Robertson's Word Pictures (NT)
Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble (xrusion, argurion, liqouv timious, cula, xorton, kalamhn). The durable materials are three (gold, silver, marble or precious stones), perishable materials (pieces of wood, hay, stubble), "of a palace on the one hand, of a mud hut on the other" (Lightfoot). Gold was freely used by the ancients in their palaces. Their marble and granite pillars are still the wonder and despair of modern men. The wooden huts had hay (xortov, grass, as in Mark 6:39) and stubble (kalamh, old word for stubble after the grain is cut, here alone in the N.T., though in LXX as Exodus 5:12) which were employed to hold the wood pieces together and to thatch the roof. It is not made clear whether Paul's metaphor refers to the persons as in God's building in verse I Corinthians 3:9 or to the character of the teaching as in verse I Corinthians 3:13. Probably both ideas are involved, for look at the penalty on shoddy work (verse I Corinthians 3:15) and shoddy men (verse I Corinthians 3:17). The teaching may not always be vicious and harmful. It may only be indifferent and worthless. A co-worker with God in this great temple should put in his very best effort.
Other Robertson's Word Pictures (NT) entries containing 1 Corinthians 3:12:
1 Corinthians 3:10
1 Peter 2:24
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