Summary: Message 8 in our exposition of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians continuing our discussion of the need to work together for God's kingdom.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
“Serving in Partnership with Each other” I Corinthians 3:5-8a
Address and Introduction (Greeting and Thanksgiving) 1:1-9
I. Reproof for fleshly behavior 1-6
A. Reproof concerning divisions 1-4
1. Opening appeal for unity 1:10-17
2. The Biblical foundation for Unity 1:18-4:5
a) Focus on the priority of Christ and the cross 1:18-31
b) Depend on the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit 2:1-3:4
c) Faithfully serve as partners for the Kingdom of God 3:6-4:5
If we serve in partnership (cooperation not competition) with the other members of the family we will avoid conflict. Paul calls the Corinthians to adopt the right perspective on Kingdom service. We must not form cliques around personalities but form camaraderie around the purposes of God. Stop saying I am of Paul, or Apollos or Peter. Stop saying this or that method or ministry is more important. The ultimate mission is the point not the missionaries or methods. Paul argued that people have their place in the plan but it is God who produces the growth and thus deserves ALL the credit. Someone once commented on the wonder of how much could be accomplished if no one cared who got the credit. Individuals are not to be seen as points of attention but only vital parts of a team designed and directed by God. The points of Paul’s argument in this third and last foundation stone for unity unpack as follows.
• We are all servants of the same God.
• Only God generates the growth.
• All the servants function as one unit to accomplish God’s purposes.
• Each servant will be individually rewarded for faithful service
? Construct the temple with care
? Humbly keep the focus on Christ
? Stop judging God’s servants
(1) We are all servants of the same God. 3:5
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
Paul fires another missile of truth into the divisions among the Corinthian believers. Stop focusing on people. As loyal as you may feel to those who introduced you to faith in Christ, they are only servants of Lord who initiated your faith. Sometimes we forget we are all servants and not Master. When we do, we invite conflict. We must continually keep that perspective and not exalt ourselves of others. Paul describes both he and Apollos as mere servants not fellow apostles or co-pastors or mutual mega-church leaders but fellow servants of God. We are merely servants belonging to and directed by God. We are servants of the body of Christ. The early use of the term translated “servant” (diakonos) referred to table waiters. In its verb form, it was a word describing the menial task of doing the household tasks on behalf of another which at times could feel demeaning. In its noun form it would have been the label assigned to the one doing such work. Its core meaning had to do with serving others. Paul described their role as a waiter or busboy.
They didn’t provide the food or even cook it; they only served what was provided them by God. The Greeks ascribed little value to this virtue because their whole drive was the development of one’s own personality. It is usually translated “servant” or “minister” or “deacon.”
It is important here to note how Jesus’ used the term. Regarding Himself and those desiring significance…
Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. "But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45
Paul proudly considered himself and Apollos God’s busboys.
Wedged in this passage is an important point concerning evangelism.
“even as the Lord gave to each one”
This phrase could be interpreted two ways.
1. It could refer to Paul and Apollos given the task of serving by God.
2. It could refer to those who believed given the opportunity to believe by God.
The first interpretation would read, “even as the Lord gave to each one to serve”
The second would read, “even as the Lord gave to each one to believe.”
Either interpretation has merit and support from other New Testament passages. I lean toward the second in this case. God not only causes the growth but also creates the opportunities to plant and water. We are servants who serve those God has prepared to hear the good news. Paul asked the Colossians to pray that God would open doors of opportunity for sharing.