Here Paul introduced a third category of humanity, namely, the "fleshen" (Gr. sarkinos) or immature Christian. The Corinthians were not spiritually mature even though they possessed the Holy Spirit. Paul said he could not speak to them as spiritual men. He explained the reason in 1 Corinthians 3:3. Instead he had to address them as fleshen people, even as babes in Christ. Immaturity is not blameworthy if one is very young. However if a person has been a Christian for some time and is still immature, his or her condition is blameworthy (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6). Such was the condition of the Corinthians. [source][source][source]
1 Corinthians 3:1-9 - Prosperity Comes From God
In all our relations with our fellow-men, Christ's followers must realize their obligations as members of one great family, with one God. A man may be in Christ, truly regenerate and forgiven for his past sins, and yet be carnal; that is, according to Romans 7:18, he may be ruled by me, I, self. The marks of this inward disposition are set out here. He is a babe who needs to be fed with milk, little and often, because unable to digest solid food. He is a sectarian, throwing contempt on those who do not belong to his own school of thought. He allows himself to be infected with jealousy and strife. Let us test our Christian life by these symptoms. Where are we? And if we are conscious that self has become enthroned as the governing motive of life, let us not rest till Christ takes its place.
It is not easy to learn that the planter or the waterer is just nothing at all, and that God is all. Let us think of ourselves only as God's instruments, and in a humble way as God's fellow-workers. It is a most helpful thought. Constantly when engaged in tilling the soil as evangelists or in building character as preachers and teachers, let us count on success, because of the all-power of our great Partner. He must give the policy and direction; it is our part to conform wholly to His will and guidance. [source]
Chapter Summary: 1 Corinthians 3
1Milk is fit for children 3Strife and division, arguments of a fleshly mind 7He who plants and He who waters are nothing 9The ministers are God's fellow workmen 11Christ the only foundation 16You are the temples of God, which must be kept holy 19The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God
What do the individual words in 1 Corinthians 3:1 mean?
And Ibrothersnotwas ableto speakto youasto spiritualbutto fleshlyto infantsinChrist
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 1st Person Singular
Sense: to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom.