bon'-daj: Used in two senses in Scripture, a literal and a metaphorical sense.
(1) In the former sense it refers (a) to the condition of the Hebrews ('abhodhah) in Egypt (Ex 1:14 the King James Version; Ex 2:23 and often) which is frequently called "the house of bondage" ("slaves," `abhadhim), Ex 13:3,14; 20:2; Dt 5:6 and often. It also refers to the condition of the Hebrews in Babylonia (Isa 14:3, the King James Version) and in Persia (Ezr 9:8 f), where a slightly different form of the same root (`abhedhuth) is used in the original. In both these cases the bondage was not so much personal as national. As a rule individuals were not subject to individuals, but the whole Hebrew people were subject to the Egyptian, Babylonian and the Persian states. They were forced to labor on public works, and otherwise, and were denied their own freedom when the exigencies of state seemed to demand it. The former word `abhodhah is also used in Neh 5:18 as descriptive of the subject and depressed conditions of the Hebrews in Israel during the earlier years after their return from captivity, when they were still living under Persian suzerainty. (b) The word bondage (`abhadhim) is also used to describe the slavery into which the poor Jews were being forced by their more prosperous brethren in the earlier years under the Persians in Israel (Neh 5:5). Here true personal, though temporary, slavery is meant. (c) Marriage is once referred to as a bondage (1 Cor 7:15) (verb douloo).
(2) It is used in the metaphorical sense only in New Testament. he douleia, "bondage," is the power of physical corruption as against the freedom of life (Rom 8:21), the power of fear as over against the confidence of Christian faith (Rom 8:15; Heb 2:15), and especially is it the bondage of the letter, of the elements, of a ceremonial and institutional salvation which must be scrupulously and painfully observed, as contrasted with the freedom of the sons of God, emancipated by faith in Jesus Christ. This bondage is a peculiarly Pauline idea since he was fighting for Christian freedom (Gal 2:4; 4:3,9,24,25; 5:1). In 2 Pet 2:19 the idea is essentially different. Libertinism, masquerading under the name of freedom, is branded as bondage, in contrast with the true freedom of righteous living.
William Joseph McGlothlin