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Unlike Jesus who grew up in rural Nazareth, Paul was raised in cosmopolitan Tarsus and evangelized mainly the city folks among the Gentiles. This perhaps explains why he does not use the imagery of the vine. But he does illustrate his ministry in agricultural imagery. Paul planted the Church in Corinth, Apollos watered it, and God gave the increase (1 Cor 3:6-9). The pastoral work of evangelization and nurturance of the community are done by Paul and Apollos, but the Christians are never to forget that growth comes from God. Planting and watering are done “under God” and in the final issue, it is all God’s work, not Paul’s or of any other apostle.

Paul refers to the vineyard when he underlines his rights as an apostle. Both Scriptures and Jesus command that those who preach the Word of God should live by their work, that is, the ministers should be supported by the community. For “who plants a vineyard without eating its produce?” (1 Cor 9:7). Paul, however, does not use this right so as not to place an obstacle to the Gospel of Christ.