1 Corinthians 3:9-23
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
9 For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.(A)
10 [a]According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day[b] will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work.(B) 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved,[c] but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?(C) 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.[d]
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become wise.(D) 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written:(E)
“He catches the wise in their own ruses,”
20 and again:
“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”(F)
21 [e]So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,(G) 22 Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, 23 and you to Christ, and Christ to God.Read full chapter
- 3:10–11 There are diverse functions in the service of the community, but each individual’s task is serious, and each will stand accountable for the quality of his contribution.
- 3:13 The Day: the great day of Yahweh, the day of judgment, which can be a time of either gloom or joy. Fire both destroys and purifies.
- 3:15 Will be saved: although Paul can envision very harsh divine punishment (cf. 1 Cor 3:17), he appears optimistic about the success of divine corrective means both here and elsewhere (cf. 1 Cor 5:5; 11:32 [discipline]). The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.
- 3:17 Holy: i.e., “belonging to God.” The cultic sanctity of the community is a fundamental theological reality to which Paul frequently alludes (cf. 1 Cor 1:2, 30; 6:11; 7:14).
- 3:21–23 These verses pick up the line of thought of 1 Cor 1:10–13. If the Corinthians were genuinely wise (1 Cor 3:18–20), their perceptions would be reversed, and they would see everything in the world and all those with whom they exist in the church in their true relations with one another. Paul assigns all the persons involved in the theological universe a position on a scale: God, Christ, church members, church leaders. Read from top to bottom, the scale expresses ownership; read from bottom to top, the obligation to serve. This picture should be complemented by similar statements such as those in 1 Cor 8:6 and 1 Cor 15:20–28.