Building Plans

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Choose the correct building materials.

The Church is like a building construction project.
It is a metaphor of teachers and teachings...

Teachers and Teachings

Let’s trace the context here...
Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for their divisiveness over their leaders (1:10-17).
The reason the Corinthians made this prideful mistake is their valuing of human wisdom over God’s wisdom (1:18-31). Which Paul is trying to correct...
To do so, Paul highlights the wisdom of his initial preaching, which was radically different than human wisdom, because it was from God and receive through God the Holy Spirit (2:1-16).
1 Corinthians 2:12–13 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”
Paul rebukes the Corinthians for spiritual immaturity in viewing their teaching leaders as anything others than servant/fellow-workers/co-laborers. God is the only one who deserves to be exalted (3:1-9).
Now, Paul is moving from a metaphor of planting by their leaders (3:6-7) to a metaphor of building by their leaders (3:9), and specifically addresses other potential builders. The church at Corinth is a building being built by teachers and teachings - Paul, Apollos, and others (even within their congregation).
So in this, Paul first addresses the potential builders (vv. 10-15), and then addresses the building or those being built (vv. 16-17).

What is the foundation? (vv. 10-11)

“Grace” - not arrogance, but fact
“Skilled” - wise, in tune with Paul’s overall theme of wisdom (see 1 Corinthians 2:6–7; more yet to come in 1 Corinthians 3:18–20).
The activity of building here is what Paul and others like Paul do. The building then would be the recipients of the building construction (from Paul and others). It is the church/people/fellowship of Christians.
The foundation is first is laid first. It is the beginning of the construction project/building. The foundation is Christ in the sense that those in Christ are in the construction project. There’s no other way in. Christ is first and foremost.
How did Paul lay that foundation? He preached Christ. He taught the gospel. He imparted the wisdom of God. The Corinthians accepted his message by the Holy Spirit. They accepted Christ.
But the foundation is not the end, but the beginning. The continuation of the building project will likely be done by many after Paul, which is what God intends for the church (“now if anyone builds” v. 12).
The imperative here is “Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” How can they do this? By using the right materials...

What are the materials? (vv. 12-15)

The difference between the materials (v. 12) is clearly seen by the testing of the materials (vv. 13-15).
They can be easily divided into what will stand the test and what will not. Perishable and imperishable.
What is the “test” (v. 13, prove/examine/approve)? A future day represented by fire. No doubt, he’s referring to the future judgment of Christ’s return.
2 Thessalonians 1:7–10 “and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”
1 Corinthians 1:8 “who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
Verse 14 expands upon verse 8. The same word is used - reward/wage/recompense - result of labor. The reward then in this picture is the materials constructed into parts of the building. When that endures the fire, it is the reward/result.
1 Thessalonians 2:19–20 “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”
2 Corinthians 1:12–14 “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.”
Philippians 2:16 “holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
1 Corinthians 9:1 “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship [WORK; same as in “each one’s work” v. 13] in the Lord?”
By contrast (v. 15), genuine believers who promote the wisdom of this world, will not see eternal results of that labor, though they will see salvation.
The context and Paul’s description of himself in 3:10 tell us that the materials are the wisdom/words of God in contrast to the wisdom/words of this world (see 1 Corinthians 2:6–7; more yet to come in 1 Corinthians 3:18–20).

What is the building? (vv. 17-18)

God’s temple.
God’s dwelling place.
God’s sacred sanctuary.
Yes, this is true of each individual.
1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,”
But here “you” is plural and he is thinking of them corporately in this case (see verse 18 proof of this). So the Christian is God’s temple, but the church is also God’s temple.
Ephesians 2:19–22 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
So the individual perspective here is of the whole…one’s participation in the body.
Those who would destroy it (v. 18) are different than those who just use the wrong materials. Those who would destroy, will themselves be destroyed, but those who use the wrong materials, will be saved, but will suffer loss. This is a warning to the extreme, though there are degrees of the… The response to this would be telling.
This is how serious the building project is.
And here, those being built/those recipients of this building project/construction are reminded of it’s importance/honor.
“Do you not know [understand/acknowledge]” holds the recipient accountable to watch out for those who might bring in destructive philosophies.
So this text is not about you building you. It is about OUR participation in the building of OUR local church.

Choose the correct building materials.

The builders must choose - those who speak.
And, in this case the building can choose as well - those who listen.
The choice is the wisdom of God’s revealed Word.
Benediction: 2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1–12
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