|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.
Verse 6. - I planted. St. Paul everywhere recognized that his gift lay pre eminently in the ability to found Churches (comp. Acts 18:1-11; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:1). Apollos watered. If, as is now generally believed, Apollos wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, we see how striking was his power of strengthening the faith of wavering Churches. Eloquence and a deep insight into the meaning of Scripture, enriched by Alexandrian culture, seem to have been his special endowments (Acts 18:24, 27). The reference of the word "watered" to baptism by Augustine (Ep. 48) is one of the numberless instances of Scripture distorted by ecclesiasticism. God gave the increase (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5). The thought of every true teacher always is, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name give the praise" (Psalm 115:1).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I have planted,.... That is, ministerially; otherwise the planting of souls in Christ, and the implanting of grace in them, are things purely divine, and peculiar to God, and the power of his grace; but his meaning is, that he was at Corinth, as in other places, the first that preached the Gospel to them; and was an instrument of the conversion of many souls, and of laying the foundation, and of raising and forming a Gospel church state, and of planting them in it;
Apollos watered; he followed after, and his ministry was blessed for edification; he was a means of carrying on the superstructure, and of building up souls in faith and holiness, and of making them fruitful in every good word and work: each minister of the Gospel has his proper gifts, work, and usefulness; some are planters, others waterers; some are employed in hewing down the sturdy oaks, and others in squaring and fitting, and laying them in the building; some are "Boanergeses", sons of thunder, and are mostly useful in conviction and conversion; and others are "Barnabases", sons of consolation, who are chiefly made use of in comforting and edifying the saints: but God gave the increase: for as the gardener may put his plants into the earth, and water them when he has so done, but cannot cause them to grow, this is owing to a divine blessing; and as the husbandman tills his ground, casts the seed into it, and waits for the former and latter rain, but cannot cause it to spring up, or increase to perfection, this is done by a superior influence; so ministers of the Gospel plant and water, cast in the seed of the word, preach the Gospel, but all the success is from the Lord; God only causes it to spring up and grow; it is he that gives it its increasing, spreading, fructifying virtue and efficacy.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. I … planted, Apollos watered—(Ac 18:1; 19:1). Apollos at his own desire (Ac 18:27) was sent by the brethren to Corinth, and there followed up the work which Paul had begun.
God gave the increase—that is, the growth (1Co 3:10; Ac 18:27). "Believed through grace." Though ministers are nothing, and God all in all, yet God works by instruments, and promises the Holy Spirit in the faithful use of means. This is the dispensation of the Spirit, and ours is the ministry of the Spirit.
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