In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

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Chapter 15: Household & Slaves

Class Activities

  1. Divide the students into two groups to debate slavery in the first-century world. Have one group defend its legitimacy and the other group argue against it. What are some the arguments Paul might give for not immediately abolishing the system? What are some of the arguments the author of Revelation might give for its complete destruction?
  2. Have students devise speech bubbles to put into the mouth of the slave attending to the pagan diners in figure 15.1. What might the slave be thinking (a) if he were not a Jesus-follower, and (b) if he were a Jesus-follower? The same exercise can be done for the three slaves attending to the pagan diners in figure 15.7.

Discussion Questions

  1. Compare slavery in the Roman world with forms of slavery in the Western world in past two hundred years. How are they different? How are they similar?
  2. While the numbers and definitions vary, many authorities believe over four million people today are enslaved in some form of slavery. How might Paul and other New Testament authors relate to today’s slavery epidemic?
  3. How might a group of Jesus-followers interact with a sex slave of the first century who wanted to become a Jesus-follower? Would they encourage the slave to refuse to offer her/his body for the work? Would they turn a blind eye to the situation if the slave had no option but to continue in her/his position regardless? Could they have created other strategies to alleviate the situation? What options might they have pursued?