Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 3

The work of church leaders

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

Paulís list of building materials may seem strange. He begins with the most precious materials, which are clearly only fit for a palace. Then, he mentions materials which may seem unsuitable for a building. But in fact, poor people often used those materials to make their houses. For example, you can mix straw with mud, and use it for the walls of a simple house.

The idea is that each builder must choose which materials to use. He must decide whether he will give his most valuable materials for the building.

All of this is a word-picture for the work of church leaders in a church. Each one has an effect on the people in that church; but his work may be good or bad. He can teach the people the precious things that are in Godís word, the Bible (Psalm 19:7-10). Or he can teach them weaker and poorer ideas, such as his own thoughts or political opinions.

God will test the work that those church leaders have carried out. The test is severe: fire. After a fire, nothing will remain of most of these building materials. Only the most precious things, such as gold and silver, can last.

By fire, Paul probably means Godís judgement, but he may mean troubles in this world, as in 1 Peter 1:6-7. The effect of both of these is the same, anyway. God removes from Christiansí lives all that is weak and unsatisfactory. His purpose is to make his people pure and perfect, so that their lives will give honour to him (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Next part: The true test of a church leaderís work (1 Corinthians 3:14-15)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.