3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.
Paul is beginning to deconstruct the issues in Corinth. On the surface it appears that the problem is one of divided loyalties. Paul planted the church in Corinth or as he described it he laid the foundation. Apollos followed and built on what Paul started. Both men drew on the teaching of Peter and the other disciples and primarily on Jesus, the True Foundation. However because all men are different and express things differently we are naturally drawn to some more than others. Also some in their teaching lean more heavily on the practical living side while another may talk more about prophecy or the character of God. The listeners also have their own issues and biases and will automatically identify better with a teacher who "speaks their language". In Corinth this had gone to an extreme. The church had become divisive and lines were being drawn according to their preferred teacher.
Note how Paul handles it. He does not attempt to become the authoritative voice nor does he attempt to get the church to line up behind their current pastor. Instead he peels that surface stuff away and points to the One who is their Teacher. He acknowledges that God gave him an assignment and he fulfilled it. Then Apollos was given a role to play in the next phase of the "building" of the church but in all of that God was the One. It is His work, His church, and we are His people.
Don't miss the humility of Paul. He laid the foundation but that foundation was not his teachings or his unique flavour of presenting the good news. The foundation was Christ. Apollos poured more of Christ - the Water of Life. It's always only Jesus.
Tomorrow we'll see why we so easily get entangled in making it about Paul or Apollos or red or blue carpets...