Gold Silver and Precious Stones

Just added to our series on 1 Corinthians, a new message from 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 12:

1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 12 – Gold Silver and Precious Stones

Quoted in the above message:

Martin Luther King: ‘Street Sweeper’

Notes from the above message:

We have considered so far in chapter 3:

1. Feeding
2. Serving
3. Building

In each of the sections some practical lessons to learn:


    Feeding on the Meat


Paul desires that they should be feeding on meat and not on milk
Paul had good meat for them (3:1)
There was no famine in the land here, as there had been in the days of Naomi and Elimelech and in the days of Elisha and siege of Samaria.
The AVAILABILITY of food was determined by the ABILITY to receive that food.
What hinders that appetite for Christ, that ability to receive the meat is carnality manifesting itself in schism.
We note that the apostle holds us accountable for cutting off / dividing / withdrawing from fellowship because of offence (3:3)
Some made a definite decision to:

hold on to bitterness
harbour grudges
harden hearts

Offence caused, which there was no doubt at Corinth is not an excuse which gives a a God endorsed right to spend the rest of our spiritual life as a victim; ‘she said that to you, he did that to you? Well just you go in the huff for the next 25 years and I’ll richly bless you.’ A text by which many sadly live their lives!

The true heart of Christ towards His body is a heart which will not:

Cause schism
Countenance schism

So in the 1st section we note:

Cause of the schism
Content of the meat

That content is defined in 2:6-7
This is the wisdom section: the meat is the, ‘hidden wisdom of God in mystery’

‘The foreordained determinative purpose of God for His creation Christ, which has as its goal the Glory of His Son and consequently the blessing of His people. Such Wisdom was at one time concealed, to be revealed supernaturally at the time of its fulfilment.’

The above definition emphasises:

‘of God’ – the origin of this mystery wisdom is God rather than man
‘foreordained’ – built into the foundation of the world (1Co2:7)
‘determinative’ – theses are not a collection of random, disconnected secrets but rather part of one coherent plan with a purpose (Eph 1:9-10)
‘for His creation’ – Gods overarching plan and purpose for the created order (1 Co2:7; Eph1:10)
‘Glory of His Son’ – Eph 1:10-12
‘blessing of His people’ – 1 Co 2:7,9
‘revealed at their fulfilment’ – not an arbitrary hiding and revelation of Divine secrets but Divine purpose, revealed as it is worked out in time in the purpose of God (1 Co2:8; 1 Tim 3:16; Gal 4:4)

This Mystery Wisdom of God includes:

1. The Mystery of Israel in Unbelief (Rom 11:25)
2. The Gospel of Gods Grace in Christ (Rom 16:25; Eph 6:19)
3. The Mystery of the Rapture (1 Co 15:51)
4. The Mystery of Gods Will in gathering all things together in Christ (Eph 1:9)
5. The Mystery of Christ – bringing in of the Gentiles in one body (Eph 3:4-5, 8-11)
6. The Mystery of the union of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:32)
7. The Mystery of Christ in you the Hope of Glory (Col 1:26-29; 2:2)
8. The Mystery of Christ (Col 4:3)
9. The Mystery of the 7 Stars (Rev 1:20)
10. The Mystery of God (Rev 10:7)
11. The Mystery of Iniquity (2Thess 2:7)
12. The Mystery of the Faith (1 Tim 3:9)
13. The Mystery of Godliness (1 Tim 3:16)
14. The Mystery of Babylon the Great (Rev 17:7)

2. Serving (3:5)

We noted the ‘but ministers’ of Jesus Christ

Rebekah – carried some water
Widow of Zarephath – who gathered some sticks
David – who carried some cheese
Little maid – who served in the home

Each ‘but ministry’ led men to worship.

3. Building on the Foundations

i. Picture of Building
ii. People involved in the building
iii. Person on whom the building is founded
iv. Principles of Building
v. Purpose of Building

I. Picture of Building

Perhaps worth clarifying a small potential point of confusion before we proceed any further, here as elsewhere (eg Romans 7:1ff) the apostle makes fairly free use of metaphors.
Paul sticks with a metaphor and follows it through only so long as it serves his purpose.
When the metaphor ceases to fulfill it’s purpose he swaps the metaphor around.

As a results we find that the believer is at various times:

1. The builder (3:9ff), or perhaps builders labourers, rather than the master builder or architect (1 Co3:10). We don’t design, we don’t direct, we just labour.

