The Evangelical Universalist Forum

1 Corinthians 3:15, universal salvation in?


Created unto good works… not created by good works :wink:


Whenever I read the section of scripture, I write it down on paper to represent the items talked about. I create a diagram. It is true that the context starts out with Paul and Apollos and in general ‘ministers’ it doesn’t follow that it was limited as such. For are we not all called to be ministers of sorts in some way? Whether it be to our family, or church, or whatever… In fact, is it possible that a Christian could NOT be a minister? I don’t see how unless that person is stranded on a deserted island. So here we have a foundation of Christ which was already laid.

The “He himself will be saved” is dubious if it is referring to the minister only, rather than anyone who believes in Christ and here is why; What if that person that started the ministry left it and went apostate? Is he still saved then? Most would say NO! if Paul wasn’t certain that Christ was the foundation for every man (you can even add in only those that believe in Jesus if you want) than stating “He himself will be saved, so as through fire” just doesn’t make sense because it wouldn’t be true. Since Paul constantly talked about being ‘disqualified’ and not 'inheriting the ‘Kingdom of God’ based on their conduct, then it stands to reason that he was indeed talking about all men (or all men who profess Christ). Think for minute: What does inheritance mean? Did the prodigal get the inheritance? No, he did not. He didn’t produce any works that could have withstood the refiners fire. The people who produce nothing will be ashamed and have no reward.

So while I am not saying this is certainly UR, I am saying that it is clear at the very least, they are talking about all Christian’s and it wouldn’t take much stretching to apply it to:


“Origen on our God being a consuming fire”:

“But as it is in mockery that Celsus says we speak of God coming down like a torturer bearing fire, and thus compels us unseasonably to investigate words of deeper meaning, we shall make a few remarks, sufficient to enable our hearers to form an idea of the defense which disposes of the ridicule of Celsus against us, and then we shall turn to what follows. The divine word says that our God is a consuming fire, and that He draws rivers of fire before Him; nay, that He even enters in as a refiner’s fire, and as a fuller’s herb, to purify His own people. But when He is said to be a consuming fire, we inquire what are the things which are appropriate to be consumed by God. And we assert that they are wickedness, and the works which result from it, and which, being figuratively called wood, hay, stubble, God consumes as a fire. The wicked man, accordingly, is said to build up on the previously-laid foundation of reason, wood, and hay, and stubble. If, then, any one can show that these words were differently understood by the writer, and can prove that the wicked man literally builds up wood, or hay, or stubble, it is evident that the fire must be understood to be material, and an object of sense. But if, on the contrary, the works of the wicked man are spoken of figuratively under the names of wood, or hay, or stubble, why does it not at once occur (to inquire) in what sense the word fire is to be taken, so that wood of such a kind should be consumed? For (the Scripture) says: The fire will try each man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work be burned, he shall suffer loss.1. But what work can be spoken of in these words as being burned, save all that results from wickedness? Therefore our God is a consuming fire in the sense in which we have taken the word; and thus He enters in as a refiner’s fire, to refine the rational nature, which has been filled with the lead of wickedness, and to free it from the other impure materials, which adulterate the natural gold or silver, so to speak, of the soul. And, in like manner, rivers of fire are said to be before God, who will thoroughly cleanse away the evil which is intermingled throughout the whole soul. But these remarks are sufficient in answer to the assertion, that thus they were made to give expression to the erroneous opinion that God will come down bearing fire like a torturer.”

  1. I Corinthians 3:12-15

Against Celsus, Book IV, chapter 13

"Gregory of Nyssa:

“Just as those who refine gold from the dross which it contains not only get this base alloy to melt in the fire, but are obliged to melt the pure gold along with the alloy, and then while this last is being consumed the gold remains, so, while evil is being consumed in the purgatorial fire, the soul that is welded to this evil must inevitably be in the fire too, until the spurious material alloy is consumed and annihilated by this fire…it is not punishment chiefly and principally that the Deity, as Judge, afflicts sinners with; but He operates only to get the good separated from the evil and to attract it into the communion of blessedness.”

“(On the Soul and the Resurrection)”


“the sinning believer as evidenced by their works (or lack of) is condemned to spiritual death in the LOF where he reaps what he has sown despite once having a knowledge of the truth. Eventually, after spending an “age” of time in the LOF, he is reconciled back to God thus being saved by fire.”

The following is from post 109 at:

ClementofA said:
Okay, do you view 1 Cor.3:15 as referring to sinning believers only, or to all the unsaved?

