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Fire and Purification

How does fire fit into the issue of salvation and whether it can be lost?

1 Cor 3: 10-15 (NAB-RE)

” 101 According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 132 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 153 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved,* but only as through fire.”

Notes

1 [3:10–11] There are diverse functions in the service of the community, but each individual’s task is serious, and each will stand accountable for the quality of his contribution.

2 [3:13] The Day: the great day of Yahweh, the day of judgment, which can be a time of either gloom or joy. Fire both destroys and purifies.

3 [3:15] Will be saved: although Paul can envision very harsh divine punishment (cf. 1 Cor 3:17), he appears optimistic about the success of divine corrective means both here and elsewhere (cf. 1 Cor 5:5; 11:32 [discipline]). The text of 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.

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