1 Corinthians 3:1-9

1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Sixth Sunday after Epiphany A


And so, brothersA and sisters, I couldB not speak to you as spiritual peopleC

Notes on verse 1a

A “brothers” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.
B “could” = dunamai. This is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
C “spiritual people” = pneumatikos. From pneuma (wind, breath, or ghost; a breeze or blast of air, a breath; figuratively, a spirit, the human soul or the part of us that is rational; also angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit); from pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is spiritual, spiritual people, or spiritual things – that which is ethereal or divine or religious.

but rather as fleshly,D as infantsE in Christ.F 

Notes on verse 1b

D “fleshly” = sarkinos. 4x in NT. From sarx (the body, human nature, being related; not always evil in scripture as when it refers to Jesus taking on a human body; generally used in a negative way for actions made selfishly and not through faith; can mean meat from an animal, or refer to body in contrast to soul/spirit; can be a way of talking about how things or people are related or talking about human frailty, physical or moral); may be from saroo (to sweep, cleanse); from sairo (to brush off). This is flesh, the body, human nature, materiality, kindred. Flesh is not always evil in scripture (as when it refers to Jesus taking on a human body). This is fleshly, physical, soft. It can also be carnal.
E “infants” = nepios. 15x in NT– used in 1 Corinthians 13 (“when I was a child…”). This may be from ne (not) + epos (word; by extension, to speak) {from epo (to answer, bring word, command). This is an infant, child, minor, or immature person. It can also be used figuratively for someone who is childish or unlearned.
F “Christ” = Christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.

I fedG you with milk,H not solid food,I for you were not readyJ for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 

Notes on verse 2

G “fed” = potizo. 15x in NT. From potos (drink or for drinking) OR from pino (to drink literally or figuratively). This is to give to drink, water, furnish, irrigate, or feed.
H “milk” = gala. 5x in NT. This is milk – it can be literal or figurative. The Greek word for galaxy comes from this word, i.e. “milky way.”
I “solid food” = broma. 17x in NT. From bibrosko (to eat); related to bora (food); perhaps from bosko (to feed or pasture a flock; figuratively, to nourish spiritually). This is any kind of food in a literal or figurative sense.
J “were…ready” = dunamai. Same as “could” in v1. See note B above.

for you areK still fleshly.L For as long as there is jealousyM and quarrelingN among you,

Notes on verse 3a

K “are” = eimi. This is to be, exist.
L “fleshly” = sarkikos. Related to “fleshly” in v1. 7x in NT. From sarx (see note D above). This is carnal or earthly. It can refer to base desires or material things.
M “jealousy” = zelos. 16x in NT– 6x in a positive sense (zeal for God) & 10x in a negative sense (jealousy/strife). Perhaps from zeo (to boil, be hot, ferment, bubble, boil, or glow; used figuratively for being fervent or earnest). This is eagerness or zeal on the one hand or rivalry and jealousy on the other. The verb is meant to echo the sound of boiling water and so it depicts burning emotion that bubbles over. So, burning anger or burning love.
N “quarreling” = eris. 9x in NT. This is strife, quarreling, wrangling. Figuratively, it is debate or one who likes to dispute.

are you not fleshlyO and behaving according to humanP inclinations?Q 

Notes on verse 3b

O “fleshly” = sarkikos. Same as “fleshly” in v3. See note L above.
P “human” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
Q “inclinations” = peripateo. From peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + pateo (to read, trample on; to trample literally or figuratively); {from patos (trodden) OR from paio (to strike, smite, sting; a hit like a single blow)}. This is to walk. Going from Hebrew figurative language, to walk referred to how you conducted your life, how you chose to live. This word is most literally walking around. Figuratively, it is living, behaving, following, how you occupy yourself. This is where “peripatetic” comes from.

For when one says,R “IS belong toT Paul,”U and another,V “I belong to Apollos,”W are you not all too human?

