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Looking to Deductive Key Word Meanings in New Testament Greek

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Stewardship Research Part II

This discussion section centers on a deductive analyses of three principle Greek words. We will also look at principle passages with an inductive analysis of key precepts.

The First is Oikonomia (NIV, NKJV stewardship, economy KJV dispensation)

Found at: Luke. 16:2-4; 1Co 9:17; Eph. 1:10; Eph 3:2, 9; Col. 1:25

The Second is: epitropos (curator, manager of a household or of lands)

Found at: Matt. 20:8; Luke 8:3; Gal. 4:2

The Third is Oikonomos (a steward a freed-man or a slave of what God or others give us or we are trusted with).

Found at: Luke 12:42; Luke 16:1, 3,8; Rom. 16:23; 1Co 4:1-2 Gal. 4:2; Tit. 1:7

All three of these words are found in various New Testament verses pertaining to money, management, economy and stewardship.

The oikonomia, stewardship, described in the book of Ephesians refers, according to Westcott (Eph., 13), to "a distribution of Divine treasure which have been committed by God to chosen representatives, that they may be faithfully administered by them." Earle (Word Meanings, 4:239) argues that although "the term 'dispensation' has been maltreated by reading in other non-biblical meanings in recent times; it is difficult to find a satisfactory substitute. Thus it becomes necessary to hold to its original meaning of 'a dispensing' which is what 'stewardship' really is."

Ephesians 3:2, 9 "To Paul was committed," according to Earle (Word Meanings, 4:282), "the 'stewardship' of God's grace, that he might administer this grace to the Gentiles." The word "photizein (to enlighten) is a natural word for public disclosure of what has been kept secret," according to Robinson (Eph., 170). Moule remarks, "'The dispensation of the secret' is in effect, the world-wide distribution, through the steward of God, of the news and the blessings of the full Gospel, so long held in reserve" (Eph., 91).

1 Peter 4:10 "Commenting on Peter's word in 1 Peter 4:10, Lee (L-S 1Pet., 1:5) says, "We should be good stewards of what Peter calls varied grace, grace in different aspects and of different categories." He also notes, "As good stewards, by the gift we have received we should minister to the church and the saints such grace, not merely doctrine or any vain thing" (Ibid., 27:245).

The exhortation by Peter (1Pet. 4:10) for ones to minister (diakoneo) as good stewards (oikonomos) certainly recalls the Lord's word to Peter to feed His sheep/lambs (John 21:15-17). Peter in his epistle shows what is involved in being God's stewards. The word is preached and regeneration results (1Pet. 1:23); the newborn is fed by the milk of the word (2:2); and each believer is built up into a spiritual house with others (2:5). This is God's stewardship."

Just who is the steward? Witness Lee (L-S Eph., 28:242) makes the assertion that "every apostle is a steward of God (this writer is very discerning with his writings as Lee frequently read in what is not there). As an apostle, Paul was a steward who dispensed the riches of God to His children." Lee (Ibid., 28:245) further defines "stewardship" as distinguished from "economy":

The stewardship is according to God's economy. With God it is a matter of economy; with us it is a matter of stewardship. All the saints, no matter how insignificant they may seem to be, have a stewardship according to God's economy. This means that every saint can infuse Christ into others.

The Results of Deduction Analysis

These passages clearly indicate that Stewardship is a reflection of our spiritual condition! As testified from the results of the survey. We should never separate money and finances from our spiritual life. The distinction that the material world is not for the Christian is an old heresy called Gnosticism. The material world is God's too, and we are the stewards, the caretakers, of it. So, how we allocate the resources that God places in our care is a prime Christian duty that has no separation from the spiritual depth of Biblical character and maturity. All the areas in our life of work, learning, relationships, spiritual gifts, and resources will come through our obedience or our laziness--to God's glory or to waste.

The concept that is missing from most of these Christians is that God does indeed own everything even what is in your name! To explain this, we are on a playground that God owns, building equipment for the furtherance of the kingdom. At the same time, the storms of the devil and our complacency cause a hindrance and breakdown to the work. With spiritual strength we can fend off the devil, but it takes diligence, and a will surrendered to God to build the park and play the game.

