The believers in the early church belonged to three social groups. Slaves, former slaves and people who were born free. Slaves in the Roman Empire were always not slaves. They were forced into slavery by the circumstances of life. By the time the New Testament Church was formed however the slave community of Rome consisted mostly of people that were born into slavery.
Like any human being, slaves also desired to be free. Therefore at times, they ran away from their masters, in search of everlasting freedom. According to Roman Law, however, a runaway slave was still a slave. Running away did not set him free. Not legally. In fact, he had to keep on running to avoid capture by his master and it was only a matter of time until he was captured. Under Roman law, a slave had to meet one out of three conditions in order to receive his freedom.