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1 Corinthians 3:14

ESV If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
NIV If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
NASB If anyone’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
CSB If anyone's work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward.
NLT If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.
KJV If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

What does 1 Corinthians 3:14 mean?

Paul has been using a metaphor in which the community of believers is pictured as a structure built on the foundation of Jesus. Those who continue the building, teachers and leaders in the church, may use quality materials or worthless materials to build into the lives of the people. Good materials may refer to teaching that is true and helpful. Poor materials may refer to teaching that distorts or waters down the way of God (1 Corinthians 3:12–13).

One reason the quality of the work matters so much is that there will be a test. Paul has pointed forward to a day when Christ will judge the value of the work—not the value of the people (Romans 8:1)—of saved Christians. This is not the same as the ultimate judgment given to unbelievers (Revelation 20:11–15). Christ's judgment, Paul has written, is like a fire that will reveal whether the builders have built in a way that endures, or with worthless materials that ignite and are consumed.

Now Paul writes that those who pass this test will do so because they have built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. In other words, their teaching and leadership has continued to focus on Christ and to correctly lead the church in how to continue in the way of Christ.

Scholars disagree about whether Paul is specifically describing judgment of the works only of teachers and leaders (James 3:1), or of all Christians, based on how they used their gifts to build up each other in the church. This verse aside, Scripture indicates every Christian will face a judgment of their works for which they will be rewarded or not (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Those whose works are shown to be lasting, whose works survive the fire of Christ's evaluation, will receive a reward. This reward is not described, though later Paul will mention praise from the Lord as an outcome (1 Corinthians 4:5).
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