Key Word Meanings

Looking to Deductive Key Word Meanings about stewardship in New Testament Greek 

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.”


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