“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
Having corrected the Corinthian view of leadership in the local church, Paul now turns to the proper view of leadership (4:1-5).
Let a man so consider us,
The term “consider” means to carefully esteem. The Corinthian church was to view their leadership objectively and not by feeling, preference, or casual impression. They were to consider leadership under two images:
- Servants of Christ
- Stewards of the mysteries of God
as servants of Christ
Paul asks that the Corinthian church view their leaders as “servants of Christ.” The word “servants” means under rower in a galley. People who rowed in the galley with the lower bank of oars were common slaves as distinguished from regular seamen. The under rower in a vessel of the first century was a subordinate who acted under the authority of someone else. The Corinthians clearly understood this word in literal terms because they saw Roman warships in the port of Corinth on the Aegean Sea. They rowed at the call of the captain’s cadence. Paul, Apollos, and Peter acted as attendants to Christ. They were not to be viewed as elitists but as subordinates to Christ’s call.
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
The word “stewards” refers to managers of a household or estate. This manager was typically a slave who ran the master’s estate. The master entrusted the “steward” with the business of his estate. This term describes the character of their ministry – administrators of divine truth. God committed the administration or management of divine mysteries to their leaders. They were under commission from God.
The word “mysteries” refers to truth not hitherto revealed. The plural indicates different aspects of God’s truth. The “steward” does not manufacture his message; it is given to him as a manager to administer.
Leaders do not manufacture their message but are mere stewards of the message.
Leaders of the local church are ministers, not masters; stewards, not lords. They are not the depositories of God’s message; they are the dispensers of it. They have no authority to propagate their own ideas. It is the dignity of their Master that gives their message credibility. Leadership’s sole function is to take orders from the Commander-in-Chief. They have no option to question those orders. They cannot suit their leadership to their liking. That is how we are to view leaders in the local church