1 Corinthians 4:2
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
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(2) Moreover it is required . . .—Better, Moreover here (on earth) inquiry is made in the case of stewards in order that it may be found that one is faithful. The word “found” having the force of “discovered,” or “proved to be” (as in Matthew 1:18; Romans 7:10). The argument here is that, as in the case of an earthly steward, inquiry is made into his character as to whether he be trustworthy—so it will be with them who are stewards of the mysteries of God. That inquiry is, of course, made in regard to an earthly steward by his master in whose service he is; and so the Lord alone, whose stewards the Apostles were, shall be the inquirer into their faithfulness. If we take 1Corinthians 4:2 as it is in our English version, it would seem to imply that on this point of faithfulness the Church might prefer one steward to another. This would be to suggest that to some extent, therefore, party-spirit might exist, which would be contrary to the whole argument from the commencement of the Epistle, and strikingly at variance with the remarks which immediately follow in 1Corinthians 4:5. The rendering adopted above is a more literal translation of the best Greek texts, and also perfectly in harmony with the general sense of the passage.

1 Corinthians 4:2-5. Moreover — As for what remains to be done in the discharge of this office; it is required of stewards — Since they also, as well as lower servants in the family, are subject to account; that a man be found faithful — That he act according to his commission, and neither withhold any privilege, or any part of God’s will from the people; nor deliver his own notions as the will of God, nor take more authority upon him than God has given him; as also that he discover and communicate divine truths and blessings as the hearers are able to receive them. With me it is a very small thing — A thing that concerns me very little; that I should be judged of you Ινα ανακριθω, that I should be examined, as the word properly signifies, namely, in order to the being judged, or to a judicial sentence being passed, which is evidently the meaning of the same word in the last clause of the verse; or of man’s judgment — A judgment passed by any man whatsoever, though in the most solemn manner. The original expression, ανθρωπινης ημερας, is literally, human day; namely, of judgment, in allusion to the great day of judgment. Yea, I judge not myself — Namely, finally, infallibly, definitively: my final state is not to be determined by my own judgment. For I know nothing by myself — I am not conscious to myself of doing any thing evil, or of any unfaithfulness or negligence in the discharge of my ministry; yet am I not hereby justified — Acquitted from all fault in God’s sight, who observes those failings in us which we cannot discern in ourselves; for who can understand his errors?

Psalm 19:12 : or, I do not depend on my own conscience not condemning me, as a sufficient justification of myself in God’s sight: but he that judgeth me is the Lord — By his sentence I must stand or fall. Therefore judge nothing before the time — Appointed for judging all men; until the Lord come — To judge the world in righteousness; who — In order to pass a righteous judgment, which otherwise would be impossible; will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness — The things covered with the veil of impenetrable obscurity, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart — The most secret springs of action, the principles and intentions of every heart: and then shall every man — Who is sincere, faithful, and praiseworthy; have praise of God — Both commendation and reward.

4:1-6 Apostles were no more than servants of Christ, but they were not to be undervalued. They had a great trust, and for that reason, had an honourable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that he who chiefly aimed to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Our own judgment is not to be depended upon as to our faithfulness, any more than our own works for our justification. There is a day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into open day, and discover the secrets of their hearts. Then every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. The word of God is the best rule by which to judge as to men. Pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels. Self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers, as well as of ourselves. We shall not be puffed up for one against another, if we remember that all are instruments, employed by God, and endowed by him with various talents.Moreover ... - The fidelity required of stewards seems to be adverted to here, in order to show that the apostles acted from a higher principle than a desire to please man, or to be regarded as at the head of a party; and they ought so to esteem them as bound, like all stewards, to be faithful to the master whom they served.

It is required ... - It is expected of them; it is the "main" or "leading" thing in their office. Eminently in that office fidelity is required as an indispensable and cardinal virtue. Fidelity to the master, faithfulness to his trust, as the virtue which by way of eminence is demanded there. In other offices other virtues may be particularly required. But here fidelity is demanded. This is required particularly because it is an office of trust; because the master's goods are at his disposal; because there is so much opportunity for the steward to appropriate those goods to his own use, so that his master cannot detect it. There is a strong similarity between the office of a steward and that of a minister of the gospel. But it is not needful here to dwell on the resemblance. The idea of Paul seems to be:

(1) That a minister, like a steward, is devoted to his master's service, and should regard himself as such.

(2) that he should be faithful to that trust, and not abuse or violate it.

