Study Sheet for I Corinthians 3:10-17 (click here for Study Notes)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his 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 man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (NIV)
1. Paul tells the Corinthians that by God's grace, he laid a foundation for them that was Jesus Christ. No one can come now, he assures them, and lay another foundation. They know on whom their security rests. He also acknowledges that someone else (Apollos) is building on that foundation. But Paul issues a warning; each one should be careful how he builds. If the foundation is secure, why is Paul concerned about subsequent building, or teaching? Is he concerned about the new believers losing their salvation? If yes, how? If not, about what is he concerned?
2. Paul compares the building done on top of the foundation of Jesus Christ to precious gems and metals and to wood, hay, and straw. His list of materials-gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw-conveys decreasing values. What is Paul trying to say with this metaphor? What actually is this superstructure that's being built on top of every believer's foundation? The quality of a person's work, he says, "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 man's work." What is the Day, and what is the fire that will reveal and test the quality of each person's work? (see I Cor. 1:18; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2 Tim. 1:12,18; Nu 31:22-23; Jer. 23:28-29; Mal 3:2-3)
3. "If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward," Paul continues. "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (see verse 8 and Jude 23) What kind of loss will a person suffer if he is saved but his work is destroyed? How can a person be saved if his work was bad? What should the focus of our work be?
4. "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple?" In this passage the "you yourselves" is a collective phrase meaning the church, not individual members. (see II Cor. 2:16, Eph 2:21,22 Paul continues by saying that the Holy Spirit lives in this temple, and God will destroy anyone who destroys the temple. What kinds of things destroy this temple? In Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus said "every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men," but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Is this sin against the Holy Spirit related to the destruction of God's temple Paul talks about in I Corinthians?
5. "God's temple is sacred," Paul says, "and you are that temple." As part of God's sacred temple, what responsibilities do we have toward each other? What responsibilities do we have for ourselves personally?
6. Are there fellow believers who annoy or frustrate you? How do you deal with annoying people while keeping a balance between support and accountability? What personal resentment do you have that you need to surrender to Jesus? Whom do you need to hold before God in prayer?
7. Do you have a personal sin or fear or attitude that causes division or resentment among your fellow believers? Do you have something in your life that keeps you from being accountable and from surrendering to the love and support of "God's temple"?
8. What do you need to let Jesus heal in you so you can live in freedom as part of God's sacred tample?
All contents copyright (c) 1999-2000 Graphics
Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.