|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:5-9 The ministers about whom the Corinthians contended, were only instruments used by God. We should not put ministers into the place of God. He that planteth and he that watereth are one, employed by one Master, trusted with the same revelation, busied in one work, and engaged in one design. They have their different gifts from one and the same Spirit, for the very same purposes; and should carry on the same design heartily. Those who work hardest shall fare best. Those who are most faithful shall have the greatest reward. They work together with God, in promoting the purposes of his glory, and the salvation of precious souls; and He who knows their work, will take care they do not labour in vain. They are employed in his husbandry and building; and He will carefully look over them.
Verses 5-15. - The one foundation and the diverse superstructure. Verse 5. - Who then is Paul? The better reading is what? (א, A, B). The neuter would imply a still greater depreciation of the importance of human ministers. Ministers. The same word as that rendered "deacons" (diakonoi); "ministers of Christ on your behalf" (Colossians 1:7). Through whom ye believed. Through whom," not "in whom" (Bengel). They were merely the instruments of your conversion. In the second Epistle (2 Corinthians 3:3) he calls them "the epistle of Christ ministered by us written... with the Spirit of the living God." As the Lord gave to him. The gifts differ according to the grace given (Romans 12:6).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Who then is Paul? and who is Apollos?.... The apostle's name being used, and he a party concerned, could speak the more freely upon this head, and ask what they thought of himself, and other preachers, whether they were more than men? what authority and power they had, whether they looked upon them as the authors of a new religion, or the founders of a new sect, that were to go by their names? and directs them what light to consider them in, how that they were
but ministers by whom ye believed: they were servants to Christ and to his churches, and not lords; they did not assume any dominion over men, or pretend to lord it over God's heritage; there is but one Lord and master, and that is Christ, whom they served, and taught others to obey; they were only instrumental in the hand of God, by whom souls were directed, encouraged, and brought to believe in Christ; as for faith itself, that is the gift of God, the operation of his power, and of which Christ is the author and finisher; they laid no claim to this as their work, or imagined they had any dominion over it; that they could either implant it, or increase it of themselves; but thought it honour enough done them, that it came by their ministry; and that that, and the joy of it, were helped and furthered by their means: the Vulgate Latin version reads, "his ministers whom ye believed"; that is, the ministers of Christ, whom they believed in; not in the ministers, but Christ; the Arabic version renders it, "but two ministers, by whom ye believed"; referring to Paul and Apollos, who are meant:
even as the Lord gave to every man; gifts to minister with, and success to his ministry; making him useful to this and the other man, to bring him to the faith of Christ; all which is owing to the free grace and sovereign good will and pleasure of God.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. Who then—Seeing then that ye severally strive so for your favorite teachers, "Who is (of what intrinsic power and dignity) Paul?" If so great an apostle reasons so of himself, how much more does humility, rather than self-seeking, become ordinary ministers!
Paul … Apollos—The oldest manuscripts read in the reverse order, "Apollos," &c. Paul." He puts Apollos before himself in humility.
but ministers, &c.—The oldest manuscripts have no "but." "Who is Apollos … Paul? (mere) ministers (a lowly word appropriate here, servants), by whom (not "in whom"; by whose ministrations) ye believed."
as … Lord gave to every man—that is, to the several hearers, for it was God that "gave the increase" (1Co 3:6).
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