I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NRSV)

Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that everyone has something positive to contribute to Christ's work. After Paul left Corinth, Apollos arrived and began teaching the people. It is believed that Apollos was a traveling merchant from Alexandria who was a deeply committed Christian. Apollos was a very persuasive speaker. The Corinthians were impressed with his "eloquent wisdom." They were so taken with Apollos that they began to lose their focus. They formed cliques, saying, "I belong to Apollos." Other groups formed. They said, "I belong to Paul." Others said, "I belong to Cephas," and still others said, "I belong to Christ." Problems arose as a result. Paul responded to the report by asking them, "Has Christ been divided?" Of course not. They were followers of Christ and not followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Peter. They were no longer focusing on Christ but on his messengers.

Notice that Paul never says anything negative about Apollos. Paul never tries to discredit this popular successor of his. Whenever Paul writes or speaks about Apollos, he is always friendly. Paul understood that Apollos had something positive to contribute to the church. Apollos could lead the people in ways Paul could not. Paul cautioned the Corinthians that what was really important was not the eloquence of the speaker but the message. Persons were not baptized in the name of Paul or Peter or Apollos but in the name of Jesus Christ. May we remember that too! We belong to Christ!

God of all, what is really important is that I'm close to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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