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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 4:1

 

 

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let a man so account of us - This is a continuation of the subject in the preceding chapter; and should not have been divided from it.

The fourth chapter would have begun better at 1 Corinthians 4:6, and the third should have ended with the fifth verse ( 1 Corinthians 4:5;).

As of the ministers of Christ - Ως ὑπηρετας Χριστου . The word ὑπηρετης means an under-rower, or one, who, in the trireme, quadrireme, or quinquereme galleys, rowed in one of the undermost benches; but it means also, as used by the Greek writers, any inferior officer or assistant. By the term here the apostle shows the Corinthians that, far from being heads and chiefs, he and his fellow apostles considered themselves only as inferior officers, employed under Christ from whom alone they received their appointment their work, and their recompense.

Stewards of the mysteries of God - Και οικονομους μυστηριων Θεου, Economists of the Divine mysteries. See the explanation of the word steward in the note on Matthew 24:45, (note); Luke 8:3, (note); Luke 12:42, (note)

The steward, or oikonomos, was the master's deputy in regulating the concerns of the family, providing food for the household, seeing it served out at the 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, which he was obliged at certain times to lay before the master. The mysteries, the doctrines of God, relative to the salvation of the world by the passion and death of Christ; and the inspiration, illumination, and purification of the soul by the Spirit of Christ, constituted a principal part of the Divine treasure intrusted to the hands of the stewards by their heavenly Master; as the food that was to be dispensed at proper times, seasons, and in proper proportions to the children and domestics of the Church, which is the house of God.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Let a man - Let all; let this be the estimate formed of us by each one of you.

So account of us - So think of us, the apostles.

As the ministers of Christ - As the servants of Christ. Let them form a true estimate of us and our office - not as the head of a faction; not as designing to form parties, but as unitedly and entirely the servants of Christ; see 1 Corinthians 3:5.

And stewards - Stewards were those who presided over the affairs of a family, and made provision for it, etc.; see the note at Luke 16:1. It was an office of much responsibility; and the apostle by using the term here seems to have designed to elevate those whom he seemed to have depreciated in 1 Corinthians 3:5.

Of the mysteries of God - Of the gospel; see the note at 1 Corinthians 2:7. The office of steward was to provide those things which were necessary for the use of a family. And so the office of a minister of the gospel, and a steward of its mysteries, is to dispense such instructions, guidance, counsel, etc., as may be requisite to build up the church of Christ; to make known those sublime truths which are contained in the gospel, but which had not been made known before the revelation of Jesus Christ, and which are, therefore, called “mysteries.” It is implied in this verse:

(1) That the office of a minister is one that is subordinate to Christ - they are his servants.

(2) that those in the office should not attempt to be the head of sect or party in the church.

(3) that the office is honorable as that of a steward is; and,

(4) That Christians should endeavor to form and cherish just ideas of ministers; to give them their TRUE honor; but not to overrate their importance.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-4.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

1 COR. 4

Paul had stressed the inspiration of the apostles in the previous chapter; but in the first paragraph here he pointed out that even apostolic authority was not absolute and that even he himself and Apollos were but stewards of Christ, their first concern being to please the Lord, and not to accommodate their teaching to win favor with false teachers. He stated that the lower courts of conscience and public opinion were inferior to the judgment of the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:1-5). We agree with Adam Clarke that a more logical division of the chapters would have been to extend chapter 3 through the fifth verse here.[1]

In 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul pointed out that his use of his own name and that of Apollos was not to be construed as an admission that he and Apollos had actually headed any divisive parties in Corinth, but that he had used these names figuratively for the purpose of teaching against all divisions.

Most of the remainder of the chapter deals with the false teacher, without naming him, ending with a dramatic promise that he would return to Corinth, the Lord willing, and that the Lord would enable him to vanquish the false teacher and set the Corinthians once more in the right way of humility and service. He severely condemned their vain-glorious boasting, egotism and conceit (1 Corinthians 4:7-21).

ENDNOTE:

[1] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1831), Vol. VI. p. 207.

Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Corinthians 4:1)

This refers to both Paul and Apollos, and the word "minister" here is not the same as in 1 Corinthians 3:5. "It is [@huperetes], and originally meant an under-rower in a trireme."[2] This is very similar to a word Luke used of ministers. "The word Luke used (Luke 1:2; 4:20) is [@huperetai], used in medical terminology to refer to doctors who served under a principal physician."[3]

Stewards of the mysteries of God ... There are two extremes to be avoided in the Christian's attitude toward teachers. "We should love and respect them; but we ought not, however, to worship them or seek to form a party about them."[4] Stewards in ancient times were very important people.

The steward was the "major domo", in charge of the whole administration of the house or estate. He controlled the staff, issued supplies and rations and ran the whole household; but he himself was still a slave where the master was concerned.[5]

However, as will appear in the next verse, it was not so much the importance of a steward that Paul stressed; it was his faithfulness.

[2] Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 382.

[3] Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 19.

[4] George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee: The Christian Press, 1947), p. 41.

[5] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 41.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-corinthians-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Let a man so account of us,.... Though the apostle had before said that he, and other ministers of the Gospel, were not any thing with respect to God, and, with regard to the churches, were theirs, for their use and advantage; yet they were not to be trampled upon, and treated with contempt, but to be known, esteemed, and honoured for their works' sake, and in their respective places, stations, and characters; and though they were but men, yet were not to be considered as private men, and in a private capacity, but as in public office, and as public preachers of the word; and though they were not to be regarded as lords and masters over God's heritage, but as servants, yet not as everyone's, or as any sort of servants, but

as the ministers, or servants, of Christ; as qualified, called, and sent forth by him to preach his Gospel; as ambassadors in his name, standing in his place and stead, and representing him, and therefore for his sake to be respected and esteemed; and as such who make him the subject of their ministry, preach him and him only, exalt him in his person, offices, blood, righteousness and sacrifice, and direct souls to him alone for life and salvation:

and stewards of the mysteries of God; though they are not to be looked upon as masters of the household, that have power to dispose of things in the family at their own pleasure; yet they are to be regarded as stewards, the highest officers in the house of God; to whose care are committed the secret and hidden things of God; whose business it is to dispense, and make known, the mysteries of divine grace; such as respect the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person, the church's union to him, and communion with him, with many other things contained in the Gospel they are intrusted with.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Let 1 a a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

(1) He concludes the duty of the hearers towards their ministers: that they do not esteem them as lords. Yet nonetheless they are to give ear to them, as to those that are sent from Christ. Sent I say to this end and purpose, that they may receive as it were at their hands the treasure of salvation which is drawn out of the secrets of God.

(a) Every man.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-corinthians-4.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

1 Corinthians 4:1-21. True view of ministers: The judgment is not to be forestalled; meanwhile the apostles‘ low state contrasts with the Corinthians‘ party pride, not that Paul would shame them, but as a father warn them; for which end he sent Timothy, and will soon come himself.

account … us — Paul and Apollos.

ministers of Christ — not heads of the Church in whom ye are severally to glory (1 Corinthians 1:12); the headship belongs to Christ alone; we are but His servants ministering to you (1 Corinthians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 3:22).

stewards — (Luke 12:42; 1 Peter 4:10). Not the depositories of grace, but dispensers of it (“rightly dividing” or dispensing it), so far as God gives us it, to others. The {(chazan}, or “overseer,” in the synagogue answered to the bishop or “angel” of the Church, who called seven of the synagogue to read the law every sabbath, and oversaw them. The {parnasin} of the synagogue, like the ancient “deacon” of the Church, took care of the poor (Acts 6:1-7) and subsequently preached in subordination to the presbyters or bishops, as Stephen and Phili)p did. The Church is not the appendage to the priesthood; but the minister is the steward of God to the Church. Man shrinks from too close contact with God; hence he willingly puts a priesthood between, and would serve God by deputy. The pagan (like the modern Romish) priest was rather to conceal than to explain “the mysteries of God.” The minister‘s office is to “preach” (literally, “proclaim as a herald,” Matthew 10:27) the deep truths of God (“mysteries,” heavenly truths, only known by revelation), so far as they have been revealed, and so far as his hearers are disposed to receive them. Josephus says that the Jewish religion made known to all the people the mysteries of their religion, while the pagans concealed from all but the “initiated” few, the mysteries of theirs.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-corinthians-4.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ministers of Christ (υπηρετας Χριστουhupēretas Christou). Paul and all ministers (διακονουςdiakonous) of the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 3:5) are under-rowers, subordinate rowers of Christ, only here in Paul‘s Epistles, though in the Gospels (Luke 4:20 the attendant in the synagogue) and the Acts (Acts 13:5) of John Mark. The so (ουτωςhoutōs) gathers up the preceding argument (3:5-23) and applies it directly by the as (ωςhōs) that follows.

