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1 Corinthians 3:11-17

Context
3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3:12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 1  3:13 each builder’s 2  work will be plainly seen, for the Day 3  will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire 4  will test what kind of work each has done. 3:14 If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. 5  He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple 6  and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 3:17 If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

1 sn The various materials described here, both valuable (gold, silver, precious stones) and worthless (wood, hay, or straw) refer to the quality of work built on the foundation, or possibly to the motivation of those doing the building. The materials themselves have been understood (1) as deeds or (2) as people (since ultimately the passage is addressing those who minister to others).

2 tn Grk “each one’s.” Here “builder’s” is employed in the translation for clarity.

3 tn In an attempt to clarify the referent, some translations add “of Christ” after “Day” (so TEV); others specify this as “judgment day” (NLT) or “the day of judgment” (CEV).

sn The Day refers to the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1:8; 5:5) when each Christian worker will appear before Christ for evaluation of his ministry. Paul’s constant motivation was to be pleasing to the Lord in that day (2 Cor 5:9-10) and receive his commendation (1 Cor 4:5).

4 tcαὐτό (auto) is found at this point in v. 13 in a number of significant witnesses, including A B C P 33 1739 al. But Ì46 א D Ψ 0289 1881 Ï latt lack it. The pronoun could be a motivated reading, designed to intensify Paul’s statement. On the other hand, it could have been deleted because the article alone made the reference already clear. In this instance, the possibility of scribal addition seems more likely than scribal deletion, although a decision is difficult. NA27 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

sn It is unclear whether the phrase it will be revealed by fire describes the Day (subject of the previous clause) or each one’s work (subject of the clause before that).

5 tn The translation “[will] be punished” is given here by BDAG 428 s.v. ζημιόω 2. But the next clause says “he will be delivered” and so “suffering loss” is more likely to refer to the destruction of the “work” by fire or the loss of the reward that could have been gained.

6 sn You are God’s temple refers here to the church, since the pronoun you is plural in the Greek text. (In 6:19 the same imagery is used in a different context to refer to the individual believer.)



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