Paul has been addressing the issue of pursuing worldly wisdom instead of the cross and moves to another (related) problem – division in the church over leaders.
Corinthians have pursued “wisdom” and not the cross.
Divisions with in the church
Paul had described spiritual in the previous chapter.
Paul now announces that the Corinthians are “worldly” and not “spiritual”.
“Worldly” is sarkikoi or “fleshly” from the word sarkh ”flesh”
In 2:14 “the man without the Spirit” is called the “psychikio” or yucikoV or “natural” man.
In Chapter Two it was about the “natural” man with out the Spirit of God (unsaved)
In Chapter Three it is about the “fleshly” man with the Spirit of God (saved) who is living in sin or evil.
The Corinthians want to call themselves spiritual but Paul says (even though they are saved) they are not living a life that is spiritual.
In chapter two Paul made it clear that the spiritual man is a man with the spirit.
Paul’s focus concerning the work of the Spirit of God was that He makes God’s thoughts known to men.
Chapter 3 begins with Paul calling the Corinthians “worldly”.
The reason they are “worldly” is because they think like the world.
In 3:3 Paul says “you are still worldly” and gives the reason for this identification as being they “quarreling”
First they errored in their thinking. Then they errored in their actions and interactions with others.
Here is a classic case of people being born again (with the Spirit) but thinking and living like the world (carnal, worldly, fleshly)
They did not lose their salvation (relationship) but they lost their fellowship.
Paul addresses the “brothers” and uses the plural “you” indicates Paul is addressing the entire church. Everyone has been affected by this “worldly” thinking and behavior in some way.
“Mere Infants” connects back
to 2:6 “mature” who can hear the wisdom.
“Mere Infants” picks up on imagery from Paul’s day that was used to reflect a persons progress in their understanding. It refers to moving from the basic or elementary truths to the more complete, fuller understanding.
“Babes” or “infants” is the word “nepios” and not the word Paul uses for child or children (“teknon”)
Their actions qualify them as “infants” in Christ. They have no application of truth so they really do not know the truth.
NOTICE AGAIN: They are still (and always will be) saved since they are called “mere infants in Christ.” (“Fallen from Grace” in Galatians 5:4)
House on the rock - Matthew 7:24-28
“Milk” and “solid food”??
Is Paul saying that the gospel message is “milk” for infants?
Or, is Paul using their term “milk” that they used to identify Paul’s teaching. They may think they have gone onto solid food when they went into worldly philosophy and debates.
Paul wanted to continue explaining the gospel (consider the book of Hebrews which focuses entirely on the work and ministry of Jesus).
“for you were not yet ready for it”
The problem was not in the message but in their understanding.
They had not processed the information he gave them so they could not understand the following information.
James 4:1-8 – “quarrels . . . desires that battle within you. . . friendship with the world. . . the Spirit . . . double minded.”
“still worldly” means living and acting against God’s word.
“mere men” is the translation of the Greek “anqrwpon peripateite” or “man walk”
Paul says, ‘you are still “worldly” because you are still living like a natural, unsaved man.’
“Jealousy” is an inward attitude. It involves a person’s thinking toward others. The key being “thinking”
“Quarreling” is an outward action that results from the inward thinking. The result of bad thinking is bad actions.
In this verse it all ties together with chapter 1 verses 10-12 were it all began: Divisions based on individual men and men’s wisdom.