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1 Corinthians 3:6

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I have planted - I first sowed the seed of the Gospel at Corinth, and in the region of Achaia.

Apollos watered - Apollos came after me, and, by his preachings and exhortations, watered the seed which I had sowed; but God gave the increase. The seed has taken root, has sprung up, and borne much fruit; but this was by the especial blessing of God. As in the natural so in the spiritual world; it is by the especial blessing of God that the grain which is sown in the ground brings forth thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold: it is neither the sower nor the waterer that produces this strange and inexplicable multiplication; it is God alone. So it is by the particular agency of the Spirit of God that even good seed, sown in good ground, the purest doctrine conveyed to the honest heart, produces the salvation of the soul.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I have planted - The apostle here compares the establishment of the church at Corinth to the planting of a vine, a tree, or of grain. The figure is taken from agriculture, and the meaning is obvious. Paul established the church. He was the first preacher in Corinth; and if any distinction was due to anyone, it was rather to him than to the teachers who had labored there subsequently; but he regarded himself as worthy of no such honor as to be the head of a party, for it was not himself, but God who had given the increase.

Apollos watered - This figure is taken from the practice of watering a tender plant, or of watering a garden or field. This was necessary in a special manner in Eastern countries. Their fields became parched and dry from their long droughts, and it was necessary to irrigate them by artificial means. The sense here is, that Paul had labored in establishing the church at Corinth; but that subsequently Apollos had labored to increase it, and to build it, up. It is certain that Apollos did not go to Corinth until after Paul had left it; see Acts 18:18; compare Acts 18:27.

God gave the increase - God caused the seed sown to take root and spring up; and God blessed the irrigation of the tender plants as they sprung up, and caused them to grow. This idea is still taken from the farmer. It would be vain for the farmer to sow his seed unless God would give it life. There is no life in the seed, nor is there any inherent power in the earth to make it grow. Only God, the Giver of all life, can quicken the germ in the seed, and make it live. So it would be in vain for the farmer to water his plant unless God would bless it. There is no living principle in the water; no inherent power in the rains of heaven to make the plant grow. It is adapted, indeed, to this, and the seed would not germinate if it was not planted, nor grow if it was not watered; but the life is still from God. He arranged these means, and he gives life to the tender blade, and sustains it. And so it is with the word of life. It has no inherent power to produce effect by itself. The power is not in the naked word, nor in him that plants, nor in him that waters, nor in the heart where it is sown, but in God. But there is a Fitness of the means to the end. The word is adapted to save the soul. The seed must be sown or it will not germinate. Truth must be sown in the heart, and the heart must be prepared for it - as the earth must be plowed and made mellow, or it will not spring up. It must be cultivated with assiduous care, or it will produce nothing. But still it is all of God - as much so as the yellow harvest of the field, after all the toils of the farmer is of God. And as the farmer who has just views, will take no praise to himself because his grain and his vine start up and grow after all his care, but will ascribe all to God‘s unceasing, beneficent agency; so will the minister of religion, and so will every Christian, after all their care, ascribe all to God.

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
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 404
Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 252

The heart that receives the word of God is not as a pool that evaporates, nor like a broken cistern that loses its treasure. It is like the mountain stream fed by unfailing springs, whose cool, sparkling waters leap from rock to rock, refreshing the weary, the thirsty, the heavy-laden. GW 252.1

A familiarity with the truths of the Scripture will give the teacher of truth qualifications that will make him a representative of Christ. The spirit of the Saviour's teaching will give force and directness to his instruction and to his prayers. His will not be a narrow, lifeless testimony; he will not preach over and over the same set discourses; for his mind will be open to the constant illumination of the Holy Spirit. GW 252.2

“Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood,” Christ said, “hath eternal life.” “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.” “It is the spirit that quickeneth; ...the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” [John 6:54, 57, 63.] GW 252.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 380

God is not dependent upon any man for the advancement of His cause. He is raising up and qualifying men to bear the message to the world. He can make His strength perfect in the weakness of men. The power is of God. Ready speech, eloquence, great talents, will not convert a single soul. The efforts in the pulpit may stir up minds, the plain arguments may be convincing, but God giveth the increase. Godly men, faithful, holy men, who carry out in their everyday life that which they preach, will exert a saving influence. A powerful discourse delivered from the desk may affect minds; but a little imprudence upon the part of the minister out of the pulpit, a lack of gravity of speech and true godliness, will counteract his influence, and do away the good impressions made by him. The converts will be his; in many instances they will seek to rise no higher than their preacher. There will be in them no thorough heart work. They are not converted to God. The work is superficial, and their influence will be an injury to those who are really seeking the Lord. 1T 380.1

The success of a minister depends much upon his deportment out of the desk. When he ceases preaching and leaves the desk, his work is not finished; it is only commenced. He must then carry out what he has preached. He should not move heedlessly, but set a watch over himself, lest something that he may do and say be taken advantage of by the enemy, and a reproach be brought upon the cause of Christ. Ministers cannot be too guarded, especially before the young. They should use no lightness of speech, jesting or joking, but should remember that they are in Christ's stead, that they must illustrate by example the life of Christ. “For we are laborers together with God.” “We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” 1T 380.2

I was shown that the usefulness of young ministers, married or unmarried, is often destroyed by the attachment shown to them by young women. Such do not realize that other eyes are upon them, and that the course pursued by them may have a tendency to very much injure the influence of the minister to whom they give so much attention. If they would strictly regard the rules of propriety, it would be much better for them and much better for their minister. It places him in a disagreeable position and causes others to look upon him in a wrong light. Yet I saw that the burden of the matter rests upon the ministers themselves. They should show a distaste for these things, and if they take the course which God would have them, they will not be troubled long. They should shun every appearance of evil, and when young women are very sociable, it is their duty to let them know that it is not pleasing. They must repulse this forwardness even if they are thought to be rude. Such things should be rebuked in order to save the cause from reproach. Young women who have been converted to the truth and to God will listen to reproof and will be reformed. 1T 381.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 381

I am alarmed at the indifference of our churches. Like Meroz, they have failed to come up to the help of the Lord. The laymen have been at ease. They have folded their hands, feeling that the responsibility rested upon the ministers. But to every man God has appointed his work; not work in his fields of corn and wheat, but earnest, persevering work for the salvation of souls. God forbid, Elder M, that you or any other minister should quench one particle of the spirit of labor that now exists. Will you not rather stimulate it by your words of burning zeal? The Lord has made us the depositaries of His law; He has committed to us sacred and eternal truth, which is to be given to others in faithful warnings, reproofs, and encouragement. By means of railroads and steamboat lines we are connected with every part of the world and given access to every nation with our message of truth. Let us sow the seed of gospel truth beside all waters; for we know not which shall prosper, this or that, or whether both shall be alike fruitful. Paul may plant, and Apollos water; but it is God who giveth the increase. 5T 381.1

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Do not put your light under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house. “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price,” even the precious blood of the Son of God. We have no right to live to ourselves. Every minister should be a consecrated missionary; every layman a worker, using his talents of influence and means in his Lord's service; for active benevolence is a vital principle of Christianity. It is the exercise of this principle that is to bring sheaves to the Lord of the harvest, while a want of it hinders the work of God and bars the way for the salvation of souls. 5T 381.2

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