Stewards of the mysteries of God (οικονομους μυστηριων τεουoikonomous mustēriōn theou). The steward or house manager (οικοςoikos house, νεμωnemō to manage, old word) was a slave (δουλοςdoulos) under his lord (κυριοςkurios Luke 12:42), but a master (Luke 16:1) over the other slaves in the house (menservants παιδαςpaidas maidservants παιδισκαςpaidiskas Luke 12:45), an overseer (επιτροποςepitropos) over the rest (Matthew 20:8). Hence the under-rower (υπηρετηςhupēretēs) of Christ has a position of great dignity as steward (οικονομοςoikonomos) of the mysteries of God. Jesus had expressly explained that the mysteries of the kingdom were open to the disciples (Matthew 13:11). They were entrusted with the knowledge of some of God‘s secrets though the disciples were not such apt pupils as they claimed to be (Matthew 13:51; Matthew 16:8-12). As stewards Paul and other ministers are entrusted with the mysteries (see note on 1 Corinthians 2:7 for this word) of God and are expected to teach them. “The church is the οικοςoikos (1 Timothy 3:15), God the οικοδεσποτηςoikodespotēs (Matthew 13:52), the members the οικειοιoikeioi (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19)” (Lightfoot). Paul had a vivid sense of the dignity of this stewardship (οικονομιαoikonomia) of God given to him (Colossians 1:25; Ephesians 1:10). The ministry is more than a mere profession or trade. It is a calling from God for stewardship.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-corinthians-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Ministers ( ὑπηρέτας )

See on officer, Matthew 5:25. Only here in Paul's epistles.

Stewards

See on Luke 16:1.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-corinthians-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Let a man account us, as servants of Christ — The original word properly signifies such servants as laboured at the oar in rowing vessels; and, accordingly, intimates the pains which every faithful minister takes in his Lord's work. O God, where are these ministers to be found? Lord, thou knowest.

And stewards of the mysteries of God — Dispenseth of the mysterious truths of the gospel.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-corinthians-4.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

So account of us, &c.; regard us not as masters and leaders of different sects, but simply as the servants of Christ.--Stewards of the mysteries. Stewards are person intrusted with a charge. The apostles were stewards of the mysteries of God, inasmuch as they were intrusted with the charge of divine truth, which had been a mastery, having been, till then, withheld from mankind.


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Bibliography
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-corinthians-4.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Let a man so account of us As it was a matter of no little importance to see the Church in this manner torn by corrupt factions, from the likings or dislikings that were entertained towards individuals, he enters into a still more lengthened discussion as to the ministry of the word. Here there are three things to be considered in their order. In the first place, Paul describes the office of a pastor of the Church. Secondly, he shows, that it is not enough for any one to produce a title, or even to undertake the duty — a faithful administration of the office being requisite. Thirdly, as the judgment formed of him by the Corinthians was preposterous, (207) he calls both himself and them to the judgment-seat of Christ. In the first place, then, he teaches in what estimation every teacher in the Church ought to be held. In this department he modifies his discourse in such a manner as neither, on the one hand, to lower the credit of the ministry, nor, on the other, to assign to man more than is expedient. For both of these things are exceedingly dangerous, because, when ministers are lowered, contempt of the word arises, (208) while, on the other hand, if they are extolled beyond measure, they abuse liberty, and become “wanton against the Lord.” (1 Timothy 5:11.) Now the medium observed by Paul consists in this, that he calls them ministers of Christ; by which he intimates, that they ought to apply themselves not to their own work but to that of the Lord, who has hired them as his servants, and that they are not appointed to bear rule in an authoritative manner in the Church, but are subject to Christ’s authority (209) — in short, that they are servants, not masters.

As to what he adds — stewards of the mysteries of God, he expresses hereby the kind of service. By this he intimates, that their office extends no farther than this, that they are stewards of the mysteries of God In other words, what the Lord has committed to their charge they deliver over to men from hand to hand — as the expression is (210) — not what they themselves might choose. “For this purpose has God chosen them as ministers of his Son, that he might through them communicate to men his heavenly wisdom, and hence they ought not to move a step beyond this.” He appears, at the same time, to give a stroke indirectly to the Corinthians, who, leaving in the background the heavenly mysteries, had begun to hunt with excessive eagerness after strange inventions, and hence they valued their teachers for nothing but profane learning. It is an honorable distinction that he confers upon the gospel when he terms its contents the mysteries of God. But as the sacraments are connected with these mysteries as appendages, it follows, that those who have the charge of administering the word are the authorized stewards of them also.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-4.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 1. "Let a man so account of us as of ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."

After explaining what preachers are not, to show that no man should make himself dependent on them, the apostle declares what they are, to withdraw them from the rash judgments of the members of the Church. He does so first by continuing to speak of himself and Apollos (us; comp. 1 Corinthians 6:6), then he speaks singly of himself (me, 1 Corinthians 5:3).

The word οὕτως, thus, which begins this passage, has been understood in the sense of so then. Thus taken, it would connect this passage with the preceding, announcing a consequence drawn from it. But 1 Corinthians 4:21-21 had already drawn the consequence ( ὥστε, 1 Corinthians 4:21) from the preceding exposition. And the logical relation between what follows and what precedes would rather be that of contrast. The end of v23 had raised the readers to such a height, that the apostle does not care to connect with it what follows by any particle whatever, and continues by an asyndeton. It seems to me indeed, as to Rückert, that the οὕτως is nothing else than the antecedent of of the ὡς, as, which follows; comp. John 7:46; Ephesians 5:33; James 2:12, etc. The meaning is: "See how you ought to regard us."

The word ἄνθρωπος might be translated by the French pronoun on; perhaps it is better rendered by each;comp. 1 Corinthians 11:28. Edwards sees in the use of the word an imitation of the Hebrew Isch. Bengel thinks that the term is intended to contrast man"s judgment with that of God. I think the apostle wishes it to be felt that he is addressing the Church in the person of each of its members, and recalling to their minds the notion of ignorance and weakness attached to the condition of man.

The term ὑπηρέτης, which we translate by minister, strictly denotes a man who acts as rower under the orders of some one ( ὑπό and ἐρέσσω); he is a man labouring freely in the service of others: it here denotes the acting and laborious side of the Christian ministry. The term οἰκονόμος, steward, dispenser, denotes, among the ancients, a confidential slave to whom the master intrusts the direction of his house, and in particular the care of distributing to all the servants their tasks and provisions (Luke 12:42). This second term designates preachers as administrators of a truth which is not theirs, but their master"s. It relates to the inward and spiritual side of the work of the ministry. — The trust administered by them is the mysteries of God. This term mystery, in the singular, denotes the plan of salvation in general (see on 1 Corinthians 2:7). In the plural, it relates to the different designs included in this plan. The plural is here connected with the idea of distribution associated with that of steward. Perhaps Paul makes allusion to the choice which Apollos and he required to make among the manifold materials of Christian teaching, in order to use in every case only those which were appropriate to the state of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:2).

The genitives of Christ and of God, which are certainly related to those of 1 Corinthians 3:23, remind us that preachers, as labouring in the active service of Christ, the Head of the Church, and charged with distributing to it the truths of God, have to give account before these supreme authorities and not before the members of the Church. They go where Christ sends them, and deliver what God has given them. They are not to be judged in this respect. The only thing that can be asked of them, is to be faithful in the way in which they fulfil the missions confided to them, and in which they conform their teaching to the measure of light which they have received.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/1-corinthians-4.html.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY

‘Stewards of the mysteries of God.’

1 Corinthians 4:1

In the early part of this chapter we have a description of the Christian ministry and its responsibility, and an assertion that its responsibility is not to man, but to God.

I. God’s stewards, not man’s.—The ‘mysteries’ we clergy are stewards of are God’s mysteries, not man’s. They are entrusted to us by God, not by man. Therefore it is God, not man, that we are responsible to. ‘He that judgeth me,’ says St. Paul, ‘is the Lord.’ St. Paul even says that though he knows nothing against himself, yet even that does not prove him to be faithful. When Christ in the wilderness caused the Apostles to feed the five thousand He Himself provided the food by miracle. The store which the Apostles had was altogether insufficient. So it is with the Church and with her clergy. They are appointed by the Holy Ghost to feed the Church of God. But they have nothing of their own which will suffice. Therefore God Himself provides them with what is necessary. They are stewards of God’s mysteries, i.e. God’s mysteries are the food which He supplies to His ministers that they may have wherewithal to feed His flock.

II. But how is this office of stewards to be exercised by the clergy?—How are the clergy to ‘feed the Church of God’? What are these mysteries which they are to dispense in their character of stewards?

(a) We clergy are responsible to God for teaching you the truths of the Gospel. Whether men will hear or whether they will forbear; whether the truths are pleasant or whether they are unpopular, it must be all one to us—we are bound to preach them all the same. If we do not, God will judge us.

(b) Then come the various ordinances of public worship. In coming to church you come into God’s house, not into man’s. You come into God’s house that your souls may be with Him, and Him only.

