According to the grace of God which is given unto me
Lest the apostle should be thought to be too much elated with the characters he had given of himself, and other ministers, or to assume too much to himself, in what he was about to say of himself, he ascribes all the gifts he had, and the usefulness he was of, as a labourer and builder in the church of God, to rich grace; by which he was called unto, and qualified for such work: as a wise master builder. This same phrase, (sofov arcitektwn) , "a wise master builder", is used by the Septuagint interpreters, in ( Isaiah 3:3 ) by which they render (Myvrx Mkx) , "the cunning artificer", or the wise man of the carpenters, or artificers. The architect of all is God the Father, Son, and Spirit; God the Father is the builder of all things; Christ builds his church on himself the rock; and the saints are built up an habitation for God, through the Spirit; ministers are builders under God, instruments he makes use of, and who would labour in vain, unless the Lord build the city: such an one was the apostle, though he calls himself a master builder with respect to inferior ministers; he being in the highest office in the church, as an apostle, and not a whit behind the chief of them; and was the chief apostle of the Gentiles, and was principally concerned in preaching the Gospel to them, and in raising churches among them. The allusion is to the Jews, who use to call the Rabbins and doctors, and the disciples of the wise men, "builders": they ask in a certain place F8, (Nyanb yam) ,
``who are the builders? says R. Joehanna, these are the disciples of the wise men, who employ themselves in the building of the world all their days F9.''That is, the law, as one F11 of their writers explains this building; hence they are sometimes called builders of the law, and which was looked upon to be an high character: it is said F12 of a certain person, that
``R. Zeira praised him, and called him, (atyyrwad hyynb) , "a builder of the law."''But the apostle was a Gospel builder, a builder of Gospel churches in Gospel truths, and in faith and holiness; these were foolish builders, but he a wise one; and his wisdom lay in the knowledge of Christ, in preaching him, and in winning souls unto him; and particularly in that he took care in his ministry, to lay a good foundation:
I have laid the foundation;
meaning not only that as at other places, so at Corinth, he first preached the Gospel to them, and was the first instrument of their conversion, and laying the foundation of a Gospel church state; but that in his preaching he laid Christ as the one and only foundation, for men to build their faith and hope upon, for everlasting life and happiness, mentioned in the following verse:
and another buildeth thereupon;
which designs not a private Christian, who was directed in the apostle's ministry to build his soul upon the rock of ages, Christ the sure foundation laid in Zion; though there is a truth in this, the apostle laid Christ as a foundation, and encouraged others to build their faith and hope upon him, as to eternal salvation; and many were enabled to do so, which was the happy fruit of his ministry, and what gave him pleasure; and in this sense he also himself built upon this foundation, for this cannot be said of another, to the exclusion of himself; he would never lay a foundation, and direct others to build on it, and not build upon it himself; but another minister of the Gospel is meant, as Apollos, or any other who might follow him, and be a means of carrying on the building upon the foundation he had laid; and of edifying and establishing souls upon it; and of rearing up superstructure truths, upon the foundation one:
but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon;
that he builds by line, evenly, according to the analogy of faith; that he builds in proportion to the foundation; and lays such things upon it as are becoming it, and suitable to it.
F8 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 114. 1.
F9 Jarchi, Maimon. Sampson, & Bartenora in Misn. Mikvaot, c. 9. sect. 6.
F11 Juchasin, fol. 81. 1.
F12 T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 48. 4.