Romans 6:22

New Testament

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. 21 So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. 23 For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sifre Numbers 115

Halakhic Midrash

Variantly: Why is the exodus from Egypt mentioned in connection with every mitzvah? An analogy: The son of a king's loved one was taken captive. When he (the king) redeems him, he redeems him not as a son, but as a servant, so that if he (the son) does not accept his decree, he can say to him "You are my servant!" When they enter the province, he (the king) says to him: Put on my sandals and carry my things before me to the bath-house. The son begins to object, whereupon the king presents him with his writ (of servitude) and says to him: "You are my servant!" Thus, when the Holy One Blessed be He redeemed the seed of His loved one, He did not redeem them as "sons," but as servants, so that if they reject His decree He says to them: "You are My servants!" When they went to the desert, He began to decree upon them some "light" mitzvoth and some formidable ones, such as Shabbath, illicit relations, tzitzith, and tefillin, and Israel began to object — whereupon He said to them: "You are My servants! On that condition I redeemed you; on condition that I decree and you fulfill!" "I am the L-rd your G-d": Why is this stated again? Is it not already written (Shemot 20:2) "I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt"? Why state it again? So that Israel not say: Why did the L-rd command us (to do mitzvoth)? Is it not so that we do them and receive reward? We shall not do them and we shall not receive reward! As Israel said (Ezekiel 20:1) "There came to me (Ezekiel) men of the elders of Israel to make inquiry of the L-rd, and they sat before me." They said to him: A servant whose Master has sold him, does he not leave His domain? Ezekiel: Yes. They: Since the L-rd has sold us to the nations, we have left His domain. Ezekiel: A servant whose Master has sold him in order to return, does he leave His domain? (Ibid. 32-33) "And what enters your minds, it shall not be, your saying: We will be like the nations, like the families of the lands, to serve wood and stone. As I live, says the L-rd G-d. I swear to you that I will rule over you with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath!" "with a strong hand": pestilence, as it is written (in that regard, Shemot 9:3) "Behold, the hand of the L-rd is in your cattle, etc." "with an outstretched arm": the sword, as it is written (I Chronicles 21:16) "with his (the angel's) sword drawn in his hand, stretched over Jerusalem." "and with outpoured wrath": famine. After I bring these three calamities upon you, one after the other, I will rule over you perforce!

 Notes and References

"... As I have indicated earlier, I think that the parable from Sifre can be very helpful in understanding slavery metaphors and language in the New Testament writings. In the previous section we have briefly discussed a passage from Galatians 4 in which Paul explained that because of the redemption by Christ we are no longer slaves, but sons and heirs. Paul’s creative use of the slavery metaphor becomes visible in a passage from the Letter to the Romans that has a rather different message. In Romans 6:20-22 we read ... I would like to argue that this passage from Romans 6 closely resembles the situation we have found in the parable from Sifre Numbers 115. At first the Roman Christians were already slaves (verse 20), namely slaves of sin. They were captured, so to say, by evil forces. This we may compare to the friend’s son in Sifre Numbers 115 who was enslaved by his kidnappers. Now, however – after the ransoming by Jesus – ‘they’ (the Romans) have been freed from sins and enslaved again (verse 22), but now by God, just like the son in Sifre was freed from his kidnappers, but enslaved by his ‘liberator’. So, the Roman Christians are not really free, since they still have a master ..."

Stoutjesdijk, Martijn God as Father and Master: Sons and Slaves in Sifre Numbers 115 and in the New Testament (pp. 121-136) NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion, 2018

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