The Missing Bondslave

The Romans sometimes gave their slaves numbers rather than names: Primus (First), Secundus (Second), Tertius (Third), Quartus (Fourth).... The ordinal number indicated their importance to their master. If, and when, such slaves were freed, they had no family name. Their name was their number.

   In Rom.16: 23 one such person is named by Paul as a brother: “and the brother Quartus”.

   The actual writer of the self–same epistle is another: “I Tertius, who have written this epistle, salute you in the Lord” (Rom.16: 22).

   Again, in Acts 20: 4 we read “And there accompanied him as far as Asia, Sopater [son] of Pyrrhus, a Berean; and of Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus, and Gaius and Timotheus of Derbe, and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus”.

   So we have a Quartus, a Tertius, and a Secundus. But search the New Testament as you may, you will not find a Primus anywhere. There's a fourth, a third and a second, but no first is ever named. To a thoughtful mind this is surely striking. Now nothing in the Word of God is ever coincidental. There is always structure and design behind both the insertions and the omissions of the Bible. Then where is the missing bondslave?

   In Phil.2: 7 we read of the Lord Jesus Christ that he “emptied himself, taking a bondman's form ...” and that word for bondman in Greek is
doulos and that is the word for a slave. The Lord Jesus became a bondslave. And the reader will note in that passage that the manhood of the Lord takes second place to his bondservice. The fact that he took a bondman's form is put first. Do you not now see why there is no Primus ever recorded in Scripture, yea why no Primus ever could be recorded in Scripture? Let the Book speak for itself! The answer is given in Col. 1: 18: “that he might have the first place in all things”.