You Are Yet Carnal

1Corinthians 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able. For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? 

‘Carnal’ [Greek: sarkinos] fleshly; natural; human (3:1-4; 9:11; 2Cor. 10:4; Rom. 7:14; 15:27; Heb. 7:16). Here it is the natural man acting in contrast to the spiritual man – living in the babyhood of Christian faith. Paul classes envying, strife, and divisions over preachers as carnality (3:3-4). It is perfectly natural and sinless carnality to have a preference in teachers; but when it gets to the point of envying, strife, and division it becomes sinful carnality. All carnality is not sinful. It is only natural to have preferences, to eat food, to sleep, and do many other normal things which in their moderation do not break the law of God. They become sinful carnality when carried to the point of breaking the law of God (1Jn. 3:4).

‘Babes in Christ’ – this term is used to describe the beginning stage of Christian living and that of living more in the natural than in the spiritual life.

‘Milk’ – a figurative statement of teaching the first principles of Christianity and the more simple truths of the faith (Heb. 5:11-14; 6:1).

‘Meat’ – this is figurative of stronger gospel truths and doctrines for those who advance as Christians (Heb. 5:11-14; 6:1).

‘Envying, and strife, and divisions’ – three sources of sin: Thoughts: envying, state of the soul; words: strife, contention in words and deeds: divisions, sin in conduct. The envying led to strife and evil speaking, and that led to divisions and fixed parties.

Envyings [Greek: phthonoi] Pain, ill will, and jealousy at the good fortune or blessings of another; the most base of all degrading and disgraceful passions (Gal. 5:21; Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10; Rom. 1:29; Php. 1:15; 1Tim. 6:4; Tit. 3:3; Jas. 4:5; 1Pet. 2:1).

Strife [Greek: eritheia] Disputations; jangling; strife about words; angry contentions; contest for superiority or advantage; strenuous endeavour to equal or payback in kind the wrongs were done to one (Gal. 5:20; Rom. 2:8; 2Cor. 12:20; Php. 1:16; 2:3; Jas. 3:14, 16).

Seditions [Greek: dichostasia] Popular disorder; causing divisions; stirring up strife in religion, government, home, or any other place. (Gal. 5:20 Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 3:3).

Divisions

1Corinthians 1:10-13 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

‘By the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you.’ Three exhortations by Christ’s authority: That you speak the same things; that there be no divisions among you and that you be unified in all things.

Jesus prayed for the unity of believers (John 17:11, 21-22).

‘Divisions’ [Greek: schism] From a split or gap (“schism”), literally or figuratively: division, rent or schism.

‘Declared’ [Greek: deloo] ]to make manifest (3:13; Col. 1:8; Heb. 9:8; 12:27).

‘Them which are of the house of Chloe’ – perhaps the ones of 1 Corinthians 16:17 who had come from Corinth to make known the conditions of the congregation to Paul. They perhaps were sons of Chloe, a very prominent person in Corinth.

‘Contentions’ [Greek: eris] Strife (Rom. 13:13; 1Cor. 3:3; Php. 1:15; 1Tim. 6:4); contention (1:11; Tit. 3:9); debate (Rom. 1:29; 2Cor. 12:20); and variance (Gal. 5:20). These contentions were caused by the divisions of 1 Corinthians 1:10.

‘Every one of you said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.’ Four main parties in Corinth: Paulians – followers of Paul, because he founded the congregation (Acts 18:1-7), and because he was a special apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13). Apollonians – followers of Apollos, because of his eloquence (Acts 18:24-19:1). Cephians – followers of Peter, because he was the apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:7-10). Christians – followers of Christ, because they would have nothing to do with parties that followed people (1Cor. 1:12)

‘Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?’ Paul, Apollos and Peter were followers of Jesus Christ and rebuked those who followed them instead of Jesus Christ. There can be no divisions in the body of Christ.

Romans 16:17 warns us to be alert for those who cause divisions and have no religious fellowship with them that the flock may be protected; 1 Corinthians 3:3 warns that envying led to strife and evil speaking, and that led to divisions and fixed parties; 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 talks about the divisions amongst the congregation of Corinth and that there must be heresies among them, that they which are approved may be made manifested.