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1 Corinthians 3:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire - There is much difference of opinion relative to the meaning of the terms in this and the two following verses. That the apostle refers to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem I think very probable; and when this is considered, all the terms and metaphors will appear clear and consistent.

The day is the time of punishment coming on this disobedient and rebellious people. And this day being revealed by fire, points out the extreme rigour, and totally destructive nature, of that judgment.

And the fire shall try every man's work - If the apostle refers to the Judaizing teachers and their insinuations that the law, especially circumcision, was of eternal obligation; then the day of fire - the time of vengeance, which was at hand, would sufficiently disprove such assertions; as, in the judgment of God, the whole temple service should be destroyed; and the people, who fondly presumed on their permanence and stability, should be dispossessed of their land and scattered over the face of the whole earth. The difference of the Christian and Jewish systems should then be seen: the latter should be destroyed in that fiery day, and the former prevail more than ever.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 docebit; 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 shall 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 shall be ushered in by a universal conflagration, is fully and frequently revealed. See Isaiah 66:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:10-11. 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. Compare Isaiah 4:4; Isaiah 24:15; Malachi 3:2; 1 Peter 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle was a wise master-builder; but the grace of God made him such. Spiritual pride is abominable; it is using the greatest favours of God, to feed our own vanity, and make idols of ourselves. But let every man take heed; there may be bad building on a good foundation. Nothing must be laid upon it, but what the foundation will bear, and what is of a piece with it. Let us not dare to join a merely human or a carnal life with a Divine faith, the corruption of sin with the profession of Christianity. Christ is a firm, abiding, and immovable Rock of ages, every way able to bear all the weight that God himself or the sinner can lay upon him; neither is there salvation in any other. Leave out the doctrine of his atonement, and there is no foundation for our hopes. But of those who rest on this foundation, there are two sorts. Some hold nothing but the truth as it is in Jesus, and preach nothing else. Others build on the good foundation what will not abide the test, when the day of trail comes. We may be mistaken in ourselves and others; but there is a day coming that will show our actions in the true light, without covering or disguise. Those who spread true and pure religion in all its branches, and whose work will abide in the great day, shall receive a reward. And how great! how much exceeding their deserts! There are others, whose corrupt opinions and doctrines, or vain inventions and usages in the worship of God, shall be made known, disowned, and rejected, in that day. This is plainly meant of a figurative fire, not of a real one; for what real fire can consume religious rites or doctrines? And it is to try every man's works, those of Paul and Apollos, as well as others. Let us consider the tendency of our undertakings, compare them with God's word, and judge ourselves, that we be not judged of the Lord.
Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 237.4

While the shepherds were watching their flocks on the hills of Bethlehem, angels from heaven visited them. So today, while the humble worker for God is following his employment, angels stand by his side, listening to his words, noting the manner in which he does his work.... If he trusts constantly in God, these angel watchers will not allow his work to deteriorate. They will not permit it to be warped into lines that will imperil the cause of God. The Lord is looking upon the work that comes from the hands of His people. He will judge every piece of work, to see of what sort it is. HP 237.4

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 220.1

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 1 Corinthians 3:13. OHC 220.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 987

As Accurate as Photographer's Plate—All of us, as beings blessed of God with reasoning powers, with intellect and judgment, should acknowledge our accountability to God. The life He has given us is a sacred responsibility, and no moment of it is to be trifled with; for we shall have to meet it again in the record of the judgment. In the books of heaven our lives are as accurately traced as in the picture on the plate of the photographer. Not only are we held accountable for what we have done, but for what we have left undone. We are held to account for our undeveloped characters, our unimproved opportunities (The Review and Herald, September 22, 1891). 7BC 987.1

Our Characters Represented in Books—In the books of heaven are accurately recorded the sneers and the trivial remarks of sinners who pay no heed to the call of mercy made, as Christ is presented to them by His ministering servants. As the artist takes on the polished glass a true picture of the human face, so the angels of God daily place upon the books of heaven an exact representation of the character of every human being (The Signs of the Times, February 11, 1903, reprinted from The Review and Herald, February 15, 1912). 7BC 987.2

