The Berean Expositor
Volume 40 - Page 207 of 254
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(I Cor. 3: 17).  Owing to modern usage the words `precious stones' are a trifle
misleading, as we generally use them for jewels today; the better rendering would be
`costly stones' such as marble, porphyry, jasper, such as would be employed in the
building of a temple. Wood and thatch, whether of hay or reeds, while good enough for
the homes of men, are nevertheless transitory and especially so when the test is that of
fire. It is quite beside the intention of the Apostle to attempt to invest the building
materials with any particular doctrinal significance with the exception of Truth. One
writer says:
"Some build with the gold of faith, with the silver of hope, with the imperishable
costly stones of love" (Schrader),
but this receives no support from the passage, and any amount of ingenuity can be wasted
in this direction. The question to which all this supplies an answer is "Will your service
stand the test of the day of Christ?"
When the Roman consul Muminius captured the city of Corinth in B.C.146, he burnt
the place to the ground. The various metals including gold, silver and copper fused in the
conflagration, became united into a compound or alloy, and was called from the
circumstances "Corinthian brass". The figure employed by the Apostle therefore would
not sound strange to the Corinthians. The believer is not represented as on trial for his
life, condemnation is nowhere mentioned, neither do such words as guilt, sin or
forgiveness appear. It is the believer's work that is assessed.
"Every man's work shall be made manifest . . . . . every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide . . . . . If any man's work shall be burned . . . . ."
The testing of this work is severally stated as being `made manifest', `declared',
`revealed', `tried', `what sort it is'. The words `made manifest' translate the Greek
phaneros which in the form of a verb is found in the passage `we must all appear before
the judgment seat of Christ' (II Cor. 5: 10). As early as the Sermon on the Mount this
feature was made known ". . . . . thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth
in secret shall reward thee openly (phaneroo)" (Matt. 6: 4, 6, 18). When the Apostle
applies these principles to himself as a `steward of the mysteries' he says:
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who will both bring to
light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest (phaneroo) the counsels of the
hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God" (I Cor. 4: 5).
Not only is it impossible for one believer to estimate the true worth of the service of
another; the believer cannot truly estimate the worth of his own work, for we are
hindered by the flesh and we are the subject of such conflicting motives that we are
obliged at last to say with the Apostle:
"I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me
is the Lord" (I Cor. 4: 4 R.V.).