1 Corinthians 3:4
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
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(4) One saith, I am of Paul.—These and the following words explain exactly what the Apostle means by their being “carnal,” and walking after a merely human manner. Only two of the factions—those of Paul and of Apollos—are mentioned as types of the rest. The factious spirit was in each and all the “parties” the same, but the particular difference between the teaching of the higher wisdom and the simpler truths of the gospel was best illustrated by these two.

The selection for rebuke of those who called them selves by the Apostle’s own name was, no doubt, intended by him to show that it was no matter of personal jealousy on his part. He specially condemns those who magnified his name. It is for his Master alone that he is jealous.

Are ye not carnal?—Better, are ye not only men? carrying on the idea expressed in 1Corinthians 3:3.

1 Corinthians 3:4-7. For while one saith, I am of Paul — I am one of Paul’s disciples, admiring his sublime sentiments, and being greatly edified by his instructive discourses: and another, I am of Apollos — I give the preference to Apollos, being delighted with his fine language, and the pleasing manner of his address. St. Paul names himself and Apollos, to show that he would condemn any division among them, even though it were in favour of himself, or the dearest friend he had in the world. Are ye not carnal? — For the Spirit of God allows no party zeal. Who then is Paul — That some of you are so attached to him; and who is Apollos — That others of you are so charmed with him? Are they the authors of your faith and salvation? Surely not: they are but ministers — Or servants; by whom — As instruments; ye believed — The word of the truth of the gospel, as the Lord — Of those servants gave to each of them gifts and grace for the work. I have planted — A Christian Church at Corinth, being instrumental in converting many of you to the faith of Christ: Apollos came afterward, and, by his affecting and useful addresses, watered what I had planted; but God gave the increase — Caused the plantation thus watered to grow, quickened and rendered effectual the means used to produce the fruit of the conversion of souls to God, and their confirmation in the faith and hope of the gospel. So then, the inference to be drawn is, neither is he that planteth any thing — Comparatively speaking; neither he that watereth — When you compare our part with that of God, it appears even as nothing: but God that giveth the increase — Who by his efficacious operation causes fruit to be produced, is all in all: for without him, neither planting nor watering avails.

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.For while one saith ...; - See the note at 1 Corinthians 1:12. 4. (1Co 1:12).

are ye not carnal—The oldest manuscripts read, "Are ye not men?" that is, "walking as men" unregenerate (1Co 3:3).

Not that Christians so large a city as Corinth might not put themselves under several pastors, or, as to themselves, prefer one before another, either in respect of the more eminent gifts of God bestowed upon one, (as doubtless Paul was preferable to Apollos), or in respect of the more suitableness of one man’s gifts to their capacities than another: but their adherence so to one minister of the gospel, that for his sake they vilified and despised all others, that were also true and faithful servants of God in the work of his gospel, this was their sin, and spake them to have vicious and corrupt affections, and to walk more like men than like saints, not having a true notion of the ministers of Christ, nor behaving themselves towards them as they ought to do.

For while one saith, I am of Paul,.... This shows what their envying and strife, and divisions were about, and from whence they sprung; and which serve, to strengthen the proof, and support the charge of carnality brought against them; for when one sort made a party for Paul, and set up him as their minister above all others; and said

another, I am of Apollos, preferring him for his eloquence above Paul, or any other preacher, as appears from 1 Corinthians 1:12 there was a third sort for Cephas, whom they cried up as superior to the other two, or any other man; and a fourth were for Christ, and despised all ministers whatever:

are ye not carnal? all this was a demonstration of it: they could never clear themselves from it, they must be convicted in their own consciences of it; to which the apostle appeals: the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, "are ye not men?"

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
1 Corinthians 3:4. Γάρ] explanatory by exhibiting the state of contention in concreto.

ἄνθρ.] with a pregnant emphasis: are ye not men? i.e. according to the context: are ye not persons, who are absorbed in the unspiritual natural ways of men—in whose thoughts and strivings the divine element of life is awanting? Comp Xen. Anab. vi. 1, 26: ἄνθρωπός εἰμι (I am a weak, fallible man). What determines the shade of meaning in such cases is lot anything in the word itself, but the connection. Comp 1 Peter 4:2. The specific reference here has its basis in the preceding κατὰ ἄνθρωπον περιπατεῖτε, hence there is no ground for rejecting the reading ἄνθρωποι, with Fritzsche (de conform. N. T. Lachm. p. 48), as a lectio insulsa (comp also Reiche), or for misinterpreting it, with Hofmann, into “that they are surely men at all events and nothing less.” This latter rendering brings in the idea, quite foreign to this passage, of the dignity of man, and that in such a way as if the interrogative apodosis were adversative (ἀλλʼ οὐκ or οὐ μέντοι).