(3) that he should not be judged by his fellow-stewards, or fellow-servants, but that his main desire should be to meet with the approbation of his master - A minister should be faithful for obvious reasons. Because:

(a) He is appointed by Jesus Christ;

(b) Because he must answer to him;

(c) Because the honor of Christ, and the welfare of his kingdom is entrusted to him; and,

(d) Because of the importance of the matter committed to his care; and the importance of fidelity can be measured only by the consequences of his labors to those souls in an eternal heaven or an eternal hell.

2. Moreover—The oldest manuscripts read, "Moreover here" (that is, on earth). The contrast thus is between man's usage as to stewards (1Co 4:2), and God's way (1Co 4:3). Though here below, in the case of stewards, inquiry is made, that one man be found (that is, proved to be) faithful; yet God's steward awaits no such judgment of man, in man's day, but the Lord's judgment in His great day. Another argument against the Corinthians for their partial preferences of certain teachers for their gifts: whereas what God requires in His stewards is faithfulness (1Sa 3:20, Margin; Heb 3:5); as indeed is required in earthly stewards, but with this difference (1Co 4:3), that God's stewards await not man's judgment to test them, but the testing which shall be in the day of the Lord. It is required of all servants, but especially of chief servants, such as stewards are, who are intrusted with their masters’ goods, to be dispensed out to others. The faithfulness of a steward in dispensing out his master’s goods lies in his giving them out according to his master’s order, giving to every one their portion, not detaining any thing from others which it is his master’s will they should have; as Paul gloried, Acts 20:20,27, that he had kept back from the Ephesians nothing that was profitable for them, nor shunned to declare to them all the counsel of God; not giving holy things to dogs, or casting pearls before swine, contrary to Christ’s direction, Matthew 7:6.

Moreover, it is required in stewards,.... Upon mentioning that part of the character of Gospel preachers, as stewards, the apostle is put in mind of, and so points out that which is principally necessary in such persons: as,

that a man be found faithful; to the trust reposed in him; to his Lord and master that has appointed him to this office; and to the souls that are under his care: and then may a minister be said to be so, and which is his greatest glory, when he preaches the pure Gospel of Christ without any human mixtures, the doctrines and inventions of men; and the whole Gospel, declaring all the counsel of God, keeping back nothing which may be profitable to souls; when he seeks not to please men, but God; and not his own glory, and the applause of men, but the honour of Christ, and the good of souls: and such a faithful steward was the apostle himself.

{2} Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

(2) Last of all, he warns the ministers that they also do not behave themselves as lords, but as faithful servants, because they must render an account of their stewardship to God.

1 Corinthians 4:2. If we read ὧδε (see the critical remarks), we must understand the verse thus: Such being the state of the case, it is, for the rest, required of the stewards, etc., so that λοιπόν (1 Corinthians 1:16) would express something which, in connection with the relationship designed in 1 Corinthians 4:1, remained now alone to be mentioned as pertaining thereto, while ὧδε[600] again, quite in accordance with the old classical usage (see Lehrs, Arist. p. 84 ff.), would convey the notion of sic, i.e. “cum eo statu res nostrae sint” (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 991). We might paraphrase, therefore, as follows: “Such being the nature of our position as servants, the demand to be made upon the stewards of households[601] of course takes effect.” If we abide by the Recept[602], ὃ δὲ λοιπόν must be rendered: But as to what remains, i.e. but as respects what else there is which has its place in connection with the relationship of service spoken of in 1 Corinthians 4:1, this is the demand, etc.; comp on Romans 6:10. It is a perversion of the passage to make it refer, as Billroth does, to the preceding depreciation of the supposed merits of the teachers: “but what still remains for them is, that they can at least strive for the praise of faithfulness.” The rest of the verse says nothing at all about a being able to strive; for ζητεῖται ἐν means nothing else but: it is sought at their hand (requiritur), i.e. demanded of them. See Wetstein. Hofmann’s interpretation, too, is an impossible one. He makes ὁ δὲ λοιπόν down to εὑρεθῇ to be the protasis; ἐμοὶ δὲ κ.τ.λ[604], and that running on as far as ΚΎΡΙΌς ἘΣΤΙΝ in 1 Corinthians 4:4, to be the apodosis: As respects that, however, which … is further required, namely, that one be found faithful, it is to me, etc. This interpretation gives us, instead of the simple, clearly progressive sentences of the apostle, a long, obscurely and clumsily involved period, against which on linguistic grounds there are the two considerations—(1) that Ὃ ΔῈ ΛΟΙΠῸΝ ΖΗΤΕῖΤΑΙ would presuppose some demand already conveyed in ver 1, to which a new one was now added; and (2) that the ΔΈ of the apodosis in 1 Corinthians 4:3 would require to find its antithetic reference in the alleged protasis in 1 Corinthians 4:2 (comp Acts 11:17; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 92 f.), namely, to this effect: to me, on the contrary, not concerned about this required faithfulness, it is, etc. Now the first is not the case, and the second would be absurd. Neither the one difficulty nor the other is removed by the arbitrarily inserted thoughts, which Hofmann seeks to read between the lines.[606]

