June 12, 2019 by directorfsm
It is good to remember the context of where this verse fits into the writing of Paul, in his Epistle to the Corinthians. Chapters one and two have been a reminder of the plain Gospel message, how brotherly love is important, their divisions, their boastfulness and the need for spiritual wisdom
Then we get to Chapter 3 and Paul declares in verse 1 starts (CSB) For my part, brothers and sisters, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. Because of all that I have pointed out in the previous chapters I can not in good conscience addressees you as spiritual people, those whom I can have complete FELLOWSHIP in CHRIST with, OUCH!!
Just as God declares in Romans 1:20 that all mankind is without excuse, Paul lays out a convincing case against the Corinthians in verses 2-4 that he had provided all the needed spiritual food for the Corinthians to grow. Yet their worldliness keeps them as little babies.
The Corinthians even decided to play Apollos, who came after Paul to build upon his teachings (the foundation laid) and help strengthen the Corinthians faith, against Paul and factions soon broke out. Paul addresses this in verses 5-16. He basically is saying, to us today, watch out how you build upon your faith (doctrinal beliefs). Upon what foundation (who are you listening to? what are you reading? where are you attending church? are you attending church? does everything align fully with the inerrant Word of God?)
It is in the middle of this discourse that Paul declares his warning to us all in verse 13, our works, our faith, will be judged by fire and only the strongest shall remain. While I agree with the majority of commentators that Paul is directing this towards those who are preaching and teaching things that do not align with the inerrant Word of God. I also cannot dismiss (after reading the Greek text) that it is applicable to those who accept and promote these false prophets.
Dr. John Gill’s Commentary 1 Corinthians 3:13
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest,…. The doctrine he preaches shall be sooner or later made manifest to himself, and to his hearers; who shall see the inconsistency, irregularity, and deformity of such a building; at first so well laid, then piled up with such excellent materials, and at last covered in with such trifling or incoherent stuff:
for the day shall declare it; meaning not the day of judgment, though that is often called the day, or that day, and will be attended with fire, and in it all secrets shall be made manifest; but the apostle intends a discovery that will be made of doctrines in this world, before that time comes: wherefore this day rather designs a day of tribulation; as of persecution, which tries men’s principles, whether they are solid or not; and of error and heresy, when men are put upon a re-examination of their doctrines, whereby persons and truths that are approved are made manifest; or of some great calamity, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, whereby many wrong notions the Jews yet retained were discovered: but it is best of all to understand this day of the Gospel day, and of the progress of Gospel light, especially in some particular periods of it; as in the primitive times, at the reformation from popery, and the more remarkable Gospel daylight, which will be in the latter times, when the impertinence and inconsistency of many things which now obtain in the ministry will be seen; see Ephesians 5:13.
Because it shall be revealed by fire: not that day, but the man’s work, or doctrine:
and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is; by the fire is meant, not the general conflagration of the world, when that, and all that is therein, will be burnt up; much less the fire of purgatory, the “papists” dream of, for the punishment of evil actions; for the apostle is not speaking of the actions of men, good or bad, but of the doctrines of ministers; rather the fire of tribulation and affliction, which, as it is for the trial of the grace of faith, so of the doctrine of faith, whereby it becomes much more precious than of gold that perisheth; or of some fiery dispensation of God’s vengeance, as on Jerusalem: though the word of God, which is as fire, seems to be intended; which in some certain times so blazes forth, and will more especially in the latter day, that by the light of it, both ministers and churches will be able to see clearly the bright shining lustre of the gold, silver, and precious stones; and with so much heat, as to burn up the wood, hay, and stubble; when the difference between these things will be most easily discerned.