Steve E. Hall
Bible student and Elder at Roanoke Valley Bible Church
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Building wisely on the eternal foundation of Christ
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
What is acceptable practice in ministry? Should God be pleased with any work that we do if it is sincere?
Published May 22nd, 2021
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Main point summary
Main point summary
Because God will judge each man's work it is vital that everyone consider carefully what he builds and how he goes about it.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
According to a the grace of God which was given to me,
The grace of God is like a blueprint that was entrusted to me,
like a wise master builder b I laid a foundation,
And I followed that blueprint in laying a foundation as would any wise builder"
and c another is building on it.
and (Apollos) another builder like me is building on that foundation.
But each man must be careful how he builds on it.
Now everyone, with no exception, who builds on it, must consider carefully how he is building on this foundation.
For no man can lay a a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
For this reason — it is because Jesus Christ is the foundation that has been laid, attempting to lay any other foundation is not acceptable. Jesus Christ must be the foundation.
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, 1 precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
Now if anyone builds upon this foundation using gold, or silver, or valuable stones, or wood, or hay, or straw,
a each man’s work will become evident;
then the the quality of each man's work will be brought to light;
for b the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire,
because, a day is coming when everything will be made evident, because fire will illuminate everything,
and the fire itself will test 1 the quality of each man’s work.
and the fire that causes gold, silver and valuable stones to glisten, also consumes all of the wood hay and straw; proving the quality of each man's work.
If any man’s work which he has built on it remains,
Should any man's work survives this test,
he will a receive a reward.
then he will receive a reward.
If any man’s work is burned up,
but if any man's work be lost,
he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved,
Than he will suffer loss; although he himself will be saved,
yet a so as through fire.
yet saved as one who has escaped a fire.
"According to the grace of God which was given to me" What does Paul mean by "according to the grace of God?" 1. Does it mean "commensurate with?" as in corresponding in degree, amount, size or proportion? • "I laid a foundation that is corresponding in degree with the infinite grace of God"? or something like • "The gift of wisdom to build that God gave me is in proportion to His infinite grace"? 2. Does it mean "in conformity to?" As in according to the housing code, or according to the blueprints?" • "According to the grace of God which is like a plan entrusted to me, I followed that plan in laying a foundation as would any wise builder"?
"Given" This seems to connect with 1 Corinthians 3:5 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one. The implication in verse 5 seems to be that they have been given a ministerial responsibility. Could Paul mean something like ministry responsibility when he refers to the "grace of God" entrusted to him?
One problem with my paraphrase is that it narrows the meaning. For one thing Paul is pointing out that His ministry is founded on the grace of God so that all credit goes to God and not to Paul. Also, the grace of God is the wisdom and equipping that God gave Paul. Another is that the "grace of God given to Paul" must have to do with His calling as an Apostle and the corresponding wisdom and Spiritual strength to fulfill that office. In other epistles Paul uses this phrase " grace given to me" to claim authority. In Romans 1:5 for example Paul links grace with his Apostleship: " through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles in behalf of His name," And in Romans 12:3 He uses the phrase as his authority to command the Roman believers: " For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." And again in Romans 15:5 " But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given to me from God," So the phrase "According to the grace of God which was give to me" should remind us of Paul's apostolic authority for his work among the Corinthians. Yet, I think the addition of "According to" brings our attention back to Paul's conformity to God's wisdom and plan as he executed the ministry he had been given.
Who is the each man? Paul and Apollos? Pastor Teachers? Every member of the Church who exercises a spiritual gift? Unbelievers are not in view here.
The verbs "become evident", "show," "be revealed" emphasizes disclosure.
What day? It seems likely that this connects 1 Corinthians 4:5 which is near context: Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes , who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of humanhearts; and then praise will come to each person from God.
The Apostle has just used an agricultural metaphor to describe both his and Apollos's ministry among the Corinthians. He sowed the seed (that established the church) and Apollos watered the seed encouraging the growth that came about through the power of God. The Corinthian church is described as the field where the two servants worked. His point being that all glory should go to God who brings about the growth, not to mere servants who simply carry out God's will. To expand on this Paul changes the metaphor to that of building a building, were the church is the building.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.