So then neither is he that plants any thing, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Any thing—i.e., “anything worth mentioning” (1Corinthians 10:19; Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3).1 Corinthians 1:28. It does not mean that their agency ought not to be performed; that it is not important, and indispensable in its place; but that the honor is due to God - Their agency is indispensable. God could make seed or a tree grow if they were not planted in the earth. But He does not do it. The agency of the farmer is indispensable in the ordinary operations of His providence. If he does not plant, God will not make the grain or the tree grow. God blesses his labors; he does not work a miracle. God attends effort with success; God does not interfere in a miraculous manner to accommodate the indolence of people. So in the matter of salvation. The efforts of ministers would be of no avail without God. They could do nothing in the salvation of the soul unless God would give the increase. But their labors are as indispensable and as necessary, as are those of the farmer in the production of a harvest. And as every farmer could say, "my labors are nothing without God, who alone can give the increase," so it is with every minister of the gospel. I have planted, Apollos hath watered; but if we see a soul changed, or grow, and make any spiritual proficiency, we must say, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be given the glory: God hath done the main work; we have not done any thing in comparison with him. These words do no more tend to vilify the ministry of the gospel, or make it useless, than, taking them in their native sense, as they respect earthly plantations, they would prove, that there is no need of the husbandman’s or gardener’s hand to plant or to water plants, because all that he doth of that nature is to no purpose, unless God first gives to the plant its proper nature and virtue, and then followeth the planting with the influence of the sun, dew, and rain. But yet it is observable, that the apostle doth not say, the man himself gives the increase, from the good use of the power that is naturally in his own will, but
God giveth the increase; which argues the necessity of special grace both to conversion and edification, superadded to the best preaching of his ministers. Though Paul himself by preaching plants, and Apollos watereth, yet God must make the soul to increase with the increase of God. Hence the apostle argueth their unreasonableness, in adoring one minister, and magnifying him above another, when indeed neither the one nor the other had any principal efficiency in the production of the blessed effect, but a mere instrumental causation, the effect of which depended upon the sole blessing of God, in comparison with whom, in this working, neither the one nor the other minister was any thing.
neither he that watereth; who is the means of carrying of it on: not that they are simply and absolutely nothing, without any restriction and limitation; they are men, they are Christians, they are ministers, and useful ones, by whom others believe; they are labourers together with God, ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, and so to be accounted of; but they are nothing in themselves, nor in their own account, or with respect to God: they are nothing of themselves as ministers; they have nothing but what they have received; all their gifts are from God, nor can they exercise them aright without the grace of God, not being able to think a good thought as of themselves; nor are they anything in making their planting and watering effectual; and so no glory belongs to them; nothing is to be ascribed to them, they have no part or lot in these things:So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Corinthians 3:7. Ὁ φυτεύων, ὁ ποτίζων) he that planteth, he that watereth, as such; or the very act of planting and watering.—ὁ αὐξάνων, [God] who gives the increase) viz.: ἐστὶν, is τὶ something; and therefore, because He alone is some thing, He is all things [all in all]. Without this increase, the grain from the first moment of sowing would be like a pebble; from the increase, when given, belief instantly springs up, 1 Corinthians 3:5.Verse 7. - Anything. The planter and the waterer are nothing by comparison. They could do nothing without Christ's aid (John 15:16), and were nothing in themselves (2 Corinthians 12:11). But God that giveth the increase. The human instruments are nothing, but God is everything, because, apart from him, no result would follow.
The devoted Angelique Arnauld, of Port Royal, when her sister condoled with her on the absence of her confessor, Singlier, replied: "I have never put a man in God's place. He can have only what God gives him; and God gives him something for us only when it is His will that we should receive it through him."
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