1 Corinthians Chapter Three, The Builder's Reward...

In our study of 1 Corinthians chapter three, we look at the differences between spiritual and carnal Christians. We will also look at the coming judgement of believers. 

1 Corinthians 3:1

"Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ." NIV translation

In chapter 2, we saw that true wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit. Here, Paul helps us to see that there are in fact two types of Christians which are spiritual and carnal (worldly). We are reminded that we all have a battle going on inside of us between the flesh which is of the world and the spirit which is of God. We see from this verse that we all start as worldly Christians and that, through growth prompted by the Holy Spirit, we become more spiritual and mature.

1 Corinthians 3:2

"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." NIV translation

Just like a baby feeds on milk and not solid food, a new Christian feeds on the basic truths of the Word. As we mature in our walk with the Lord, we are able to understand more of the nature of Christ and more of His desire for us. That is the "solid food" that Paul is talking about. This is also a reminder for teachers of God's word that only the Holy Spirit can prepare God's children to hear and understand the things of God. 

Paul recognized that the Corinthian believers were still struggling to grasp the basics of their faith and so he continued to teach on the fundamentals of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:3 & 4

"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere men?" NIV translation

How do you tell whether a Christian is worldly or spiritual? We see, from this passage, that we can tell by the actions of the individual. The believers in Corinth were quarreling about who they should follow instead of realizing that they were all to follow Jesus Christ. This is the most basic of teachings and their lack of understanding demonstrated the immaturity of their faith. This is a very big problem in the body of believers today as so many people get caught up in the personality of the teacher instead of the wisdom of God. It is evident with a number of "rock star" preachers who put on a great show but the teaching never moves past the point of "milk" to the point of "solid food". The direct result of this is the fact that there are way more "infants in Christ" than there are walking Christians in the congregations of these pastors.