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.
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.
There are many, even among our preachers, who want to rise in the world without effort. They are ambitious to do some great work of usefulness, while they disregard the little, every-day duties which would render them helpful and make them ministers after Christ's order. They wish to do the work that others are doing, but have no relish for the discipline necessary to fit them for it. This yearning desire by both men and women to do something far in advance of their present capabilities, is causing them to make decided failures at the outset. They indignantly refuse to climb the ladder, wishing to be elevated by a less laborious process.—Testimonies for the Church 4:411-417. GW 282.1
I am astonished that with the examples before us of what man may be and what he may do, we are not stimulated to greater exertion to emulate the good works of the righteous. Not all may occupy positions of prominence; yet all may fill positions of usefulness and trust, and may, by their persevering fidelity, do far more good than they have any idea that they can do.—Testimonies for the Church 4:399. GW 282.2Read in context »
None of us can afford to sin. It is expensive business. Sin so blinds the eyes that evil is not discerned, and by their indiscreet actions those thus blinded become instruments of unrighteousness to scatter for Satan.... MM 217.1
Watch against habits of sin. Keep a watch over the tongue. Watch for opportunities to do good and bless others, ever looking to Jesus, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. If you want the higher life, you must now live the higher life in the lower life of this world. We are working for time and for eternity. A well-built life is formed by living upon the plan of addition, laying up one grace after another in good deeds, in faith, patience, temperance, benevolence, courage, self-denial. Ye are God's husbandry. Ye are God's building. Learning of Christ, you will not be a jumble of opposites and inconsistencies—today sober and devout, tomorrow careless and frivolous. MM 217.2Read in context »
Here Christ leads the mind abroad to contemplate the open fields of nature, and His power touches the eye and the senses, to discern the wonderful works of divine power. He directs attention first to nature, then up through nature to nature's God, who upholds the worlds by His power.—Manuscript 73, 1893. MM 9.1Read in context »