KEY TEXT: 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
KEY THOT: When a church is man-focused instead of God-focused, it will have many members who remain "infants in Christ." And such a church is not spiritual but carnal ("of the flesh"). To be carnal means behaving in a "human way" rather demonstrating divine power and presence. The Corinthian church was a carnal community because it has "jealousy and strife," which are characteristics of a carnal church. Such church is still on milk, not meat. Paul reminds them that human leaders like Apollos, Peter and himself are nothing more than God's instruments--"servants through whom you believed" (v.5). Human leaders are Christ's gifts to the church. They serve in whatever capacity assigned by the Lord according to their gifts: "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12). But ultimately it is God who is alone gives life and growth in any church. So, instead of focusing on the human instruments God uses, spiritual and mature Christians focus on the God who empowers such people to perform their ministry in the Body of Christ.
Paul was a church-planter: he planted churches, established them and then moved on. The longest he stayed in one place was in Corinth--and that was only 18 months. After he left, Apollos who was a Bible teacher took over to ground the new believers in God's word: "(Apollos) was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus" (Acts 18:24-25). So, Paul sees his and Apollos' ministry as complementary: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (v.6-7). Paul exercises his gift of apostleship but he appreciates Apollos' gift of teaching. He attributes all these gifts as coming out of God's grace who alone imparts growth. Such a spiritual mindset is the antidote to jealousy and strife in a church.
Father, thank You that You have called each one of us into different roles according to the gifts of grace You have given us, so that no one can boast in himself but in You alone. Amen.