Partners in Ministry
1 Cor. 3: 5-9
Paul and Apollos were partners in the ministry. They were brothers in Christ, fellow worker in the
Lord’s vineyard and probably they are very close friends. They work together to serve, honor and
glorify the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They work together in harmony and unity, they
complement each other, and the Bible does not record anything that these two were competing
against each other or back biting against each other. The real problem in the Corinthian church is the
carnality of its member who prefer and elevate somebody above the other thereby causing strife
and division.Fellow Worker for Christ
I. Ministers (1 Cor. 3:5)
A. Paul is telling the Corinthian believers that it is wrong to glory in men because
preachers and teachers are only God’s ministers and it is God who really matters (1
B. True ministers of Christ are not in competition; they are seeking, rather, to
complement one another and to further the work of Christ.
C. Ministers are called to serve God and His people. Ministers are God’s servants.
D. With the regards to the Corinthians, Paul and Apollos were just instruments used by
Christ so that they will come to know Him, be saved and become His disciples.
E. God did not choose either Paul or Apollos to be the single instrument to achieve His
purposes in Corinth. Each has his own task, his own calling. (1 Cor. 3:6)
1. Paul the first to come to Corinth, he is the seed planter. He started the church.
2. Apollos, who follows, is the waterer.
3. Their ministry, is dependent upon the other. They are not competitors or rivals,
but teammates, fellow-workers. They work in complementary roles, rather than
competitive roles. Both are engaged in the same work, in the same goal of
making disciples, for those who trust in and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. They
are one. It’s a sad thing to see the believers there to be divided because they
prefer one from the other.
F. All our planting and watering will do no good unless God blesses the work. He alone
makes the seed to grow. No matter what your task is, you need Divine power to get
the work done right
G. God can use anyone. Just as the Lord used Moses, Paul and other “imperfect or
flawed” persons in the Bible, He can use you to serve Him. Make no excuse why you
cannot do and give your best for Christ.
H. To sum it up, the increase is from God (1 Cor. 3:7). Salvation is of the Lord only. The
soul winner cannot save anyone; all he can do is proclaim the gospel and pray over
it. It is God that enlightens (Jn. 1:9), draws (Jn. 12:32), convicts (Jn. 16:8), and then
regenerates those that believe. To believe the gospel or to receive the gift of the
gospel is not a work and is nothing to boast of. The success of any minister or Lord’s
work is purely because of Christ.
Illustration 1: A Character Profession
Ministry is a character profession. To put it bluntly, you can sleep around and still be a good brain
surgeon. You can cheat on your mate and have little trouble continuing to practice law. Apparently,
it is no problem to stay in politics and plagiarize. You can be a successful salesperson and cheat on
your income tax. But you cannot do those things as a Christian or as a minister and continue
enjoying the Lord’s blessing. You must do right in order to have true integrity. If you can’t come to
terms with evil or break habits that continue to bring reproach to the name of Christ, please, do the
Lord (and us in ministry) a favor and resign. Chuck Swindoll, Rise and Shine, p. 198
Illustration 2: God’s Sword
I know you will apply hard to German, but do not forget the culture of the inner man—I mean of the
heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with
the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument—I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him
to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfection of the instrument, will be
the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an
awful weapon in the hand of God.
Robert Murray McCheyne, to a young ministerial student
II. Their Rewards (1 Cor. 3:8)
A. Paul and Apollos will receive rewards, according to their own labor. (1 Cor. 3:8).
B. All servants of the Lord will receive rewards according to their faithfulness in doing
the Lord’s work.
C. The more we sow, the more we shall reap. (2 Cor. 9:6)
D. Those we lead to Christ will be a source of great joy – 1 Thess. 2:19-20; 3 Jn. 3-4.
E. We can have the rewards promised by the Lord now and in the future at His coming
(more about rewards will be discussed later)
1. In this present life the labourer will receive his reward. Luke 18:30 Who shall not
receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life
2. The labourer will shine as written in Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall
shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to
righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
3. At the coming of the Lord. Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my
reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Illustration 3: How Many People Will Be in Heaven Because of Us?
The renowned 19th-century English preacher C. H. Spurgeon told this story about King Cyrus, the
man who conquered Babylon and freed the Jews from captivity: A visitor who was admiring Cyrus’
gardens said it gave him much pleasure. “Ah,” said Cyrus, “but you have not so much pleasure in this
garden as I have, for I have planted every tree in it myself.”
Spurgeon then commented, “One reason some saints will have a greater fullness of heaven than
others will be that they did more for heaven than others. By God’s grace they were enabled to bring
more souls there.”
those words should cause all of us who know the Lord to do some serious thinking. How many
people will be in heaven because of us? Our desire should be that when we reach our eternal home,
some will say to us, “I’m so thankful for you. It was your testimony, your life, your invitation to
accept Christ that accounts for my being here today.” The apostle Paul anticipated the joy in heaven
of seeing people who were there as a result of his ministry (1 Thess. 2:19-20).
Yes, heaven’s joys will be the fullest for those who have helped lead others to Christ. So, do all you
can to bring to Jesus those who are lost in sin. That’s how you can lay up pleasures in heaven!
RWD, Our Daily Bread, Sept.-Nov. 1997, page for September 10
III. Spiritual laborers (1 Cor. 3:9)
A. When Paul says, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry,
ye are God’s building” he is telling us two very important things.
1. He is indicating that all the saints belong to God, and none of them belongs to
2. Second, he distinguishes himself and Apollos, as apostles, from all the rest of the
saints in Corinth. He and Apollos are apostles; the rest are not. We (the apostles)
are laborers together with God: ye are God ‘s husbandry. The apostles play a
unique role in the founding of the church, a role not to be duplicated by any
other. In a unique way, the apostles did labor together with God in their
intimate contact with Him, and in being witnesses of His resurrection, but
especially in the laying of the foundation of the church by being the human
authors of the New Testament Scriptures. This occurred through the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, as previously described by Paul in 2:10-13. Paul speaks of this
apostolic foundation in his epistle to the Ephesian.
In serving the Lord, we should work in unity with our fellow servants. In the Lord’s
vineyard, it doesn’t matter whether you are a planter, waterer, reaper, or harvester. As
long as you do your work faithfully, honestly, with all integrity, the Lord Jesus Christ will
reward you. The question is will you serve Christ? Wil you give your best to Him