is for these reasons, and most importantly the insight granted by the Holy Spirit, and His calling; that I fully understand what it is to be doulos.

For having been separated to God, witnessing His mercy and love when I didn’t deserve it the most, convinces me both cognitively and emotionally, that I want to become a part of His kingdom, to have my ear nailed to the doorpost of His house.

And now those things that I am most ashamed of, and would dare not write down in this post, are the things that cause me the greatest love for God, because He loved me in spite of those sins which have plagued my life, and will do so to the day I take my last breath.

The only correct response to understanding what it’s like to be a slave to sin – then to be separated to God, is to become a bondslave to Him, A slave of love.



  1. Brant C. Marsh · ·

    Paul similarly emphasizes the need to work out our salvation (Php 2:12- note , Php 2:13- note ), exhorting Timothy to “have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline (pictures rigorous, self-sacrificing training athletes undergo in the gym) yourself for the purpose of godliness (eusébeia);”. (1Ti 4:7- note ) Just as the Greek athlete exercised with a view to winning in the contests, Timothy (and all believers) is exhorted to exercise with a view to excelling in godliness. Spiritual self-discipline is the path to godly living.


  2. Brant,
    Thanks for your comments.



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