English blog

God & Co?

01-11-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

images21 The well-known German theologian, Dorothee Sölle (1929-2003), once wrote a book entitled, “God needs people”. She argued, that God, together with man, is responsible for the fate of this world. God cannot complete that work by Himself. Absurd, of course, but just today I ran into an argument that appears to support this thought. In 1Corinthians 3 verse 9, Paul calls himself, along with Apollos, “God’s fellow workers.” Usually, this verse is read as follows (with the emphasis on the capital letters):

For God’s FELLOW workers are WE. God’s farm, God’s building are YOU.

By reading the text this way, the emphasis is on people: we work along with God. But that is not what Paul has in mind, here. In Greek, the words “of God” come first and, therefore, receive the emphasis. It is not: we work together with God, but: in God’s work, we are, relative to each other (= Paul and Apollos), fellow servants. The whole thrust of what Paul points out in this section is that the role of people is instrumental, i.e., God does the work and for that He uses people. In the preceding verses Paul wrote:

5 What, then, is Apollos? Now what is Paul? Servants (!!) are they, through whom you believe, and as THE LORD gives to each. 6 I plant, Apollos irrigates, but God makes it grow up. 7 So that, neither is he who is planting anything, nor he who is irrigating, but God Who makes it grow up.

And altogether logically following it, Paul explains in verse 9:

For GOD’S fellow workers are we. GOD’S farm, GOD’S building are you.

It is not God & co, but Paul & co in God’s business. And the Corinthians are also not the farm or the building of Paul and Apollos, but only God’s farm and God’s building. The usual reading of 1Cor.3 verse 9 may be typical of man, who likes to ‘extol’ himself, ‘as if’ God is dependent on people. But it is exactly the other way around…

…since HE HIMSELF gives to all life and breath and ALL. -Acts 17:25-