1 Corinthians 3:6
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(6) I have planted, Apollos watered.—By an image borrowed from the processes of agriculture the Apostle explains the relation in which his teaching stood to that of Apollos—and how all the results were from God. This indication of St. Paul having been the founder, and Apollos the subsequent instructor, of the Corinthian Church, is in complete harmony with what we read of the early history of that Church in Acts 18:27; Acts 19:1. After St. Paul had been at Corinth (Acts 18:1), Apollos, who had been taught by Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, came there and “helped them much which had already believed.”

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.I have planted - The apostle here compares the establishment of the church at Corinth to the planting of a vine, a tree, or of grain. The figure is taken from agriculture, and the meaning is obvious. Paul established the church. He was the first preacher in Corinth; and if any distinction was due to anyone, it was rather to him than to the teachers who had labored there subsequently; but he regarded himself as worthy of no such honor as to be the head of a party, for it was not himself, but God who had given the increase.

Apollos watered - This figure is taken from the practice of watering a tender plant, or of watering a garden or field. This was necessary in a special manner in Eastern countries. Their fields became parched and dry from their long droughts, and it was necessary to irrigate them by artificial means. The sense here is, that Paul had labored in establishing the church at Corinth; but that subsequently Apollos had labored to increase it, and to build it, up. It is certain that Apollos did not go to Corinth until after Paul had left it; see Acts 18:18; compare Acts 18:27.

God gave the increase - God caused the seed sown to take root and spring up; and God blessed the irrigation of the tender plants as they sprung up, and caused them to grow. This idea is still taken from the farmer. It would be vain for the farmer to sow his seed unless God would give it life. There is no life in the seed, nor is there any inherent power in the earth to make it grow. Only God, the Giver of all life, can quicken the germ in the seed, and make it live. So it would be in vain for the farmer to water his plant unless God would bless it. There is no living principle in the water; no inherent power in the rains of heaven to make the plant grow. It is adapted, indeed, to this, and the seed would not germinate if it was not planted, nor grow if it was not watered; but the life is still from God. He arranged these means, and he gives life to the tender blade, and sustains it. And so it is with the word of life. It has no inherent power to produce effect by itself. The power is not in the naked word, nor in him that plants, nor in him that waters, nor in the heart where it is sown, but in God. But there is a Fitness of the means to the end. The word is adapted to save the soul. The seed must be sown or it will not germinate. Truth must be sown in the heart, and the heart must be prepared for it - as the earth must be plowed and made mellow, or it will not spring up. It must be cultivated with assiduous care, or it will produce nothing. But still it is all of God - as much so as the yellow harvest of the field, after all the toils of the farmer is of God. And as the farmer who has just views, will take no praise to himself because his grain and his vine start up and grow after all his care, but will ascribe all to God's unceasing, beneficent agency; so will the minister of religion, and so will every Christian, after all their care, ascribe all to God.

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.

God honoured me first to preach the gospel amongst you, Acts 18:1-28 &c., and blessed my preaching to convert you unto Christ; then I left you: Apollos stayed behind, and he watered what I had planted, daily preaching amongst you; see Acts 18:24-26; he was a further means to build you up in faith and holiness; but God increased, or

gave the increase, God gave the power by which you brought forth any fruit. The similitude is drawn from planters, whether husbandmen or gardeners; they plant, they water, but the growing, the budding, the bringing forth flowers or fruit by the plant, doth much more depend upon the soil in which it stands, the influence of heaven upon it, by the beams of the sun, and the drops of the dew and rain, and the internal virtue which the God of nature hath created in the plant, than upon the hand of him that planteth, or him who useth his watering pot to water it. So it is with souls; one minister is used for conversion, or the first changing of souls; another is used for edification, or further building up of souls; but both conversion and edification are infinitely more from the new heart and new nature, which God giveth to souls, and from the influence of the Sun of righteousness by the Spirit of grace, working in and upon the soul, than from any minister, who is but God’s instrument in those works.

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.

