Paul the Prisoner of Jesus Christ

By Sami Zaatari




One claim Christians often put against Islam is that Muslims are called the slaves and servants of Allah:

YUSUFALI: Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent to His Servant the Book, and hath allowed therein no Crookedness:
PICKTHAL: Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave, and hath not placed therein any crookedness,

YUSUFALI: He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;
PICKTHAL: He spake: Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet,

Christians often object to such terms being used on God's believers saying how can we be his slave! That is too mean!

To begin with, when Muslims are called slaves/servants of Allah this is not meant to be a slur or insult, and in no way does it mean the same thing as when you talk about our modern day term of slavery etc. Many people often today confuse the word slave or servant with the common brutality of modern black slavery, and other forms of brutal slavery that have taken place. However so, there is no such connection at all when the Quran refers to Muslims as the slave of Allah, it simply means servant, we submit our will to God, follow his commandments, his rules, and so on, he is our loved and cherished master. In that sense we are his slave, his servant, not in the sense in which you imagine a group of black Africans being shipped off to Europe by White Christians.

However so, let us now turn the tables on the Christian, because once again the Christian is being very inconsistent, if the Christian has a problem with Muslims being called the slaves and servants of Allah, then they should surely have problems with Paul being called the prisoner of Jesus! :

Ephesians 3:1

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

Philemon 1:1

1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer

Lest a Christian wants to play word games and say show me that translation in Greek, then I shall happily go along, here is the word in Greek:

1 Paul, a prisoner( desmios)of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer

The word for prisoner as stated in Greek is DESMIOS, which as the Bible dictionary page says:

Lexicon Results for desmios (Strong's 1198)

Greek for 1198

Pronunciation Guide

desmios {des'-mee-os}

TDNT Reference

Root Word

TDNT - 2:43,145

from 1199

Part of Speech


Outline of Biblical Usage

1) bound, in bonds, a captive, a prisoner


Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count ? Total: 16

AV - prisoner 14, be in bonds 1, in bonds 1; 16


So as we can see, Paul claimed to be a prisoner of Jesus.

However so, the problem for the Christian does not end there, see whenever you are called a prisoner, it means your bound, jailed, and restricted, not something you would describe yourself with God. So why would Paul ever use such a bad term like that?!

Lest the Christian wants to counter and say 'well isn't being called a slave also bad?'

No, not really, in Islam being a slave is not the same thing as being a black slave to white racists, or Mexican slaves to white racists and so on. In Islam slaves are to be treated fairly, as your brothers, and as normal equal human beings:  


So as you can see, the Islamic concept of a slave is completely different than the typical term of a slave in the world. When people say slave, you automatically think of someone being abused, not getting equal rights, being treated as 2nd class people, or even less etc. However this is absent from Islam, and has no connection to the Islamic concept and term of slavery/slaves.

So hence in the context of Islam, there is nothing wrong with being called a slave in any sense. However so, in what sense is it good to be called a prisoner?! Does the context of the Bible on prisoners show it as something good and not degrading? The answer is NO, so Paul being called a prisoner of Jesus is something bad, and wrong, who would want to be a prisoner of God! And as the definition of prisoner showed, it meant being bound, bound in captivity by chains and so on.

Is this the relationship Christians have with God? Being a prisoner to him? Off course the Christian will now happily say 'Yes off course!'. However so, when it comes down to the Quran calling Muslims slaves and servants of Allah, Christians will stamp their feet and cry foul play from the God of Islam, such inconsistency is amazing! And once again, in the context of Islam, there is nothing degrading or bad about being called a slave, where as in the context of the Bible, being a prisoner is not something good, but rather being a prisoner is someone in captivity like a criminal.

And indeed I am a proud servant of Allah!