|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:10-15 The apostle was a wise master-builder; but the grace of God made him such. Spiritual pride is abominable; it is using the greatest favours of God, to feed our own vanity, and make idols of ourselves. But let every man take heed; there may be bad building on a good foundation. Nothing must be laid upon it, but what the foundation will bear, and what is of a piece with it. Let us not dare to join a merely human or a carnal life with a Divine faith, the corruption of sin with the profession of Christianity. Christ is a firm, abiding, and immovable Rock of ages, every way able to bear all the weight that God himself or the sinner can lay upon him; neither is there salvation in any other. Leave out the doctrine of his atonement, and there is no foundation for our hopes. But of those who rest on this foundation, there are two sorts. Some hold nothing but the truth as it is in Jesus, and preach nothing else. Others build on the good foundation what will not abide the test, when the day of trail comes. We may be mistaken in ourselves and others; but there is a day coming that will show our actions in the true light, without covering or disguise. Those who spread true and pure religion in all its branches, and whose work will abide in the great day, shall receive a reward. And how great! how much exceeding their deserts! There are others, whose corrupt opinions and doctrines, or vain inventions and usages in the worship of God, shall be made known, disowned, and rejected, in that day. This is plainly meant of a figurative fire, not of a real one; for what real fire can consume religious rites or doctrines? And it is to try every man's works, those of Paul and Apollos, as well as others. Let us consider the tendency of our undertakings, compare them with God's word, and judge ourselves, that we be not judged of the Lord.
Verse 15. - He shall suffer loss. He shall not receive the full reward to which he might otherwise look (2 John 1:8). He himself shall be saved. It is an inexpressible source of comfort to us, amid the weakness and ignorance of our lives, to know that if we have only erred through human frailty and feebleness, while yet we desired to be sincere and faithful, the work will be burnt, yet the workman will be saved. Some of the Fathers gave to this beautiful verse the shockingly perverted meaning that "the workman would be preserved alive for endless torments," "salted with fire" in order to endure interminable agonies. The meaning is impossible, for it reverses the sense of the word "saved;" and makes it equivalent to "damned;" but the interpretation is an awful proof of the distortions to which a merciless human rigorism and a hard, self styled orthodoxy have sometimes subjected the Word of God. Yet so as by fire; rather, through or by means of fire (διὰ πυρός). We may be, as it were, "snatched as a brand from the burning" (Zechariah 3:2; Amos 4:11; Jude 1:23), and "scarcely" saved (1 Peter 4:18). Similarly it is said in 1 Peter 3:20 that Noah was saved "through water" (δι ὕδατος). The ship is lost, the sailor saved; the workman is saved, the work is burned.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If any man's work shall be burnt,.... If any minister's doctrine he has preached shall be destroyed and disappear, shall be disapproved of, and rejected by the churches, not being able, to bear the light and heat of the fire of God's word:
he shall suffer loss; of all his labour and pains he has been at, in collecting together such trifling, useless, and inconsistent things; and of all that glory and popular applause he might expect from men, on account of them, and which was the snare that drew him into such a way of preaching:
but he himself shall be saved; with an everlasting salvation; not by his ministerial labours, much less by his wood, hay, and stubble, which will be all burnt up; but through his being, notwithstanding all the imperfections of his ministry, upon the foundation Christ:
yet so as by fire; with much difficulty, and will be scarcely saved; see 1 Peter 4:17 with great danger, loss, and shame; as a man that is burnt out of house and home, he escapes himself with his own life, but loses all about him: so the Syriac version reads it, , "as out of the fire": see Zechariah 3:2. Or the sense is, that he shall be tried by the fire of the word, and convinced by the light of it of the errors, irregularities, and inconsistencies of his ministry; either in his time of life and health, or on a death bed; and shall have all his wood, hay, and stubble burnt up, for nothing of this kind shall he carry with him in his judgment to heaven; only the gold, silver, and precious stones; and will find that the latter doctrines, and not the former, will only support him in the views of death and eternity.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
3:15 He shall suffer loss - The loss of that peculiar degree of glory.
1 Corinthians 3:15 Parallel Commentaries
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