What Does the Bible Say About Modern Slavery and Human Rights?

The issue of modern slavery and human rights has many implications for believers around the globe. Despite being a centuries-old text, the Bible offers valuable insights into these urgent matters.

This article unpacks biblical perspectives on slavery and human rights, illuminating how these ancient scriptures apply to today’s world. Ready to dive in? Let’s explore together!

Key Takeaways

  • The Bible contains verses that address the topic of slavery, emphasizing God’s concern for justice, equality, and freedom.
  • It is crucial to understand the historical context of slavery in biblical times and distinguish it from modern forms of slavery such as human trafficking.
  • Christians are called to promote justice, equality, and freedom for all individuals by actively combating human trafficking and advocating for the protection of human rights.

Bible Verses About Slavery

The Bible contains both Old and New Testament verses addressing the topic of slavery.

Old Testament Bible Verses About Slavery

Throughout the Old Testament, various scriptures touch on slavery, often emphasizing God’s concern for justice, equality, and freedom. Here are some key verses to consider:

  1. Leviticus 25: 44-46 – This passage provides guidelines for the treatment of servants and slaves among the Israelites.
  2. Exodus 21: 2 – An Israeli servant was to be freed after six years of service according to this verse.
  3. Deuteronomy 23: 15-16 – This verse protects runaway slaves from being returned to their masters.
  4. Exodus 22: 21 – The Israelites were reminded by God not to oppress foreigners as they themselves were once foreigners in Egypt.
  5. Genesis 15: 13-14 – Here, God prophesied that Abraham’s descendants would be enslaved but later set free.
  6. Deuteronomy 24: 7 – This verse strictly forbids the act of kidnapping an individual and selling him/her into slavery.

New Testament Bible Verses About Slavery

The New Testament contains specific scriptures that address the topic of slavery. These verses provide insight into the biblical perspective on slavery and highlight God’s concern for justice, equality, and freedom. Here are some key New Testament Bible verses about slavery:

  1. 1 Timothy 1: 10
  • This verse includes slave traders in a list of those who engage in behaviors contrary to sound doctrine.
  1. Galatians 3: 28
  • This verse emphasizes the equality of all believers in Christ, stating that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.
  1. Philemon 1: 16
  • In this letter from Paul to Philemon regarding a runaway slave named Onesimus, Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus as a beloved brother.
  1. Ephesians 6: 5-9
  • These verses encourage slaves to serve their earthly masters with sincerity and respect, knowing that their ultimate master is the Lord.
  1. Colossians 4: 1
  • This verse instructs masters to provide their slaves with what is right and fair because they too have a Master in heaven.
  1. 1 Corinthians 7: 21-24
  • Here, Paul encourages slaves to seek their freedom if opportunity arises but reminds them that being a slave does not hinder them from belonging to Christ.
  1. James 2: 8-9
  • These verses call believers to fulfill the royal law of loving their neighbors as themselves, emphasizing equal treatment of all individuals regardless of social status or position.
  1. Luke 4: 18
  • Jesus quotes from Isaiah when announcing His ministry, proclaiming liberty to captives and setting free those who are oppressed.

Bible Verses About Human Rights

The Bible contains verses that emphasize the dignity and value of all individuals, promoting justice and equality.

Verses emphasizing the dignity and value of all individuals

  • Every person is created in the image of God, reflecting their inherent dignity and worth (Genesis 1:27).
  • Jesus teaches that every individual is precious to God, with even the hairs on their head counted (Matthew 10:30).
  • God’s love extends to all people, regardless of their background or social status (John 3: 16).
  • The Bible encourages believers to show love and respect to all people, treating others as they would want to be treated themselves (Luke 6:31).
  • Christians are called to value and honor each other, considering others as better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).
  • Jesus’ commandment to love one another encompasses all people and demonstrates the importance of recognizing the value of every individual (John 13:34).
  • In Christ, there is no distinction between race, ethnicity, or social status – all are equal before God (Galatians 3:28).
  • The Bible affirms that every person has a purpose and significance in God’s plan (Jeremiah 29: 11).
  • Believers are encouraged to use their gifts and talents for the benefit of others, acknowledging the unique value each person brings to the community of faith (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
  • The apostle Paul reminds Christians that they are God’s workmanship, created for good works which God prepared in advance for them to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Remember that these verses emphasize the dignity and value of every individual in the eyes of God. As Christians seek to understand modern slavery and human rights through a biblical lens, it is important to remember these foundational truths about human worth and treat all individuals with love and respect.