{3} I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

(3) He beautifies the former sentence, with two similarities: first comparing the company of the faithful to a field which God makes fruitful, when it is sown and watered through the labour of his servants. Second, be comparing it to a house, which indeed the Lord builds, but by the hands of his workmen, some of whom he uses in laying the foundation, others in building it up. Now, both these similarities are for this purpose, to show that all things are wholly accomplished only by God's authority and might, so that we must only have an eye to him. Moreover, although God uses some in the better part of the work, we must not therefore condemn others, in respect of them, and much less may we divide or set them apart (as these factious men did) seeing that all of them labour in God's business. They work in such a way, that they serve to finish the very same work, although by a different manner of working, in so much that they all need one another's help.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7. Statement of the difference in the διακονία of the two, and of the success of the ministry of both as dependent upon God, so that no one at all had any independent standing, but only God. Therewith Paul proceeds to point out the impropriety of the party-relation which men had taken up towards the two teachers.

ἐφύτευσα κ.τ.λ[489]] We are not to suppose the object left indefinite (de Wette); on the contrary, it emerges out of διʼ ὧν ἐπιστεύσατε, 1 Corinthians 3:5, namely: the faith of the Corinthian community. This is conceived of as a tree (comp Plato, Phaedr. p. 276 E) which was planted by Paul, inasmuch as he first brought the Corinthians to believe and founded the church; but watered[491] by Apollos, inasmuch as he had subsequently exerted himself in the way of confirming and developing the faith of the church, and for the increase of its numbers; and lastly, blessed with growth by God, inasmuch as it was under His influence (τῆς γὰρ αὐτοῦ χάριτος τὸ κατόρθωμα, Theodoret) that the work of both had success and prospered. This making it to grow is the effect of grace, without which the “granum a primo sationis momento esset instar lapilli,” Bengel. Comp Acts 16:14; Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 15:10.

ἐστί τι] may be taken to mean: is anything of importance, anything worth speaking of (Acts 5:36; Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3. Plato, Phaedr. p. 242 E, Gorg. p. 472 A, Symp. p. 173 B; Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 12). It is more in accordance, however, with the decided tone of hostility to all human estimation which marks the whole context to take τι in quite a general sense (comp 1 Corinthians 10:19), so that of both in and by themselves (in comparison with God) it is said: they are nothing.

ἀλλʼ ὁ αὐξ. Θεός] sc[494] τὰ πάντα ἐστι (1 Corinthians 15:28; Colossians 3:11), which, according to the apostle’s intention, is to be drawn from what has been already said. An abbreviated form of the contrast, with which comp 1 Corinthians 7:19, and see generally Kühner, II. p. 604; Stallbaum, a[496] Rep. p. 366 D, 561 B. Theophylact says well: διδάξας, ὅτι Θεῷ δεῖ μόνῳ προσέχειν, καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν ἀνατιθέναι πάντα τὰ συμβαίνοντα ἀγαθά.

[489] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[491] Augustine, Ep. 48, and several of the Fathers make ἐπότισεν refer in a totally inappropriate way to baptism.

[494] c. scilicet.

