1 Corinthians 3:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly--mere infants in Christ.

New Living Translation
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.

English Standard Version
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

Berean Study Bible
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly--as infants in Christ.

Berean Literal Bible
And I, brothers, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual, but as fleshly--as to infants in Christ.

New American Standard Bible
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

King James Bible
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.

International Standard Version
Brothers, I couldn't talk to you as spiritual people but as worldly people, as mere infants in the Messiah.

NET Bible
So, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

New Heart English Bible
And I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual, but as fleshly, as infants in Christ.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And I, my brethren, have not been able to speak with you as with spiritual ones but as with the carnal and as to babies in The Messiah.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Brothers and sisters, I couldn't talk to you as spiritual people but as people still influenced by your corrupt nature. You were infants in your faith in Christ.

New American Standard 1977
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And I, brothers, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

King James 2000 Bible
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

American King James Version
And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.

American Standard Version
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.

Douay-Rheims Bible
AND I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. As unto little ones in Christ.

Darby Bible Translation
And I, brethren, have not been able to speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly; as to babes in Christ.

English Revised Version
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.

Webster's Bible Translation
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.

Weymouth New Testament
And as for myself, brethren, I found it impossible to speak to you as spiritual men. It had to be as to worldlings--mere babes in Christ.

World English Bible
Brothers, I couldn't speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ.

Young's Literal Translation
And I, brethren, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly -- as to babes in Christ;
Study Bible
God's Fellow Workers
1Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly — as infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready,…
Cross References
Romans 7:14
We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

1 Corinthians 2:6
Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom--but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1 Corinthians 2:15
The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone's judgment.

1 Corinthians 14:37
If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, let him acknowledge that what I am writing you is the Lord's command.

Galatians 6:1
Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Ephesians 4:14
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.

Hebrews 5:13
Everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness.
Treasury of Scripture

And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.

as unto spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:6,15 However, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the …

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, …

as unto carnal.

1 Corinthians 3:3,4 For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and …

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: …

Matthew 16:23 But he turned, and said to Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are …

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

babes.

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers, be not children in understanding: however, in malice be …

Ephesians 4:13,14 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge …

1 John 2:12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you …

III.

(1) And I.--Again, as in 1Corinthians 2:6, the Apostle shows how general principles which he has just explained were exemplified in his own conduct. In the closing verses of 1 Corinthians 2 St. Paul has enunciated the general method of teaching spiritual truth as being dependent upon the receptive powers of those who are being taught. He now proceeds to point out to them that their own character, as being wanting in spirituality, was the real hindrance to his teaching them the higher spiritual truth which may be called "the wisdom" of the gospel.

As unto carnal.--Better, as being carnal. Our version may seem to imply that the Apostle spoke to them as if they were carnal, though they really were not so; but the force of the passage is that they were indeed carnal, and that the Apostle taught them not as if they were such, but as being such. "Carnal" is here the opposite of "spiritual," and does not involve any reference to what we would commonly speak of as carnal sin.

Babes in Christ.--This is the opposite of the "full grown" in 1Corinthians 2:6, to whom the "wisdom" could be taught. (See also Colossians 1:28, "full grown in Christ.") It may be an interesting indication of the "manliness" of St. Paul's character and his high estimate of it in others, that he constantly uses the words "babe" and "childhood" in a depreciatory sense. (See Romans 2:20, Galatians 4:3, Ephesians 4:14.)

Verses 1-4. - The carnal conceit of the spiritually immature. Verse 1. - I... could not speak unto you as unto spiritual. Though softened by the word brethren, there was a crushing irony of reproof in these words: "You thought yourselves quite above the need of my simple teaching. You were looking down on me from the whole height of your inferiority. The elementary character of my doctrine was after all the necessary consequence of your own incapacity for anything more profound." As unto carnal. The true reading here is sarkinois, fleshen, not sarkikois, fleshly, or carnal; the later and severer word is perhaps first used in ver. 3. The word sarkinos (earneus), fleshen, implies earthliness and weakness and the absence of spirituality; but sarki-kos (carnalis) involves the dominance of the lower nature and antagonism to the spiritual. As mite babes in Christ. The word "babes" has a good and a bad sense. In its good sense it implies humility and teachableness, as in 1 Corinthians 14:20, "In malice be ye babes;" and in 1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word;" and in Matthew 11:25. Here it is used in its bad sense of spiritual childishness. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you,.... Though the apostle was a spiritual man himself, had spiritual gifts, even the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, could judge all things, had the mind of Christ, and was able to speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, yet could not speak it to them,

as unto spiritual; not but that they had the Spirit of God in them, and a work of grace upon them; for they were, as the apostle afterwards says, the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelt in them; they were washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God; but had not that spiritual discerning, or judgment in spiritual things, which some believers had, at least when the apostle was first with them; and now they were under great spiritual declensions, and had not those spiritual frames, nor that spiritual experience and conversation, which some other Christians had:

but as unto carnal: not that they were in a carnal state, as unregenerate men are; but had carnal conceptions of things, were in carnal frames of soul, and walked in a carnal conversation with each other; though they were not in the flesh, in a state of nature, yet the flesh was in them, and not only lusted against the Spirit, but was very predominant in them, and carried them captive, so that they are denominated from it:

even as unto babes in Christ; they were in Christ, and so were new creatures; they were, as the Arabic version reads it, "in the faith of Christ"; though babes and weaklings in it, they were believers in Christ, converted persons, yet children in understanding, knowledge, and experience; had but little judgment in spiritual things, and were unskilful in the word of righteousness; at least this was the case of many of them, though others were enriched in all utterance and knowledge, and in no gift came behind members of other churches. CHAPTER 3

1Co 3:1-23. Paul Could Not Speak to Them of Deep Spiritual Truths, as They Were Carnal, Contending for Their Several Teachers; These Are Nothing but Workers for God, to Whom They Must Give Account in the Day of Fiery Judgment. The Hearers Are God's Temple, Which They Must Not Defile by Contentions for Teachers, Who, as Well as All Things, Are Theirs, Being Christ's.

1. And I—that is, as the natural (animal) man cannot receive, so I also could not speak unto you the deep things of God, as I would to the spiritual; but I was compelled to speak to you as I would to MEN OF FLESH. The oldest manuscripts read this for "carnal." The former (literally, "fleshy") implies men wholly of flesh, or natural. Carnal, or fleshly, implies not they were wholly natural or unregenerate (1Co 2:14), but that they had much of a carnal tendency; for example their divisions. Paul had to speak to them as he would to men wholly natural, inasmuch as they are still carnal (1Co 3:3) in many respects, notwithstanding their conversion (1Co 1:4-9).

babes—contrasted with the perfect (fully matured) in Christ (Col 1:28; compare Heb 5:13, 14). This implies they were not men wholly of flesh, though carnal in tendencies. They had life in Christ, but it was weak. He blames them for being still in a degree (not altogether, compare 1Co 1:5, 7; therefore he says as) babes in Christ, when by this time they ought to have "come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph 4:13). In Ro 7:14, also the oldest manuscripts read, "I am a man of flesh."3:1-4 The most simple truths of the gospel, as to man's sinfulness and God's mercy, repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, stated in the plainest language, suit the people better than deeper mysteries. Men may have much doctrinal knowledge, yet be mere beginners in the life of faith and experience. Contentions and quarrels about religion are sad evidences of carnality. True religion makes men peaceable, not contentious. But it is to be lamented, that many who should walk as Christians, live and act too much like other men. Many professors, and preachers also, show themselves to be yet carnal, by vain-glorious strife, eagerness for dispute, and readiness to despise and speak evil of others.
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