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1 Corinthians 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Let a man so account of us as servants of Christ, and stewards of [the] mysteries of God.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Let a man, so, be reckoning of us, as officers of Christ, and stewards of sacred secrets of God.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Let a man so reckon us as officers of Christ, and stewards of the secrets of God,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Let a man so account of vs, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— Thus let us be accounted of you as ministers of the Meshiha, and stewards of the mysteries of Aloha.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— Let us be so accounted of by you, as the servants of Messiah, and the stewards of the mysteries of God.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Let y3049
[3049] Standard
Middle voice from G3056; to take an inventory, that is, estimate (literally or figuratively).
<0000> Grammar
The original word in the Greek or Hebrew is translated by more than one word in the English. The English translation is separated by one or more other words from the original.
a man 444
{0444} Prime
From G0435 and ὤψ [[ops]] (the countenance; from G3700); manfaced, that is, a human being.
so 3779
{3779} Prime
From G3778; in this way (referring to what precedes or follows).
account 3049
{3049} Prime
Middle voice from G3056; to take an inventory, that is, estimate (literally or figuratively).
<5737> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Middle or Passive Deponent (See G5790)
Mood - Imperative (See G5794)
Count - 152
of us, 2248
{2248} Prime
Accusative plural of G1473; us.
as 5613
{5613} Prime
Probably adverb of comparative from G3739; which how, that is, in that manner (very variously used as shown).
of the ministers 5257
{5257} Prime
From G5259 and a derivative of ἐρέσσω [[eresso]] (to row); an under oarsman, that is, (genitive case) subordinate (assistant, sexton, constable).
of Christ, 5547
{5547} Prime
From G5548; anointed, that is, the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
stewards 3623
{3623} Prime
From G3624 and the base of G3551; a house distributor (that is, manager), or overseer, that is, an employee in that capacity; by extension a fiscal agent (treasurer); figuratively a preacher (of the Gospel).
of the mysteries 3466
{3466} Prime
From a derivative of μύω [[muo]] (to shut the mouth); a secret or 'mystery' (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites).
of God. 2316
{2316} Prime
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

1 Corinthians 4:1

_ _ 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 Philip 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.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 Corinthians 4:1-6

_ _ Here, I. The apostle challenges the respect due to him on account of his character and office, in which many among them had at least very much failed: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1), though possibly others might have valued them too highly, by setting him up as the head of a party, and professing to be his disciples. In our opinion of ministers, as well as all other things, we should be careful to avoid extremes. Apostles themselves were, 1. Not to be overvalued, for they were ministers, not masters; stewards, not lords. They were servants of Christ, and no more, though they were servants of the highest rank, that had the care of his household, that were to provide food for the rest, and appoint and direct their work. Note, It is a very great abuse of their power, and highly criminal in common ministers, to lord it over their fellow-servants, and challenge authority over their faith or practice. For even apostles were but servants of Christ, employed in his work, and sent on his errand, and dispensers of the mysteries of God, or those truths which had been hidden from the world in ages and generations past. They had no authority to propagate their own fancies, but to spread Christian faith. 2. Apostles were not to be undervalued; for, though they were ministers, they were ministers of Christ. The character and dignity of their master put an honour on them. Though they are but stewards, they are not stewards of the common things of the world, but of divine mysteries. They had a great trust, and for that reason had an honourable office. They were stewards of God's household, high-stewards in his kingdom of grace. They did not set up for masters, but they deserved respect and esteem in this honourable service. Especially,

_ _ II. When they did their duty in it, and approved themselves faithful: It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2), trustworthy. The stewards in Christ's family must appoint what he hath appointed. They must not set their fellow-servants to work for themselves. They must not require any thing from them without their Master's warrant. They must not feed them with the chaff of their own inventions, instead of the wholesome food of Christian doctrine and truth. They must teach what he hath commanded, and not the doctrines and commandments of men. They must be true to the interest of their Lord, and consult his honour. Note, The ministers of Christ should make it their hearty and continual endeavour to approve themselves trustworthy; and when they have the testimony of a good conscience, and the approbation of their Master, they must slight the opinions and censures of their fellow-servants: But with me, saith the apostle, it is a small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment, 1 Corinthians 4:3. Indeed, reputation and esteem among men are a good step towards usefulness in the ministry; and Paul's whole argument upon this head shows he had a just concern for his own reputation. But he that would make it his chief endeavour to please men would hardly approve himself a faithful servant of Christ, Galatians 1:10. He that would be faithful to Christ must despise the censures of men for his sake. He must look upon it as a very little thing (if his Lord approves him) what judgment men form of him. They may think very meanly or very hardly of him, while he is doing his duty; but it is not by their judgment that he must stand or fall. And happy is it for faithful ministers that they have a more just and candid judge than their fellow-servants; one who knows and pities their imperfections, though he has none of his own. It is better to fall into the hands of God than into the hands of men, 2 Samuel 24:14. The best of men are too apt to judge rashly, and harshly, and unjustly; but his judgment is always according to truth. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. Nay, we are not thus to judge ourselves: “Yea, I judge not myself. For though I know nothing by myself, cannot charge myself with unfaithfulness, yet I am not thereby justified, this will not clear me of the charge; but he that judgeth me is the Lord. It is his judgment that must determine me. By his sentence I must abide. Such I am as he shall find and judge me to be.” Note, It is not judging well of ourselves, justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Nothing will do this but the acceptance and approbation of our sovereign Judge. Not he that commendeth himself is approved, but he whom the Lord commendeth, 2 Corinthians 10:18.

