1 Cor 3:15 (The force of the future indicative)
Steven Lo Vullo
slovullo at mac.com
Sun Mar 31 17:32:51 EST 2002
on 3/31/02 11:15 AM, Moon-Ryul Jung at moon at sogang.ac.kr wrote:
> 1 Cor 3:15.
> AUTOS DE SWQHSETAI, hOUTWS DE hWS DIA PUROS.
> The future statement AUTOS DE SWQHSETAI is qualified
> by hOUTWS DE hWS DIA PUROS.
> If we understand DIA PUROS to mean "barely", does it make
> the future statement a possibility which may not be realized
> or does not affect the validity of the future statement?
> It seems to have to do with the force of the future statement.
> My question seems to come down to:
> Can we understand SWQHSETAI to mean WOULD BE SAVED?
The short answer to your last question is, IMO, no.
I think you are here missing the forest for a tree (DIA PUROS). There are
several elements of the context that I think need to be considered in order
to understand what is here being contemplated.
First, note the three conditional clauses begining with EI (which here
expresses a condition "for sake of argument"):
3.14: EI TINOS TO ERGON MENEI~ hO\ EPOIKODOMHSEN, MISQON LHMYETAI
If anyone's work which he has built shall remain, he shall recieve a reward.
3.15: EI TINOS TO ERGON [hO\ EPOIKODOMHSEN] KATAKAHSETAI, ZHMIWQHSETAI,
AUTOS DE SWQHSETAI, hOUTWS DE hWS DIA PUROS.
If anyone's work [which he has built] shall be burned up, he shall suffer
loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.
3.17: EI TIS TON NAON TOU QEOU FQEIREI, FQEREI~ TOUTON hO QEOS.
If anyone destroys the temple of God, God shall destroy him.
It seems to me that three kinds of teacher are in view here, responsible for
"building" and "watering" (vv. 5-11). The first, reflected in v. 14, is the
one who builds with "gold, silver, precious stones" (v.12). His work is
solid and remains, unaffected by the test of fire. The second, reflected in
v. 15, builds with "wood, hay, straw" (v. 12). His cheap work cannot pass
the test of fire and is burned up, though he himself is saved. The third,
reflected in v. 17, doesn't build at all, but actively "destroys" (FQEIREI)
the temple of God (cf. BDAG 1. b.). Unlike the first two in view, he is
neither saved WITH reward (symbolized by the work which survives the test of
fire) nor saved WITHOUT reward (symbolized by the work which is burned up),
but is himself destroyed (FQEREI~). Note carefully that in vv. 14 and 15 it
is the WORK of the person that is in view in the conditional clause (EI
TINOS TO ERGON), but in v. 17 it is the PERSON HIMSELF (EI TIS). In the
former two cases, the question is the survival or destruction of THE WORK;
in the latter it is the destruction of THE PERSON. This is confirmed by vv.
12-13, which make clear that, with respect to the wise builder vs. the cheap
builder, it is the survival of the WORK of each that is in view, and the
subsequent reception or loss of reward. There we read, EI DE TIS EPOIKODOMEI
EPI TON QEMELION CRUSON, ARGURON, LIQOUS TIMIOUS, XULA, CORTON, KALAMHN,
**hEKASTOU TO ERGON** FANERON GENHSETAI, hH GAR hHMERA DHLWSEI, hOTI EN PURI
APOKALUPTETAI: KAI **hEKASTOU TO ERGON** hOPOION ESTIN TO PUR [AUTO]
DOKIMASEI. Note that the fire makes evident and tests THE WORK of each
workman, not the workmen themselves. It is the destroyer of v. 17 who is the
personal object of destruction, not the two kinds of worker here
Second, note the future tense verbs in each apodosis. In 3.14 we have MISQON
LHMYETAI ("he shall receive a reward"). I don't think most would disagree
that what is in view here is the certain promise of reward to those who
build with quality material, i.e., those whose teaching is truly edifying.
In 3.17 we have FQEREI~ TOUTON hO QEOS. Again, I don't think many would
disagree that what is in view here is the certain threat of destruction to
those who destroy the church with false teaching. So, that leaves us with
the apodosis of 3.15. Here we have a compound with two future verbs,
ZHMIWQHSETAI, AUTOS DE SWQHSETAI ("he shall suffer loss [of reward], but he
himself shall be saved"). Now, why would we assume that the future tense
verbs here are any less certain of fulfillment (if, for the sake of
argument, the protasis is assumed true) than those in vv. 14 and 17? I see
no reason for assuming any such uncertainty in this context. If anyone's
work is burned up, he WILL suffer loss (ZHMIWQHSETAI) and he himself WILL be
saved (AUTOS DE SWQHSETAI), just as surely as the wise builder will receive
a reward and the destroyer of the temple of God will be destroyed.
Third, I think AUTOS in the apodosis of 3.15 is significant. It is emphatic
and, I believe, draws a contrast between the man himself and his
work/reward. Yes, his work will be burned up and his reward with it, but HE
HIMSELF will be saved.
Now, how shall we interpret DIA PUROS in THIS context? I think, in light of
the above, the idea is not that the workman "barely" escapes. Rather, in
keeping with the context, the metaphor is of a man who escapes a burning
house but loses all his possessions in the fire. He is safe, but all he has
worked for is burned up and gone. He has gotten out alive, but has nothing
to show for all his labor. So also, those whose teaching is of inferior
quality will ultimately be saved, but their work will have been in vain,
since they will have nothing to show for it, no reward. The significance of
DIA PUROS in this context is not the danger the fire poses to the workman,
but to his work. But would not a person in a burning house be in real danger
of death? Certainly. But that is not the point here.
Steven Lo Vullo
slovullo at mac.com
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