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Dividing Over Church Teachers (Pt.4): Unacceptable Spiritual Immaturity

August 15, 2021 Speaker: Series: 1 Corinthians

Passage: 1 Corinthians 3:1–4

In one sentence, the theological message of 1 Corinthians is that the gospel requires God’s holy people to mature in purity and unity.  The church in Corinth has many problems, but the gospel solves them all.

 BIG PICTURE: Paul laments that his brothers and sisters in the Corinthian church who are dividing over church teachers are not acting like people with the Spirit. Instead, they are acting in a worldly/carnal/fleshy way, like people without the Spirit. They are acting immaturely. This is wretched and unacceptable. Those who have the Spirit, and who therefore come to grips with the message of the cross (1 Cor. 2), are expected to mature rapidly.

 The Corinthian Christians, on the other hand

  • can only be fed milk (1-2)
  • are worldly – “of the flesh” - as proved by their jealousy and quarreling (3)
  • their worldly factionalism centers on church leaders (4)

(NIV) 1“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. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?” (NIV)

(KJV)  1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

(ESV) But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?


  • This sermon owes a debt to D.A. Carson’s “Letters Along the Way”; “The Cross and Christian Ministry”; and Andy Naselli’s “Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology” and “No Quick Fix”