1 Corinthians 3:8
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Are one.—The planter and the waterer are one in that they are both working in the same cause. “But,” says the Apostle (not “and,” as in our version), “each man shall receive his own reward from God, not from man, according to his labour.” There is an individuality as well as a unity in the work of the ministry. This is, however, not a thing to be noticed by men, but it will be recognised by the great Master.

1 Corinthians 3:8-9. He that planteth and he that watereth are one — United in affection, and engaged in one general design, the design of glorifying God in the salvation of souls, though their labours may be in some respect different: and hence, instead of being pleased, we are rather displeased and grieved with those invidious comparisons in favour of one against another. Our great concern is to please our common Lord, to whom we are shortly to give up our account; and from whom every man — He primarily means every minister of Christ; shall receive his own reward — The reward in some respects peculiar to himself; according to his own peculiar labour — For as some labour with greater zeal and diligence, and others with less, so they shall be rewarded with different degrees of felicity and glory. He does not say, according to his success, because he who labours much, supposing he labours with a single eye to the glory of God, from a principle of love to him, and a conscientious regard to his will, shall have a great reward, though it may please God to give him little success. Has not all this reasoning the same force still? Ministers are still barely 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 doth 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! For we are labourers together, &c. — Greek, Θεου γαρ εσμεν συνεργοι, we are fellow- labourers of God; or, we are God’s labourers, and fellow-labourers with each other. Ye are God’s husbandry — Or God’s tillage, God’s cultivated ground: a comprehensive word, taking in a field, a garden, and a vineyard. This is the sum of what went before. Ye are God’s building — This refers to what follows.

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.Are one - ἕν εἰσιν hen eisin. They are not the same person; but they are one in the following respects:

(1) They are united in reference to the same work. Though they are engaged in different things - for planting and watering are different kinds of work, yet it is one in regard to the end to be gained. The employments do not at all clash, but tend to the same end. It is not as if one planted, and the other was engaged in pulling up.

(2) their work is one, because one is as necessary as the other. If the grain was not planted there would be no use in pouring water there; if not watered, there would be no use in planting. The work of one is as necessary, therefore, as the other; and the one should not undervalue the labors of the other.

(3) they are one in regard to God. They are both engaged in performing one work; God is performing another. There are not three parties or portions of the work, but two. They two perform one part of the work; God alone performs the other. Theirs would be useless without him; he would not ordinarily perform his without their performing their part. They could not do his part it they would - as they cannot make a plant grow; he could perform their part - as he could plant and water without the farmer; but it is not in accordance with his arrangements to do it.

And every man - The argument of the apostle here has reference only to ministers; but it is equally true of all people, that they shall receive their proper reward.

Shall receive - On the Day of Judgment, when God decides the destiny of men. The decisions of that Day will be simply determining what every moral agent ought to receive.

His own reward - His fit, or proper (τον ἴδιον ton idion) reward; that which pertains to him, or which shall be a proper expression of the character and value of his labor - The word "reward" μισθὸν misthon denotes properly that which is given by contract for service rendered; an equivalent in value for services or for kindness; see the note at Romans 4:4. In the Scriptures it denotes pay, wages, recompense given to day-laborers, to soldiers, etc. It is applied often, as here, to the retribution which God will make to people on the Day of Judgment; and is applied to the "favors" which he will then bestow on them, or to the "punishment" which he will inflict as the reward of their deeds. Instances of the former sense occur in Matthew 5:12; 6; Luke 6:23, Luke 6:35; Revelation 11:18; of the latter in 2 Peter 2:13, 2 Peter 2:15 - In regard to the righteous, it does not imply merit, or that they deserve heaven; but it means that, God will render to them that which, according to the terms of his new covenant, he has promised, and which shall be a fit expression of his acceptance of their services. It is proper, according to these arrangements, that they should be blessed in heaven. It would not be proper that they should be cast down to hell - Their original and their sole title to eternal life is the grace of God through Jesus Christ: the "measure," or "amount" of the favors bestowed on them there, shall be according to the services which they render on earth. A parent may resolve to divide his estate among his sons, and their title to any thing may be derived from his mere favor but he may determine that it shall be divided according to their expressions of attachment, and to their obedience to him.