(c) Then comes the chiefest ‘mystery’ of all—the Divinest ‘food’ of all, by which the Church of God is fed and the spiritual life of souls maintained—the Body and Blood of Christ—which is our spiritual food and sustenance in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

III. How ought Christian people to regard the Christian ministry? It seems to me they ought to be very thankful to God and Christ Who have thus provided that men are not left to themselves in things of so much consequence to them. How could men be sure that their clergy were teaching them God’s truths and delivering to them God’s mysteries if, after all, their clergy were only their ministers, and not God’s? Where a preacher is responsible to his flock he must do what pleases his flock.

Illustration

‘The steward is a man into whose hands property is placed. It is his duty to take care of it just as though it were his own, to see that the lands are honestly farmed, and the buildings fairly treated by the tenants, to be the medium between those tenants and the landlord, to receive the rents of the estate and to pay over to the landlord every penny that remains after all legal liabilities have been discharged. If he fails in any of these duties, he proves himself an incompetent or a faithless steward. When he fulfils them diligently, earnestly, thoroughly, and in the spirit of justice, he secures the confidence and esteem of his employer and of the tenants with whom he has to deal. But though he occupies, as a rule, a higher position than the tenant, he equally occupies a position inferior to that of the man he serves. A steward, however cultivated he may be, whatever may be his social position, is, as far as his official duties are concerned, only a servant after all.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

CLERGY AND PEOPLE

Teaching is an essential part, but is after all only a part of the work of the clergy. What would be thought of the servant or the steward who, when left in charge of the mansion, never looked to locks, or bolts, or bars, allowed it to be broken into and its valuables stolen without lifting a hand in its defence? Well, we need not say what the world would think, because we all know.

I. The clergy as stewards are placed in charge of the property which the piety of individuals has given to God’s Church through the centuries.—Against the House of God enemies have come up, and because the stewards have acted as true stewards should act, raised the ‘hue and cry’ and assembled their fellow-servants in defence of God’s heritage, they have been reproved. Could the clergy, as honest men, have done otherwise? Of course, no human power can destroy God’s Church. If every penny of her property was stolen from her and every parish church in the kingdom sold for building material, and priests were hung here and there from the steeples—as they were in the days of Edward VI—those who remained would gather their flocks in the barn or by the hedge-side and the Faith would prevail. But for all that we should be faithless stewards if we did not manfully defend that which is rightly God’s, Church Defence is one department of the work which His stewards have to fulfil.

II. But what of the ‘mysteries of God’ which these stewards have to defend and dispense?—How awfully solemn is the mission entrusted to these same unworthy, feeble servants.

(a) The steward of the mysteries of God stands at the font and takes the unconscious child into his arms, and baptizes it in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and at once the life which was far off is brought nigh, and in the act the Lord Jesus Christ has taken it and placed it within the city gates: it has become a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven. What that child’s future may be no human being can foretell. But in this life it can never forfeit all its privileges, can from the depths of sin call God its Father, and the Lord Christ its Brother; if it will, may turn, and repent and live. How great, how solemn, how comforting a mystery is this! and what honour and responsibility does God confer upon the man chosen to be its steward!

(b) And shall we not say that the second mystery is still more solemn, more comforting, more awe-inspiring? I need not here repeat our Lord’s teaching, or the true story of the institution of that Blessed Sacrament. You know it well. To the faithful He gives Himself, and we draw near, meekly kneeling, and receive the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for us, and the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for us, and we know and believe that both are given to us for the preservation of our bodies and souls unto everlasting life.

III. How shall you receive these stewards? What can you do to help them?

(a) They are human and will often make mistakes. You must bear with them, remembering that they are of flesh and blood like yourselves. You must listen earnestly and with attention to what they say, remembering that—if they are true men—they are giving you not something of their own devising, but that which God has given to them for you. You must pray over their teaching, and, if you are not satisfied about it, go humbly and trustingly to God’s Word for light (according to the wholesome rule of our Church in her Sixth Article). If you are true and loyal Churchmen you will do more than that: you will honour them for their message, remembering Whose ambassadors they are.

(b) You will never fail to pray for them. You see their prominent, often elevated position; at times you delight in their eloquence, you admire their piety. Sometimes you see their failures, their mistakes, their foolishness, their vanity. Sometimes, but thank God very rarely, you see a terrible fall. But you do not see the inward struggles, the temptations, the doubts, the fears that assail them; the troubles that pour in at times like a flood, the hopes dying down, the prospects blasted, the bitter assaults of the devil. Oh, pray for them. Cry unto God for your clergy that they may have grace to live the lives they preach, to minister with clean hands and a pure heart with deepening faith and reverence, to teach the whole truth pure and undefiled, to persevere through all discouragement to the last. If the people do not pray for their clergy God’s Church will never prosper. A praying people will mean a living, growing, ingathering Church, and a holy, self-denying, faithful ministry.

—Rev. Samuel Pascoe.


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Ver. 1. Let a man so account] Quasi dicat, though we are yours, as 1 Corinthians 3:22, devoted to the service of your faith, yet are we not to be slighted, but respected as Christ’s high stewards.

Ministers of Christ] Gr. υπηρετας, "under rowers" to Christ the master pilot, helping forward the ship of the Church toward the haven of heaven.

Stewards of the mysteries] Dispensing all out of God’s goods, and not of our own; setting bread and salt upon the table (that is, preaching Christ crucified) whatever else there is.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 4:1

I. Consider what is really meant by speaking of human work as a "ministry of God." The conception of a ministry of God underlies our whole system of thought and expression, cropping out again and again in forms, the meaning of which is half forgotten. But seldom, perhaps, we realise that it is, after all, the only conception which makes it worth while to act or to live. The belief that man's action is a ministry of God is the one to which we must come at last, because the only one which explains all the facts and answers all the needs of our complex life.

II. The advent of Christ in great humility is, indeed, the charter of God's infinite love; but it is also the charter of man's inalienable dignity. Think how the first great mystery of the Incarnation shows us the almost inconceivable truth that in the regeneration of mankind to spiritual life even God's almighty power needed the co-operation of humanity. Think how the revelation of the Son of man at every point showed that the working of the human will with the Divine was of the essence of the actual work of salvation. From the day of Pentecost to the present time is it not through human agency that He is pleased to work? The very call to propagate His gospel implies the truth that we can be—that we must be—ministers of Christ. Mere ministers, I know, bound simply to do His will and leave the issues to Him; but still truly His ministers, each with a real work to do, which by him only is to be done.

III. "Stewards of the mysteries of God." This is a title of dignity, not of humility. We have to make use of, in some sense to sway, mysterious powers of God. "It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful." It is to be faithful in perfect trustfulness, faithful in unswerving obedience, faithful in unselfish devotion, faithful in unsullied truth. God grant that we be found so faithful in the great day.

Bishop Barry, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 49.


I. What is the meaning of the word "mystery" in the New Testament? It is used to describe not a fancy, not a contradiction, not an impossibility, but always a truth, yet a truth which has been or which is more or less hidden. A mystery is a truth, a fact. The word is never applied to anything else or less; never to a fancy, never to an impossibility, never to a recognised contradiction, never to any shadowy sort of unreality. But it is a partially hidden fact or truth. Truths are of two kinds, both of them truths, and, as such, equally certain; but they differ in that they are differently apprehended by us. There are some truths on which the mind's eye rests directly, just as the bodily eye rests on the sun in a cloudless sky; and there are other truths of the reality of which the mind is assured by seeing something else which satisfies it that they are there, just as the bodily eye sees the strong ray which pours forth in a stream of brilliancy from behind the cloud and reports to the understanding that if only the cloud were to be removed the sun would itself be seen. Now, mysteries in religion, as we commonly use the word, are of this description; we see enough to know that there is more which we do not see, and while in this state of existence we shall not directly see, we see the ray which implies the sun behind the cloud. And thus to look upon the apparent truth, which certainly implies truth that is not apparent, is to be in the presence of mystery.

II. Science does not exorcise mystery out of nature; it only removes its frontier, in most cases, a step farther back. Those who know most of nature are most impressed, not by the facts which they can explain and reason on, but by the facts which they cannot explain and which they know to lie beyond the range of explanation. And the mysterious creed of Christendom corresponds with nature. After all, we may dislike and resent mystery in our lower and captious, as distinct from better and thoughtful moods; but we know on reflection that it is the inevitable robe of a real revelation of the Infinite Being, and that if the great truths and ordinances of Christianity shade off as they do into regions where we cannot hope to follow them, this is only what was to be expected if Christianity is what it claims to be.

H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 1152.

