In discussions of the place of obedience in Christians’ final salvation, 1 Cor 3:15 has often played a role (“saved as through fire”). The nature of this text as a very limited caveat in Paul’s argument will be contrasted with most other readings throughout its history of interpretation. The latter take the seemingly comforting tone of v 15b (“will be saved”) to be theologically primary, rather than the tone of warning (“each builder must choose with care how to build,” v 10b). The paper will contend, instead, that 1 Cor 3:15b functions as an afterthought in Paul’s immediate argument (3:5-17). It is, indeed, a qualification of his warning (“the builder will suffer loss”), but will itself be immediately re-qualified (“but only as through fire”) and then, in a slightly different setting, overturned (3:16-17). The implications of this reading for Pauline soteriology will be noted. I.e., Does this verse teach that a justified believer’s salvation cannot be undone by sinful behavior?
Presented at the ETS Annual meeting, San Diego (CA), November 2007 http://www.etsjets.org/