8. one—essentially in their aim they are one, engaged in one and the same ministry; therefore they ought not to be made by you the occasion of forming separate parties.

and every man—rather "but every man." Though in their service or ministry, they are essentially "one," yet every minister is separately responsible in "his own" work, and "shall receive his own (emphatically repeated) reward, according to his own labor." The reward is something over and above personal salvation (1Co 3:14, 15; 2Jo 8). He shall be rewarded according to, not his success or the amount of work done, but "according to his own labor." It shall be said to him, "Well done, thou good and (not successful, but) faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Mt 25:23).

The ministers of Christ, though one be used in planting and another in watering, one in laying the foundation and another in building thereupon, yet are one; one in their office and work, one in their ministry, being all servants to Christ, who is one; all serving one and the same Lord, all doing the same business, proposing the same end, and with all their might labouring towards it; and therefore, as they ought not to divide into parties and factions, so you ought not for their sakes to be so divided. Yet they are not so one, but that one may labour more than another, and be honoured by God with more success than another, and every one shall receive a reward proportioned to his labour: the apostle saith not, according to the success of his labour, (that is not in his power), but,

according to his labour.

Now he that planteth, and he that watereth are one,.... Not in every respect so; they were different as men, they were not the same individual persons, nor in the same office; Paul was an apostle, Apollos only a preacher of the Gospel; nor had they the same measure of gifts, nor did they labour alike, or were of the same usefulness; but they had one and the same commission to preach the Gospel; and the Gospel they preached was the same; and so were their views, aims, and ends, which were the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls; and they had the same love and affection for one another; they were one in their work, judgment, and affection; and which carries in it a strong reason and argument why the members of this church should not contend and divide about them:

and every man shall receive his own reward; either from men, that double honour he is worthy of, maintenance and respect; or rather from God, not a reward of debt, for his labours are by no means meritorious of anything at the hands of God, from whom he has all the grace, strength, and abilities he labours with; but of grace, even the reward of the inheritance, because he serves the Lord Christ; which is by bequest, through the death of the testator, and common to all the children of God, and heirs of glory:

according to his own labour; and not another's; and not according to the success of it, but according to that itself; not that that is the measure of the reward, for the reward infinitely exceeds it; but is that to which God has graciously annexed the promise of the reward, as an encouragement to it.

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 3:8-9. The planter, on the other hand, and the waterer are one: each of them, however (and here we pass on to the new point of the recompense of the teachers), will receive his own reward, etc.

ἕν εἰσιν] the one is not something other than the other, generically as respects a relation defined in the text (1 Corinthians 11:5; John 10:30; John 17:11; John 17:21), here: in so far as both are of one and the same official character, namely, as workers in the service of God. Theodoret: κατὰ τὴν ὑπουργίαν.

ἕκαστος δὲ κ.τ.λ[497]] ΠΡῸς ΓᾺΡ ΤῸ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ἜΡΓΟΝ ΠΑΡΑΒΑΛΛΌΜΕΝΟΙ ἝΝ ΕἸΣΙΝ· ἘΠΕῚ ΠΌΝΩΝ ἝΝΕΚΕΝ (i.e. in respect of the pains and labour expended) οὐκ εἰσὶν, ἀλλὰ ἕκαστος Κ.Τ.Λ[498], Chrysostom.

ἴδιον] both times with emphasis. Bengel puts it happily: “congruens iteratio; antitheton ad unum.” The λήψεται, however, refers to the recompense at the last judgment, 1 Corinthians 3:13 ff.—1 Corinthians 3:9 gives now the proof, not for both halves of 1 Corinthians 3:8, of which the first has been already disposed of in the preceding statement (in opposition to Hofmann), but for the new thought ἕκαστοςκόπον introduced by δέ. The emphasis of proof lies wholly on the word thrice put foremost, Θεοῦ. For since it is God whose helpers we are (“eximium elogium ministerii,” Calvin), God whose tillage-field, God whose building ye are: therefore it cannot be otherwise than that that ἕκαστοςκόπον must hold good, and none lack his reward according to his labour (“secundum laborem, non propter laborem,” Calovius).

