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).