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1 Corinthians 3:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For we are laborers together with God - We do nothing of ourselves, nor in reference to ourselves; we labor together in that work which God has given us to do, expect all our success from him, and refer the whole to his glory. It would perhaps be more correct to translate Θεου γαρ εσμεν συνεργοι, we are fellow laborers of God; for, as the preposition συν may express the joint labor of the teachers one with another, and not with God, I had rather, with Bishop Pearce, translate as above: i.e. we labor together in the work of God. Far from being divided among ourselves, we jointly labor, as oxen in the same yoke, to promote the honor of our Master.

Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building - Θεου γεωργιον, Θεου οικοδομη εστε· The word γεωργιον, which we translate husbandry, signifies properly an arable field; so Proverbs 24:30; : I went by the Field, γεωργιον, of the slothful; and Proverbs 31:16; : The wise woman considereth a Field, γεωργιον, and buyeth it. It would be more literal to translate it, Ye are God's farm: γεωργιον in Greek answers to שדה sadeh in Hebrew, which signifies properly a sown field.

Ye are God's building. - Ye are not only the field which God cultivates, but ye are the house which God builds, and in which he intends to dwell. As no man in viewing a fine building extols the quarryman that dug up the stones, the hewer that cut and squared them, the mason that placed them in the wall, the woodman that hewed down the timber, the carpenter that squared and jointed it, etc., but the architect who planned it, and under whose direction the whole work was accomplished; so no man should consider Paul, or Apollos, or Kephas, any thing, but as persons employed by the great Architect to form a building which is to become a habitation of himself through the Spirit, and the design of which is entirely his own.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For we are labourers together with God - Θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί Theou gar esmen sunergoiWe are God‘s co-workers. A similar expression occurs in 2 Corinthians 6:1, “We then as workers together with him,” etc. This passage is capable of two significations: first, as in our translation, that they were co-workers with God; engaged with him in his work, that he and they cooperated in the production of the effect; or that it was a joint-work; as we speak of a partnercy, or of joint-effort among people. So many interpreters have understood this. If this is the sense of the passage, then it means that as a farmer may be said to be a co-worker with God when he plants and tills his field, or does that without which God would not work in that case, or without which a harvest would not be produced, so the Christian minister cooperates with God in producing the same result. He is engaged in performing that which is indispensable to the end; and God also, by His Spirit, cooperates with the same design. If this is the idea, it gives a special sacredness to the work of the ministry, and indeed to the work of the farmer and the vinedresser. There is no higher honor than for a man to be engaged in doing the same things which God does, and participating with him in accomplishing his glorious plans. But doubts have been suggested in regard to this interpretation:

(1) The Greek does not of necessity imply this. It is literally, not we are his co-partners, but we are his fellow-laborers, that is, fellow-laborers in his employ, under his direction - as we say of servants of the same rank they are fellow-laborers of the same master, not meaning that the master was engaged in working with them, but that they were fellow-laborers one with another in his employment.

(2) there is no expression that is parallel to this. There is none that speaks of God‘s operating jointly with his creatures in producing the same result. They may be engaged in regard to the same end; but the sphere of God‘s operations and of their operations is distinct. God does one thing; and they do another, though they may contribute to the same result. The sphere of God‘s operations in the growth of a tree is totally distinct from that of the man who plants it. The man who planted it has no agency in causing the juices to circulate; in expanding the bud or the leaf; that is, in the proper work of God - In 3 John 1:8, Christians are indeed said to he “fellow-helpers to the truth” συνεργοὶ τῆ ἀληθεία sunergoi tē alētheiathat is, they operate with the truth, and contribute by their labors and influence to that effect. In Mark also Mark 16:20, it is said that the apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them” ( τοῦ κυρίου συνεργοῖντος tou kuriou sunergointos), where the phrase means that the Lord cooperated with them by miracles, etc. The Lord, by his own proper energy, and in his own sphere, contributed to the success of the work in which they were engaged.

(3) the main design and scope of this whole passage is to show that God is all - that the apostles are nothing; to represent the apostles not as joint-workers with God, but as working by themselves, and God as alone giving efficiency to all that was done. The idea is, that of depressing or humbling the apostles, and of exalting God; and this idea would not be consistent with the interpretation that they were joint-laborers with him. While, therefore, the Greek would hear the interpretation conveyed in our translation, the sense may perhaps be, that the apostles were joint-laborers with each other in God‘s service; that they were united in their work, and that God was all in all; that they were like servants employed in the service of a master, without saying that the master participated with them in their work. This idea is conveyed in the translation of Doddridge, “we are the fellow-laborers of God.” So Rosenmuller, Calvin, however, Grotius, Whitby, and Bloomfield, coincide with our version in the interpretation. The Syriac renders it “We work with God.” The Vulgate, “We are the aids of God.”