I. What were the distinctive functions of the Christian ministry? To gain a satisfactory answer to this question we must in all honesty consult the New Testament itself as to the primitive idea of the ministry and the terms used to describe its office, and not allow ourselves to be entangled in the technical phraseology which a later theology, not always adhering to the primitive idea, but overlaying it by false analogies, and subsequently by ambitious assumptions of lordship over God's heritage, introduced. Approaching the question, then, in the first instance from the negative side, we may ascertain that the books of the New Testament distinctly abstain from employing for the new ministry of the Christian Church the language which had been used to describe the ministers of religion of the Mosaic system. Christian ministers are never in the New Testament called priests (ἱερεῖς)—that is, if we are to adopt the definition given by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "persons taken from among men, ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that they may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins." The term ἱερεῖς, or sacrificial offerer, is repeatedly employed of the heathen priests and of the Jewish priests, but never of Christian officers. Wherever the idea of priesthood in its sense of ἱεράτεια is recognised as having place in the Christian Church, it is applied to all Christian people and not to the authorised officers specially. Jesus Christ has made them all kings and priests to God and His Father. All form a spiritual priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ—these spiritual sacrifices are prayers, praises, thanksgivings, or on another side they are "ourselves, our souls and bodies," the rational not material offering, and the whole congregation of Christian people have a full right, as well as a bounden duty, to offer these.

II. The determination of the negative side of the Scriptural doctrine of the ministry enables us to proceed with advantage to the positive side. And there we find ourselves almost embarrassed by the multitude of terms which are used as descriptive of ministerial functions. They who are in a position of authority over their brethren are called messengers, ambassadors, shepherds, teachers, preachers of the word, rulers, overseers, ministers, stewards. Each term represents some varying aspect of the Christian officers, and suggests to them corresponding duties. The central idea of the Christian ministry appears to be the proclamation of the word of the gospel with all its vivifying and manifold applications to the intellects and hearts and consciences of men rather than an administration of an external ceremonial and ritual. It is a high spiritual and moral mission from Christ with which the ordained officers of the Church are charged. To keep alive the belief of one supreme God, the Maker and Upholder and Final Cause of the universe, amidst the sensualism and materialism of a complex civilisation, to evoke the sentiments of love and trust and worship towards Him, to hold up Jesus Christ His only Son as the fullest revelation in human form of the Almighty Father, to unfold the mysteries of His incarnation, the abiding results of His life and ministry and passion and resurrection, to bid men imitate, so far as in their frailty they can, the matchless ideal of goodness and justice and purity and charity exhibited in Him, to proclaim the brotherhood of all men in Him the world's Redeemer, to point men to Him as the Deliverer from sin and the Consoler of suffering, to help their brethren to live the Christian life by example and precept and doctrine,—this is the glorious function of the Christian ministry.

W. Ince, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Jan. 31st, 1878.

References: 1 Corinthians 4:1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons in a Religious House, 2nd series, vol. i., p 238; G. Moberly, Plain Sermons at Brighstone, p. 123; A. Barry, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 49; H. P. Liddon, Ibid., vol. xxvi., p. 385; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 150. 1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 4:2.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 80; vol. v., pp. 271, 272; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. i., p. 303. 1 Corinthians 4:1-6.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 54. 1 Corinthians 4:2.—C. Garrett, Loving Counsels, p. 1.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/1-corinthians-4.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Corinthians 4:1. Let a man so account of us, &c.— The Apostle intimates, that he was so far from arrogating the title assumed by the founders of the different sects of philosophy, and fromwishing to have scholars denominated from him, that he would have no man think higher of him than that he was a servant of Christ; and that the mysteries he revealed were no more his, than the money which a steward is employed to distribute in alms could be called his property. He was no master, no proprietor; but a servant, and a steward. See Locke and Doddridge.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

As if the apostle had said, "Although I warned you, in the foregoing chapter, against an undue esteem of your pastors, and against a factious preference of some before others, to the great scandal of religion, and the prejudice of the gospel; yet I speak not this to draw you off from paying that due honour and deserved respect which belongs to their character. But I desire you to account them all, neither more nor less, but as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God."

Here observe, 1. A double character given of an evangelical pastor.

He is, (1.) A minister of Christ: that is, a person deputed by the command, and invested with the authority, of Christ, to administer in holy things, to preach the word, administer the sacraments, execute church censures; being in all things an example to the flock! and the people are to account the office and work of the ministry, as a divine institution and appointment of Christ in his church; whoever slights or opposes the ministry, flies in the face of Christ himself.

(2.) He is a steward of the mysteries of God; and that in a twofold respect.

First, He is a steward of the truths of God; secondly,

of the ordinances of God.

Of the truths of God he is a steward, to open and explain them for the spiritual edification of all Christians, and to defend and maintain them against the opposition of all adversaries: God's steward must not suffer vermin to destroy the provision of God's household.

He is a steward of the ordinances of God also: which he is obliged to dispense in all faithfulness to his congregation. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:10.

Observe, 2. As the ministers of Christ are described, they are stewards; so the qualification of a steward is declared, and that is faithfulness: It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. What ground is there for trust, where there is no truth?

Now this faithfulness in our stewardship includes,

(1.) Purity of intention; a pure end in all our services will give us abundance of comfort at the end of our service.

(2.) Sincerity and integrity of heart: a faithful minister is a sincere-hearted minister, who preaches his sermons first to himself, and then to his hearers.

(3.) Ministerial diligence: a slothful minister can never be a faithful steward; we must study the truths of God to paleness, preach them to faintness, maintain and defend them with stedfastness: we look for happiness from God as long as he is in heaven, and he expects faithfulness from us as long as we are upon earth.

(4.) Faithfulness in stewardship includes impariality in all the adminstrations of Christ's house: we must take the same care of, manifest the same love unto, attend with the same diligence upon, the poorest and meanest in our congregations, as we do the rich, the great, and the honourable: for all our souls are at one price, and rated at one value in our Lord's book.

O! let us take care we be impartial stewards, for we must shortly give an account of our stewardship before an impartial God.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1.] οὕτως, emphatic, preparatory to ὡς, as in ref.

ἄνθρωπος, as E. V., a man, in the most general and indefinite sense, as ‘man’ in German: not a Hebraism, nor = ἕκαστος. The whole is opposed to καύχησις ἐν ἀνθρώποις: the ministers of Christ are but subordinates to Him, and accountable to God.

ἡμᾶς, here, not, ‘us ministers generally,’ see below, 1 Corinthians 4:6, but ‘myself and Apollos,’ as a sample of such.

ὑπηρ. χριστοῦ, see ch. 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:22-23. But in οἰκον. μυστ. θεοῦ we have a new figure introduced. The Church, 1 Timothy 3:15, is the οἶκος θεοῦ—and those appointed to minister in it are οἰκονόμοι, stewards and dispensers of the property and stores of the οἰκοδεσπότης. These last are the μυστήρια, hidden treasures, of God,—i.e. the riches of his grace, now manifested in Christ, ch. 1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 16:25-26, which they announce and distribute to all, having received them from the Spirit for that purpose. “Ea mysteria sunt incarnationis, passionis et resurrectionis Christi, redemptionis nostræ, vocationis gentium, et cætera quæ complectitur evangelica doctrina.” Estius, who also, as a Romanist, attempts to include the sacraments among the μυστήρια in this sense. The best refutation of this is given by himself: “sed cum ipse Paulus dixerit primo capite, Non misit me Christus baptizare, sed evangelizare, rectius est ut mysteria Dei intelligantur fidei nostræ dogmata.” It may be doubted, whether, in the N. T. sense of μυστήρια, the sacraments can be in any way reckoned as such: for μυστ. is a (usually divine) proceeding, once hidden, but now revealed, or now hidden, and to be revealed; under neither of which categories can the sacraments be classed.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-4.html. 1863-1878.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

A further Account respecting Ministers. The humbling View Paul gives of himself, and his few faithful companions.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1828.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 1951

MINISTERS, THE LORD’S STEWARDS

1 Corinthians 4:1-2. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

THE apostolic Churches were not so blameless as we are apt to imagine. Many evils obtained among them; and not in a few insulated individuals only, but in the great mass of the people. The Church at Corinth was peculiarly faulty: many and great evils obtained among them: dissension and division in particular, were fomented among them: and the very diversity of gifts which were exercised among them, instead of being an occasion of more exalted piety, was made a source of discord. The people had their favourite preachers, under whom they ranged themselves as partisans and followers; one being of Paul, another of Apollos, another of Cephas; and another of Christ, as having heard and enjoyed his personal ministrations. To allay this spirit, St. Paul teaches them what account to make of all their teachers, and what to look for at their hands: not flattery, as heads of parties; but fidelity, as stewards of their great Lord and Master.

Let us here see,

I. In what light people are to view their ministers—

Ministers come not in their own name, but as ordained of God for the benefit of the Church. They are to be viewed,

1. As ministers of Christ—

[They are sent by Christ. They come not of themselves, but as commissioned by him. It is his message which they bring; his will that they perform. By them it is that he speaks to men, As earthly kings are represented by their ambassadors, and speak by them in foreign courts, so the Lord Jesus Christ himself speaks by his ministers: they stand in his stead: they speak in his name: their word is not their own, but his; and must be received, “not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God.”]