Oldmantook replied:
I think the context of this verse refers to sinning believers only. Notice that in v.1 Paul refers to his audience as “brethren/brothers” although they are fleshly, marked by strife and jealousy (v.3). This is further confirmed later on in v.9 where Paul refers to them as God’s field/building and v.16 where he refers to them as the temple of God - terms never descriptive of the unsaved. For these reasons I believe v.15 refers to sinning believers. However having said that, I as a Christian Universalist also believe that the unsaved in the LOF are also eventually saved. 1 Cor 3 though is a passage that deals specifically with the saved believer.

ClementofA said:
Who does 1 Cor.3:17 refer to? Are those God destroys (v.17) the same as those who shall be saved (v.15)?

Oldmantook replied:
I tend to think so. The Greek word for “destroy” can also mean “corrupt.” Believers are the temple of God and we can corrupt our temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells through continued sin and disobedience. The penalty for unrepentant sin is spiritual death/destruction in the lake of fire which at some future age results in their restoration.

ClementofA said:
What are wood, hay & stubble (v.12) & gold, silver & precious stones (v.12)?

Oldmantook replied:
These building materials in v.12 are the believer’s works in v.13. The foundation is Jesus Christ (v.11). Our works built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ who is the cornerstone of our faith, will either be worthy using quality building materials such as gold, silver & precious stones which last; or will be unworthy made of wood, hay & stubble and burned up. I believe that this judgment takes place when Jesus returns at his 2nd Coming. Isaiah 66:15 refers to this: “For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." In that “Day” (v.13) of the Lord’s return, He will test the quality of each man’s works and will rebuke with flames of fire those whose works of wood, hay & stubble are judged to be unworthy.

ClementofA said:
What is the “reward” (v.14)? Salvation?

Oldmantook replied:
The “reward” is not one’s salvation as he shall suffer loss but still be saved through fire. If he is eventually saved, how can it be said that he suffered the loss of his salvation? That does not make any sense. If one’s work is burned up he shall suffer loss (v.15). What loss is that? The loss of his “reward” in v.14. I believe this references a singular reward that Paul elsewhere refers to in Phil 3:11 - the “exanastasis” or out-resurrection. The word exanastasis only occurs this one time in the NT. In Phil 3:12 Paul clearly states that he has not yet attained to the out-resurrection and that it is a goal and prize to be reached (v.14). As a prize to be attained to, I don’t think Paul was referring to the gift of salvation. And at this point in his life, I don’t think that Paul was doubting his salvation either. I think that the reward spoken of in 1 Cor 3:14 is the same prize that Paul describes in Phil 3:11,14. What is the out-resurrection? It is the first resurrection described in Rev 20:4-6.
4Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Paul’s goal was to attain to the first resurrection in order to reign with Christ for a thousand years. That is why it is the “better resurrection” spoken of in Heb 11:35. To summarize, the “reward” is the “better resurrection,” which is the exanastasis, which is the first resurrection - in order that those who have figuratively and literally sacrificed their lives to follow Christ will get to co-reign with Him during the Millennium as their reward. It is a prize that not all Christians attain to.

The following is from post #155 at:

ClementofA said:
If 1 Cor 3 “deals specifically with the saved believer”, including “sinning believers”, how is it these saved sinners go to the lake of fire in order to become saved? In what sense is anyone who is sent to the lake of fire saved while he spends time in the lake of fire?

Oldmantook replied:
Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t you a Christian Universalist? Sinning believers are no longer saved, (I don’t believe in eternal security/OSAS) therefore they go to the lake of fire to become saved again. If one protests claiming that it is not possible to be saved again and made spiritually alive again, then study the parable of the prodigal son. In that passage, Jesus twice repeats that the prodigal was dead but is ALIVE AGAIN. How can someone be made alive AGAIN. It certainly does not refer to physical death as the prodigal did not physically die. The only way to become spiritually alive AGAIN is for someone to become saved, then like the prodigal engage in a lifestyle of unrepentant sin. However upon repentance and returning to the Father, that spiritually dead person is made ALIVE AGAIN. In the same way, a believer whose life is marked by disobedience is sent to the LOF for an unknown age of time but eventually will be reconciled to God. Those who were never saved in this life are also relegated to the LOF where they too will eventually be reconciled to God after chastisement.

ClementofA said:
Will every believer’s life’s works be either entirely perfect or imperfect, either entirely “gold, silver & previous stones” or "entirely “wood, hay & stubble”? What will divide the believer who goes to the lake of fire from the believer who doesn’t?

Oldmantook replied:
No believer’s works will be entirely perfect. The only perfect life and works on the earth was Jesus’. Obedience is the dividing line between those who go to the LOF and those who don’t. Heb 5:9 states: “and having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those obeying Him,” Thus believers who chronically and habitually disobey God do not have eternal life.

