Every man’s work?

In 1 Corintians 3, Paul speaks about his efforts, and that of other apostles and ministers, to build upon the foundation of the gospel. He remarks that Christ is the foundation of the church and that he and Apollos shared in the building up of the body of Christ (converts to the faith). He goes on to say, in v12-15, that if any man builds on top of this foundation (which is Christ) anything that doesn’t last  he will still be saved in spite of that. I believe that Paul is inferring that the hay and stubble are people who never truly come to real faith. Hence they are called something much less than “gold, silver, or precious stones”. Christ used the metaphors of chaff and tares, or weeds, to make the same point.

I have heard this scripture used many times as an example of the typical Christian’s fate. I disagree that Paul means that at all. It is very obvious that Paul is referring to his work and the work of true ministers of God. He is not referring to the average layperson, but rather to preachers and evangelists. I found that I am not alone in this interpretation, as Matthew Henry seems to agree.

Basically, I believe Paul is assuming, first, that these men of whom he speaks are true men of God and second, that they have preached the whole gospel (the true foundation). Since Peter explains how believers are “living stones” in a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5), he is in agreement with Paul’s metaphors here. Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians they are a temple (not individually, but as a whole) being built by these ministers. In v17 he says “if any man destroys the temple”, he is referring, I believe, to false teachers who destroy faith in the principle doctrines and cause these “stones” to fall down.

Later, in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul does go so far as to tell the believers that their own physical bodies are the temples of God, but I believe that is somewhat removed from this idea of building on Christ, since , in this portion of the letter, he is emphasizing abstinence and holiness in how they keep their own bodies sanctified.

I believe that people are very prone to twist scripture to suit themselves rather than accept the context of the scripture and not try to make it apply where the author’s original intent doesn’t venture. This is just another example.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by memnan on September 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Hmmm…*: ) Guess this scripture gets eveybody down on ground level…

    1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (New International Reader’s Version)

    21 So no more bragging about human beings! All things are yours. 22 That means Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world or life or death or the present or the future. All are yours. 23 You are joined to Christ and belong to him. And Christ is joined to God.

    So what say we here?

    16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

  2. Posted by memnan on September 3, 2008 at 10:32 am

    OOPs! Forgot the ref:Colossians 3:16 (King James Version)

  3. And, of course, we must remember that WE are not to esteem ourselves very highly either! I have a big problem getting past my own faults, much less other people’s. Thank you for reminding me that man, and all his works, good or bad, isn’t what is important. It’s God working in us (or not) that matters.

    I believe your scripture means we should be rich in the knowledge of God’s Word and use it in singing and teaching to warn, cheer and comfort each other.

  4. Posted by memnan on September 9, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Amen, however…don’t fall prey to the enemy and believe that God doesn’t highly prize YOU…he gave His Son to save YOU for Himself and life eternal…what a treasure YOU must be…*: )

  5. Nancy,
    I am coming to understand that all of us are of inestimable worth to God. That is why Christ died willingly for us all. Thanks!

  6. Posted by churchesofchrist on September 19, 2008 at 7:39 am

    “I believe that people are very prone to twist scripture to suit themselves rather than accept the context of the scripture and not try to make it apply where the author’s original intent doesn’t venture.”

    – I agree and this worries me a great deal within our very own movement.

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