It may be added that Paul names only the two parties: ἐγὼΠαύλου and ἐγὼ Ἀπολλώ, not giving an imperfect enumeration for the sake of the μετασχηματισμός which follows (1 Corinthians 4:6—so, arbitrarily, de Wette and others), but because in this section of the Epistle he has to do just with the antagonism of the Apollos-party to himself and to those who, against his will, called themselves after him; hence also he makes the μετασχηματισμός, in 1 Corinthians 4:6, with reference to himself and Apollos alone.

ἐγὼ μέν] This μέν does not stand in a logical relation to the following δέ. An inexactitude arising from the lively way in which thought follows thought, just as in classical writers too, from a like reason, there is often a want of exactly adjusted correspondence between μέν and δέ (Breitenbach, a[479] Xen. Hier. i. 9; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 168 f.).

[479] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 3:4 is parl[486] to 1 Corinthians 3:3. The protasis, ὅταν γὰρ κ.τ.λ., restates in concreto the charge made in ὅπου γὰρ κ.τ.λ.; while the interr[487] apodosis, οὐκ ἄνθρωποί ἐστε; gathers into a word the reproach of the foregoing οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε κ.τ.λ.: where and when the Cor[488] act in the manner stated, they justify P. in treating them as “carnal”. To say “Are you not men?” is at once to accuse and to excuse: see parls.; also ’adâm (mere man) as distinguished from ’îsh (Isaiah 2:9, etc.); cf. Xenoph., Anab., vi., 1. 26, Ἐγώ, ὦ ἄνδρες, ἥδομαι μὲν ὑπὸ ὑμῶν τιμώμενος, εἴπερ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι; Cyrop., vii., 2. 4; and the familiar saying, Humanum est errare.—ὅταν γὰρ λέγῃ τις: “For whenever any one says” (pr[489] sbj[490] of recurring contingency); every such utterance shows you to be men. On ἘγὼΠαύλου, see note to 1 Corinthians 1:12. The Ap. refers to the Pauline and Apollonian parties only: (1) Because they suffice, by way of example, to make good his point; (2) the main cause of strife, viz., the craving for λόγος σοφίας, lay between these two parties; (3) P. avoided bringing Cephas’ name into controversy, while he deals freely with that of his friend and disciple, Apollos, now with him (1 Corinthians 16:12).

[486] parallel.

[487]nterr. interrogative.

[488] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[489] present tense.

[490] subjunctive mood.

4. are ye not carnal?] The majority of MSS. and versions read ‘men’ here, instead of ‘carnal.’ It is difficult to account for the latter word having crept into the text, if it be not the true reading, whereas its correction by a transcriber into carnal would seem obvious and natural. If it be the true reading, it must mean ‘purely human,’ not sharing that Divine, regenerate life which is the special privilege of faith.

1 Corinthians 3:4. Οὐχὶ,[25] are ye not) For the Spirit does not endure party-spirit among men.

[25] Ὅταν γὰρ, for when) See how important a matter may be, which seems to be of no consequence.—V. g.

Verse 4. - For when one saith, I am of Paul. This is a proof that there were jealousies and partisanships among them. We again notice the generous courage of St. Paul in rebuking first those adherents who turned his own name into a party watchword. Are ye not carnal? The true reading is, "Are ye not men?" (א, A, B, C, and so the Revised Version); i.e. Are ye not swayed by mere human passions? The Spirit which you received at baptism ought to have lifted you above these mean rivalries. You ought to be something more than mere men. Religious partisanship is, in the eye of St. Paul, simply irreligious. He sets down party controversies as a distinct proof of carnality. Those who indulge in it are men devoid of the spiritual element. 1 Corinthians 3:4Another (ἕτερος)

See on Matthew 6:24. Not merely another, numerically, but another of different affinities and prepossessions.


The best texts read ἄνθρωποι men. Are ye not mere men?

But ministers

Omit but, and place the interrogations after Paul and Apollos, respectively, as Rev. For ministers see on Matthew 20:26; see on Mark 9:35. Servants, not heads of parties.

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