2. As stewards of the mysteries of God—

[They are not merely servants or ministers, but servants of a peculiar class. The whole Church is one great family; and they are appointed as “stewards,” to “give to every one his portion in due season.” To them “the mysteries of God” are more especially committed, that they may dispense them to all, according to their respective necessities; giving “milk to babes, and strong meat to those who are of full age.” The whole of God’s revelation is full of mysteries, which, in due season, they are to unfold: but that which they are chiefly to make known, is the stupendous mystery of redemption. They are to shew, as occasion may require, the need there was of redemption; the means by which it is wrought, even by the incarnation and death of God’s only dear Son; and the way in which it is applied to men, by the mighty operation of the Spirit of God upon the soul — — — It is not necessary that they should be always insisting on one particular topic: the subject comprehends an immense range; and every part of it must be brought forward in its turn: but the one great mystery must be always kept in view; and the dispensing of it must ever be considered as the appropriate office of the ministers of Christ — — —]

This being their true character and designation, it will easily appear,

II. In what way ministers are to conduct themselves towards their people—

A steward in an household must be faithful to his charge: and so must a minister be in the Church of God: he must be faithful,

1. To his Master—

[He is to receive instructions daily from his Master, and to carry them into effect to the utmost of his power. He must never be doing his own will, or following his own way: he must “in no respect seek his own things, but invariably the things of Jesus Christ.” He must so act, as if the eye of his Master were immediately upon him; and so that he may be able to give a good account of his stewardship, whensoever he shall be called into his Master’s presence — — — He must never be swayed by any thing but his Master’s will: there must be no vacillation in his conduct, as arising from carnal hopes or fears; nor any negligence, as arising from sloth. What his Master has appointed, he must do: and “whatever his hand findeth to do, he must do it with all his might.”]

2. To his fellow-servants—

[He must make a due inquiry into their state and circumstances, in order that he may know what to apportion to each, in a way either of work or sustenance. Having his eye on all, he must deal out to them severally that measure of approbation or displeasure, which may be a sure criterion and earnest of the award which will be assigned them at the coming of their Lord. He is never to aim at “pleasing them, except for their good to edification:” I say, he must speak and act, at all times, “not as pleasing men, but God, that trieth the hearts.” He must indeed “speak the truth in love;” but the truth he must speak at all times, “commending himself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” He must “never prophesy smooth things;” but “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine;” “doing nothing by partiality, and never preferring one before another.” The express command of God to him is, “He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat [Note: Jeremiah 23:28.]?” The word which he is entrusted to dispense must be in his mouth “as a fire, and as a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces [Note: Jeremiah 23:29.].” He must consider his own soul as at stake: and must so “declare the whole counsel of God, as to be pure from the blood of all men,” and, at all events, to “deliver his own soul;” that, if any have perished under his ministry, he may himself at least be approved of his God.]

Address—

1. Be thankful for the privileges which you enjoy—

[You have, I hope I may say, a faithful ministry. But you need to be cautioned against the error which obtained in the Corinthian Church. You know, that wherever there are more ministers than one, there is apt to arise an undue partiality for one above another: and this sometimes verges on an idolatrous attachment on the one part, and a contemptuous indifference on the other. But the Apostle tells us, that this is a very reprehensible carnality. For, granting that you find one more profitable to your soul than another, “what is any man, but a minister by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” Look through men to God. All of them are “earthen vessels, and the treasure they dispense is God’s:” if you look to man, God will withhold his blessing from you: but if you look simply to him, he will, by one as well as by another of his faithful servants, comfort and enrich your souls.]

2. Be faithful, on your part, in making a due improvement of them—

[If faithfulness be required on our part, so is it also on yours. You must come to the ordinances with a real disposition and desire to “hear what the Lord God will say concerning you.” You must have your minds open to conviction, and “receive with meekness every word you hear, that it may be an engrafted word, effectual to save your souls.” You must not be offended with the faithfulness of your minister; but consider Almighty God himself as speaking to you by him. Then may you expect from God those blessings which your souls need, and a happy meeting with your ministers in the realms of bliss.]


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Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/1-corinthians-4.html. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 4:1. οὕτως] is commonly taken as preparatory, emphatically paving the way for the ὡς ὑπηρ. which follows. Comp 1 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Corinthians 9:26; 2 Corinthians 9:5; Ephesians 5:33, al(595), and often in Greek writers. The καυχ. ἐν ἀνθρ. before repudiated arose, namely, out of a false mode of regarding the matter; Paul now states the true mode. Since, however, there is no antithetic particle added here, and since the following epithets: ὑπηρ. χριστοῦ and οἰκον. θεοῦ sound significantly like the ὑμεῖς δὲ χριστοῦ, χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ which immediately precede them, οὕτως is rather to be regarded as the sic retrospective (in this way, in such fashion), and ὡς again as stating the objective quality, in which the ἡμεῖς have a claim to the οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζ. ἄνθρ. which is enjoined. Accordingly, we should explain as follows: Under this point of view, as indicated already in 4:22 f. (namely, that all is yours; but that ye are Christ’s; and that Christ, again, is God’s), let men form their judgment of us, as of those who are servants of Christ and stewards of divine mysteries. Let us but be judged of as servants of Christ, etc., according to the standard of that lofty Christian mode of view ( οὕτως), and how conclusively shut out from this sphere of vision will be the partisan καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρώποις! Men will be lifted high above that.

ἡμᾶς] i.e. myself and such as I, by which other apostles also and apostolic teachers (like Apollos) are meant. In view of 1 Corinthians 3:22, no narrower limitation is allowable.

ἄνθρωπος] not a Hebraism ( אִישׁ, one; so most interpreters, among whom Luther, Grotius, and others explain it wrongly every one), but in accordance with a pure Greek use of the word in the sense of the indefinite one or a man (Plato, Protag. p. 355 A, Gorg. p. 500 C, al(596) ). So also in 1 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 6:1. Bengel’s “homo quivis nostris similis” is an importation.

ὑπηρ. χ. κ. οἰκον. μυστ. θεοῦ] They are servants of Christ, and, as such, are at the same time stewards of God (the supreme ruler, 1 Corinthians 3:23, the Father and Head of the theocracy, the οἶκος θεοῦ, 1 Timothy 3:15), inasmuch as they are entrusted with His secrets, i.e. entrusted and commissioned to communicate by the preaching of the gospel the divine decrees for the redemption of men and their receiving Messianic blessings (see on Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; Matthew 13:11),—decrees in themselves unknown to men, but fulfilled in Christ, and unveiled by means of revelation. They are to do this just as the steward of a household (see on Luke 16:1) has to administer his master’s goods. Comp as regards this idea, 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Timothy 1:4; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10. There is no reference whatever here to the sacraments, which Olshausen and Osiander again desire to include. See 1 Corinthians 1:17. The whole notion of a sacrament, as such, was generalized at a later date from the actions to which men restricted it, sometimes in a wider, sometimes in a narrower sense.

Observe, moreover: between the Father, the Master of the house, and the οἰκονόμοι there stands the Son, and He has from the Father the power of disposal (comp on John 8:35 f.; 1 Corinthians 15:25 ff.), so that the οἰκονόμοι are His servants. Paul uses ὑπηρέτης only in this passage; but there is no ground for importing any special design into the word (such as that it is humbler than διάκονος). Comp on Ephesians 3:7.


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 4:1. οὕτως, so) is determinative, and resumes the subject from what precedes.— λογιζέσθω, account) without glorying, 1 Corinthians 3:21.— ἄνθρωπος, a man) איש, any man, one like ourselves, 1 Corinthians 3:21.— ὑπηρτέτας, ministers) Luke 1:2.— χριστοῦ, of Christ) in His office [as the only Great Mediator]; not [ministers] of men.— οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ, stewards of the mysteries of God) Paul, where he describes the ministers of the Gospel in the humblest language, still acknowledges them to be stewards: see Titus 1:7, note; comp. of Christ, and, of God, with 1 Corinthians 3:23. [Mysteries are heavenly doctrines, of which men are ignorant without the revelation of GOD.—V. g.]


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-4.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 4

1 Corinthians 4:1-5 Paul showeth in what account such as he should be

held, of whose fidelity it should be left to God

to judge.

1 Corinthians 4:6,7 He dissuadeth the Corinthians from valuing

themselves in one teacher above another,

since all had their respective distinctions

from God.

1 Corinthians 4:8-13 To their self-sufficient vanity he opposeth his

own despised and afflicted state,

1 Corinthians 4:14-16 warning them, as their only father in Christ, and

urging theme to follow him.

1 Corinthians 4:17-21 For the same cause he sent Timotheus, and meant

soon to follow in person, when he would inquire

into the authority of such as opposed him.