ClementofA said:
IYO are there then only two classes of believers (1) those who attain to the “reward” of the “better ressurrection” and (2) those who go to the lake of fire?

Oldmantook replied:
The reward is the “better resurrection.” However if a believer does not gain the prize of the better resurrection, it does not automatically mean that that believer goes to the lake of fire. A believer who does not attain to the first/better resurrection is judged at the second resurrection or great white throne judgment.
It is commonly taught that only the unsaved dead are resurrected at this great white throne judgment however a couple of scriptures reveals that this is likely not the case as the saved dead also stand in judgment at that same time. Jn 5:28-29 Jesus himself stated: 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming in which all those in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth—those having done good to the resurrection of life, and those having done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Jesus cites a specific hour (singular) in which ALL those in the tombs will be resurrected - both the “good” and the “evil.” The Apostle Paul confirms the same thing when he stated: “and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15). Paul referred to a [singular] resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked which parallels Jesus’ statement. At the GWT judgment the dead are judged according to “what they had done” (their works). This includes those believers who did not qualify for the exanastasis/first resurrection. At this time their works - or lack of works - determine whether their names are written in the book of life.

ClementofA said:
If the sinning believers are not saved, but are sent to the lake of fire in order that they may become saved, then is not 1 Cor. 3:15 referring to the salvation of the unsaved who go to the lake of fire? How are these unsaved sinning believers any better than the rest of the unsaved who will go to the lake of fire? Or are they worse, since they knew the truth & willfully sinned, like those in Heb 6 & 10? And, if they are worse, yet shall be saved, how much more so should unsaved unbelievers become saved.

Oldmantook replied:
Yes, to your first question. A believer who loses his salvation is by definition someone who is now unsaved. Essentially, not only are they no better than those who were never saved, they are worse off. Hebrews 10:29 states “How much worse punishment do you think will he deserve, the one having trampled upon the Son of God, and having esteemed ordinary the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and having insulted the Spirit of grace?” The Greek word for “worse punishment” is timoria which is only used this one-time in all of the NT. This is is diffent from the word “kolasis” which is also translated as punishment which lends me to believe that timoria for the unsaved former believer is worse than kolasis for the unbeliever.



If even “former believers” are to be saved, & these are the worst sinners (cf. Heb.6:4-6; 10:26-29), how could it be that all other lessor sinners would not also be saved?

If the timoria punishment (Heb.10) is worse than the kolasis punishment (Mt.25), then shouldn’t both be saved if the former shall be saved?

If even sinning unsaved ex-believers are, according to 1 Cor.3:15, to be saved postmortem after they are cast into the LOF, does that include those such as 1 Tim.1:19-20 refers to, who have been given over to Satan to be corrected in this life? Such had built upon the foundation of Christ referred to in 1 Cor. 3.

Does 1 Cor.3:15 include the immoral such as those in 1 Cor.5:4-5, who was also given over to Satan for the purpose of salvation? Or those referred to in:

Gal.5:4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."

1 Tim. 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Heb. 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Heb. 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;

1 Cor. 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

2 Pet. 2:20 If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them.…

Ezek. 33:13
If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but he then trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, then none of his righteous works will be remembered; he will die because of the iniquity he has committed.

Col.1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were hostile in your minds because of your evil deeds. 22 But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence — 23 if indeed you continue in your faith,…

Lk.8:13 The seeds on rocky ground are those who hear the word and receive it with joy, but they have no root. They believe for a season, but in the time of testing, they fall away.


The following quote comes this post:

Stan Patton

June 25, 2015 at 6:24 pm


“Here I shall limit myself to reconstructing Augustine’s repudiation of the
doctrine of apokatastasis, which he had embraced in the years of his polemic
against Manichaeism, and to suggesting possible causes for this repudiation.
The first sign of it, in 413ce, seems to come from De fide et operibus 15,24,
in which he attests that the supporters of apokatastasis, whom he calls “the
merciful” (misericordes), cited 1Cor 3:11–15 in defence of their doctrine. Here,
Paul speaks of some who will be saved immediately and others who will be
saved “through fire,” thus revealing that punishment in fire will be aimed
at salvation and purification.” (p.669)

Ilaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Brill, 2013. 890 pp.)


Origen, do you own Ramelli’s book?


Yes. Though haven’t read most of it.


What are your thoughts on it?


It should be required reading in Sunday school.


That good, huh? I take it you think McClymond’s criticism of it is off the mark?