Paul Explains his role in their Conversion to Christ
1 Corinthians 3:5-11 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. KJV
Paul now wants to firmly enlighten these believers of what his role in their salvation in Christ was and to pour cold water on their apparent desires to elevate him and others to some lofty status while in doing so they sever themselves from the Vine Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul as he is so apt to do begins making his point by asking a question. Paul refers to himself and Apollos as simply “ministers” and this English word as used by Paul here is translated from the Greek word diakonos which means one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, an attendant. Paul wants them to see clearly that he is nothing but Christ messenger giving out the gospel of grace to all who would listen. Paul declares himself to be only a servant that should never be elevated to some lofty position. Paul declares himself to be a planter and this English word is translated by the Greek word phuteuo which is used here in a figurative sense and means one who instills doctrine or teaching (a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school) and Paul happens to instill or teach the doctrine of salvation by grace through the death, burial, and resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ which is more commonly known as the gospel or good news.
Paul is explaining to them that it is this doctrine (and all the things Paul teaches) our Lord Jesus gave to him when He spent 3 years with him in the deserts of Arabia. Paul like a farmer who plows his field preparing the soil to receive the seed, then the farmer sows the seed and at the completion or conclusion of that, everything pertaining to the seed going down in the soil and taking root to sprout up and produce a crop is out of the farmer’s hands. Our Lord Jesus explained this to the early disciples in this manner, Mark 4:26-29 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows--how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” NKJV This too is what the Apostle Paul is explaining to these Corinthian believers that their salvation to Christ was not based upon his eloquence of speech or in any ability or power inherent in him (for there is none), but that the capacity or power to produce the desired effect of their salvation was all of God’s Sovereign Will and Choice that He through our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Power of His Spirit would Alone receive all the Glory to Himself.
Paul then drives home this point to squash or put down their quarrels that may lead to sectarianism or better known today as denominationalism by declaring himself or Apollos to be nothing and that the all-sufficiency is in God only. Paul declares himself and Apollos and all of us who sow the seed of the Word of God as “labourers together with” God working in this field of the world giving out the Word of God to bring lost men and women under conviction of sin that they might repent and turn from their sin to our Lord Jesus Christ. The English phrase “labourers together with” is translated from the Greek word sunergos which means a companion in work or fellow worker. Paul tells them that he and Apollos are workers or instruments that God the Father uses to give out his message, but the miracle of salvation is all done by God.
For example, in Acts 10 we read about a man named Cornelius and this is what the Scripture said of him, Acts 10:1-6 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, “Cornelius!” And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.” Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” NKJV This man feared God and prayed to God continually, but God did not save this man until Peter God’s co-laborer was summoned to his home and preached the gospel to him. Why does God do it this way? Answer: I don’t know, but I do know that He is God and He does as He pleases for His Glory. This is the bottom line of Paul’s explanation to the Corinthian believers to get away from factions or clicks and keep their focus on God giving Him Alone all the Glory. Paul declares that he has only laid the firm, unshakable, and unmovable foundation that is our Lord Jesus Christ and they are to only imitate him in how he follows Christ, nothing more (1 Corinthians 2:2 & 1 Corinthians 11:1).
“The ministers are still surely instruments in God’s Hand, and depend as entirely as ever on His blessing, to give the increase to their labours. Without this, they are nothing: with it, their part is so small, that they hardly deserve to be mentioned. May their hearts and hands be more united; and, retaining a due sense of the honour God doeth them in employing them, may they faithfully labour, not as for themselves, but for the great Proprietor of all, till the day come when He will reward them in full proportion to their fidelity and diligence!” John Wesley
“It is not easy to learn that the planter or the waterer is just nothing at all, and that God is all. Let us think of ourselves only as God’s instruments, and in a humble way as God’s fellow-workers. It is a most helpful thought. Constantly when engaged in tilling the soil as evangelists or in building character as preachers and teachers, let us count on success, because of the all-power of our great Partner. He must give the policy and direction; it is our part to conform wholly to His will and guidance.” F. B. Meyer
“Paul was very quick to put down this move toward sectarianism/denominationalism and very rightly did he, for he would weep an ocean of tears if were able to see today’s end result of what was brewing among the Corinthian believers so long ago.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…