Heaven's Service Record—All who are partakers of this great salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ are under obligation to work as laborers together with God. In the heavenly courts the roll is called, on which every name is registered, and the heavenly agencies respond to the call. The service given by every human being upon earth is there recorded. If any are negligent, it is recorded; if diligent, the same is reported; if idlers, the fact stands against their names. In all the great mass of humanity, not one is lost sight of. Then let every one be ready to answer the call, saying, “Here, Lord, ready for action.” 7BC 987.3

The world has claims upon you. If you fail to shine as lights in the world, some will rise in the judgment, and charge upon you the blood of their souls. It will be seen that you were an agent in the hands of the enemy of God and man to mislead and deceive by your profession of Christianity. You did not lead souls to piety and devotion. You had a name to live, but were spiritually dead. You had not the vitalizing influence of the Spirit of God, which is abundantly provided for all who, in faith, make demands upon it (The Review and Herald, August 16, 1898). 7BC 987.4

A Daily Inventory—God judges every man according to his work. Not only does He judge, but He sums up, day by day and hour by hour, our progress in welldoing (The Review and Herald, May 16, 1899). 7BC 987.5

12-15 (chs. 3:5; 13:8; 21:27; 22:19). The Book of Life—When we become children of God, our names are written in the Lamb's book of life, and they remain there until the time of the investigative judgment. Then the name of every individual will be called, and his record examined, by Him who declares, “I know thy works.” If in that day it shall appear that all our wicked deeds have not been fully repented of, our names will be blotted from the book of life, and our sins will stand against us (The Signs of the Times, August 6, 1885). 7BC 987.6

(Exodus 32:30-33; see EGW on Matthew 12:31, 32.) A Just Punishment for the Sinner—Moses manifested his great love for Israel in his entreaty to the Lord to forgive their sin, or blot his name out of the book which He had written. His intercessions here illustrate Christ's love and mediation for the sinful race. But the Lord refused to let Moses suffer for the sins of His backsliding people. He declared to him that those who had sinned against Him He would blot out of His book which He had written; for the righteous should not suffer for the guilt of the sinner. 7BC 987.7

The book here referred to is the book of records in heaven, in which every name is inscribed, and the acts of all, their sins, and obedience, are faithfully written. When individuals commit sins which are too grievous for the Lord to pardon, their names are erased from the book, and they are devoted to destruction (The Signs of the Times, May 27, 1880). 7BC 987.8

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 98

I was shown that God designed to raise my husband up gradually; that we must exercise strong faith, for in every effort we should be fiercely buffeted by Satan; that we must look away from outward appearance, and believe. Three times a day we went alone before God, and engaged in earnest prayer for the recovery of his health. Frequently one of us would be prostrated by the power of God. The Lord graciously heard our earnest cries, and my husband began to recover. For many months our prayers ascended to heaven three times a day for health to do the will of God. These seasons of prayer were very precious. We were brought into a sacred nearness to God, and had sweet communion with Him. I cannot better state my feelings at this time than they are expressed in the following extracts from a letter I wrote to Sister Howland: 1T 98.1

“I feel thankful that I can now have my children with me, under my own watchcare, and can better train them in the right way. For weeks I have felt a hungering and thirsting for salvation, and we have enjoyed almost uninterrupted communion with God. Why do we stay away from the fountain, when we can come and drink? Why do we die for bread, when there is a storehouse full? It is rich and free. O my soul, feast upon it, and daily drink in heavenly joys. I will not hold my peace. The praise of God is in my heart and upon my lips. We can rejoice in the fullness of our Saviour's love. We can feast upon His excellent glory. My soul testifies to this. My gloom has been dispersed by this precious light, and I can never forget it. Lord, help me to keep it in lively remembrance. Awake, all the energies of my soul! Awake, and adore thy Redeemer for His wondrous love! 1T 98.2

“Souls around us must be aroused and saved, or they perish. Not a moment have we to lose. We all have an influence that tells for the truth or against it. I desire to carry with me unmistakable evidences that I am one of Christ's disciples. We want something besides Sabbath religion. We need the living principle, and to daily feel individual responsibility. This is shunned by many, and the fruit is carelessness, indifference, a lack of watchfulness and spirituality. Where is the spirituality of the church? Where are men and women full of faith and the Holy Spirit? My prayer is: Purify Thy church, O God. For months I have enjoyed freedom, and I am determined to order my conversation and all my ways aright before the Lord. 1T 99.1

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