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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 3:7

 

 

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

Adam Clarke Commentary

So then, neither is he that planteth any thing - God alone should have all the glory, as the seed is his, the ground is his, the laborers are his, and the produce all comes from himself.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Anything - This is to he taken comparatively. They are nothing in comparison with God! Their agency is of no importance compared with his: see the note at 1 Corinthians 1:28. It does not mean that their agency ought not to be performed; that it is not important, and indispensable in its place; but that the honor is due to God - Their agency is indispensable. God could make seed or a tree grow if they were not planted in the earth. But He does not do it. The agency of the farmer is indispensable in the ordinary operations of His providence. If he does not plant, God will not make the grain or the tree grow. God blesses his labors; he does not work a miracle. God attends effort with success; God does not interfere in a miraculous manner to accommodate the indolence of people. So in the matter of salvation. The efforts of ministers would be of no avail without God. They could do nothing in the salvation of the soul unless God would give the increase. But their labors are as indispensable and as necessary, as are those of the farmer in the production of a harvest. And as every farmer could say, “my labors are nothing without God, who alone can give the increase,” so it is with every minister of the gospel.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So then, neither is he that planteth anything,.... Not that he is the happy instrument of beginning the good work:

neither he that watereth; who is the means of carrying of it on: not that they are simply and absolutely nothing, without any restriction and limitation; they are men, they are Christians, they are ministers, and useful ones, by whom others believe; they are labourers together with God, ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, and so to be accounted of; but they are nothing in themselves, nor in their own account, or with respect to God: they are nothing of themselves as ministers; they have nothing but what they have received; all their gifts are from God, nor can they exercise them aright without the grace of God, not being able to think a good thought as of themselves; nor are they anything in making their planting and watering effectual; and so no glory belongs to them; nothing is to be ascribed to them, they have no part or lot in these things:

but God that giveth the increase; he gives them their abilities, assists them in the exercise of their gifts, makes their ministrations useful, and he has, as he ought to have, all the glory.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

anything … but God — namely, is all in all. “God” is emphatically last in the Greek, “He that giveth the increase (namely), God.” Here follows a parenthesis, 1 Corinthians 3:8-21, where “Let no man glory in men” stands in antithetic contrast to “God” here.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

So then neither - neither - but (ωστε ουτεουτεαλλHōste outė̇outė̇all'). Paul applies his logic relentlessly to the facts. He had asked what (τιti) is Apollos or Paul (1 Corinthians 3:5). The answer is here.

Neither is anything (τιti) the one who plants nor the one who waters. God is the whole and we are not anything.


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-corinthians-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Anything

The devoted Angelique Arnauld, of Port Royal, when her sister condoled with her on the absence of her confessor, Singlier, replied: “I have never put a man in God's place. He can have only what God gives him; and God gives him something for us only when it is His will that we should receive it through him.”


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-corinthians-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

God that giveth the increase — Is all in all: without him neither planting nor watering avails.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-corinthians-3.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

7.Neither is he that planteth anything It appears, nevertheless, from what has been already said, that their labor is of some importance. We must observe, therefore, why it is that Paul thus depreciates it; and first of all, it is proper to notice that he is accustomed to speak in two different ways of ministers, (161) as well as of sacraments. For in some cases he views a minister as one that has been set apart by the Lord for, in the first instance, regenerating souls, and, afterwards, nourishing them up unto eternal life, for remitting sins, (John 20:23,) for renewing the minds of men, for raising up the kingdom of Christ, and destroying that of Satan. Viewed in that aspect he does not merely assign to him the duty of planting and watering, but furnishes him, besides, with the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that his labor may not be in vain. Thus (162) in another passage he calls himself a minister of the Spirit, and not of the letter, inasmuch as he writes the word of the Lord on men’s hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:6.)

In other cases he views a minister as one that is a servant, not a master — an instrument, not the hand; and in short as man, not God. Viewed in that aspect, he leaves him nothing but his labor, and that, too, dead and powerless, if the Lord does not make it efficacious by his Spirit. The reason is, that when it is simply the ministry that is treated of, we must have an eye not merely to man, but also to God, working in him by the grace of the Spirit — not as though the grace of the Spirit were invariably tied to the word of man, but because Christ puts forth his power in the ministry which he has instituted, in such a manner that it is made evident, that it was not instituted in vain. In this manner he does not take away or diminish anything that belongs to Him, with the view of transferring it to man. For He is not separated from the minister, (163) but on the contrary His power is declared to be efficacious in the minister. But as we sometimes, in so far as our judgment is depraved, take occasion improperly from this to extol men too highly, we require to distinguish for the purpose of correcting this fault, and we must set the Lord on the one side, and the minister on the other, and then it becomes manifest, how indigent man is in himself, and how utterly devoid of efficacy.

