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?

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Paul spends the entirety of the chapter immediately preceding this one on the idea of the connection to the Spirit, how the message of Jesus came to them in the full power of the Spirit, whether or not they were fully Spiritual themselves. Indeed, the first chapter of this book introduced the problem he continues to address here, that the Church was divided according to human division and not Spiritual unity.

Being “only human” to Paul means missing out on the wisdom afforded by the Spirit; it is not an excuse for bad behavior but a description of a condition which, by its very definition, brings about bad behavior. The factional nature of their activities was a shortcoming, not a sign of how seriously they took their commitment to the Church.

Being “of Christ” was not merely to suffice as a defense for this behavior either. The factional mind would begin his arguments “if you were of Christ like me then you would” where as the unity-focused, Spirit-led person, Paul said, has the mind of Christ (2:16).

He was able to acknowledge the sinful, fractured, troubled Church as just that, a part of Christ’s body the church. We ought to be able to see Jesus in fellow believers as well, not only for their correction in the Scriptures but for our own correct-mindedness in the Spirit. It is only with that in our hearts and minds that we can begin the work of saving the lost. We must bring others to Jesus, not merely to our own “of Christ” faction. Anything less is only human.

Ethan Kirl