In the second portion of chapter 4, beginning in verse 8, Paul makes an ironic contrast. He compares what the ministry has been like for him and Peter with what the Corinthians obviously thought it meant to succeed spiritually. What does he say about those in the Corinthian church? He says they are satisfied. "You have all you want. You have become kings." They are ripe, rich, and reigning. That is their status, and no doubt they were quite satisfied to be that way. That is what they wanted. They thought that was good.
In the passage that we are studying, Paul mentions a number of areas in which we are to be faithful. One is handling the mysteries of God rightly, the secret things of God. When Paul speaks of mysteries, he is not speaking of mysteries as the Greeks would have understood them. The Greeks had various religions that in certain forms have even been revived in modern days. They were called "mysteries" because the things the worshippers did and believed were hidden from everybody else. Paul, here, is not talking about mysteries in that sense. He is talking about that which the mind of man would never have imagined if left to itself, but which God has revealed in the Gospel.
Another word Paul uses here conveys the idea of stewardship. We read the translation "those entrusted," and it actually means "a steward." We get our word economy from the Greek word Paul uses. The steward was the one who managed the household economy; that is, he took care of the business for whoever owned the house. Paul was explaining that his responsibility included management - managing for Jesus Christ, his master, to whom he would one day have to give an accounting.
Paul described the church at Corinth as being enriched with all spiritual gifts and with a great deal of theological knowledge and other good things but also as being divided over loyalty to one leader or another within the church. There were people who said, "We follow Paul." There were others who said, "We follow Peter," and still others who said, "We follow Christ." The central point Paul makes as he deals with this problem is that ministers are servants of the church and that such divisions are foolish.
Paul is saying, "Look, if you have any responsibility as a minister, as a teacher, as a parent, be careful to build well. You do not have to build in a flashy manner, but you do have to build with solid material. You have to take time to do it. A person can throw up a straw building in a hurry, but then strong winds come and blow it all down. It takes much more time to lay bricks and to do it well."
The Alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars, and churchmen who hold the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's Church.