The passage in first Peter (1 Pet. 4:10) refers to ones to minister (diakoneo) as good stewards (oikonomos) definitely recalls the Lord's call to Peter to feed His sheep (Luke 12:42; 16:1-12; John 21:15-17). Peter shows what is implicated in being God's stewards. The word is preached and regeneration results (1 Pet. 1:23); the newborn is fed by the milk of the word (2:2); and each believer is built up into a spiritual house with others (2:5). This is God's stewardship.

"It is almost needless to say that the NT use of the figure of stewardship has regard to the minister's duty to provide the household of God with the food of truth, and not to any supposed right or duty to reserve that food (Alford, Col., 3:1291).." Earle (Word Meanings, 5:78) discusses the translation for the word oikonomia)

"This word oikonomia …clearly means 'stewardship.' The term 'dispensation' has come so generally to be used in a prophetic sense for a period of history that it fails completely to convey the correct idea here. The Christian's task today, as was Paul's in the first century, is a stewardship from God." (Bernard (Pastoral Epistles, 24) relates oikia, oikonomos, and oikonomia)

"Here the Church is the oikia, its members oikeioi, the plan on which God the great oikonomos distributes His blessings, the oikonomia….The heretical myths would do far more to encourage idle enquiries about matters of no importance than to promote that divine dispensation whose sphere is faith, and not antiquarian curiosity."

Titus 1:7 Paul discusses here in Titus the qualifications of an elder. He mentions that one "of the qualifications of the elders" is that of "being the overseer as a steward of God" (Lee, Titus, 1:5). Bernard (Pastoral Epistles, 158) relates the overseer to the steward and says, "The commission of the episcopos (overseer) is, in the end, from God and not from man; he is God's steward, the steward of His mysteries (1Cor. 4:1) and of His manifold grace (1Pet. 4:10)….It is to God, not to man, that he is responsible for the due discharge of his office."

Principle Inductive themes derived from Principle Topical of the Passages on Stewardship

Further principle verses: Proverbs 3:9-10; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; Ephesians 5:15-16

What is Stewardship? Principle answer from findings is "the care of others resources." All we have is others resources, as we do not truly own anything, only God does.

· Stewardship honors God with all of the relationships and resources in our life! Thus, we are able to give Him gratitude for what He did for us and recognize His sovereignty, which is His control and ownership of all things. In this way we can honor Him with our worship as well as with our material goods and abilities.

· Stewardship is a priority! We need to take what we have and put it to the right use.

· Stewardship is exercising the gifts He gives, not letting them waste away. We are to find them and put them to use with joy. To do otherwise is a big waste and a travesty.

· Stewardship is being His faithful servant. It is the understanding of who we are in Him and being grateful for that. In addition, it is being willing to put forth the effort to please Him, even though we do not have to.

· Stewardship is recognizing that we belong to Him as a human being in His grace, that the church is not the building, but the body that gathers for worship and leaves for ministry! Those who just dwell in a building end up doing nothing there.

· Stewardship is being wise to the ways of the world, so we do not fall prey to it. Matt. 25:14-30: What is the meaning of unfaithfulness?

· Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God's Word.

· Stewardship is being neither reckless or hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are to have?

· Stewardship is recognizing that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.

· Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person's small gift is just as important as the rich person's big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.

· Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving--are you?

· Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

Matthew 6: 25-34: How are worry, and the ability to give, tied together?

· What about our time? Do you always live in a rush? If so, does that please God? Does it leave time for important things, such as relationships and ministry?

· What is Righteousness?

· What about the Body and Kingdom of God?

· Stewardship is not worrying, but rather, trusting in Christ.

· Stewardship is not just focusing on our self-interests, but on His interests and on the interests of others as well.

· Stewardship means knowing that God is concerned with us personally--what we go through, deal with, and how we manage what He entrusts to us.

· Stewardship is focusing on God and not on the material things in and of themselves. We are always to view the material world with the perspective of being God's caretaker of it, not of its lust or greed.

Ephesians 5:15-21

· For introspective inspection, write a list of the priorities in your life. Then, with the above verses in mind, ask yourself," How do my priorities line up with God's?"

· What can you do to line your up your priorities to be more like God's?

· Stewardship is the attitude of gratitude, being thankful in all things, even when we do not feel gratitude or see it.

· Stewardship sees every purchase as an investment, from food and gas, to houses and cars.

· Stewardship is about being in community, working together and complementing one another's gifts, and abilities, and with what we can offer. It is the way we use the gifts He has given us in order to benefit the people in our church and those around us.