The apostle here gives us the right notion of the preachers of the gospel; they are but ministers, that is, servants, so as the honour that is proper to their Master, for a principal efficiency in the conversion and building up of souls, belongeth not to them; they are ministers of Christ, so have their primary relation to him, and only a secondary relation to the church to which they are ministers; they are ministers of Christ and so in that ministration can only execute what are originally his commands, though those commands of Christ may also be enforced by men: ministers of the gospel, not of the law, upon whom lies a primary obligation to preach Christ and his gospel unto people. They are also

stewards of the mysteries of God, such to whom God hath committed his word and sacraments to dispense out unto his church. The word mystery signifieth any thing that is secret, but more especially it signifieth a Divine secret, represented by signs and figures; or a religious secret, not obvious to every capacity or understanding. Thus we read of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 13:11; the mystery of godliness, 1 Timothy 3:16; the mystery of Christ, Ephesians 3:4. The wisdom of God, Colossians 2:2; the incarnation of Christ, 1 Timothy 3:16; the calling of the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:4; the resurrection from the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:21; Christ’s mystical union and communion with his church, Ephesians 5:32; the sublime counsels of God, 1 Corinthians 13:2, are all called mysteries. Ministers are the stewards of the mysterious doctrines and institutions of Christ, which we usually comprehend under the terms of the word and sacraments.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Ministers of Christ; not of man; whose main business therefore is not to please man, but God-compare verse 1 Corinthians 4:3 -and who are not to be set up as the heads of parties.

Stewards of the mysteries of God; stewards were appointed by the head of a family to provide for them and superintend their concerns. So the apostles were appointed by God to provide needful instruction for his spiritual family-to preach to them the truths of the gospel, called mysteries because they had before been comparatively unknown.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-corinthians-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

1. οὕτως ἡμᾶς λογιζέσθω ἄνθρωπος. ‘Of the things of which we have spoken this is the sum.’ We are not to be regarded for any qualifications we may have of our own, but simply as ‘the servants of the Most High God.’

ὑπηρέτας Χριστοῦ. Not ministers in the technical sense, but attendants, in the modern sense of the word. The ὑπηρέτης was either, [1] the under-rower, one who rowed under the direction of another, or [2] one who sat in the lower bank of oars. John Mark (Acts 13:5) was the ὑπηρέτης of Barnabas and Paul. See also Luke 1:2.

καὶ οἰκονόμους μυστηρίων θεοῦ. Literally, house-ruler, or house-feeder. Cf. German Hauswalter from walten to rule, and the English housekeeper. What a steward’s office is, we learn from Matthew 24:45. μυστήριον is derived from μύω, to shut the eyes, and was in the old Greek civilization used to denote those rites which were only permitted to the initiated, and were kept a strict secret from the outside world. Of such a kind were the well-known Eleusinian mysteries, which were kept every fifth year at Eleusis in Attica, the rites of the Bona Dea, which were observed at Rome, and those of Isis and Mithras, which were of Egyptian and Persian origin. (See Article ‘Mysteria’ in Smith’s Dictionary of Antiquities.) The word is used in Scripture in two senses, [1] of things hidden from the ordinary understanding, [2] of things formerly concealed in the counsels of God but revealed to those who believe the Gospel. We have examples of the former meaning in ch. 1 Corinthians 13:2 and 1 Corinthians 14:2 of this Epistle, in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and in Revelation 1:20, and of the latter in Matthew 13:11; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26, as well as in ch. 1 Corinthians 2:7. The present passage appears to include both meanings. The ministers of Christ are to nourish their people on the knowledge of the truths of His Gospel, a knowledge (ch. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16) revealed only to the spiritual. As Chrysostom says, they were to do this οἷς δεῖ, καὶ ὅτε δεῖ, καὶ ὡς δεῖ. No instance of μυστήριον in its more modern Greek sense of Sacraments is to be found in Holy Scripture. In the Septuagint it is frequently found in the Apocrypha (as in Tobit 12:7; Tobit 12:11), but the only instances of its occurrence in the Canonical books are in the Septuagint translation of the book of Daniel, ch. Daniel 2:18-19; Daniel 2:27-30; Daniel 2:47, ch. Daniel 4:6 (where it is the translation of a Chaldaic word signifying ‘a thing hidden,’ which in our Authorized Version is translated secret) and in Isaiah 24:16, where, however, the translators, as those of the Vulgate, appear to have been misled by the similarity of the Chaldee word to a Hebrew one (Luther, Ewald, and the English version translate the word by ‘leanness’). It is also found in some editions in the Greek of Proverbs 20:19. Cf. for similar sentiments to the above passage, Titus 1:7, and 1 Peter 4:10.


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Bibliography
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-corinthians-4.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

a. Apostles are dispensers of God’s mysteries, to be judged solely by God, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

1. A man—Any or every person.

Us—The apostles, and, inferentially, all true ministers.

Ministers—The Greek word signifies etymologically under-rowers; as if Christ were chief navigator in the boat and his apostles were rowing under him. Thence it commonly means any servant or subordinate aid.

Stewards—Any dispensers of any treasured value, as cashiers or distributers of property.

Mysteries—The entire mass of divine truths, hitherto held secret by God, but now for the first time revealed in Christ; hence embracing all that was truly new to the world, Jews or Gentiles, in the doctrines and institutes of the Christian dispensation. The disclosing these mysteries was the high office of the first commissioned evangelists and apostles. To them primitively Christ had said, (Matthew 13:1,) “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” In this, Paul means to say, consists the broad difference between the Christian apostle and the sages of Greek philosophy. The former received their system by revelation from Christ; the latter invented theirs from their own brains. Christ is alone the divine original.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-4.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 4:1. In this way: as belonging to you, you to Christ, and Christ to God. This completes Paul's answer to the question of 1 Corinthians 3:5, an answer to be obtained by deliberately reasoning out the foregoing teaching.

Us: Paul, Apollos, etc.

As helpers etc.; expounds in this way, and sums up Paul's teaching about himself and Apollos.

Helpers: common Greek word for sailors, and for any kind of assistant in private or public business. It therefore recalls 1 Corinthians 3:8.

Stewards: Luke 16:1-8 : men, sometimes slaves, who managed a household or business.

Mysteries of God; recalls 1 Corinthians 2:7. Cp. Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:9, “what is the stewardship of the mystery;” Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10. God had set these men in authority in His household on earth, and had committed to them the hidden truths of the Gospel to be distributed, as spiritual food, to His children. If we look at all Christian teachers in this light, we shall not render them such homage as will be a barrier between us and other Christians. Our desire will be to obtain from each the spiritual food committed to him for us. Notice that Paul, as a wise steward, gives milk (1 Corinthians 3:2) to babes and solid food (1 Corinthians 2:6) to full-grown men.

Some have thought that mysteries refers expressly to the sacraments: and in Ephesians 5:32 the same word is so translated in the Latin Vulgate. But Estius properly points to 1 Corinthians 1:17, which teaches that to administer these was not Paul's chief work. This great commentator's loyalty to the exact meaning of Scripture, and his refusal to draw from Scripture an unfair argument for the doctrines of his church, deserve the highest praise. And every Protestant will thank God that a work so full of evangelical truth is published under the express sanction of the Roman Catholic Church.


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Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Joseph Beet's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jbc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1877-90.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Learners should view teachers as servants of God and stewards of God"s mysteries rather than as party leaders. Paul used a different word for servants here (hyperetai) than he did in 1 Corinthians 3:5 (diakonoi). This word means an under-rower, a figure taken from the galley ships of the time. Slaves who rowed under the authority of the man who coordinated their individual efforts propelled the ship. The ship sailed straight ahead rather than in circles as the slaves followed the instructions of their leader. The other word (diakonoi) is the normal word for a servant.

A steward ("those entrusted with," NIV) was a servant whom his master entrusted with the administration of his business or property. His job was to devote his time, talents, and energy to executing his master"s interests, not his own. The figure stresses both the apostles" humble position as belonging to Christ and their trusted yet accountable position under God. The mysteries of God refer to the truths of the Christian faith.

