The Builders and the Fire 1st Corinthians 3:9-17

1st Corinthians Bible Study Vernon L. Harper

The scripture for today's lesson is found 1st Corinthians 3:9-17

In today’s scripture Paul is instructing the Corinthians that they, and by implication we the church, are like a building that has been commissioned by God of faithful contractors. Paul, Apollos and others our responsible to fulfill their commission from God. Every part of the growth of our collective and individual Christian walk has been assigned to specific contractor.

 Paul tells us that his part in building of the Corinthian’s faith has been to lay a solid foundation and that others, including Apollos, have been commissioned by God to build on that foundation. This foundation is a clear and true knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul warns us that no other foundation can be laid by God’s servants. If we do not have an authentic understanding of who Jesus is everything built on that foundation is flawed.

In verse 12 Paul tells us that once the good foundation of a true understanding of who Jesus is lain, we as teachers are still not out of danger. Anyone of us who builds on the foundation of Jesus Christ could lay on that perfect foundation inferior materials. For instance, mistaken biblical interpretation, flawed liturgical practices or misdirected guiding of God’s church are examples of these inferior materials. Paul’s warns us that if we are not careful in how we build on the foundation of Christ our work may not survive God’s scrutiny at the judgment.

Can you imagine working a lifetime on God’s assigned construction contract and upon God’s inspection most or all the work counted for nothing. We are responsible to God for the materials we use to build, and God will be the final judge as to our materials. We all must take care that everything we build on top of the foundation of Christ is Biblical in word and principal. 

In verse 15 Paul tells us that it is not a matter of salvation, but of reward. We can build unworthily with the best of intentions and retain our salvation, but all our reward will be burned up. We will barely escape with our salvation through the harassing flames of our failure.

So much for the potential bad news. For those who build with the quality materials of sound doctrine, authentic Biblical teachings and a God centered liturgy are promised unimaginable reward. Also, this knowledge frees us from ecclesiastical division. If our fellow clergy have differing doctrinal beliefs, if their foundation is Christ, we are free to fellowship and work together. We can do this with the comfort of knowing that God will sort it all out in the end and we do not have to judge it ourselves.

We are God’s temple and God will love, cherish and protect His temple both now and forever more.     



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