Ye are God‘s husbandry - ( γεώργιον geōrgion); margin, “tillage.” This word occurs no where else in the New Testament. It properly denotes a “tilled” or “cultivated field;” and the idea is, that the church at Corinth was the field on which God had bestowed the labor of tillage, or culture, to produce fruit. The word is used by the Septuagint in Genesis 26:14, as the translation of צבדה ‛abudaah“For he had ‹possession‘ of flocks,” etc.; in Jeremiah 51:23, as the translation of צמד tsemed“a yoke;” and in Proverbs 24:30; Proverbs 31:16, as the translation of שׂדי saadeh“a field;” “I went by the ‹field‘ of the slothful,” etc. The sense here is, that all their culture was of God; that as a church they were under his care; and that all that had been produced in them was to be traced to his cultivation.

God‘s building - This is another metaphor. The object of Paul was to show that all that had been done for them had been really accomplished by God. For this purpose he first says that they were God‘s cultivated field; then he changes the figure; draws his illustration from architecture, and says, that they had been built by him as an architect rears a house. It does not rear itself; but it is reared by another. So he says of the Corinthians, “Ye are the building which God erects.” The same figure is used in 2 Corinthians 6:16, and Ephesians 2:21; see also Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5. The idea is, that God is the supreme agent in the founding and establishing of the church, in all its gifts and graces.

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, 56

To the consecrated worker there is wonderful consolation in the knowledge that even Christ during His life on earth sought His Father daily for fresh supplies of needed grace; and from this communion with God He went forth to strengthen and bless others. Behold the Son of God bowed in prayer to His Father! Though He is the Son of God, He strengthens His faith by prayer, and by communion with heaven gathers to Himself power to resist evil and to minister to the needs of men. As the Elder Brother of our race He knows the necessities of those who, compassed with infirmity and living in a world of sin and temptation, still desire to serve Him. He knows that the messengers whom He sees fit to send are weak, erring men; but to all who give themselves wholly to His service He promises divine aid. His own example is an assurance that earnest, persevering supplication to God in faith—faith that leads to entire dependence upon God, and unreserved consecration to His work—will avail to bring to men the Holy Spirit's aid in the battle against sin. AA 56.1

Every worker who follows the example of Christ will be prepared to receive and use the power that God has promised to His church for the ripening of earth's harvest. Morning by morning, as the heralds of the gospel kneel before the Lord and renew their vows of consecration to Him, He will grant them the presence of His Spirit, with its reviving, sanctifying power. As they go forth to the day's duties, they have the assurance that the unseen agency of the Holy Spirit enables them to be “laborers together with God.” AA 56.2

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Ellen G. White
Child Guidance, 110

Cultivate Order and Taste—The cultivation of order and taste is an important part of the education of children.... CG 110.1

As the guardian and teacher of your children, you are in duty bound to do every little thing in the home with nicety and in order. Teach your children the invaluable lesson of keeping their clothing tidy. Keep your own clothing clean and sweet and respectable.... CG 110.2

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Ellen G. White
Child Guidance, 255

Now these are the lessons that parents must learn, and when you have learned these, you will be the very best students in the school of Christ, and your children will be the very best children. In this way you can teach them to have respect for God and to keep His law, because you will have excellent government over them, and in doing this you are bringing up into society children who will be a blessing to all around them. You are fitting them to be laborers together with God.32 CG 255.1

Joy May Follow the Pain of Discipline—The true way of dealing with trial is not by seeking to escape it, but by transforming it. This applies to all discipline, the earlier as well as the later. The neglect of the child's earliest training, and the consequent strengthening of wrong tendencies, makes his after education more difficult and causes discipline to be too often a painful process. Painful it must be to the lower nature, crossing, as it does, the natural desires and inclinations; but the pain may be lost sight of in a higher joy. CG 255.2

Let the child and the youth be taught that every mistake, every fault, every difficulty, conquered, becomes a steppingstone to better and higher things. It is through such experiences that all who have ever made life worth the living have achieved success.33 CG 255.3

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we
ye are God's
ye are God's building