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3. On Division in the Church

1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able; 3for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men? 4For when one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not men? 5What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him. 6I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow-workers: ye are God's husbandry, God's building. 10According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. 11For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire. 16Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye. 18Let no man deceive himself. If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He that taketh the wise in their craftiness: 20and again, The Lord knoweth the reasonings of the wise that they are vain. 21Wherefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours; 22whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

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The Spirit of Party Reproved. (a. d. 57.)

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.   2 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.   3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?   4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Here, I. Paul blames the Corinthians for their weakness and nonproficiency. Those who are sanctified are so only in part: there is still room for growth and increase both in grace and knowledge, 2 Pet. iii. 18. Those who through divine grace are renewed to a spiritual life may yet in many things be defective. The apostle tells them he could not speak to them as unto spiritual men, but as unto carnal men, as to babes in Christ, v. 1. They were so far from forming their maxims and measures upon the ground of divine revelation, and entering into the spirit of the gospel, that is was but too evident they were much under the command of carnal and corrupt affections. They were still mere babes in Christ. They had received some of the first principles of Christianity, but had not grown up to maturity of understanding in them, or of faith and holiness; and yet it is plain, from several passages in this epistle, that the Corinthians were very proud of their wisdom and knowledge. Note, It is but too common for persons of very moderate knowledge and understanding to have a great measure of self-conceit. The apostle assigns their little proficiency in the knowledge of Christianity as a reason why he had communicated no more of the deep things of it to them. They could not bear such food, they needed to be fed with milk, not with meat, v. 2. Note, It is the duty of a faithful minister of Christ to consult the capacities of his hearers and teach them as they can bear. And yet it is natural for babes to grow up to men; and babes in Christ should endeavour to grow in Stature, and become men in Christ. It is expected that their advances in knowledge should be in proportion to their means and opportunities, and their time of professing religion, that they may be able to bear discourses on the mysteries of our religion, and not always rest in plain things. It was a reproach to the Corinthians that they had so long sat under the ministry of Paul and had made no more improvement in Christian knowledge. Note, Christians are utterly to blame who do not endeavour to grow in grace and knowledge.

II. He blames them for their carnality, and mentions their contention and discord about their ministers as evidence of it: For you are yet carnal; for whereas there are among you envyings, and strifes, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men? v. 3. They had mutual emulations, and quarrels, and factions among them, upon the account of their ministers, while one said, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, v. 4. These were proofs of their being carnal, that fleshly interests and affections too much swayed them. Note, Contentions and quarrels about religion are sad evidences of remaining carnality. True religion makes men peaceable and not contentious. Factious spirits act upon human principles, not upon principles of true religion; they are guided by their own pride and passions, and not by the rules of Christianity: Do you not walk as men? Note, It is to be lamented that many who should walk as Christians, that is, above the common rate of men, do indeed walk as men, live and act too much like other men.