For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.1 Corinthians 3:9
The church in Corinth was not perfect. As also happens in many contemporary churches, the abundance of gifts co-existed with carnality, and the richness of the Word and knowledge with internal division.
However, Paul recognized that the testimony about Christ had been confirmed in them. They were “God’s field” and “God’s building.” Paul needed to correct the church’s view of its leaders, who were mistakenly perceived by some as competitors.
Co-workers in God’s service. What were Paul and Apollos after? They were looking for humble ministers—diakonos (servants)—commissioned by the True Master for good works. It was nonsense to view them as competitors because they weren’t ultimately responsible for acts of virtue. True virtue resides in the gospel message they taught and the redemptive acts of the Cross. One planted when necessary, another watered as needed, but the credit for growth belonged only to God. They were united in a common effort, under the direction of the same God and the same Spirit. They had different gifts, capacities, efforts, and wills, but they were all moving in the same direction.
God’s Field. In addition to the nature and role of leaders, it is also necessary to understand the character and role of the local church. If Paul sowed and Apollos watered, then what was the church? It was, and is, a spiritually cultivated “land” separated from the wilderness of the world under Satan’s rule. It’s a space where the kingdom of God has been sown and watered and where the sowers hope to see it grow, flourish, and bear spiritual fruit. If the church does not understand its character and function, it will be difficult to fulfill its purpose and meet the expectations of the One who created it.
God’s building. Paul uses another metaphor for the activity of God in the local church: the building. Building the church requires laying the proper foundation—the clear preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over that foundation comes another layer—the spiritual efforts made under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
- Reflect on what it means for God to be the sole owner of the field and the building that His church represents.
- How are your spiritual efforts impacting the growth of God’s church?
- Think of at least five leaders God has used in your faith journey. How can you thank them today?