The Gardener and the Grower


“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth… For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 

1 Corinthians 3:5-6,11

“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

2 Corinthians 3:3

Christianity spread rapidly during Pax Romana throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. Large groups of people came to believe in Jesus—either through the words of those who saw Him in person or through visions or through the work of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended to take the place of honor next to the Father. Even these latter instances still involved hearing the testimony of another person. When Jesus revealed Himself to people, He did so through encounters with others who knew Him in the flesh. [1] 

Because people everywhere heard about Jesus and came to believe through the work of His early followers, converts old and new were often tempted to split into factions based on whom they received the message from. In Paul’s first letter to the Christians living in the Greek city of Corinth, he explains to new believers that whoever led them to faith is not the source of their new life: the one ultimately responsible for bringing them to faith was God Himself. 

Paul reemphasizes this in his second letter to Corinth: Jesus deserves all the credit for all the good work done in the ministry of the Church, the lives transformed through that work, and the freedom He grants to those who believe in Him. Real transformation, freedom, and wisdom cannot be credited to humans, though God has decided to use humans in the process of transforming other humans. The true source of fulfillment and love is God’s own work in us, and He is the one who has grown each of us. We have a part to play and must be ready to obey God in showing His truth, love, and goodness to those around us, but it is God who really performs renewal in the lives of those we encounter!

This piece is a part of a syndicated series in collaboration with Yale Logos for Lent 2021. Read more at:

[1] There are several examples of this idea throughout the Book of Acts. Several notable ones are Acts 2:14-41, Acts 8:26-40, Acts 9:10-19, Acts 10, and Acts 19:1-7.

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