2013-01-24 - Underrowers
Originally Published 2000-07-20
1 Cor 4:1-2 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. (NAS)
In the time of Christ, the Roman Navy was something to be reckoned with. Naval battles, even today, are grim death matches. Even the one that might be called the winner was not safe until he was home. What might be considered minor damage could still sink the ship over a day or two if port could not be reached. The huge wooden vessels, with reinforced prows for ramming, were powered by slaves and prisoners rowing huge oars.
There were two tiers of wooden benches one over the other. There were no permitted bathroom breaks for these men who were considered property of the state instead of human beings. The men in the lower tier got whatever came from the top tier from food scraps to much, much worse. These men were the underrowers. They were chained into place to the point that if the ship went down, they went down with the ship.
The word servants in 1 Cor 4:1 is the Greek word for underrower. Paul is speaking of the leaders of the church who quietly provide power and direction to the local body of the church. They often are unseen, as the men in the belly of the ship were not seen. Yet the lower set of oarsman were essential. The most brilliant naval strategist or the most well-built ship would not stand a chance without the power required to drive his ship. In the same way, any local church will flounder and fail without the help of these quiet, behind the scenes people praying and serving.
1 Cor 12:21-25 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, 24 whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. (NAS)
There are those who God gives a heart for service to the local church. They would be happier if no one knew at all that they were cleaning the bathrooms, or sweeping the floors. Not because they are ashamed of their lowly work. But they know Jesus sees them and He knows their hearts. They are serving the body for Him, and that is all that matters. They pray faithfully, make food for the sick and do a hundred little jobs that make things move smoothly for the rest of us. They are servants in the truest form.
Thank you Lord Jesus for these quiet children of Yours who serve us without reward, and sometimes without thanks out of a heart of love for You and Your Bride, the church. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
NT:5257: huperetes (hoop-ay-ret'-ace); from NT:5259 and a derivative of eresso (to row); an under-oarsman, i.e. (generally) subordinate (assistant, sexton, constable):
KJV-minister, officer, servant.
NT:5259: hupo (hoop-o'); a primary preposition; under, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative case) of place (whither [underneath] or where [below] or time (when [at]):
KJV-among, by, from, in, of, under, with. In comp. it retains the same general applications, especially of inferior position or condition, and specifically, covertly or moderately.
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)