Watering, Working, Warning

Here Paul and Apollos with him is exhorting to the Corinthians about how to build their lives in Christ.


1 Corinthians 3:5-17

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 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

 Commentary: Apollos and Paul were given their ministries by Christ (Eph. 4:11). They were the means, not the cause, whereby the Corinthians believed. God alone produced results. God made the seed grow. Therefore God alone should get the credit. In accord with their faithfulness to that task would come their reward. Paul and Apollos were fellow workers who belonged to God and worked for Him in His field, the church. Not every minister, however, labored to the same effect in this building process. But as Paul wrote, someone else was ministering in Corinth, and Paul’s words to him and others like him were a warning. Jesus Christ alone was the foundation, the basis of salvation. But others had come to Corinth and preached a different gospel.  Perhaps such a one was present in Corinth when Paul wrote this letter

In verses 12-17 Paul described three kinds of builders or ministers: the expert, the unwise, and the destructive. 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” and “what he has built”. (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 worker’s worthy motives, and the other three point to his unworthy motives. (d) The “gold, silver, costly stones” refer to believers who constitute the church and the “wood, hay, or straw” represent unregenerate people present in the church.

The day of judgment is when Christ will judge the quality of His servants’ work. It is not a question of salvation which is a gift, or a matter of individual deeds, but of service which is judged on the basis of quality not quantity. Considerable apparent success can be had by a dint of human effort and wisdom, but unless it is empowered by God in accordance with His plan it cannot last.

The image of fire associated with the coming of Christ. What the reward for the expert builder consists of was not detailed, though praise 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. Before such judgment the various materials may coexist and appear indistinguishable.

However, a local church 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. If it did, the false minister would be paid back in kind by God Himself. The destroyer would be destroyed.


Note: The common denominator in this message is God. All people share God and Jesus for a while. But only believers can share joy from God and Jesus after this life, forever and ever.

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 “Watering, Working and Warning.”  Please bless all those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth and understanding. I pray that they will benefit from it.

May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. 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,