"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." (1 Corinthians 4:1)
"Minister" was the Bible translators' choice for the Greek word huperetes, which literally means an "under-oarsman." It most frequently is applied to officers of various kinds. "Steward" is the somewhat more familiar term, translated from oikonomos, which is the "house-law" for any enterprise that is large enough to require "officers." The first denotes an authority under a higher authority that is exercised within legal boundaries (Luke 16:1 and Romans 16:23).
These descriptive titles can apply to Christian leaders, but they are also standards that all followers of Jesus Christ are to emulate. We are of the "household of God" (Ephesians 2:19) and every man serves each other as "good stewards" of God's grace (1 Peter 4:10).
The limitation and exercise of authority demanded of the Corinthian readers was to "minister" and "steward" the "mysteries" (plural) of God. A practical dilemma is to select where each of us will serve with our time, talents, spiritual gifts, and resources. The primary place is, of course, the local church (Acts 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:1).
Additionally, we are expected to give offerings (Acts 20:35; 24:17) to kingdom works that instruct in and clarify those mysteries of God. The Institute for Creation Research deals with the mystery of those early Genesis accounts that are so critical and controversial in our day. We are "stewarding" the nature of the Godhead's triunity (Colossians 1:12-16; 2:2), which displays the invisible character of God (Romans 1:20).
Today's unique requirements in our secular and scientific culture necessitate a concentration of specially trained stewards who can refute the efforts of those who deny the mysteries of God. We encourage your participation with us. HMM III