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Themes in Philippians (Lesson 1)
Bondservants of Christ Jesus | Philippians 1:1
Do you consider yourself a servant of Jesus?
If so, what does that mean for your practical day-to-day life? In this lesson, we will explore the concept of servanthood from Philippians 1:1, where Paul and Timothy identify themselves as “bondservants of Christ Jesus.”
"Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Christ Jesus."
The term “bondservant is an alternate word used for slave. It comes from the Greek word doulos, which means “one who is subservient to, and entirely at the disposal of, his master; a slave.” In the Bible, the term “servant” carries the general connotation of a bondservant, which was a person who voluntarily committed themselves to serve another person, willingly giving up personal freedoms and rights.
In Philippians 1:1, Paul refers to himself and Timothy as “bondservants of Christ Jesus”, indicating their complete devotion and submission to Jesus as their master. Throughout his letters, Paul consistently refers to himself as a bondservant of Christ Jesus, emphasizing his unwavering willingness to submit to the will of God for his life as a disciple of the King.
Why did Paul choose to be a bondservant of Christ Jesus?
Paul’s understanding of servanthood is firmly rooted in Jesus’ teaching and example. Jesus taught that true greatness in the kingdom of God is marked by a spirit of servanthood. In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus explained that those who want to be great must become servants. He didn’t mean we must become formal servants but rather, take on the spirit of a servant, much like Jesus embodied it in his own life and ministry.
We see this clearly when he washed his disciples’ feet (a menial task reserved for servants) and ultimately laid down his life on a cross as a ransom to rescue sinners from the penalty of sin and the power of death (John 13:1-17, Mark 10:45). In Jesus’ ministry, servanthood and leadership are intrinsically linked.
By demonstrating humility and self-sacrifice, Jesus set the standard for Christian leadership, which is characterized by putting the needs of others before one’s own interests (Philippians 2:1-11).
Paul’s commitment to servanthood shaped every aspect of his ministry, including his self-sacrificial love for the churches he established, his willingness to suffer for the sake of the gospel, and his unwavering dedication to the mission of Christ.
How can we live as bondservants of Christ Jesus today?
As followers of Christ, we also are called to live as bondservants of Christ Jesus, following his example and surrendering our lives to his will. This means that we are not our own; we belong to him who bought us with his blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our lives are no longer about pursuing our own agendas or seek our own glory or fame. We live to glorify him who loved us and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20).
Living as bondservants of Christ Jesus may not be easy or comfortable. It may involve suffering, sacrifice, and opposition. But it is a worthy and glorious opportunity to reflects the sacrificial, servant-leadership of our Savior-King, Jesus.
After all, when we truly receive God’s grace in the cross, how can we not want to devote ourselves to magnifying the glory of our true hero, Jesus.
The glory of the cross, where his love was most perfectly manifested for us to see and savor, compels us to claim the title of bondservant with joy.
In a world where power and authority are often pursued at the expense of others, the biblical model of servanthood provides a powerful counter-narrative that emphasizes humility, self-sacrifice, and the prioritization of others' needs.
Nothing shows this more clearly than the cross.
By embracing this cross-centered model of servanthood, believers can live out their faith in a way that authentically reflects the sacrificial, servant-leadership of our Savior-King, Jesus.
What does it mean to be a bondservant of Christ Jesus?
How does the concept of bondservant differ from the modern view of slavery?
How does servanthood challenge the world’s view of greatness and influence?
How did Jesus model servanthood and leadership in his ministry? Why is the cross central in understanding authentic servanthood?
What are some benefits and challenges of living as a bondservant of Christ Jesus today?
How can you cultivate a spirit of servanthood in your daily life?
Thank you for being our Savior and King, who came to serve and not to be served, and who gave your life as a ransom for many. Thank you for calling us to follow you and to live as bondservants. Help us to surrender our lives to you and to seek your will in everything we do. Teach us to serve others with humility and generosity, as you have served us. Fill us with your joy and peace as we follow your example and submit to your leading. May our lives bring glory to your name and blessing to your people.
In your name we pray. Amen.