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On Divisions in the Corinthian Church


And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

20 and again,

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

that they are futile.”

21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

9. For we are fellow-laborers with God. Here is the best argument. It is the Lord’s work that we are employed in, and it is to him that we have devoted our labors: hence, as he is faithful and just, he will not disappoint us of our reward. That man, accordingly, is mistaken who looks to men, or depends merely on their remuneration. Here we have an admirable commendation of the ministry — that while God could accomplish the work entirely himself, he calls us, puny mortals, 165165     “Poures vers de terre;” — “Mere worms of the dust.” to be as it were his coadjutors, and makes use of us as instruments. As to the perversion of this statement by the Papists, for supporting their system of free-will, it is beyond measure silly, for Paul shows here, not what men can effect by their natural powers, but what the Lord accomplishes through means of them by his grace. As to the exposition given by some — that Paul, being God’s workman, was a fellow-workman with his colleagues, that is, with the other teachers — it appears to me harsh and forced, and there is nothing whatever in the case that shuts us up to have recourse to that refinement. For it corresponds admirably with the Apostle’s design to understand him to mean, that, while it is peculiarly the work of God to build his temple, or cultivate his vineyard, he calls forth ministers to be fellow-laborers, by means of whom He alone works; but, at the same time, in such a way, that they in their turn labor in common with him. As to the reward of works, consult my Institutes 166166     The subject of Rewards is largely treated of in the Institutes, volume 2. The reader will find the expression “laborers together with God” commented upon in the Institutes, volume 1. — Ed.

God’s husbandry, God’s building. These expressions may be explained in two ways. They may be taken actively in this sense: “You have been planted in the Lord’s field by the labor of men in such a way, that our heavenly Father himself is the true Husbandman, and the Author of this plantation. You have been built up by men in such a way, that he himself is the true Master-builder. 167167     “Et conducteur de l’oeuvre;” — “And conductor of the work.” Or, it may be taken in a passive sense, thus: “In laboring to till you, and to sow the word of God among you and water it, we have not done this on our own account, or with a view to advantage to accrue to us, but have devoted our service to the Lord. In our endeavors to build you up, we have not been influenced by a view to our own advantage, but with a view to your being God’s planting and building. This latter interpretation I rather prefer, for I am of opinion, that Paul meant here to express the idea, that true ministers labor not for themselves, but for the Lord. Hence it follows, that the Corinthians were greatly to blame in devoting themselves to men, 168168     “De se rendre suiets aux hommes, et attacher la leurs affections;” — “In making themselves subject to men, and placing their affections there.” while of right they belonged exclusively to God. And, in the first place, he calls them his husbandry, following out the metaphor previously taken up, and then afterwards, with the view of introducing himself to a larger discussion, he makes use of another metaphor, derived from architecture. 169169     “De la massonerie, ou charpenterie;” — “From masonry, or carpentry.”

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