[496] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7. The grammatical obj[500] of this sentence has been given by the foregoing context, viz., the Cor[501] Church of believers (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:15).—φυτεύω Paul uses besides only in 1 Corinthians 9:7; his regular metaphor in this connexion is that of 1 Corinthians 3:10. “Planting” and “watering” happily picture the relative services of P. and Ap. Ποτίζω, to give drink, to irrigate, may have for obj[502] men (1 Corinthians 3:2, 1 Corinthians 12:13, etc.), animals (Luke 13:15), or plants. In 1 Corinthians 3:2, Paul was the ποτίζων γάλα. The vb[503] takes a double acc[504], of person and thing (Wr[505], p. 284).—The ἀλλὰ of the last clause goes beyond a mere contrast (δέ) between God and men in their several parts, excluding the latter from the essential part: “but God—He only, and no other—made it to grow”. The planting and watering of Christ’s servants were occasions for the exercise of God’s vitalising energy. While the former vbs. are aor[506], gathering up the work of the two ministers into single successive acts, ηὔξανεν is impf[507] of continued activity: “God was (all the while) making it to grow.” Several of the Ff[508]—Aug[509] e.g.—saw in ποτίζειν the baptism, in φυτεύειν the instruction of catechumens,—“illustrating a general fault of patristic exegesis, the endeavour to attach a technical sense to words in the N.T. which had not yet acquired this meaning” (Lt[510]).—ὥστε, itaque (and so, so then), with ind[511] (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:38, 1 Corinthians 11:27, 1 Corinthians 14:22), points out a result immediately flowing from what has been said: “the planter” and “the waterer,” in comparison with “the Lord” who dispensed their powers and “God” who makes their plants to grow, are reduced to nothing; “God who gives the growth” (qui dat vim crescendi, Bz[512]) alone remains. To the subject, ὁ αὐξάνων Θεός, the predicate τὰ πάντα ἐστὶν is tacitly supplied from the negative clauses foregoing.—For ἐστίν τι (anything of moment), cf. Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3, Acts 5:36, and note on τὶ εἰδέναι, 1 Corinthians 2:2. The pr[513] ptp[514] with becomes, virtually, a (timeless) substantive—the planter, waterer, Increaser (Wr[515], p. 444).

[500] grammatical object.

[501] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[502] grammatical object.

[503] verb

[504] accusative case.

[505] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[506] aorist tense.

[507]mpf. imperfect tense.

[508] Fathers.

[509] Augustine.

[510] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[511] indicative mood.

[512] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[513] present tense.

[514] participle

[515] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

5–23. Christian Ministers only labourers of more or less efficiency, the substantial work being God’s

6. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase] The Apostle would lead his converts to rise from the thought of those who had ministered the Gospel to them, to the thought of Him whom they ministered. Man does but obey the Divine command in his ministerial work, the results are God’s. See note on 1 Corinthians 3:9. It is to be observed that both here and in ch. 1 Corinthians 1:12, St Paul’s account of himself and Apollos is in precise agreement with that of St Luke in the Acts. In Acts 18 we read of the Church of Corinth being founded by St Paul. In the latter part of that chapter and in ch. Acts 19:1, we read of Apollos’ visit to Greece, and his stay at Corinth. The remark in this Epistle is a purely incidental one, but it coincides exactly with the history. St Paul founded the Church, Apollos ‘mightily convinced the Jews and that publicly,’ thus carrying on the work St Paul had begun. See Paley, Horae Paulinae, 1st Ep. to Corinthians 5, who points out the argument derivable from hence for the genuineness of both this Epistle and the Acts.

1 Corinthians 3:6. Ἐφύτευσαἐπότισεν, I planted—he watered) Acts 18:1; Acts 19:1. Afterwards with the same view, he speaks of the foundation and what is reared upon it; of a father, and instructors [ch. 1 Corinthians 4:15].—ηὔξανεν, gave the increase) 1 Corinthians 3:10, at the beginning; Acts 18:27, at the end.

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). 1 Corinthians 3:6Planted - watered - gave the increase (ἐφύτευσα - ἐπότισεν - ηὔξανεν)

The first two verbs are in the aorist tense, marking definite acts; the third is in the imperfect, marking the continued gracious agency of God, and possibly the simultaneousness of His work with that of the two preachers. God was giving the increase while we planted and watered. There is a parallel in the simultaneous work of Satan with that of the preachers of the word as indicated by the continuous presents in Matthew 13:19. See note there.

1 Corinthians 3:6 Interlinear
1 Corinthians 3:6 Parallel Texts

1 Corinthians 3:6 NIV
1 Corinthians 3:6 NLT
1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV
1 Corinthians 3:6 NASB
1 Corinthians 3:6 KJV

1 Corinthians 3:6 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 3:6 Parallel
1 Corinthians 3:6 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 3:6 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 3:6 French Bible
1 Corinthians 3:6 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Corinthians 3:5
Top of Page
Top of Page