Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 3:10-23; 2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 12:2


Referring to Christ as the unique foundation, Paul says in 3:10, “But let each one take heed how he builds upon it.” In verse 12 he goes on to say, “But if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, stubble.” According to this verse, the proper building materials are gold, silver, and precious stones. Why does Paul mention only three such materials and not two or four? There are three because these materials refer to the Three of the Trinity, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The precious stones are related to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Every precious stone is a transformed substance. At one time it used to be some other material, perhaps clay or carbon. Then as a result of intense heat and pressure this material has been transformed into precious stone. Thus, precious stones indicate transformation. According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are transformed by the Lord Spirit. This reveals clearly that transformation is the work of the Spirit. Therefore, the third item of the proper materials mentioned in 3:12 refers to the third of the Trinity, the Spirit.

In Exodus 30 we see that silver was used to redeem the life of God’s people. Silver signifies the redemption accomplished by Christ the Son, the second of the Trinity. Therefore, the silver in 3:12 refers to the redemption of Christ.

Gold, the first of the precious materials mentioned by Paul, refers to the first of the Trinity, God the Father. Gold signifies neither redemption nor transformation; rather, as a precious element, it signifies something which does not change or become corrupt in nature. Gold always remains the same. Hence, in the Bible it signifies the nature of God the Father. The divine nature, like gold, never changes.


We have seen that gold, silver, and precious stones refer to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Now we must go on to see what it means to build with these materials. In order to build with these materials, we ourselves must first be constituted of them. We need to be constituted of the Father’s nature, the Son’s redemption, and the Spirit’s transformation. This means that we must be constituted of the Triune God. When we receive Him, when we take Him into us by drinking Him and eating Him, when we are transfused with Him and by Him, the very Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—comes into us to be our element and substance. This causes a metabolic process to take place within us by which a new element is added and an old element is discharged. Another name for this process is transformation.

Transformation does not take place overnight. On the contrary, it is a work which goes on continually day by day. As we call on the Lord Jesus, praise the Father, read and pray-read the Word, pray, sing, worship, attend the meetings of the church, and fellowship with the saints, we take the Triune God into us. The more we receive of Him, the more His element transforms us metabolically and causes us to be constituted of Himself. Then we have gold, silver, and precious stones.

To have gold is to have the Father’s incorruptible nature. To be redeemed is to be terminated, replaced, and brought back to God through Christ. Even though we are saved, in many things we are still far away from the Triune God. When Christ becomes our redemption, He brings us back to God, terminates our natural life, and replaces us with Himself. This is to experience silver. Following this, the third of the Triune God, the Spirit, works both within us and in our circumstances to transform us into precious stones.