Let it be known by us, therefore, that in this passage ministers are brought into comparison with the Lord, and the reason of this comparison is — that mankind, while estimating grudgingly the grace of God, are too lavish in their commendations of ministers, and in this manner they snatch away what is God’s, with the view of transferring it to themselves. At the same time he always observes a most becoming medium, for when he says, that God giveth the increase, he intimates by this, that the efforts of men themselves are not without success. The case is the same as to the sacraments, as we shall see elsewhere. (164) Hence, although our heavenly Father does not reject our labor in cultivating his field, and does not allow it to be unproductive, yet he will have its success depend exclusively upon his blessing, that he may have the entire praise. Accordingly, if we are desirous to make any progress in laboring, in striving, in pressing forward, let it be known by us, that we will make no progress, unless he prospers our labors, our strivings, and our assiduity, in order that we may commend ourselves, and everything we do to his grace.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-3.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 7. What harvest would have sprung up from the labour of the two workers without the life which God alone could give? What then are those workers?

There is ordinarily understood as the predicate of the last proposition: is everything. But why not simply retain the preceding predicate: is anything? If in this work God alone is anything, is not this equivalent to saying that He is everything? The reading οὐδέ, nor any more, in two Alex., insists perhaps too specially on applying the idea of nothingness to Apollos.

This first development, 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, is directed against the folly of raising servants to the rank of masters. The following combats the opposition which it is sought to establish between them by comparing them with one another, and taking the liberty of rating their respective merits.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/1-corinthians-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Ver. 7. So then neither is he, &c.] This made Cyril to conclude his preface to his catechism, with Meum est docere, vestrum auscultare, Dei perficere: I may teach, and you hear, but God must do the deed when all is done. Else we may preach and pray to the wearing of our tongues to the stumps (as Bradford said), and to no more purpose than Bede did when he preached to a heap of stones.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The sense is, "Neither he that planteth is to be esteemed as any thing, nor he that watereth as any thing, but the glory of all must be ascribed to God that giveth the increase:" yet must we understand the apostle speaking thus not absolutely, but comparatively; "They are not any thing, that is, not any thing of themselves alone, without the concurrence of the Spirit; what excelleny gifts soever they have, they cannot of themselves make the word they preach effectual."

Lord! how many souls do find both ministry and ministers to be nothing as to them; If they be any thing to purpose to any soul, 'tis God and not his ministers, that makes it so. The best and ablest ministry is nothing to any saving purpose, without God's power giving the increase.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

7.] ἐστίν τι, either ‘is any thing to the purpose,’ as in λέγειν τι, &c., or absol. is any thing: which latter is best: compare εἰ καὶ οὐδέν εἰμι, 2 Corinthians 12:11.

ἀλλʼ ὁ αὐξ. θεός, scil. τὰ πάντα ἐστί,—to be supplied from the negative clauses preceding. Theophylact remarks: ὅρα πῶς ἀνεπαχθῆ ποιεῖ τὴν ἐξουδένωσιν τῶν προεστώτων ἐν κορίνθῳ σοφῶν κ. πλουσίων, ἑαυτὸν κ. ἀπολλὼ κατὰ τὸ φαινόμενον ἐξουδενώσας, κ. διδάξας, ὅτι θεῷ δεῖ μόνῳ προσέχειν, κ. εἰς αὐτὸν ἀνατιθέναι πάντα τὰ συμβαίνοντα ἀγαθά.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-3.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:7. φυτεύων, ποτίζων) he that planteth, he that watereth, as such; or the very act of planting and watering.— αὐξάνων, [God] who gives the increase) viz.: ἐστὶν, is τὶ something; and therefore, because He alone is some thing, He is all things [all in all]. Without this increase, the grain from the first moment of sowing would be like a pebble; from the increase, when given, belief instantly springs up, 1 Corinthians 3:5.


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Bibliography
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

So that, look as it is in earthly plantations, God hath the greatest influence upon the growth and fruitfulness of the plant, and the husbandman or gardener is nothing in comparison with God, who hath given to the plant planted its life and nature, by which it shooteth up, buddeth, and bringeth forth fruit, and maketh his sun to shine and his rain to fall upon it: so it is in the spiritual plantation, God is the principal efficient Cause, we are little instrumental causes in God’s hand, nothing in comparison with God. I have planted, Apollos hath watered; but if we see a soul changed, or grow, and make any spiritual proficiency, we must say, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be given the glory: God hath done the main work; we have not done any thing in comparison with him. These words do no more tend to vilify the ministry of the gospel, or make it useless, than, taking them in their native sense, as they respect earthly plantations, they would prove, that there is no need of the husbandman’s or gardener’s hand to plant or to water plants, because all that he doth of that nature is to no purpose, unless God first gives to the plant its proper nature and virtue, and then followeth the planting with the influence of the sun, dew, and rain. But yet it is observable, that the apostle doth not say, the man himself gives the increase, from the good use of the power that is naturally in his own will, but

God giveth the increase; which argues the necessity of special grace both to conversion and edification, superadded to the best preaching of his ministers. Though Paul himself by preaching plants, and Apollos watereth, yet God must make the soul to increase with the increase of God. Hence the apostle argueth their unreasonableness, in adoring one minister, and magnifying him above another, when indeed neither the one nor the other had any principal efficiency in the production of the blessed effect, but a mere instrumental causation, the effect of which depended upon the sole blessing of God, in comparison with whom, in this working, neither the one nor the other minister was any thing.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

