In 1Corinthians 3, Paul shows how very much subordinate the servant is to the word of God, which he may bring. Paul had, by his preaching, planted in Corinth the ecclesia. After his departure, the skillful Apollos, "mighty in the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24,25), had arrived in Corinth (Acts 19:1) and had watered the newly planted ecclesia (1Cor.3:6), with the same word as wherewith the ecclesia had been started, namely, the Word of God. By whom the word is brought is completely unimportant. And so is the performance. Paul had the reputation of not being a very good speaker (2Cor.10:10), while Apollos was said to be very "eloquent" (Act.18:24; KJV). What does it matter? It does not matter how eloquently something is said, but what is being said. The ecclesia is not being built-up by anything else than by the correctly-cut Word of God. Paul calls this "gold, silver and precious stones" (1Cor.3:12). That is material that is precious and fire resistant. He contrasts it with wooden beams and planks, i.e., human constructions. And he contrasts it with "hay and straw", that in the Bible serves mainly as ingredients of bricks (Ex.5:7) and is associated with hard labor, slavery and frustration. These were bricks that were, at one time, invented in Babel (Gen.11:3). In short: human works that lead nowhere.
It is not by means of human inventions, constructions and works, that the ecclesia is built and made to grow. The ecclesia is not an institution or an organization that is led by managers or a committee. No, the ecclesia is "God's farm and God's building" (1Cor.3:9). The Dutch proverb, "letting God's water run over God's acres," is normally understood to mean: allow things to take their course and do nothing. This is wrong. It's all about the right activity: "letting God's water run over God's acres". That is: Speak His word. It's not about the Bible (>theologizing), but from out of the Bible. "What is written?" Then we encounter the imperishable glory of GOD – that is gold. Then we are presented with the fact that the ransom was paid, for all – that is silver. And then we are taught about "the multifarious wisdom of God" which is depicted on the heart of the high priest, in many "precious stone". All that makes happy, gives strength, produces maturity and much fruit!
Translation: Peter Feddema