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: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

- Philippians 1:1–2

Despite their differences in grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and more, various languages often display remarkable similarities to one another. A good example of this is the word for the assembly of God’s people in English (church), Dutch (kirke), and German (kirche). All of these words sound alike and are spelled similarly, having a hard k or ch sound at the beginning of the word and an r in the middle. The reason for this is that all of these words find their origin in kuriakē, which is Greek in origin. This term means “belonging to the Lord,” and it is derived from the Greek word for “Lord”—kurios. It is a good root term for “church” and its equivalents in other languages because the church is, chiefly, that group of people who belong to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ancient Greek-speaking people used kurios for various lords, including slave masters and those who had servants. If a kurios had servants and you belonged to him, then you were a servant. This is one reason why Paul can speak of himself in today’s passage and throughout his letters as a “servant” of Christ.

Christians are servants of the Lord, people owned by the Savior Himself. Regarding ourselves in this way is not to imply in any way that Jesus is a harsh Master, for it is impossible for Him to mistreat His people. But He does own us as our Master, for He has bought us from the cruel masters of sin and death (1 Cor. 7:23). Because He is our new Master, we owe Him our wholehearted loyalty.

Practically speaking, what does it mean for life in the church if its members are servants of the Lord? If every Christian belongs to Jesus, then to mistreat another believer is to mistreat the Lord Himself. We draw this conclusion from several different passages. For example are His body (1 Cor. 12:12–31), and so to dishonor any part of His body is to dishonor the Head of the body. Furthermore, as Jesus told Paul, to do wrong to God’s children is to do wrong to Christ (Acts 9:4). Because we are servants together in the kingdom of God, let us never forget that He pays close attention to how we treat His people. To serve other believers is to serve our Lord and Savior (Matt. 25:31–46).

Coram Deo

Scripture places a high premium on our love for other believers. Simply put, loving other Christians and treating them with respect is not optional. If we do not treat them well and love them, then we do not know God (1 John 3:10; 4:7–8). We will never love our fellow believers perfectly in this lifetime, but we can try. Moreover, we can repent when we hurt others by our sin, and in love we can work to overlook the minor faults of others.

Passages for Further Study

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

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