First Corinthians 3:1-9

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.



και   εγω αδελφοι    ουκ ηδυνηθην    υμιν       λαλησαι   ως      πνευματικοις    αλλ   ως   σαρκικοις   
And    I   brethren    not  could       unto you     speak    as        unto spiritual   but    as  unto carnal 


ως            νηπιοις           εν    χριστω

 even as   unto babes     in    Christ



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

Hebrews 5:11-6:4



γαλα        εποτισα       υμας    και     ου     βρωμα       ουπω     γαρ   εδυνασθε        αλλ

with milk  I have fed     you     and   not   with meat   hitherto    for     ye were          but        


ουτε     ετι    νυν            δυνασθε

neither yet  now   not   able to bear it neither +__ yet now are ye able


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.



ετι     γαρ   σαρκικοι    εστε    οπου       γαρ    εν                    υμιν   ζηλος      και    ερις        και

For    yet    carnal     ye are   whereas  for    there is among you   envying   and   strife      and


διχοστασιαι    ουχι      σαρκικοιεστε και κατα    εστε   και   κατα   ανθρωπον    περιπατειτε
divisions    are ye not       carnal     and as                                       men               walk


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.