Responding to the Issue of Carnality in the Church, by Rev Dr John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg Bible Study Material on 1 Cor 3:1-5


In our previous lesson, we studied Paul’s description of two kinds of people and spirits. In 1 Cor 2:14, Paul speaks about the natural man who lives in the Adamic nature and rejects the things of the Spirit. Paul also describes the spiritual man in 1 Cor 2:15 as those who understand the things of God. This lesson on 1  Cor 3:1-5  focuses on the carnal persons who know the things of God, but in some ways are still characterized by the flesh.

Carnal conditions in the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 3:1-2)

Paul confronts the carnal conditions of the Corinthian Church. The fact that Paul addresses the Corinthians as brethren implies that they belong to the family of God but they are not living like spiritual people. Thus, to Paul, the Corinthians lived as fleshly people who are immature Christians and babes in Christ. From Paul’s line of thinking, these Christians think and act according to the flesh and not the Spirit.

Evidence of carnalities in the Corinthians Church (1 Cor 3:3-4)

Paul was of the view that the Corinthians were babes in Jesus and could not receive the solid meat of the Word, the deeper truths of the Scriptures (Hebrews 5:11-14) about the heavenly ministry of Jesus. He had to feed them with milk like a nurse! Just like little children they argued and divided themselves into groups, following human leaders. James 3:13-4:17 gives reasons why there are wars and divisions in the church and pictures the carnal state of the believer.

Ministers and carnalities in the Church (1 Cor 3:5)

The word “minister” used in this context is the same word from which we get our word “deacon,” and it means “a servant.” For eighteen months Paul was Christ’s servant in Corinth, feeding the people God’s Word, disciplining them, encouraging them, and helping them win others. If there were problems in the Church, it was not Paul’s fault. It was their fault for being such immature believers. They were babes. A true pastor must be a servant. He or she must have a servant’s mind (Philippians 2) and be willing to put Jesus first, others second and self last. This is not always easy to do! We must pray for our spiritual leaders, that God will give them grace and strength to be servants to others.

Conclusion and application

This lesson has looked at the issue of carnality in the Corinthians Church. The problem of carnality centred around their relationships with humans which shows that they had a problem in their relationship with God. This revealed their carnality, fleshy way of thinking and lifestyle. Worth observing here is that the envy, strife and divisions in the Corinthian Church are not the only signs of carnality but they were most evident in the Church. As Christians, we are called upon to walk in the Spirit and not to do otherwise.

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