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Scripture Text: 1 Corinthians 4:1

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From the Word

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1, RSV

From Luther

To serve Christ, or God, is defined by Paul as fulfilling an office ordained of God, the office of preaching. This office is a service or ministry proceeding from Christ to us and not from us to Christ. To make himself clearly understood in this matter of service or ministry, Paul carefully adds to the word “ministers” the explanatory word “stewards,” which cannot be understood otherwise than as referring to the office of the ministry.

He calls his office “service or ministry of Christ,” and himself “minister of Christ,” because he was ordained of God to the office of preaching. Thus all apostles and bishops are ministers of Christ; that is preachers, messengers, officers of Christ, sent to the people with his message. The meaning of the verse, then, is: Let every individual take heed not to institute another leader, to set up another Lord, to constitute another Christ. Rather be unanimously loyal to the one and only Christ. We apostles are not your lords, nor your masters; we do not preach our own interests, nor teach our own doctrines. We do not seek to have you obey us, or give us allegiance and accept our doctrine. We are messengers and ministers of him who is your Master, your Lord and Leader. We preach his word, enlist men to follow his commandments and lead only into his obedience.

He who so receives us, receives, not us, but Christ, whom we alone preach. But he who does not regard us, does us injustice, discards Christ, the one true Leader, sets up another in his stead and makes gods of us. Where more authority is assumed than God’s command grants, idolatry results and the leader assumes a new character. The Church has no other doctrine than that of Christ, no other obedience than to obey him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 271–72.


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