1 Corinthians 4:1-2

In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 Paul asks that the Corinthian church think of himself and his team as ‘servants’, not some big name preacher or evangelistic group. Paul had a real problem with the Corinthians; they tended to look down on him and not respect his authority. In carefully chosen words, Paul will show the Corinthians how to have a proper regard – not too exalted, and not too low – of himself and the other apostles. “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Paul uses the word hyperetas which literally means an “under-rower,” in the sense that someone is a rower on a big galley ship.

Trapp wrote “Under-rowers serve “Christ the master-pilot, helping forward the ship of the Church toward the haven of heaven.” And Morgan describes this “under-rower” as “one who acts under direction, and asks no questions, one who does the thing he is appointed to do without hesitation, and one who reports only to the One Who is over him.” Paul certainly is not pulling rank here. He wants the Corinthian church to know he is there to serve them, and that will be done as Christ directs him. But he also wants to be sure they realize that he was appointed with authority over the church and needed to have them respect and be submissive to his words.

Paul also asks to be considered as a steward of God’s mysteries, who was the manager of a household. In relation to the master of the house, the steward was a slave, but in relation to the other slaves, the steward was a master. Clark explained “The steward … was the master’s deputy in regulating the concerns of the family, providing food for the household, seeing it served out at proper times and seasons, and in proper quantities. He received all the cash, expended what was necessary for the support of the family, and kept exact accounts, for which he was obliged at certain times to lay before the master.”

In addition to being a servant and a steward, Paul calls out another key factor that has to be true – trustworthiness. That was the major characteristic of a steward. “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” They had to be efficient managers of the master’s resources. A steward never owned the property or resource he dealt with; he simply managed them for his master and had to manage them faithfully. He also has to be trustworthy with God’s truth – and the only real measure he needed to measure up against was whether or not he was pleasing an audience of One. We cannot live life worrying about pleasing others – only God Himself!

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