The Preacher Is A Keeper of Mysteries
The Preacher Is A Keeper of Mysteries
In the last post we began a consideration of the preacher’s identity. We saw that we are “under-rowers”, a special kind of servant to Jesus Christ. In this post I will continue that theme of considering our identity by looking at Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 4:1 that we are “…those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” In other words, the preacher is a keeper of mysteries for a hurting world.
The Joy of a Good Mystery
I still love a good mystery. Agatha Christie wrote some marvelous stories. One of my favorites is, And Then There
Were None. Here’s a summary of this wonderful mystery:
Ten strangers are invited to a remote island off the British Coast for a weekend retreat. Unbeknownst to them, they have all been invited there by an absentee host who goes by the name ‘œMr. Owen.’ After a lovely dinner, the guests are forced to listen to a recording accusing each and every single one of them of murder. And thus begins one of the great murder mysteries of all time’¦ a tale of ten guests, who like the famous poem ‘œTen Little Indians,’ find themselves disappearing one by one in the middle of nowhere.
Gradually, very gradually little clues emerge, but we must figure out who the killer is. It is a “mystery” that must be figured out. And as soon as we think we know who the killer is, that person turns up dead.
When we read that someone entrusts us with the mysteries of Christ we might assume that God acts like Agatha Christie. In other words, God gives very obscure hints about Jesus Christ, and we must interpret the clues to get at the truth. Is that what it means that the preacher is a keeper of mysteries of Christ?
In order to understand our identity, that the preacher is a keeper of the mysteries of Christ, we need to also understand what the word “entrusted” means. What Paul was referring to becomes clearer when we look at some of the various translations of this verse.
NIV: “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.”
ESV: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
KJV, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
NASB: “This is the way any person is to regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
NLT: “So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.”
CSB: “A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God.”
Notice that most translations use the word “steward” here when it describes our identity. A “steward” is someone who manages someone else’s possessions. In the time of the New Testament, wealthy land-owners would often employ a steward. This person would be in charge of the various aspects of the business of the owner.
So, when Paul calls us “stewards”, it means that we are not the owners. Rather, there are certain truths that belong to Christ, and we now get to decide how to use them.
A Keeper of Mysteries
The preacher is a keeper of mysteries as one of our main roles. So, what is a mystery? Is it like Agatha Christie, that God hides the truth, and we decide who gets the truth? That’s not it! The term that Paul uses here for mysteries describes some of the mystery religions that existed in his day. Such groups kept things secret–until you joined the group! Once you join the group, the leaders tell you all the secrets. In other words, when you become a believer, the mysteries about salvation become clear.
So, we are now stewards of this good news. We have the greatest truth ever revealed in the history of the world. Our job is to keep making the mystery of why God would die in our place known everywhere and anywhere.
This is what it means that the preacher is a keeper of the mysteries of Christ. This is your identity!