21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.
22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.
23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
slave (v.21) — Paul — Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1
if you can be made free (v.21) — don’t worry about being a slave, but if you have a chance to be free, do so
Does the apostle cry, “Rise and rebel! Assert your rights?” This is the cry on every hand today, even in much less aggravated cases of injustice, but as a result great bitterness and deep hatreds are being engendered. Certainly this approach to the problem of injustice is not based on the Word of God. There we read: “Bondmen, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh.” And this obedience, we read further, should be sincere and from the heart: “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart … heartily, as to the Lord …” (Colossians 3:22-23). Four times in Colossians 3:22-24, the apostle makes it clear that in faithfully serving one’s master he is serving the Lord.
Before God the believing bondslave occupies a position not one whit lower than that of his master. Thus, here in 1 Corinthians 7:21-23, Paul suggests that should a slave be presented with an opportunity to be free he should take advantage of it. But if in bondage, he says, “Care not for it.” Today we might say, “Think nothing of it.” — Stam, page 138.
called (v.22) — saved
Lord (v.22) — speaks of authority and ownership
Christ (v.22) — speaks of love and grace
You were bought at a price (v.23) — this was said in 6:20, but the connection is different; there the fact of the purchase (the blood of Christ) was the ground of an exhortation to remember that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and is to be used for the glory of God. Here it is the ground upon which, social distinctions apart, we are to remember that we are bondservants of Christ, having been freed from slavery to sin.
Among the Greeks, manumission from slavery was effected by a legal fiction, according to which the slave set free was purchased by a god. The slave could not provide the money, so the master paid it into the temple treasury in his presence, a document being drawn up with the words “for freedom.” Nobody could enslave him again, as he was the property of the god. For the believer there is an analogy in certain details, but how different the circumstances! — Vine, page.52.
slaves of men (v.23) — regarding men as having control over us
Verse 24 repeats the idea of verse 20 but adds “with God”