Aristotle, in his Politics, says that a slave is the possession of another man (Politics, 1253b 31). One might argue that if this is the definition of slavery, then slavery does not exist because one man cannot be the possession of another. I argue that it might be the case that one man be the possession of another, yet that slavery is impossible.
This is because one possession cannot be owned by two people if one of the people owns the possession completely. It is clear that a man cannot wholly own himself because possession is a relationship between two unique beings. If a man be owned, it is by another.
Furthermore, possession is not merely a matter of proximity or the posture of one’s hands around the other being. It is more properly the result of a claim. If one has a valid claim on something, one can be said to have possession of it with qualification. The qualification is that another may have physical proximity and posture of hands or chains upon the thing to be possessed, but without a claim, this possession is illegitimate.
It is also true that Christ has laid claim to every man’s life through his sacrifice on the cross. This claim is for the totality of every man: Jesus does not bargain with bits of men. Thus, Christ can be said to be in possession, in a qualified sense, of every man. It is qualified because not every man has allowed Christ to lay hold of him. Yet it is true that no man can lay a legitimate claim on any other man. No man can possess another man. All instances of slavery are illegitimate.
2Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a slave (doulos) and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith equal in value to ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.