Verses promoting justice and equality

God’s Word is filled with verses that promote justice and equality, reminding us of the importance of treating others with fairness and dignity. As Christians, it is crucial for us to embody these values in our daily lives and stand against any form of injustice. Here are some Bible verses that emphasize justice and equality:

  1. Leviticus 19: 15 – “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”
  2. Proverbs 31: 8-9 – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
  3. Micah 6: 8 – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  4. Isaiah 1: 17 – “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
  5. Galatians 3: 28 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Understanding the Context of Biblical Verses on Slavery

The historical context of slavery in biblical times helps us distinguish it from modern forms of slavery.

The historical context of slavery in biblical times

During biblical times, slavery was a common practice in many societies. The Old Testament contains several references to slavery, reflecting the reality of that era. However, it is crucial to understand that the concept of slavery back then was different from the deplorable modern form we condemn today.

In ancient times, slaves were often prisoners of war or individuals who sold themselves into servitude due to financial difficulties. While this does not excuse or justify their bondage, it helps us grasp the historical context and distinguish it from human trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery that exploit and degrade individuals against their will.

The difference between biblical slavery and modern slavery

In understanding the Bible’s perspective on slavery, it is important to recognize the difference between biblical slavery and the abhorrent modern form of slavery that exists today. In biblical times, slavery was often a result of indebtedness or prisoners of war, and individuals were provided certain rights such as protection from abuse and freedom after a designated period.

Modern forms of slavery, on the other hand, involve human trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation without any regard for basic human dignity. While we can learn valuable lessons from the Bible about treating others justly and with equality, it is crucial to acknowledge that our fight against modern slavery requires a broader understanding of societal injustice and an active commitment to promoting freedom for all individuals.

Applying Biblical Principles to Modern Slavery and Human Rights

The Bible’s teachings on freedom and justice inspire Christians to actively combat human trafficking and modern forms of slavery.

Promoting freedom and justice for all

The Bible emphasizes the importance of promoting freedom and justice for all, regardless of their circumstances. God’s heart beats for those who are oppressed and enslaved, and He calls us to join Him in fighting against modern forms of slavery like human trafficking.

Throughout the scriptures, we see a consistent message that values every individual’s worth and dignity.

Abraham Lincoln himself recognized the need to promote freedom, even questioning why God didn’t explicitly condemn slavery. Jesus’ teachings further reinforce this idea by urging us to treat others as we want to be treated.

These principles directly challenge modern slavery practices.

As Christians, it is our responsibility to stand up against human trafficking and advocate for the protection of human rights. The church condemns these atrocities and seeks restoration, renewal, and reconciliation for both victims and perpetrators.

Let us unite in prayer for those affected by human trafficking while actively working towards combating this injustice in our communities.

Combating human trafficking and modern forms of slavery

Christians have a vital role to play in combating human trafficking and modern forms of slavery. As followers of Christ, we are called to defend the rights and dignity of all individuals, especially those who are most vulnerable.

The Bible teaches us that every person is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated with respect and love. We must actively fight against the injustice of human trafficking by raising awareness, supporting organizations working on prevention and rescue efforts, advocating for stronger laws against slavery, and offering prayers for victims and their families.

By taking a stand against modern slavery, we can contribute to building a world where freedom, justice, and equality prevail.


In conclusion, the Bible offers valuable insights into modern slavery and human rights. While it acknowledges historical forms of slavery, it also promotes justice, equality, and freedom for all individuals.

Christians are called to combat human trafficking and uphold the dignity of every person. By applying biblical principles to contemporary issues, we can strive towards a world where all are treated with love and respect.


1. Does the Bible address issues of modern slavery and human rights?

Yes, the Bible does address issues of slavery and human rights. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, there are passages that condemn the mistreatment of slaves and emphasize the importance of justice, equality, and compassion towards all individuals.

2. What does the Bible say about owning slaves?

While some verses in the Bible mention rules for slaveowners, it is crucial to understand that these were specific to their historical context. The overall message of scripture promotes love for one another and treating others with dignity and respect.

3. How does the Bible promote human rights?

The Bible promotes human rights by teaching principles such as loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31), treating others with kindness (Luke 6:31), practicing justice (Micah 6:8), and advocating for those who are oppressed or marginalized (Proverbs 31:8-9). These teachings form a foundation for valuing human dignity and social equality.

4. Can modern-day efforts against slavery be supported by biblical teachings?

Absolutely! Modern-day efforts against slavery align with biblical teachings on justice, freedom, and compassion. Christians have been at the forefront of various movements to combat contemporary forms of slavery and uphold human rights based on their understanding of Scripture’s principles.

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