In this passage, Paul explains why the Corinthians are divisive, how they are divisive, and why they ought not to be divisive. He begins by telling them that, when he talked to them, he did not talk to them as spiritual men, but as fleshly men, or men who let sin reign in their bodies. Therefore, Paul gave them easy teaching, or milk, instead of hard teaching, or solid food because they were not able to receive the hard teaching. However, Paul says that they still are fleshly, which is evidenced by the fact that they are divisive. The manifestation of their division is the fact that they boast in who they follow as their leader.
In verse 5, Paul corrects their wrong view of him and Apollos by saying that they are simply servants of God, who were simply instruments through which the Corinthians believed in the gospel. Furthermore, although Paul was the initial minister, and Apollos built upon Paul’s ministry, the One who caused the positive results of their ministries was God. Therefore, Paul concludes, servants are nothing without God, who is the One who should be praised for salvation and sanctification. In addition, Paul says, Paul and Apollos are one ministry team, but each will be rewarded for each one’s own ministry. The reason for this is that they work with God, while the Corinthians are the field and the building upon which they work.