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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Every man's work shall be made manifest. What every man has built on this foundation shall be seen. Whether he has held truth or error; whether he has had correct views of piety or false; whether what he has done has been what he should have done or not.

For the day. The day of judgment. The great day which shall reveal the secrets of all hearts, and the truth in regard to what every man has done. The event will show what edifices on the true foundation are firmly, and what are weakly built. Perhaps the word day here may mean time in general, as we say, "time will show;" and as the Latin adage says, dies doeebit; but it is more natural to refer it to the day of judgment.

Because it shall be revealed by fire. The work, the edifice which shah be built on the true foundation, shall be made known amidst the fire of the great day. The fire which is here referred to is, doubtless, that which shall attend the consummation of all things—the close of the world. That the world shall be destroyed by fire, and that the solemnities of the judgment shah be ushered in by a universal conflagration, is fully and frequently revealed. See Isa 66:15; 2 Th 1:8; 2 Pe 3:7,10,11.

The burning fires of that day, Paul says, shall reveal the character of every man's work, as fire sheds light on all around, and discloses the true nature of things. It may be observed, however, that many critics suppose this to refer to the fire of persecution, etc. (Macknight.) Whitby supposes that the apostle refers to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. Others, as Grotius, Rosenmuller, etc., suppose that the reference is to time in general; it shall be declared ere long; it shall be seen whether those things which are built on the true foundation, are true by the test of time, etc. But the most natural interpretation is that which refers it to the day of judgment.

And the fire shall try every man's work. It is the property of fire to test the qualities of objects. Thus, gold and silver, so far from being destroyed by fire, are purified from dross. Wood, hay, stubble, are consumed. The power of fire to try or test the nature of metals, or other objects, is often referred to in the Scripture. Comp. Isa 4:4; Isa 24:15; Mal 3:2; 1 Pe 1:7.

It is not to be supposed here that the material fire of the last day shall have any tendency to purify the soul, or to remove that which is unsound; but that the investigations and trials of the judgment shall remove all that is evil, as fire acts with reference to gold and silver. As they are not burned, but purified; as they pass unhurt through the intense heat of the furnace, so shall all that is genuine pass through the trials of the last great day, of which trials the burning world shall be the antecedent and the emblem. That great day shall show what is genuine and what is not.

{1} "it" "is" {a} "the fire" Zec 13:9; 1 Pe 1:7; 4:12

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