2. The building (3:9, 16)

And let us not make the mistake of following through the metaphor to its logical conclusion; that if we are the building then the individual stones must be individual believers, as Peter uses the metaphor in 1 Peter 2; for here whilst the believers are the building (3:16), the material used to build it is distinct from the builders (3:15)

II. People involved in the building

“we are labourers” (3:9)
Not ours to know the master plan but ours to move in faith

III. Person on whom the building is founded

Note in the building, issues of:


These are materials consistent with the foundation; “which is Jesus Christ” (v11)

Whatever we build in to the church needs to be consistent and compatible with Christ. So for example:

i. Jesus Christ is the “truth” (Jo 14:6)

Therefore error / lies are not compatible with the foundation and would be in the category of; ‘wood, hay and stubble.’

ii. “God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth”

Materialism is thus incompatible with the foundation

“Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.” Willow Creek Church

iii. Christ is “holy, harmless, undefiled”

Immorality and sin are incompatible with the foundations

Note not only the issue of:


The consequences of making a mistake
It is possible to build, to build big, to build with wood, hay and stubble
Everything may have the appearance of progress and prosperity, but ultimately it will crumble, and it may be too late to do anything about it!

IV. Principles of Building

“take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (3:10)

looking to build with:

“gold, silver, precious stones” (3:13)

Can we be any more specific about what constitutes:

Precious Stones


First mentioned with possible ‘moral’ overtones in Gen 2:12; “the gold of that land is good”
Many of the items of the tabernacle and later the temple were made of gold and of pure gold:
Ark of the Covenant overlaid with pure gold (Ex 25:10ff; 37:1ff)
Mercy Seat made of pure gold (Ex25:17; 37:6)
Cherubim made of gold (Ex 25:18; 37:7ff)
Table of Shewbread made of pure gold (Ex 25:24l 37:10ff)
Lampstand made of pure gold (Ex 25:31; 37:17,22ff)
Breastplate of judgment was held by pure gold chains (Ex 28:22ff)
Plate for the mitre made of pure gold; “holiness to the Lord” (Ex28:34ff)
Altar of incense – overlaid with pure gold (Ex 30:1ff; 37:25ff)

The tabernacle and the temple in their construction bring together’ ‘gold, silver and precious stones,’ (Ex 31:1-5; 35:32-33; 1 Chron 29:2,7-8)
Gold was likewise used extensively in the construction of the temple:

The oracle was overlaid with pure gold (1Kings 6:20)
The house was covered with pure gold (1 Kings 6:21)
Doors overlaid with gold (1Kings 6:32)
Cherubim overlaid with gold (1Kings 6:28)
Altar of Gold (7:48)
Table of Gold (1 Kings 7:48)
Lampstands of pure gold (1Kings 7:49)

Gold was one of the substances that could abide the fire and thus could go through the fire to be purified (Num31:22ff) – not difficult to envisage a moral metaphor from it therefore.
Gold linked to righteousness comes out in the poetic books:

Gold is contrasted with iniquity (Job 22:23-24)
The trials of life purify Job so that he comes forth as gold (Job 23:10)
Psalm 19:10 – “The judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether, more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold”
Psalm 45:9 – The queen stands in gold of Ophir, cf the Righteousness of the Saints (Rev 19:7-8) – “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints”

Psalm 119:27 – “I love thy commandments above gold”
Proverbs 8:17-20 – “Righteousness and gold”

Gold would point to the need for RIGHTEOUSNESS; cf 1 Co chps 5 to 10


Associated with Redemption: Exodus 38:25 – half shekel of the sanctuary, Lev 5:15; Numb 3:46 – all the firstborn redeemed with 5 shekels

Precious stones – often linked with wisdom in the OT:

Job 28:1, 12, 18: “The price of wisdom is above rubies”
Prov 8:11: “Wisdom is better than rubies”
Linked with Solomon; 1 Kings 10:2,10,11; 2Chron 9:1
Present on the Crown, crowning the head of the King; 2 Sam 12:30; 1 Chron 20
Christ – Isaiah 28:16
Wisdom of the King of Tyrus (Lucifer): “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” (Ezek 28:13)

Precious stones – linked with Wisdom – consider 1 Corinthians chps 1 to 4

V. Purpose of Building

4. Worshipping in the Temple