1 Corinthians 3:4 MEANING

1 Corinthians 3:4
(4) One saith, I am of Paul.--These and the following words explain exactly what the Apostle means by their being "carnal," and walking after a merely human manner. Only two of the factions--those of Paul and of Apollos--are mentioned as types of the rest. The factious spirit was in each and all the "parties" the same, but the particular difference between the teaching of the higher wisdom and the simpler truths of the gospel was best illustrated by these two.

The selection for rebuke of those who called them selves by the Apostle's own name was, no doubt, intended by him to show that it was no matter of personal jealousy on his part. He specially condemns those who magnified his name. It is for his Master alone that he is jealous.

Are ye not carnal?--Better, are ye not only men? carrying on the idea expressed in 1 Corinthians 3:3.

Verse 4. - For when one saith, I am of Paul. This is a proof that there were jealousies and partisanships among them. We again notice the generous courage of St. Paul in rebuking first those adherents who turned his own name into a party watchword. Are ye not carnal? The true reading is, "Are ye not men?" (א, A, B, C, and so the Revised Version); i.e. Are ye not swayed by mere human passions? The Spirit which you received at baptism ought to have lifted you above these mean rivalries. You ought to be something more than mere men. Religious partisanship is, in the eye of St. Paul, simply irreligious. He sets down party controversies as a distinct proof of carnality. Those who indulge in it are men devoid of the spiritual element.

3:1-4 The most simple truths of the gospel, as to man's sinfulness and God's mercy, repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, stated in the plainest language, suit the people better than deeper mysteries. Men may have much doctrinal knowledge, yet be mere beginners in the life of faith and experience. Contentions and quarrels about religion are sad evidences of carnality. True religion makes men peaceable, not contentious. But it is to be lamented, that many who should walk as Christians, live and act too much like other men. Many professors, and preachers also, show themselves to be yet carnal, by vain-glorious strife, eagerness for dispute, and readiness to despise and speak evil of others.For while one saith, I am of Paul,.... This shows what their envying and strife, and divisions were about, and from whence they sprung; and which serve, to strengthen the proof, and support the charge of carnality brought against them; for when one sort made a party for Paul, and set up him as their minister above all others; and said

another, I am of Apollos, preferring him for his eloquence above Paul, or any other preacher, as appears from 1 Corinthians 1:12 there was a third sort for Cephas, whom they cried up as superior to the other two, or any other man; and a fourth were for Christ, and despised all ministers whatever:

are ye not carnal? all this was a demonstration of it: they could never clear themselves from it, they must be convicted in their own consciences of it; to which the apostle appeals: the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, "are ye not men?"

Courtesy of Open Bible