Sometimes early Christianity is criticized for not explicitly condemning slavery or demanding its elimination, but instead "merely" recasting slaves as valuable to God and worthy of equal human dignity. I think this criticism is unfair for many reasons which I won't outline here. I want to highlight a verse that I recently discovered which does point to the inherent evil of slavery, surprisingly from the book of Revelation, chapter 18. The chapter is about the destruction of Babylon / Rome, and calls out all the evil people who are lamenting the loss of their nexus of sin. Skipping down to verse 11, we get to the merchants:

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her [Babylon / Rome], since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

The word "slave" there is sōma: "the body both of men or animals".

The word "soul" there is psychē: breath, life, soul, that in which there is life.

You can see the contrast. These vile merchants act as if they are trading mere bodies, without recognizing that the slaves are living souls created in the image of God. The cargoes that make up the majority of the paragraph are morally neutral: wood, metal, trinkets, treasures. Nothing inherently good or evil, until final words: you merchants buy and sell human souls.

The wealth of Rome was built on slavery, and the Bible identifies that evil and condemns it.

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