I Planted, Apollos Watered

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1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Psalm 33, Luke 4:38-44

In the first reading, Paul discusses the problems that exist in the Corinthian congregation. He uses harsh words, referring to them as “men of flesh” and “infants in Christ.” He refers to the strife and jealousy that exists among them. He zeroes in on their partisanship in verse 6:

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”

God used Paul and Apollos as means, but makes clear that the growth was caused by God, not by the Christian leaders alone. Paul is reminding them that leaders are but servants of the Lord, and that it was the Lord that gave those servants the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. That being said, Paul is not discounting the work of the early Christian Bishops and Priests, as he makes clear in verses 8 and 9:

“Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Grace builds upon Nature. We were created with Intellect and Free Will. We are expected to harness the gifts given to us and cooperate with God’s Grace accordingly. Let us remember that Grace is the engine that propels us from the start to the end of our lives. We must not misunderstand these verses to mean that Apostolic authority passed through oral tradition is worthless.

From an application perspective, let us also remember that sometimes, our role is simply to plant the seed. We are not in control of many things in life; but we have to do our part to sow the seeds of the Gospel and ask God to glorify our works for his Kingdom.


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Noel Ethan Tan

Noel Ethan Tan

Noel is a Singaporean working as a rehabilitation counsellor at ACC(S) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre. He is currently doing a part-time Masters Program in Counselling and Guidance at NTU, Singapore. In his church ministry, Noel is currently serving in a young adults' Catholic community called Anawim that does Bible Exegesis. Noel is also pursuing a Certificate in Theology at the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore. His favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 3:15 — “In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

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