_ _ III. The apostle takes occasion hence to caution the Corinthians against censoriousness — the forward and severe judging of others: Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, 1 Corinthians 4:5. It is judging out of season, and judging at an adventure. He is not to be understood of judging by persons in authority, within the verge of their office, nor of private judging concerning facts that are notorious; but of judging persons' future state, or the secret springs and principles of their actions, or about facts doubtful in themselves. To judge in these cases, and give decisive sentence, is to assume the seat of God and challenge his prerogative. Note, How bold a sinner is the forward and severe censurer! How ill-timed and arrogant are his censures! But there is one who will judge the censurer, and those he censures, without prejudice, passion, or partiality. And there is a time coming when men cannot fail judging aright concerning themselves and others, by following his judgment. This should make them now cautious of judging others, and careful in judging themselves. There is a time coming when the Lord will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts — deeds of darkness that are now done in secret, and all the secret inclinations, purposes, and intentions, of the hidden man of the heart. Note, There is a day coming that will dispel the darkness and lay open the face of the deep, will fetch men's secret sins into open day and discover the secrets of their hearts: The day shall declare it. The judge will bring these things to light. The Lord Jesus Christ will manifest the counsels of the heart, of all hearts. Note, The Lord Jesus Christ must have the knowledge of the counsels of the heart, else he could not make them manifest. This is a divine prerogative (Jeremiah 17:10), and yet it is what our Saviour challenges to himself in a very peculiar manner (Revelation 2:23): All the churches shall know that I am HE who searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give to every one of you according to your works. Note, We should be very careful how we censure others, when we have to do with a Judge from whom we cannot conceal ourselves. Others do not lie open to our notice, but we lie all open to his: and, when he shall come to judge, every man shall have praise of God. Every man, that is, every one qualified for it, every one who has done well. Though none of God's servants can deserve any thing from him, though there be much that is blamable even in their best services, yet shall their fidelity be commended and crowned by him; and should they be condemned, reproached, or vilified, by their fellow-servants, he will roll away all such unjust censures and reproaches, and show them in their own amiable light. Note, Christians may well be patient under unjust censures, when they know such a day as this is coming, especially when they have their consciences testifying to their integrity. But how fearful should they be of loading any with reproaches now whom their common Judge shall hereafter commend.

_ _ IV. The apostle here lets us into the reason why he had used his own name and that of Apollos in this discourse of his. He had done it in a figure, and he had done it for their sakes. He chose rather to mention his own name, and the name of a faithful fellow-labourer, than the names of any heads of factions among them, that hereby he might avoid what would provoke, and so procure for his advice the greater regard. Note, Ministers should use prudence in their advices and admonitions, but especially in their reproofs, lest they lose their end. The advice the apostle would by this means inculcate was that they might learn not to think of men above what is written (above what he had been writing), nor be puffed up for one against another (1 Corinthians 4:6). Apostles were not to be esteemed other than planters or waterers in God's husbandry, master-builders in his building, stewards of his mysteries, and servants of Christ. And common ministers cannot bear these characters in the same sense that apostles did. Note, We must be very careful not to transfer the honour and authority of the Master to his servant. We must call no man Master on earth; one is our Master, even Christ, Matthew 23:8, Matthew 23:10. We must not think of them above what is written. Note, The word of God is the best rule by which to judge concerning men. And again, judging rightly concerning men, and not judging more highly of them than is fit, is one way to prevent quarrels and contentions in the churches. Pride commonly lies at the bottom of these quarrels. Self-conceit contributes very much to our immoderate esteem of our teachers, as well as ourselves. Our commendation of our own taste and judgment commonly goes along with our unreasonable applause, and always with a factious adherence to one teacher, in opposition to others that may be equally faithful and well qualified. But to think modestly of ourselves, and not above what is written of our teachers, is the most effectual means to prevent quarrels and contests, sidings and parties, in the church. We shall not be puffed up for one against another if we remember that they are all instruments employed by God in his husbandry and building, and endowed by him with their various talents and qualifications.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 Corinthians 4:1

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.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

1 Corinthians 4:1

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.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

1 Corinthians 4:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, [and are] the offscouring of all things unto this day.
2 Corinthians 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but [now] I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me [to be], or [that] he heareth of me.

the ministers:

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
1 Corinthians 9:16-18 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! ... What is my reward then? [Verily] that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

and stewards:

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season?
Luke 16:1-3 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. ... Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
1 Peter 4:10 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 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Matthew 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Mark 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables:
Luke 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Ephesians 3:3-9 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, ... And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 6:19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Colossians 1:26-27 [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: ... To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
Colossians 4:3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
1 Timothy 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
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Mt 13:11; 24:45. Mk 4:11. Lk 8:10; 12:42; 16:1. Ro 16:25. 1Co 2:7; 3:5; 4:13; 9:16. 2Co 4:5; 6:4; 11:23; 12:6. Ep 1:9; 3:3; 6:19. Col 1:25, 26; 2:2; 4:3. 1Ti 3:6, 9, 16. Tit 1:7. 1P 4:10.

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