1 Corinthians 3:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 3:12, NIV: If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,

1 Corinthians 3:12, ESV: Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—

1 Corinthians 3:12, KJV: Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

1 Corinthians 3:12, NASB: Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,

1 Corinthians 3:12, NLT: Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials--gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.

1 Corinthians 3:12, CSB: If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw,

What does 1 Corinthians 3:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is still working with the metaphor of constructing a building. In that metaphor, the community of Christians in Corinth is the building. They are being built up in their numbers, perhaps, but also in their spiritual maturity through teaching and instruction in the way of Christ. Paul, describing himself as a skilled master building, has laid the foundation of the building, which is Jesus Christ. It's the only foundation on which any church can stand. With that foundation in place, Paul has left the scene and new builders have come in to continue the construction. These builders are the teachers and leaders of the church in Corinth.

Paul begins an if/then statement in this verse that is completed in the following verse. Continuing the building metaphor, he describes various materials. These new builders, those who lead the Corinthians to grow in Christ, might use these to continue the building project. Will they use quality building materials such as gold, silver, and precious stones? Will they build using sturdy, valuable, resilient stock, which will result in a robust structure? Or will they use wood, hay, and straw: cheap, easily acquired and inferior materials in order quickly raise walls that cannot stand the test of time?

What makes for good or poor building materials? In this case, teaching about Christ that is true and helpful would be quality material for growing the church. Teaching that distorts the message of Christ or waters down the truth would be the cheap stuff. The following verses will reveal the results of using either.