Applications issues and questions:

Rom. 12:3-8; and 1 Pet. 4:10: What are the gifts and abilities you have?

· How are you using them for the Body and the glory of Christ?

· How can you use them for the Body and for Christ's glory?

· Why does our Lord so often cite the use of money as an illustration?

· Stewardship means not making yourself the king when there is only one King. It is not to lift us up, but to lift up the Cross. It is to think soberly of who we are in Christ.

· Stewardship is recognizing our gifts and abilities as well as opportunities, then exercising the responsibility of their care. It is also cooperation with other stewards, to work as a team.

· Stewardship is recognizing the amazing wonder and power of grace that we did not deserve.

Read Hebrews 6:10; 13:16

· When we serve God and when we give, it is never in vain. It is never forgotten by the One Who counts!

· Why would God be pleased when we sacrifice?

· Why do most people, including Christians, hate to sacrifice?

· What can you do to be a person who sacrifices so it pleases God, and one who is mindful of the responsibly to be wise in doing so?

· Stewardship pleases God!

· Stewardship is worshipping God!

Read Proverbs 20:10; 22:7; Luke 12:15; 16: 10-11; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:10

· Why is money important to you?

· Why and how is it important to the Lord?

· Stewardship means not being dishonest, not rationalizing dishonesty for personal or even Kingdom gain. We always need to bow to the covenant we have in Him not to dishonor or deceive.

· Stewardship is not the storing up of treasures for our comfort, for He is our comfort. Nor is it coveting what others have, even if we can rationalize it for Kingdom gain.

· Stewardship is taking care of the small, because it is as important as the big.

· Stewardship is not seeking the easy way out of work, but, rather, working hard.

· Stewardship is not loving and worshiping what we are to care for, while we forsake the One who gave it. It is not the material things that are evil; it is what we do with them that in violation of His character that is evil. Money, in and of itself, is not evil; it is the abuse of it that is.

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15: What are the principles of giving cited here?

· Stewardship is not being cheap and skimping so we save a little, while we waste much more.

· Stewardship is the glorification of our Lord and Savior.

· Stewardship recognizes that our giving is a grain of sand to the beach that He gave us.

Read Mark 12: 41-44; Romans 12:10; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 3 John 2:

· What does it mean to you that God considers you His temple?

· With this information in mind, how are you going to respond to Him, and with the time, treasures, and talent in your life?

· How can you take better control and care of your body?

· Stewardship is a sacrifice of our will.

· Stewardship is honoring our relationships and the people around us.

· Stewardship is prospering in our maturity and relationship with Christ.

Read Psalm 50: 14-15; Proverbs 22:9, 28:13; Job 36:11; Isaiah. 48:17; Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:19

· What are God's promises regarding stewardship?

· Spend quality time in surrendered prayer; that is, pray with your will and desires set aside so you can listen to God and His wonderful plan for you!

· Prayerfully decide on how you plan to implement God's desires and call to be a better steward of all the relationships, time, talent, money, and resources in your life!

· Stewardship means knowing that if we obey, God will bless us for it.

· Stewardship means not covering up our sins, but confessing, and repenting.

· Stewardship will allow us to let God be our teacher.

· Stewardship means knowing that we are in community with those around us, so, we should exercise sound judgment and encouragement.

· Stewardship means trusting in our God, who provides for our spiritual and physical needs.

· Stewardship sees tithing as an investment, with eternal values in mind, not a loss of temporary goods.

Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:8-15

· Christ gave up His position and gave of Himself to save us. The widow gave what she had of herself through sacrifice (Mark 12; 41-44). The size of the gift is relative to what we are able to do. We are never to give what we do not have and expect God to put it back in our account. This is the action of the fool in Proverbs.

· Stewardship does not abuse the giver! You do not need to give beyond your ability to do so! The giver is not to abuse stewardship through false promises or by what he does not have, even if he has good intentions. Nor, should we ever give for the sole purpose that God will bless us! Our giving is a response, not a tool to get!

· Stewardship is a regular, normal, and daily endeavor!

The people interviewed, especially the American Christians had a big problem with what I am trying to get across here. Perhaps their will, pride, and assumptions have clouded their thinking. All we need to do is carefully and honestly examine what God's Word has to say!

© Research from 2001- 2004, revised 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development

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