He that planteth-he that watereth; preachers of the gospel are not the cause, but, under God, the instruments of their success.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-corinthians-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7. Any thingAny thing to be followed by partisans, as if, like the philosophers, their effects were all produced by their own brains.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-3.html. 1874-1909.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

7. So neither is he that planteth or he that watereth anything, but God who giveth the increase.” Paul was the first gospel preacher ever at Corinth, and signally honored of God in planting there the largest and most spiritual church of the apostolic age. By the statement “most spiritual,” I mean especially their wonderful and extraordinary enduements with spiritual gifts. Paul having labored there constantly eighteen months, and seen there the mighty works of God, feeling constrained by the calls of duty to his spiritual children in his native land to return to Asia and visit all the multitude of churches founded through his instrumentality, is very soon succeeded at Corinth by Apollos (Acts 18:27), whom God made a wonderful blessing, not only in the confirmation of the Pauline converts, but in the conversion of many more, especially among the Jews. So Apollos, having arrived after Paul had planted the crop, was signally honored of God in its irrigation.


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-corinthians-3.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘So then neither is he who plants anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.’

So while we must properly appreciate what ministers do, if they do it humbly and faithfully, we must remember, and they must remember, that they are merely earthly vessels. Sometimes their work will prosper, and sometimes it will seem to languish (although the seed grows secretly). It will all depend on God’s activity, without which their work is useless. And sometimes work will seem to prosper which is earthly work and not heavenly work at all. But anything worthwhile that comes out of it will be God’s work, not theirs. It will be accomplished through the word of the cross, not through the word of men.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/1-corinthians-3.html. 2013.

Joseph Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:7. Since we are only garden laborers who plant and sow, of whom any number may be had, we are practically of no importance whatever.

But God etc.; is everything.


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Bibliography
Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". Joseph Beet's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jbc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1877-90.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:7. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/1-corinthians-3.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

-8

That planteth you by your first conversion. Apollo watered you by preaching the same truths. --- He that planteth and watered, are one, aim at one and the same end. (Witham) --- According to his own labour. God does not recompense his servants according to the success of their labours, because their success depends upon him alone; but he recompenses them according to their sufferings and diligence in his service; for, whilst he crowns the labour of his apostles with success, he crowns his own work. (St. John Chrysostom) --- This text most evidently proves that good works proceeding from grace are meritorious, and that the rewards in heaven are different, according as God sees just to appropriate them. The Greek word here employed is Greek: misthos, (merces) or wages. See 1 Timothy v. 18; Apocalypse xxii. 12; Matthew xvi. 27. It is by our union with Jesus Christ that our actions, of themselves without value or merit, become gold, silver, and precious stones. (Haydock)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

"So then"-the application of Paul"s analogy in verse 6.

"anything"-"deserves the credit" (Lam). "The problem in Corinth is with perspective. They are viewing things from below, and as a result think altogether too highly of their teachers...Paul and Apollos do have essential tasks to perform, for which they will receive their own rewards. But they have no independent importance, from the perspective of ultimate responsibility for the Corinthians" existence as the people of God, Paul and Apollos count for nothing." [Note: _ Fee p. 132]

"These Christians, with their weak understanding of the Message of God (it isn"t a philosophy) and their warped view of preachers of that Message (they aren"t logicians or rhetoricians) fragmented into groups within the Body. In all that has gone before since we have been hearing God being exalted and men being put in their place FOR THE GOOD OF MAN!" [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 51]

"The present participles seem to indicate that what Paul said here has universal application. Regardless of who does the planting and watering, they are nothing in comparison with God.." [Note: _ Willis p. 101]

Paul is saying, "Without the Message of the Gospel, we wouldn"t be able to bring life to anyone!"


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-3.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

neither . . . neither. Greek. oute . . . oute.

any thing. Greek. neut. of tis. App-123. Compare 2 Corinthians 3:5. Galatians 1:2, Galatians 1:6; Galatians 6:3.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-corinthians-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Neither is he that ... any thing ... but God - namely, is all in all. "God" is emphatically last in the Greek, 'He that giveth the increase (namely), GOD.' Here follows a parenthesis, from 1 Corinthians 3:8 to 1 Corinthians 3:21, where, "Let no man glory in MEN" stands in antithetic contrast to GOD here.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

Really do not matter. The power and message come from God. The ones who proclaim it are only "common clay pots" (2 Corinthians 4:7). It is God who matters. He is the only important one, because he acted in history to make it all possible, and he makes the plant grow.


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(7) Any thing—i.e., “anything worth mentioning” (1 Corinthians 10:19; Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3).


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
13:2; Psalms 115:1; Isaiah 40:17; 41:29; Daniel 4:35; John 15:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 6:3

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-corinthians-3.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth: but God that giveth the increase.

This is the conclusion. Ministers are nothing. They are the instruments in the hands of God. He only is to be looked up to as the source of truth, of strength, or of success. To him is to be referred all the good ministers may be the instruments of effecting. If this be so, if ministers are thus inefficient, why should any one say, I am of Paul? as though Paul would save him; or, as though a mere instrument could forgive sin or impart grace.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:7". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-3.html.

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