Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 3:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Ministers by whom ye believed - The different apostles who have preached unto you the word of life are the means which God has used to bring you to the knowledge of Christ. No one of those has either preached or recommended himself; they all preach and recommend Christ Jesus the Lord.

Even as the Lord gave to every man? - Whatever difference there may be in our talents, it is of God's making; and he who knows best what is best for his Church, has distributed both gifts and graces according to his own mind; and, as his judgment is infallible, all these dispensations must be right. Paul, therefore, is as necessary to the perfecting of the Church of Christ as Apollos; and Apollos, as Paul. Both, but with various gifts, point out the same Christ, building on one and the same foundation.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Who then is Paul … - See the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:13. Why should a party be formed which should be named after Paul? What has he done or taught that should lead to this? What eminence has he that should induce any to call themselves by his name? He is on a level with the other apostles; and all are but ministers, or servants, and have no claim to the honor of giving names to sects and parties. God is the fountain of all your blessings, and whoever may have been the “instrument” by whom you have believed, it is improper to regard them as, in any sense the fountain of your blessings, or to arrange yourselves under their name.

But ministers - Our word minister, as now used, does not express the proper force of this word. We in applying it to preachers of the gospel do not usually advert to the original sense of the word, and the reasons why it was given to them. The original word διάκονοι diakonoidenotes properly “servants” in contradistinction from “masters” Matthew 20:26; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:35; Mark 10:43; and denotes those of course who are in an inferior rank of life. They did not have command, or authority, but were subject to the command of others. It is applied to the preachers of the gospel because they are employed in the service of God; because they go at his command, and are subject to his control and direction. They did not have original authority, nor are they the source of influence or power. The idea here is, that they were the mere instruments or servants by whom God conveyed all blessings to the Corinthians; that they as ministers were on a level, were engaged in the same work, and that therefore, it was improper for them to form parties that should be called by their names.

By whom - Through whom δἰ ὥν di' hōnby whose instrumentality. They were not the original source of faith, but were the mere servants of God in conveying to them the knowledge of that truth by which they were to be saved.

Even as the Lord gave to every man - God is the original source of faith; and it is by his influence that anyone is brought to believe; see the note at Romans 12:3, note at Romans 12:6. There were diversities of gifts among the Corinthian Christians, as there are in all Christians. And it is here implied:

(1)That all that anyone had was to be traced to God as its author;

(2)That he is a sovereign, and dispenses his favors to all as he pleases;

(3)That since God had conferred those favors, it was improper for the Corinthians to divide themselves into sects and call themselves by the name of their teachers, for all that they had was to be traced to God alone.

This idea, that all the gifts and graces which Christians had, were to be traced to God alone, was one which the apostle Paul often insisted on; and if this idea had been kept before the minds and hearts of all Christians, it would have prevented no small part of the contentions in the church, and the formation of no small part of the sects in the Christian world.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 300

Paul had written briefly to the church, admonishing them “not to company” with members who should persist in profligacy; but many of the believers perverted the apostle's meaning, quibbled over his words, and excused themselves for disregarding his instruction. AA 300.1

A letter was sent to Paul by the church, asking for counsel concerning various matters, but saying nothing of the grievous sins existing among them. The apostle was, however, forcibly impressed by the Holy Spirit that the true state of the church had been concealed and that this letter was an attempt to draw from him statements which the writers could construe to serve their own purposes. AA 300.2

About this time there came to Ephesus members of the household of Chloe, a Christian family of high repute in Corinth. Paul asked them regarding the condition of things, and they told him that the church was rent by divisions. The dissensions that had prevailed at the time of Apollos's visit had greatly increased. False teachers were leading the members to despise the instructions of Paul. The doctrines and ordinances of the gospel had been perverted. Pride, idolatry, and sensualism, were steadily increasing among those who had once been zealous in the Christian life. AA 300.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 270-1

While in Ephesus, Apollos “began to speak boldly in the synagogue.” Among his hearers were Aquila and Priscilla, who, perceiving that he had not yet received the full light of the gospel, “took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Through their teaching he obtained a clearer understanding of the Scriptures and became one of the ablest advocates of the Christian faith. AA 270.1

Apollos was desirous of going on into Achaia, and the brethren at Ephesus “wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him” as a teacher in full harmony with the church of Christ. He went to Corinth, where, in public labor and from house to house, “he mightily convinced the Jews, ... showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Paul had planted the seed of truth; Apollos now watered it. The success that attended Apollos in preaching the gospel led some of the believers to exalt his labors above those of Paul. This comparison of man with man brought into the church a party spirit that threatened to hinder greatly the progress of the gospel. AA 270.2

During the year and a half that Paul had spent in Corinth, he had purposely presented the gospel in its simplicity. “Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom” had he come to the Corinthians; but with fear and trembling, and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” had he declared “the testimony of God,” that their “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4, 5. AA 270.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1085-7

7-14. See EGW on Romans 11:33. 6BC 1085.1

9 (Ephesians 1:17, 18). Educating the Imagination—You need to dwell upon the assurances of God's Word, to hold them before the mind's eye. Point by point, day by day, repeat the lessons there given, over and over, until you learn the bearing and import of them. We see a little today, and by meditation and prayer, more tomorrow. And thus little by little we take in the gracious promises until we can almost comprehend their full significance. 6BC 1085.2

Oh, how much we lose by not educating the imagination to dwell upon divine things, rather than upon the earthly! We may give fullest scope to the imagination, and yet, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Fresh wonders will be revealed to the mind the more closely we apply it to divine things. We lose much by not talking more of Jesus and of heaven, the saints’ inheritance. The more we contemplate heavenly things, the more new delights we shall see, and the more will our hearts be brimful of thanks to our beneficent Creator (Letter 4, 1885). 6BC 1085.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 197

In the erection of national barriers you present to the world a plan of human invention that God can never endorse. To those who would do this, the apostle Paul says: “Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal? ... Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3:3-9. 9T 197.1

When our brethren in Scandinavia faced a financial crisis, the testimony was given that we must not permit our brethren to stand as bankrupt before the world. That would have been dishonoring to God. And the prompt and liberal action of our American brethren was an acknowledgment that the difference in nationality could not release them from their duty to assist one another in the work of God. “All ye are brethren.” Matthew 23:8. We are one in the unity of the truth. 9T 197.2

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