Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 3:8

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Are one - ἕν εἰσιν hen eisinThey 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 misthondenotes 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.

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.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He that planteth and he that watereth are one - Both Paul and Apollos have received the same doctrine, preach the same doctrine, and labor to promote the glory of God in the salvation of your souls. Why should you be divided with respect to Paul and Apollos, while these apostles are intimately One in spirit, design, and operation?

According to his own labor - God does not reward his servants according to the success of their labor, because that depends on himself; but he rewards them according to the quantum of faithful labor which they bestow on his work. In this sense none can say, I have labored in vain, and spent my strength for nought.

Ellen G. White
Welfare Ministry, 316

Our Crowns May Be Bright or Dim—Although we have no merit in ourselves, in the great goodness and love of God we are rewarded as if the merit were our own. When we have done all the good we can possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants. We have done only what was our duty. What we have accomplished has been wrought solely through the grace of Christ, and no reward is due to us from God on the ground of our merit. But through the merit of our Saviour every promise that God has made will be fulfilled, and every man will be rewarded according to his deeds. WM 316.1

The precious rewards of the future will be proportioned to the work of faith and labor of love in the present life. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” We should be most grateful that now in probationary time through the infinite mercy of God we are permitted to sow the seed for our future harvest. We should carefully consider what the harvest will be. Whether the crown of our eternal rejoicing shall be bright or dim depends upon our own course of action. We may make our calling and election sure, and may come into possession of the rich inheritance, or we may defraud ourselves of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.—The Review and Herald, June 27, 1893. WM 316.2

To Meet Those Saved by Our Efforts—When the redeemed stand before God precious souls will respond to their names who are there because of the faithful, patient efforts put forth in their behalf, the entreaties and earnest persuasions to flee to the Stronghold. Thus those who in this world have been laborers together with God will receive their reward.—Testimonies for the Church 8:196, 197. WM 317.1

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Ellen G. White
Welfare Ministry, 219

No Decrease in Responsibility—Every poor, tried soul needs light, needs tender, sympathizing, hopeful words. Every widow needs the comfort of helpful and encouraging words that others can bestow.... WM 219.1

There is a great work to be done in our world, and as we approach the close of earth's history, it does not lessen the least degree; but when the perfect love of God is in the heart, wonderful things will be done. Christ will be in the heart of the believer as a well of water springing up into everlasting life.—The Review and Herald, January 15, 1895. WM 219.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 253.1

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 1 Corinthians 3:8. TDG 253.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 432

I saw that ministers who labor in word and doctrine have a great work before them; a heavy responsibility rests upon them. In their labor they do not come close enough to hearts. Their work is too general, and often too scattered. Their labor must be concentrated to the very ones for whom they are laboring. When they preach from the desk, they only commence their work. They must then live out their preaching, ever guarding themselves, that they bring not a reproach upon the cause of God. They should illustrate by example the life of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:9: “For we are laborers together with God.” 2 Corinthians 6:1: “We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” The minister's work is not done when he leaves the desk. He should not then throw off the burden and occupy his mind with reading or writing unless this is actually necessary. He should follow up his public labors by private efforts, laboring personally for souls whenever an opportunity presents, conversing around the fireside, beseeching and entreating souls in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. Our work here is soon to close, “and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.” 1T 432.1

I was shown the saints’ reward, the immortal inheritance. Then I was shown how much God's people had endured for the truth's sake, and that they would count heaven cheap enough. They reckoned that the sufferings of this present time were not worthy to be compared with the glory which should be revealed in them. The people of God in these last days will be tried. But soon their last trial will come, and then they will receive the gift of eternal life. 1T 432.2

Brother Hull, you have suffered reproach for the truth's sake. You have felt the power of the truth and of an endless life. You have had God's Spirit witness with yours that you were owned and accepted of Him. I saw that if you gird on the armor anew, and stand at your post, resisting the devil and fighting manfully the battles of the Lord, you will be victorious, and will soon lay off your armor and wear a conqueror's crown. Oh, is not the inheritance rich enough? Did it not cost a dear price, the agony and blood of the Son of God? I call upon you in the name of the Lord to awake. Break away from the awful deception which Satan has thrown over you. Lay hold on everlasting life. Resist the devil. Evil angels are around you, whispering in your ears, visiting you with lying dreams, and you listen to them and are pleased. Oh, for the sake of Christ, for your own soul's sake, tear away from this dreadful influence before you grieve God's Spirit entirely from you. 1T 432.3

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