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2 Corinthians 4:2

“We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Stewardship stands out as one of the most important concepts taught in God’s Word. In the ancient world, stewards were officials tasked with looking after the affairs and possessions of another. An individual would hire a steward to take care of his household, to make sure it was run properly, and to guard and keep what he owned. In turn, the steward was responsible to run the household and make the kinds of decisions for its welfare that its actual owner would make. Stewards were not owners but managers, entrusted with an owner’s goods in order to carry out the owner’s wishes, not the steward’s. A good steward would act always in the interests of the owner, carrying out the owner’s wishes according to the owner’s will.

The Apostle Paul understood his ministry as one of stewardship, as texts such as 1 Corinthians 4:1–2 make clear. His view of himself as a steward of the Lord is also evident in today’s passage. Paul continues the defense of his Apostolic ministry against those who would call his sincerity and truthfulness into question, and we see his faithful stewardship particularly in his statement that he refuses “to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word” (2 Cor. 4:2). In other words, Paul does not take license to carry out his appointed task according to his own will, and he refuses to treat that which belongs to the Lord—God’s Word—with anything but the utmost respect. As a good steward cares for an owner’s possessions, Paul maintains the Word of God, and he does not alter it. He resolutely follows the warnings never to add to or take away from the Lord’s commandments (Deut. 12:32), leaving an example for all ministers—indeed, for all Christians—to follow. Our task is never to tamper with Scripture to make it more palatable to our hearers; rather, we must seek always to present nothing but the truth of Scripture with grace, proclaiming even the things that are hardest for people to accept.

Paul’s ministry, consequently, was most unlike that of the false teachers in Corinth, whom the Apostle calls “peddlers of God’s word” (2 Cor. 2:17). They acted with insincerity, tampering with God’s Word and using all sorts of cunning and underhanded tactics. Paul refused to do this. He was open with all, his honesty being a signal confirmation of his ministry (4:2). Today, Christians and particularly Christian leaders are to be so honest in their ministries that they are above reproach.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Our task in whatever ministry the Lord has given to us is to be good stewards who deal honestly with others and do not tamper with the Scriptures. We dare not seek to manipulate our audience, whether it is a congregation to whom we preach, children whom we lead in family devotions, or coworkers who need the gospel. Instead, let us proclaim God’s truth honestly and sincerely. Through such proclamation, Christ makes disciples.


For Further Study
  • Proverbs 12:5
  • Mark 7:1–13
  • Titus 1:7–9
  • Revelation 22:18–19

Not Losing Heart

Blinded by the God of This World

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From the September 2021 Issue
Sep 2021 Issue