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Mark 10:44

ESV and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
NIV and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
NASB and whoever wants to be first among you shall be slave of all.
CSB and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all.
NLT and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
KJV And whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be servant of all.
NKJV And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.

What does Mark 10:44 mean?

"Slave" is from the Greek root word doulos. It means someone who is bound to another to see to their needs; the submission of a doulos is at a higher level than that of a diakonos or servant (Mark 10:43). Christian leadership isn't a straight master/slave relationship. It's more like the slave who has authority over a man's children, even though the children will one day be his master. Christian leaders are first slaves to Christ, for His will. Christ's will is that the needs of His church body are met. The church body may be misinformed about what they need and what needs their church leadership is there to fill. For example, Jesus cooks a meal while the disciples fish (John 21:9–13), but He doesn't stop His teaching to help Martha fix a meal (Luke 10:38–42). The disciples quickly determine that their priority is to serve by teaching and appoint others to handle the administrative tasks (Acts 6:1–6). The role of a leader is to look to Christ and follow His direction for the benefit of His church.

The disciples' confusion about what leadership looks like in the church is understandable because it is a different model than what they are used to. They are not there to establish, defend, or maintain a kingdom under God. God's plan was always that His Son would die for the sins of the world and the Jews would be the source of deliverance, even for Gentiles. Now, Israel will be destroyed, and Jews will scatter, spreading the gospel to Gentiles as they go. God's kingdom will expand, even as the Jews' kingdom will disappear for a time.

In this new situation, the disciples are there to draw people to that kingdom and help the newcomers find their place in the community. Some of these newcomers, like Paul and James the brother of Jesus, may even rise to greater positions of authority. Just as God chooses who will sit on Jesus' left and right (Mark 10:40), He chooses who will have which role in His kingdom. When we remember that the role of every believer is to bring the church and other individuals closer to Jesus, the label "slave" takes on a new, nobler meaning.
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