ἵνα] is sought with the design, that there be found. Hence the object of the seeking is conveyed in the form expressive of design. That εὑρίσκεσθαι is not equivalent to ΕἾΝΑΙ (Wolff, Flatt, Pott, and others) is plain here, especially from the correlation in which it stands to ΖΗΤΕῖΤΑΙ.

] i.e. any one of them. See Matthiae, p. 1079; Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 299, ed. 3.

πιστός] Luke 12:42; Luke 16:10 ff.; Matthew 25:21 ff.; Ephesians 6:21, al[607] The summing up of the duties of spiritual service.

[600] The word would be singularly superfluous, and would drag behind in the most awkward way, were we, with Lachmann, to treat it as belonging to ver. 1, and to separate it by a point from λοιπόν.

[601] This ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμ. is not “uncalled for and superfluous” after ὧδε (as Hofmann objects); for Paul had, in ver. 1, described the official service of the teachers by two designations, but now desires to attach what more he has to say in ver. 2 specially of the second of these designations, and hence he has again to bring in the οἰκονόμοι.

[602] ecepta Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).

[604] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[606] In λοιπόν he finds: “Besides this, that the stewards act in accordance with their name.” By the antithetic ἐμοὶ δέ, again, Paul means: “in contrast to those who conduct themselves as though he must consider it of importance to him.” By interpolations of this sort, everything may be moulded into what shape one will.

[607] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

1 Corinthians 4:2. ὧδε λοιπὸν (proinde igitur) ζητεῖται, ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις κ.τ.λ.: “In such case, it is further sought in stewards (to be sure) that one be found faithful”. ὧδε gathers up the position given to “us” in 1 Corinthians 4:1; ἐν τοῖς οἰκονόμοις is therefore pleonastic, but repeated for distinctness and by reference to the well-understood rule for stewards (Luke 12:48). λοιπὸν brings in the supplement to an imperfect representation: it is not enough to be steward—a faithful steward is looked for (an echo of Luke 12:42 f.). ζητεῖταιἵνα resembles παρακαλῶ ἵνα, 1 Corinthians 1:10 (see note): the telic force of the conj. has not disappeared; one “seeks” a thing in order to “find” it.

2. Moreover it is required in stewards] The majority of MSS. and versions read here at the beginning of this verse. The sense would then be, “in this world, moreover, it is customary to make diligent inquiry for a trustworthy man.”

1 Corinthians 4:2. Ὃ δὲ) Furthermore what God requires, and men too, in their stewards, is, that a man be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:3 corresponds to this paraphrase.—ζητεῖται, is inquired after [is required]) by investigation, when the time comes. The correlative is, may be found.—πιστὸς, faithful) The Corinthians were not content with that.—εὑρεθῇ, may be found) Every man in the mean time wishes to be thought faithful.

Verse 2. - Moreover. The true reading (א, A, B, C, D, F) is ω΅δε κοιπὸν, here, moreover; i.e. "on this earth." It may be required of him as a minister that he should be faithful, but if, being faithful, he is misjudged and depreciated, his appeal lies to a truer and loftier tribunal. It is required. This is the reading of א, A, C, D. Other manuscripts have "ye require;" but the sound of the two words in Hellenistic Greek would have been almost indistinguishable. That a man be found faithful. We have a right to demand that on trial he be proved to be honest and diligent. So our Lord has described the "faithful and wise steward" in Luke 12:42, 43. What is required of ministers is neither brilliancy, nor eloquence, nor profound knowledge, nor success, but only - fidelity. 1 Corinthians 4:2It is required (ζητεῖται)

Lit., it is sought for; thus agreeing with found in the following clause.

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