According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Let each builder choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— the work of each builder will become visible, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the work that someone has built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a wage. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
Paul makes it clear that the one foundation is Jesus Christ. Paul’s presentation of the good news of Christ was given to him by God as the apostle to the gentiles, while Peter at that particular period of time was designated by God as the apostle to the Jews. Too many want to go to Paul’s writings and camp on them to understand this foundation.
Instead, I believe we really need to start at the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And we need to find key texts as well as read through all, considering our Lord Jesus’s life, teaching, works, suffering, death, and resurrection before we go to the ascension, the pouring out of the Spirit and all that follows. Instead of “the Romans road” we need to go to the gospel road found in the gospel accounts, which ends up being the way of the cross and we can call that the Way of the Cross, referring to Jesus who not only set that path in his purposefully taking it his full embrace of the death of the cross for the salvation of the world, but he also made that the path of salvation in which all who name his name are to follow. Mark’s account is a great place to start, though to read them in order is good as well.
Paul’s word in his first letter to the Corinthians are to a church which is not acting according to what they profess to live on, the foundation. They are not building well, whether it’s solely their church leaders, or a combination of leaders and the rest of them, on the foundation, Christ, not well at all overall. Their lives together are to be built on what Jesus taught, how Jesus lived, and in the faith of Jesus as well, a faith of hope and love which sees death as the necessary precursor to resurrection. And love at the heart and outworking of it all. Instead (see the entire chapter through link above) they were caught up in divisions, in worldly ways of thinking, not at all different than what we face today and any day except in its particular manifestations during that time.
According to our Scripture passage, works will be burned, even as the worker themselves are saved. And other works will remain. Works that are of Christ, in accordance with all he taught, commanded (see Matthew 28:18-20) within the very life of Christ given to his followers by the Spirit (see especially John 14-16, etc.).
Paul was writing it to a specific situation (again the link for the immediate context, and good to read the entire letter), and after considering that, we need to look at our own context and situation today. If we keep prayerfully looking together, sooner than later I don’t think it will be hard to see what is of Christ and the rule and life of the good news he brought, and what is contrary to that. This critique of Paul has been needed by the church for at least much of its history especially during certain pivotal times and what followed, and certainly no less so today. The problems of white Christian nationalism along with the failure of discernment to see and acknowledge those who are partakers of the one Spirit, etc., etc. And none of us are exempt from necessary critique which comes from the light of this passage through the light given by God and the Holy Spirit: Christ himself. Together we need to hold on to that for ourselves and for each other. In and through Jesus.