1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Comments on the Greek text; Epistle lection Feb. 16, 2014

Epistle Lection, Feb 16, 2014

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

1Co 3:1 Κἀγώ, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἠδυνήθην λαλῆσαι ὑμῖν ὡς πνευματικοῖς[A] ἀλλ’ ὡς σαρκίνοις, ὡς νηπίοις[B] ἐν Χριστῷ. And I, brothers [and sisters] was not able to speak to you as to spiritual [people], but as to fleshly [ones], as to babies in Christ.
1Co 3:2 γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ βρῶμα, οὔπω γὰρ ἐδύνασθε. ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἔτι νῦν δύνασθε, I gave you milk to drink, not food, for you were not yet able [to eat solid food.]  Indeed, even now you are still not able.
1Co 3:3 ἔτι γὰρ σαρκικοί[C] ἐστε. ὅπου γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν ζῆλος[D] καὶ ἔρις, οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε καὶ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον[E] περιπατεῖτε; For you are still fleshly.  For where there is jealousy and discord among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking in a [merely] human [way]?
1Co 3:4 ὅταν γὰρ λέγῃ τις· Ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου[F], ἕτερος δέ· Ἐγὼ Ἀπολλῶ, οὐκ ἄνθρωποί ἐστε; For when someone says, “I am of Paul,” and another [says] “I am of Apollos,” are you not [merely] human?
1Co 3:5 Τί οὖν ἐστιν Ἀπολλῶς; τί δέ ἐστιν Παῦλος; διάκονοι δι’ ὧν ἐπιστεύσατε, καὶ ἑκάστῳ[G] ὡς ὁ κύριος ἔδωκεν. What then is Apollos?  What is Paul?  Servants, through whom you believed, and to each one as the Lord gave.
1Co 3:6 ἐγὼ ἐφύτευσα, Ἀπολλῶς ἐπότισεν, ἀλλὰ ὁ θεὸς ηὔξανεν[H]· I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.
1Co 3:7 ὥστε[I] οὔτε ὁ φυτεύων ἐστίν τι οὔτε ὁ ποτίζων, ἀλλ’ ὁ αὐξάνων[J] θεός. So then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but rather God who causes the growth.
1Co 3:8 ὁ φυτεύων δὲ καὶ ὁ ποτίζων ἕν εἰσιν, ἕκαστος δὲ τὸν ἴδιον μισθὸν λήμψεται κατὰ τὸν ἴδιον κόπον[K], The one who plants and the one who waters are one; each will receive [his] own wage according to [his] own toil.
1Co 3:9 θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί· θεοῦ[L] γεώργιον, θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε. For we are God’s co-workers.  God’s field, God’s building [is what] you are.

[A] Note the extensive discussion in the previous chapter of the work of the Spirit.

[B] The Greek word can refer to young children from infancy through pre-puberty.  In this context, with the contrast between milk and solid food in the next verse, it’s probably a reference to nursing children—i.e. very young.

[C] A slightly different form from the form used in v. 1 (see the textual apparatus for variants), but there isn’t any significant difference in meaning.  This adjectival form is not terribly common in Paul—he tends to prefer the phrase κατὰ σάρκα.

[D] Or “zeal.”  The word can have either positive or negative connotations.  N.T. Wright, in his latest magnum opus Paul and the Faithfulness of God, makes a lot of Paul’s references to his own “zeal” prior to his Damascus road experience (e.g. Phil 3:6).

[E] It is interesting to scan the uses of this word in Paul.  While some are positive, a large number are negative, as we see here, connoting human life apart from divine grace.

[F] Could be a genitive of origin (I come from Paul), or a genitive of possession (I belong to Paul) or it could connote association (I am associated with Paul).

[G] Presumably to each [of these two leaders, as well as others.]  Could conceivably mean “by means of each one as the Lord gave.”

[H] Or possible “but God became greater,” though this is less likely.

[I] Grammatically, this sentence is the logical result or consequence of the previous one.

[J] Note the way in which the participial phrases are in parallel with each other.  Even more literally one might render, “So then, neither the planter is anything nor the waterer, but rather the grower – God.”

[K] The word usually has a negative connotation of activity that is burdensome in some way.

[L] Grammatically, the meaning could be rendered either co-workers in the service of God or co-workers with God.