Θεοῦ συνεργοί] for we, your teachers, labour with God, the supreme Lord and Fosterer of the church, at one work, which is simply the furtherance of the church. The explanation: workers who work with each other for God’s cause (Estius by way of suggestion, Bengel, Flatt, Heydenreich, Olshausen), is linguistically erroneous (see 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 16:3; Romans 16:9; Romans 16:21; Php 2:25; Php 4:3; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2Ma 14:5; Plato, Def. p. 414 A; Dem. 68. 27, 884. 2; Plut. Per. 31; Bernhardy, p. 171; Kühner, II. p. 172), and fails to appreciate that lofty conception of a δοῦλος Θεοῦ.

Θεοῦ γεώργ. and Θεοῦ οἰκ. set before us the Corinthian church, in so far as it is the object of the ministerial service of Christian teachers, under the twofold image of a field for tillage (γεώργ., Strabo, xiv. p. 671; Theag. in Schol. on Pind. Nem. iii. 21; Proverbs 24:30; Proverbs 31:16), which belongs to God and is cultivated, and as a building belonging to God (Ephesians 2:21), which is being carried up to completion.

[497] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[498] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 3:8. In comparison with God, Ap. and P. are simply nothing (1 Corinthians 3:7): in relation to each other they are not rivals, as their Cor[516] favourers would make them (1 Corinthians 3:4): “But the planter and the waterer are one” (ἕν, one thing)—with one interest and aim, viz., the growth of the Church; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:20; also John 10:30. Their functions are complementary, not competitive: a further answer to the question, τί οὖν ἐστὶν Ἀπολλώς κ.τ.λ.; The servants of God are nothing before Him, “one thing” before His Church: vanity and variance are alike impossible.

[516] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

While one in aim, they are distinct in responsibility and reward: “But each will get his own (proper) wage, according to his own toil”.—ἴδιος, appropriate, specific (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 15:28): “congruens iteratio, antitheton ad unum” (Bg[517]).—ἔργον (1 Corinthians 3:13-15) denotes the work achieved, κόπος the exertion put forth (see parls., and κοπιάω, 1 Corinthians 15:10, etc.): τί γὰρ εἰ ἔργον οὐκ ἐτέλεσεν;—ἐκοπίασεν δέ (Thp[518]). The contrast ἕν εἰσινἕκαστος δέ, between collective and individual relationships, is characteristic of Paul: cf. 1 Corinthians 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 12:27, 1 Corinthians 15:10 f., Galatians 6:2-5, Romans 14:7-10. He forbids the man either to assert himself against the community or to merge himself in it. The fixed ratio between present labour in Christ’s service and final reward is set forth, diff[519] but consistently, in the two parables of the Talents and Pounds, Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-28.

[517] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[518]
Theophylact, Greek Commentator.

[519] difference, different, differently.

8. he that planteth and he that watereth are one] As though to make his depreciation of man as emphatic as possible, the Apostle uses the neuter gender here. The instruments are one thing, parts of a vast piece of machinery which God has put in motion for the salvation of the world. As channels of Divine grace it is our duty to forget their personality.

1 Corinthians 3:8. Ἓν) one; neither of them is so much as anything. As one star in the heavens shines high above another; but the unscientific man does not perceive the difference in the height; so the Apostle Paul shone far above Apollos; but the Corinthians did not understand this, and Paul in this passage does not instruct them much on that point; he merely asserts the eminent superiority of Christ.—ἴδιονἴδιον, his own—his own) an appropriate repetition, and an antithesis to one.—μισθὸν, reward) something beyond salvation, 1 Corinthians 3:14-15. The faithful steward will receive praise, the diligent workman a reward.—κόπον, labour) not merely according to the work [done, but according to each man’s labour].

Verse 8. - Are one; literally, one thing. God is the sole Agent; the teachers, so far from being able to pose as rival leaders, form but one instrument in God's hand. Their relative differences shrink into insignificance when the source and objects of their ministry are considered. His own reward... his own labour. In the lower individual sphere the work of teachers shall be fairly estimated and rewarded as in the parable of the pounds and talents (comp. John 4:36; Revelation 22:12). 1 Corinthians 3:8
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