Just as Paul and Apollos were servants of God planting and watering those things that would produce the fruits God wanted, we are servants of God and are expected to plant and water and God will supply the growth. In other words we are expected to plant the seeds for others to come to Christ and water them by nurchering these seeds (individuals) with the teachings of Jesus Christ and then God will grow them into what ever He wants. We are God’s field or building and Jesus Christ is the foundation cornerstone.
According to the grace God has given each of us, we must build on Jesus’ foundation. However, we must be careful how you build on it. The builder cannot lay any other foundation than the one Jesus has already laid. In other words we as the builder must build on the foundation Jesus has laid for us and should not under any circumstances change the foundation (the word of God) when building up (teaching) others. So, when recruiting and teaching others you are not to use any other teaching than the teaching of Jesus Christ. Do not change what Jesus has spoken, ever. Over time your recruiting and teaching of others will be tested. If your teaching passes then you will be rewarded. But if your teaching fails the test of Jesus Christ then the work will be lost but you will be saved as though escaping through a fire. So, you are encouraged to read and study your Bible so you will feel comfortable teaching others.
What 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 really teaches us is that your body is really God’s sanctuary and that the Holy Spirit lives within you. If anyone should ruin God’s sanctuary, God will ruin him; for God’s sanctuary is holy and that is what you are.
From the Bible:
New Living Translation (for easy understanding)
1 Corinthians 3:5-17 – 5 So, what is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 Now the one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, as a skilled master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, 11 because no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid—that is, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.
16 Don’t you know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone ruins God’s sanctuary, God will ruin him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Corinthians 3:5-17
Watering, Working, Warning
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17
Commentary from NKJV (theologians break down each passage):
1 Cor.3:5-9. Apollos and Paul were given their ministries by Christ (Eph. 4:11). They were the means, not the cause, whereby the Corinthians believed (cf. 1 Cor. 2:4-5). God alone produced results. God made the seed grow (3:6). Therefore God alone should get the credit (v. 7). As servants, Paul and Apollos were not competing against each other but were complementing each other’s ministries (v. 8). Their purpose was to bring the church to maturity, to Christlikeness (Eph. 4:12-13). In accord with their faithfulness to that task would come their reward (cf. 1 Cor. 4:2-5). For though a minister served the church he was basically responsible to God. Paul and Apollos were fellow workers who belonged to God and worked for Him in His field, the church (3:9).
3:10-17. Paul then shifted metaphors for the church from a field to a building. Paul used in various ways the metaphor of Christians individually and collectively as a building in which God dwells, a temple. Jesus had referred to His physical body as a temple (John 2:19-22). In another letter Paul applied the same imagery to Christ’s spiritual body, the universal church (Eph. 2:21). Paul also called the body of each individual Christian a temple (1 Cor. 6:19). In this passage, however, it was the local church which he described as a building of God, a temple in which God’s Spirit lives (3:16).
Paul now further developed the theme of a minister’s accountability for his labor (v. 8). Though it was true that every Christian in the Corinthian church was given at least one gift, or ability to minister in some way to other church members (12:11), it was primarily the leading ministers Paul was concerned about, who functioned in a capacity like that of Apollos and himself (cf. 3:5, 21-22).
3:10. Not every minister, however, labored to the same effect in this building process. Paul had laid a foundation in Corinth with the message of the Cross. Apollos too had labored beneficially in Corinth (Acts 18:27-28). Apparently so also had Peter, whom Paul here called “Cephas” (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22). But as Paul wrote, someone else was ministering in Corinth, and Paul’s words to him and others like him were a warning.
3:11. Jesus Christ alone was the foundation, the basis of salvation (Acts 4:12). But others had come to Corinth and preached a different gospel (2 Cor. 11:4). Perhaps such a one was present in Corinth when Paul wrote this letter.
3:12. In verses 12-17 Paul described three kinds of builders or ministers: the expert (v. 14; cf. v. 10), the unwise (v. 15), and the destructive (v. 17).
The materials used in the building may be interpreted in at least four ways: (a) The gold, silver, costly stones refer to the enduring quality of the builder’s work; and the wood, hay, or straw suggest work that is temporary and valueless. This view is supported by “work” (v. 13) and “what he has built” (v. 14). (b) The three expensive materials suggest sound doctrine which the builder “builds” into people’s lives, and the three valueless materials are false doctrines. (c) The first three materials refer to the [Vol. 2, Page 512] worker’s worthy motives, and the other three point to his unworthy motives (cf. 4:5). (d) The “gold, silver, costly stones” refer to believers who constitute the church (this is supported by similar uses of the metaphor in Eph. 2:22; 2 Tim. 2:20; and 1 Peter 2:5), and the “wood, hay, or straw” represent unregenerate people present in the church (chorton, rendered “hay” in 1 Cor. 3:12, is used of unbelievers in James 1:10, where the niv renders it “wild flower”).
3:13. The day of judgment is when Christ will judge the quality of His servants’ work (2 Cor. 5:10). It is not a question of salvation which is a gift (Rom. 6:23), or a matter of individual deeds (Eph. 2:8-9), but of service which is judged on the basis of quality not quantity. Considerable apparent success can be had by dint of human effort and wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 2:4), but unless it is empowered by God in accordance with His plan it cannot last (Ps. 127:1).
3:14-15. The image of fire associated with the coming of Christ is used elsewhere in the New Testament (2 Thes. 1:7; Rev. 18:8). What the reward for the expert builder consists of was not detailed, though praise (1 Cor. 4:5) is certainly a part. The inept builder will see the loss of his labor, but he himself will be saved, like a burning stick snatched from a fire (Amos 4:11; Jude 23). Before such judgment the various materials may coexist and appear indistinguishable (cf. Matt. 13:30).
3:16-17. However, a local church (you here is pl.) might come to the point where its structure is so weak that it collapses entirely or exists in name only, that is, it is destroyed. Paul did not want this to happen in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:3, 13). If it did, the false minister would be paid back in kind by God Himself (an application of the OT lex talionis [Gen. 9:6; cf. 2 Cor. 11:15]). The destroyer would be destroyed (Matt. 13:41-42). The words Don’t you know (1 Cor. 3:16) are the first of 10 occurrences of the clause in this letter (cf. 5:6; 6:2-3, 9, 15-16, 19; 9:13, 24; each time it introduces an indisputable statement).
There is nothing to compare with the richness of God’s love, mercy, wisdom and goodness towards His children. Amen.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending Your wisdom about the “Role of God’s Servants.” Please bless all who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding..
May God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights, our safety nets and our inspiration for loving happiness in all of Your kingdom. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,