Paul once again brings up God’s servants because the Corinthians did not view them properly. In Chapter 3, he said that Paul and Apollos were simply God’s servants, they were instruments in the hand of God, one planted, and the other watered, but God gave the growth. They were “plow-boys” and “water-boys, ” therefore, it is wrong to focus on God’s ministers.
In this chapter he introduces a new word to describe them; “servants” not the word normally rendered “servant/ bond-servant/ slave” (doulos), but he uses the word (huperetes). This word had a connotation of a rower on a slave ship in the lower bank. Thus, Paul wants to further deflate the view of ministers as: an under rower, subordinate rower (verse 1).
In giving this picture of subservient position there was another man who directed the slaves in order to steer the ship. Some commentators stress this and see it as a picture of Christ as the pilot who directs the course of the ship and Paul as the servant who accepts the pilot’s orders and labors only as his Master directs.
They are also stewards. A steward was in charge of the administration of the house or the estate; he controlled the staff and the supplies, but was often a slave himself.
The picture of the minister of the gospel, as a steward of its mysteries, to dispense such instructions, to build up the church of Christ; to make known those sublime truths which are contained in the gospel. They are not authors of the mysteries they dispense, but are to preach only that gospel which they have received from Him.