"("Mysteries" appear often in this letter, 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 14:2; and perhaps 1 Corinthians 2:1; this is consistent with their interest in Hellenistic wisdom [cf. Wisdom of Solomon 2:22; Wisdom of Solomon 6:22; as opposed to pagan mysteries in Wisdom of Solomon 14:15; Wisdom of Solomon 14:23].)" [Note: Keener, p43.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-corinthians-4.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

even as we received mercy—not so much, mercy to “put us into the ministry,” as mercy for the courageous discharge of it (1 Timothy 1:12-14),—we faint not:(1)


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/1-corinthians-4.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Corinthians 4:1. “In this way let a man take account of us, viz., as servants of Christ, etc.” οὕτως draws attention to the coming ὡς: the vb(631) λογιζέσθω implies a reasonable estimate, drawn from admitted principles (cf. Romans 6:11; Romans 12:1, λογικήν), the pr(632) impv(633) an habitual estimate. The use of ἄνθρωπος for τις (1 Corinthians 11:28, etc.), occasional in cl(634) Gr(635), occurs “where a gravior dicendi formula is required” (El(636)). ὑπηρέτης (only here in Epp.: see parls.) agrees with οἰκέτης (Romans 14:4, domestic) in associating servant and master, whereas διάκονος rather contrasts them (1 Corinthians 3:5, see note; Mark 9:35): see Trench, Syn(637), § 9.— ὡς ὑπηρ. χριστοῦ κ. οἰκονόμους κ. τ. λ., “as Christ’s assistants, and stewards of God’s mysteries”—in these relations Jesus set the App. to Himself and God: see Matthew 13:11; Matthew 13:52. With P. the Church is the οἶκος (1 Timothy 3:15), God the οἰκοδεσπότης, its members the οἰκεῖοι (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 2:19), and its ministers—the App. in chief—the οἰκονόμοι (1 Corinthians 9:17, Colossians 1:25, etc.). The figure of 1 Corinthians 3:9 ff. is kept up: those who were ἀρχιτέκτων and ἐποικοδομοῦντες in the rearing of the house, become ὑπηρέται and οἰκονόμοι in its internal economy. The οἰκονόμος was a confidential housekeeper or over-seer, commonly a slave, charged with provisioning the establishment. Responsible not to his fellows, but to “the Lord,” his high trust demands a strict account (Luke 12:41-48).—On μυστ. θεοῦ, see notes to 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:9 f.: the phrase implies not secrets of the master kept from other servants, but secrets revealed to them through God’s dispensers, to whose judgment and fidelity the disclosure is committed (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 3:1).


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-corinthians-4.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Corinthians 4:1. Let a man, &c. — Having warned the believers at Corinth against entertaining an undue esteem for their own ministers, he now proceeds to show them in what light they ought to view all true ministers of Christ: and lest, from what was advanced in the preceding chapters concerning the inspiration of the apostles by the Holy Spirit, these Corinthians should imagine that Paul claimed to himself and his brethren an authority not derived from Christ, he here tells them that even the apostles were only Christ’s servants; obliged in all things to act in entire subjection to him, and obedience to his will. So account of us as of the ministers of Christ — The original word, υπηρετας, properly signifies such servants as laboured at the oar in rowing vessels, and accordingly intimates the pains which every faithful minister of Christ takes in his Lord’s work. O God! where are these ministers to be found? Lord, thou knowest! and stewards of the mysteries of God — Dispensers of the mysterious truths of the gospel. “The apostle gives to those doctrines, which in former ages had been kept secret, but which were now discovered to all through the preaching of the gospel, the appellation of the mysteries of God, to recommend them to the Corinthians. And he calls himself the steward of these mysteries, to intimate, that the deepest doctrines, as well as the first principles of the gospel, were intrusted to him to be dispensed or made known.” — Macknight.


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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mysteries of God. That is, the dogmas of faith, revealed by the Almighty. (Estius)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

"Let a man so account of us"-"Paul takes up again (from ) the discussion of God"s preachers and how they should be viewed." [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 54]

-"Let a man regard us in this manner" (NASV); "Let men look upon us as" (TCNT)

"account"-a habitual estimate. "The verb means "consider", but this is a considering that is due, not to mere feeling, liking, or casual impression, but to a careful estimation of the reality. The Corinthians are not considering what their teachers actually are." (Lenski p. 161)

"us"-i.e. Paul, Apollos, Peter

"ministers"-5257. huperetes {hoop-ay-ret"-ace}; from 5259 and a derivative of eresso (to row); an under-oarsman, i.e. (generally) subordinate (assistant, sexton, constable): -minister, officer, servant.

"The word used here originally meant an "under-rower" on one of the galleys." (McGuiggan p. 54)

"It always refers to a service of any kind which in structure and goal is controlled by the will of him to whom it is rendered; implied, also, is the idea of acceptance of subordination-willing obedience." [Note: _ Willis p. 127]

"of Christ"-simply Christ"s attendants and not heads of religious groups.

Points to Note:

1. Therefore, all preachers should only simply strive to preach what Christ taught. We don"t need to develop our "own theology" and our own "opinion" doesn"t count, it isn"t even wanted. (1 Peter 4:11)

2. "Minister"-means that I am a servant of Christ and His will is the only "will" that counts in my life.

"Every apostle and every minister..is only an underling, a helper, or an attendant of Christ. His sole function is to take orders and at once and without question to execute them. His will is only that of his Master." (Lenski p. 161)

"In order to emphasize the significance of this position of the ministers Paul adds a second designation." (Lenski p. 162)

"stewards"-3623. oikonomos {oy-kon-om"-os}; from 3624 and the base of 3551; a house-distributor (i.e. manager), or overseer, i.e. an employee in that capacity; by extension, a fiscal agent (treasurer); figuratively, a preacher (of the Gospel): -chamberlain, governor, steward.

"The steward..was in charge of the whole administration of the house or the estate; he controlled the staff; he issued the supplies and the rations; he ran the whole household; but, however much he controlled the household staff of slaves, he himself was still a slave where the master was concerned. Whatever be a man"s position in the Church, and whatever power he may yield there or whatever prestige he may enjoy, he still remains the servant of Christ." [Note: _ Barclay p. 41]

"mysteries of God"-i.e. the truths found in the gospel. ()

Points to Note:

1. The word "steward" implies "authority". The apostles including Peter and Paul and inspired men such as Apollos were "stewards" in the household of God. (1 Timothy 3:15) They were servants of Christ, and yet they had been given delegated authority.

2. Paul often reminds Timothy, that being entrusted with the truth carries the awesome responsibility to deliver such truth to the next generation in it"s pure form. He often spoke of the gospel being "entrusted" to him and others (1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 2:2)


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Bibliography
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-4.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

man. App-123.

so. This emphasizes the "as" which follows.

account = reckon. Greek. logizomai.

ministers. App-190.

Christ. App-98.

stewards. Greek. oikonomos. Occurs ten times. Always translated "steward", except Romans 16:23 and Galatians 1:4, Galatians 1:2. See Luke 16:1.

mysteries. Greek. musterion. App-193. To Paul were committed various secrets. See 1 Corinthians 15:51. Romans 11:25. 2 Thessalonians 2:7. 1 Timothy 3:9, 1 Timothy 3:16.

God. App-98.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-corinthians-4.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

A man - every man.

Account of us - Paul and Apollos, and all duly-called teachers.

Ministers of Christ - not heads of the Church in whom we are to glory: the headship belongs to Christ alone; we are but His servants ministering to you (1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:22).

Stewards (Luke 12:42; 1 Peter 4:10) - not the depositaries, but dispensers of the grace given us ("rightly dividing," or dispensing it) to others. The chaazaan, or overseer, in the synagogue corresponded to the bishop or "angel" of the church. He called seven of the synagogue to read the law every Sabbath, and oversaw them. The Parnasin of the synagogue, like the ancient 'deacon' of the church, took care of the poor (Acts 6:1-15), and subsequently preached in subordination to the presbyter or bishop, as Stephen did. The Church is not the appendage to the priesthood; but the minister is God's steward to the Church. Man shrinks from close contact with God: hence, he puts a priesthood between, and serve God by deputy. The minister's office is to "preach" (literally, proclaim as a herald Matthew 10:27) "the mysteries of God," so far as they have been revealed, if his hearers will receive them. Josephus says the Jewish religion made known to all the people the mysteries of their religion, while the Pagans concealed theirs from all but the 'initiated' few.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-4.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) Man.—In a generic sense means “every one” (as in 1 Corinthians 11:28, and Galatians 6:1).

Us—i.e., Paul himself and Apollos.

As of the ministers of Christ.—Better, as ministers of Christ. The word used for “ministers” here expresses more strongly the idea of subordination than the word which occurs in 1 Corinthians 3:5. It implies not only those who are under one superior, but those who are in a still inferior position—the officer who has to obey orders, as in Matthew 5:25—a “servant” (Matthew 26:58). Though servants, their office is one of great trust; they are “stewards” to whom the owner of the house has entrusted the care of those sacred things—“mysteries”—which heretofore have been hidden, but are now made known to them, his faithful subordinates. It is to be remembered that even the steward in a Greek household was generally a slave.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-corinthians-4.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
account
13; 2 Corinthians 12:6
the ministers
3:5; 9:16-18; Matthew 24:45; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 6:4; 11:23; Colossians 1:25; 1 Timothy 3:6
and stewards
Luke 12:42; 16:1-3; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 4:10
mysteries
2:7; Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-9; 6:19; Colossians 1:26,27; 2:2; 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:9,16

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-corinthians-4.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

Deduction from the preceding discussion, teaching the proper light in which the people should regard the ministry, 1 Corinthians 4:1-6. contrast between the apostles and the false teachers, vv. 6-21.

Ministers, as Stewards, Should be Faithful, as Paul Had Proved Himself to be — 1 Corinthians

It follows, from what was said in the preceding chapter, that the people should regard their ministers as the servants of Christ, and dispensers of the truths which God had revealed, 1 Corinthians 4:1. The most important qualification of a dispenser is fidelity, 1 Corinthians 4:2. It is a small matter how men may estimate the fidelity of ministers. The only competent judge is the Lord; and, therefore, to his judgment the decision of that question should be referred, 1 Corinthians 4:3-6.

