Servants of the Lord

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons” (v. 1).  

- Philippians 1:1

There is much similarity between the English term for the assembly of God’s people and the terms for the same concept in other languages. Church in English, kirke in Dutch, and kirche in German all sound alike and are even, in some ways, spelled alike with the hard k or ch sound at the beginning and the r in the middle. The reason for this is that all of these words find their origin in kuriake, which is itself Greek in origin.

Literally, kuriake means “belonging to the Lord” and is a derivation of the Greek word for “Lord,” kurios. It makes perfect sense that English would look to kuriake as the root for the word church because, after all, what is the church if it is not that group of people who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Kurios in the Greek language can also refer to the master of slaves or servants. This explains Paul’s emphasis in today’s passage and elsewhere that he is a “servant” of the Lord. If Christians, the kuriake, belong to a master, then we are the servants or slaves of that master. To be known as servants or slaves of Christ is not to imply that our master is cruel; by no means could Jesus ever mistreat us. Instead, we are the Lord’s possession because He has purchased us from slavery to sin and death and thus also from the righteous wrath of God (1 Cor. 7:23). As such, He is worthy of our total allegiance.

Understanding that all followers of Christ are possessions of the Lord has important implications for how we treat other Christians. To do wrong to another believer is to do wrong to one of Jesus’ own beloved. Lest we miss the point, to mistreat another Christian is to mistreat Christ Himself. All believers are so closely united to Jesus that to treat people in the church poorly is to dishonor the Lord of the church (Acts 9:4).

Therefore, we should be known as those who are kind to others in the body of Christ. We must exercise that love that overlooks a multitude of “minor” sins (1 Peter 4:8). As servants together in the kingdom of God we must be ever conscious that He takes our treatment of His people seriously; thus, we must do good to them just as we would do good to Him.

Coram Deo

That we are all servants of the same Lord and master forbids us from ever thinking that certain people or deeds are beneath us. It also means that whatever we do, we must do it unto the Lord with our very best. Consider today what it means to serve the Lord in your life. Have you ceased to see your job as a vocation given to you by God? Do you esteem yourself above others? Strive always to serve the Lord in humility and with a true love for other believers.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 21:1–6
Jeremiah 50:33–34
Mark 10:35–45
1 Timothy 2:5–6

We Recommend

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343