1 Corinthians 3:5-9

“We are al in this together.” How often and in what situations have you heard this phrase?  Jesus pointed out the comon sense behind this kind of statement when he stated that a kingdom that is divided can not stand.  Paul in this passage follows the same line of reasoning.  Followers of Christ are all members of the same team.  Each member of the team has a part to play, but it is suicide to attack the members within your team – especially if it leads to internal rivalries.  What role has God given you in your ministry, small group, job, or household?  How do you serve as a God honouring team member in that location?

1 Corinthians 3:5-9

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Questions

  1. What are Paul and Apollos according to the passage?
  2. What was the role of God in the Corinthians growth?
  3. What descriptor is given for ‘workers’?
  4. What rivalries do you think would occur in a town like Corinth?
  5. What rivalries are there in your home, church, or workplace?  How can they be resolved?

Going Deeper

Observation

  1. With what two questions does Paul open this paragraph?
  2. What common role do Paul and Apollos share?
  3. What does the Lord assign?
  4. What two agricultural roles do Paul and Apollos carry out?
  5. How will God’s workers be rewarded?

Interpretation

  1. Why does Paul use an analogy about growing plants with an audience that lives in one of the biggest cities in Europe at that time?
  2. How does seeing the Lord assigning tasks undermine divisions?
  3. Who is greater: the evangelist or the spiritual mentor?  Why is this a common type of question that we ask even if it leads to divisions?
  4. Why do builders get more glory than the owner of the building?
  5. Why should the owner of the field get glory rather than those who work in it?

Application

  1. What kinds of ministry or minsters does your church spend time glorifying?
  2. Does your home, church, or work focus on the people doing the work or the cause that they are working for?
  3. Do you want recognition?  How does Paul challenge that kind of view?
  4. How does receiving a reward from God help you to continue working in his field?
  5. If the reward is not necessarily a material reward, how does God choose to reward you for being a selfless team player?  Are you satisfied with that?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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