What the apostle had said of himself and of Apollos, in the foregoing exhibition of the true nature of the ministerial office, was intended to apply to all ministers, that the people should not estimate them unduly, and that all emulous contentions might be avoided, 1 Corinthians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 4:7. The false teachers in Corinth, and the people under their influence, considered themselves to be in a high state of religious prosperity, and were disposed to self-indulgence, 1 Corinthians 4:8. The apostles were in a very different condition, at least as to their external circumstances. They were despised, afflicted, and persecuted; while their adversaries were honored, prosperous, and caressed, 1 Corinthians 4:9-13. Paul presented this contrast not to mortify, but to admonish his readers, 1 Corinthians 4:14. He, if any one, had a right to admonish them, for he was their spiritual father, 1 Corinthians 4:15. They should therefore imitate him; and, to that end, he had sent Timothy to remind them of his instructions and example, 1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 4:17. He himself intended soon to visit Corinth; and it depended on them whether he should come with a rod, or in the Spirit of meekness, 1 Corinthians 4:18-21.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

This is the conclusion or deduction from the preceding discussion. Ministers are the servants of Christ, and stewards of God. Let a man, i.e. every one. Account of us, ( כןדיזו ́ ףטש) let him think of us, or regard us as being. The ministers of Christ. Literally the word ( ץ ̔ נחסו ́ פחע) means an under-rower, or common sailor; and men, subordinate servant of any kind. It is generally and properly used of menials, or of those of the lower class of servants. This is not always the case, but here the idea of entire subjection is to be retained. Ministers are the mere servants of Christ; they have no authority of their own; their whole business is to do what they are commanded.

And stewards of the mysteries of God. Stewards ( ןי ̓ ךןםן ́ לןי) were generally slaves appointed as managers or overseers. It was their business to direct the affairs of the household, and dispense the provisions. It is as dispensers ministers are here called stewards. They are to dispense the mysteries of God, that is, the truths which God had revealed, and which, as being undiscoverable by human reason, are called mysteries, into the knowledge of which men must be initiated. Mysteries here do not mean the sacraments. The word is never used in reference to either baptism or the Lord's Supper in the New Testament. And such a reference in this case is forbidden by the whole context. In the second chapter, the mystery which Paul speaks of is declared to be the gospel considered as a revelation of God. In the Romish church, the principal function of ministers is to dispense the sacraments to which they are assumed to have the power, in virtue of the grace of orders, to give supernatural power. In the apostolic church they were regarded as the dispensers of the truth. This verse, therefore, contains two important truths: Ministers have no arbitrary or discretionary authority in the church. Neither have they any supernatural power, such as is attributed to them in the Romish church. Their authority is merely ministerial, limited by the commands of Christ, and, therefore, to be judged by the standard of those commands, which are known to the whole church. And secondly, they are not, like Aristotle or Plato, the originators of their own doctrines, or the teachers of the doctrines of other men, but simply the dispensers of the truths which God has revealed.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-4.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

As Christ's servants. Paul goes back to the question of how much honor should be given to Christian teachers. Because of the almost divine honors which Greeks gave to the philosophers who were their leaders, Paul must tell them strongly that the apostles are only servants, not rulers. "Just clerks watching the store while the boss is away." But when he tells them this, he does not want them to misunderstand and think that Christ had not given them authority. Who have been put in charge. To understand this properly, you must know that in the ancient world, a man of wealth would have a family which included his servants and /or slaves as well as his children, and that he would appoint one servant to be in charge of and be responsible for the business affairs of the family. The servant would be given his instructions, which he would then carry out. Using this symbolism, Paul and the other apostles are put in charge (by Christ) of God's secret truths (the Good News, see 1 Corinthians 2:7-10), to give these to the members of the family.


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-4.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

: Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

The words "of us" show that Paul described preachers. First century preachers were "ministers" (some translations say "servants"). This term (huperetes) is found19 times in the New Testament and it is not the normal word for "minister." Classical Greek writers used this unique word to say physicians had ministers (people who carried out minor medical tasks based upon the doctor's instructions). Members of the military also had ministers (people who carried a soldier's shields and weapons). Minister described a subordinate who had some power but was under the authority of someone else. In the New Testament this term is sometimes translated "officer" ( Matthew 5:25; John 7:32). In other places, such as here, it describes an assistant or servant ( Luke 4:20 uses it to describe a synagogue attendant. In Acts 13:5 it is used to describe John Mark). In 1 Corinthians 4:1 Paul used it to say he was an assistant to Jesus.

Warren Wiersbe (First Corinthians, p582) noted how in Classical Greek minister literally meant "‘underrowers.' It described the slaves who rowed the huge Roman galleys. ‘We are not the captains of the ship,' said Paul, ‘but only the galley slaves who are under orders. Now, is one slave greater than another?'" For the Corinthians the word minister meant "We are servants and you must look upon us as such."

What is taught by this word is still very important because of something else. Most religious groups have a "clergy-laity system." Clergy is a designation for preachers or other religious officials who are usually considered "religious professionals." In many religious groups the clergy are viewed as distinct and are treated as being very special. They are elevated above the "lay people" (i.e. the worshippers or the "person in the pew"). The "lay people" (who are often called the laity) have a noticeably inferior role. Although this is a common practice in many churches, the New Testament knows nothing of a clergy-laity system (this is another doctrine devised by men, Matthew 15:9).

Rather than one being elevated above another, God's people "are all brethren" ( Matthew 23:8). Paul said preachers (and even the apostles) were nothing more than servants (this implied they could not be the leaders of the Corinthian factions). Additional information about the modern clergy-laity system is found at the end of the commentary on Hebrews 5:1 (see the special study on the word "ordained").

In addition to using a colorful word to describe his work (minister), Paul also used the present tense ("account"). This implies the information concerning preachers is for all peoples and all times. All who are or will ever be a preacher or have some other very visible role in the church will never be any greater than a servant. Thus, preachers cannot be leaders of various factions, originators of doctrines, heresy hunters, or people who try to dominate a local congregation. Though many modern evangelists seek authority and virtually demand esteem and honor (take a moment to consider how many preachers introduce themselves as "Reverend"), inspiration says preachers are servants. This is further emphasized by the word account (logizomai), a word meaning "one should regard us as servants of Christ" (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, ). Paul used this word several times in his writing, and the word occurs nearly a dozen times in Romans 4:1-25. Later in this book it is used in 1 Corinthians 13:5 b, 11 ("thought").

An example of a minister's service is found in the word "stewards" (oikonomos). Willis (p106) said stewards meant "a kind of chief slave who superintended the household and even the whole property of his master." We might liken the word to a caretaker. "Stewardship over the goods and house of the master by a devoted servant was part of the ancient culture ( Genesis 15:2; Genesis 43:19; Genesis 44:4; 1 Chronicles 28:1). Jesus Christ used that analogy to depict proper Christian service and responsibility ( Matthew 20:8; Luke 12:42; Luke 16:1-8). Paul now identified the minister in this fashion" (Gromacki, p51). If a person does not communicate the gospel to others, he or she is an unfaithful steward and guilty of wrong! Compare Ezekiel 3:18; Acts 20:26-27.

In Luke 16:1-8 we find that stewards were sometimes so fully trusted they would control cash receipts and expenditures (stewards is found in the8th verse of Luke 16:1-31). Here it may be said Paul was a caretaker of the "mysteries of God." Elders (a function described in the commentary on 1 Timothy 3:1-7) are also stewards (see Titus 1:7 where this same word is again used). Peter used this same term in 1 Peter 4:10 to say all Christians are stewards of God's "manifold grace."

It has already been noted how the mysteries of God is simply another description for Christianity. This expression describes the gospel, the teachings of the New Testament (). Preachers as well as all other Christians are stewards of the gospel. We sometimes sing a song with these words: "Into our hands the gospel is given, into our hands is given the light, haste, let us carry God's precious message, guiding the erring back to the right." God has entrusted us with His word and faithful Christians must take that message to the entire world ( Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). Faithful stewardship also means we do not add to or take away from the word of God, a point made in the beginning of the Bible ( Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32), the middle of the Bible ( Proverbs 30:6), and the end of the Bible ( Revelation 22:18-19).

The word steward also occurs in 1 Corinthians 4:2. While Paul and others were to be regarded as caretakers of the gospel (and the Corinthians should have loved and appreciated them for this work), this was no basis for honoring them in the way the Corinthians did ( 1 Corinthians 1:12) and creating strife in the church. Warren Wiersbe (First Corinthians, p582) said this chapter "presents three pictures of the minister-a steward ( 1 Corinthians 4:1-6), a spectacle ( 1 Corinthians 4:7-13), and a father ( 1 Corinthians 4:14-21)."


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Price, Brad "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 4:1". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bpc/1-corinthians-4.html.

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