Today I want to go over something Paul writes to the Corinthians in his first letter.

In the third chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul continues his discourse regarding the church and the leaders within the church. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul addressed the divisions within the church. Some people claimed to follow Paul, Apollos, Peter, or Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:11-12). Paul then points out how the Gospel he preaches is not backed up by flowery sayings or human wisdom. It is the wisdom of God that Paul has been preaching. The wisdom that unsaved people cannot understand (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8). Paul also points out that, to understand the wisdom of God, people need to be led by the Spirit and live in the Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul states that he cannot address the Corinthians as people led by the Spirit (ie. mature Christians). Because they are still being led by the world (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Paul points to the divisions between them. Their devotion to the people who are teaching the word of God, rather than Christ himself.

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Paul points out that the teachers the people are chasing after are servants of God.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NIV)

All of us who endeavor to teach other people about Christ are working together for the same end. We each have our tasks as we have been given by God. In the fulfillment of our ministries, we must be careful to do so with the diligence and care of careful builders. We must ensure that we are laying a foundation based on Jesus and nothing else. As Paul says “we are co-workers in God’s service” (1 Corinthians 3:9 NIV). As teachers, we must ask ourselves questions. What foundation are we building on? What are the materials we are using to build?

This is where 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 comes in. I’m going to go over these verses and discuss the meaning behind each one and how it pertains to us as co-workers in God’s service.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV)

Paul is stating here that the only truth that can be built upon is the Gospel of Christ. This discounts all other teachings not based on the Gospel.

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 (NIV)

The different materials Paul is referring to here represent different types of Christian teaching and the strength of their teaching. Gold, silver, and costly stones are teachings that will stand up better to the testing of time (and fire) than wood, hay, or straw that will not. The fire is the fire of judgment at the end of the age.

If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.

1 Corinthians 3:14 (NIV)

There will be a reward to those who have built with solid materials that stood the test of fire. What does the reward look like?

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (NIV)

The very people we have been ministering to are our reward. The lives that have been changed by the Lord and the successful discharge of our duties! We receive this crown of life and get to share in the happiness of the Lord.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23 (NIV)

Now, what happens if the buildings we have labored on do not pass the test of fire?

If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:15 (NIV)

All of the lives we thought were changed, were not. If we have been teaching in error, then those who believed the errors may have gone astray. It is horrifying to think of the consequences of our mistakes.

Paul finishes up by telling the people to correct their thinking and their behavior.

So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (NIV)

There are many ways I see people teaching about the Lord. Some people share Scripture, while others interpret it. Others still share what God has done in and through them. There are many ways to share the Gospel. What’s most important is that we do so as we have been instructed by the Lord and that God gets the glory.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.