Notes on verse 4

R “says” = lego. This is to speak, say, name, call, command. It is generally to convey verbally.
S {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
T “belong to” = eimi. Same as “are” in v3. See note K above.
U “Paul” = Paulos. From Latin Paulus (small, little). This is Paul or Paulos, meaning little.
V “another” = heteros. This is other, another, different, strange. It is another of a different kind in contrast to the Greek word allos, which is another of the same kind. This could be a different quality, type, or group.
W “Apollos” = Apollos. 10x in NT. Probably from Apollonios (belonging to Apollo); from the same as apollonia (Apollonia, a Macedonian city); from Apollon (the Greek god Apollo, who was god of “light, music, medicine, poetry, prophecy, dance, manly beauty”); possibly from Pre-Greek (to drive away) OR from Greek apollumi (to destroy) OR apolouon (washing) OR apoluon (delivering) OR haploun (simple) OR aeiballon (always shooting) OR a (not) + polus (parts). This is Apollos. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Apollo

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? ServantsX through whom you came to believe,Y as the LordZ assignedAA to each.BB 

Notes on verse 5

X “servants” = diakonos. Perhaps from dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + konis (dust) OR from dioko (to chase after, put to flight; by implication, to persecute or to purse like a hunter after its prey; this can be earnestly pursue or zealously persecute) {related to dio (put to flight)}. This is a servant, minister, waiter, or attendant. It is used for a person who performs a service, including religious service. This is the root of the word “deacon.”
Y “believe” = pisteuo. From pistis (faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, confidence; to be persuaded or come to trust); from peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is to believe, entrust, have faith it, affirm, have confidence in. This is less to do with a series of beliefs or doctrines that one believes and more to do with faithfulness, loyalty, and fidelity. It is trusting and then acting based on that trust.
Z “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
AA “assigned” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.
BB “each” = hekastos. Perhaps from hekas (separate). This is each one, any, every. It is every individual as a distinct entity as opposed to those counted as a group in small sets.

I planted,CC Apollos watered,DD but GodEE gave the growth.FF 

Notes on verse 6

CC “planted” = phuteuo. 11x in NT. From phuton (a plant) OR from the base of phuo (to grow, produce, spring up; perhaps from the sense of puff or blow – to swell up; hence, to germinate; to grow literally or figuratively). This is plant or implant. Figuratively, this word is used for Christian teaching.
DD “watered” = potizo. Same as “fed” in v2. See note G above.
EE “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
FF “gave the growth” = auxano. From auksano (to grow or enlarge, whether literal or figurative). This is growing whether in size or mature or greatness or some other metric.

So neither the one who plantsGG nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose,HH and eachII will receiveJJ wagesKK

Notes on verses 7-8a

GG “one who plants” = phuteuo. Same as “planted” in v6. See note CC above.
HH “have one purpose” = heis + eimi. Literally, “are one.” Heis is one, a person, only, some. Eimi is the same as “are” in v3. See note K above.
II “each” = idios. This is something that belongs to you or that is personal, private, apart. It indicates a stronger sense of possession than a simple possessive pronoun. This is where “idiot” comes from (denoting someone who hasn’t had formal training or education and so they rely on their own understanding).
JJ “receive” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
KK “wages” = misthos. This is wages, pay, or salary. It can also be reward, recompense, or punishment. It is pay for services rendered in a literal or figurative way, either good or bad.

according to their ownLL labor.MM For we are God’s coworkers,NN working together; you are God’s field,OO God’s building.PP

Notes on verses 8b-9

LL “own” = idios. Same as “each” in v8. See note JJ above.
MM “labor” = kopos. 18x in NT. From kopto (to cut, strike, cut off; beating the chest to lament and so to mourn). This is trouble, toil, or labor. This is working to the point of exhaustion or weariness. At base, this refers to a blow that lands so swiftly that one is seriously weakened. Figuratively, this is being greatly tired or working to the point of being without strength.
NN “coworkers” = sunergos. 13x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + the base of ergon (work, task, deed, labor, effort) {from ergo (to work, accomplish, do)}. This is co-worker, associate, helper, co-laborer or one’s companion during labor.
OO “field” = georgion. Related to “coworkers” in v9. 1x in NT. From georgos (wine-dresser, farmer, someone who works the land); {from ge (earth, land, soil, region, country, the inhabitants of an area) + ergon (see note NN above)}. This is cultivation, a farmed field, or someone who works in husbandry.  
PP “building” = oikodome. 18x in NT. From oikos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple) + doma (house, housetop; often used to refer to the roof) {from demo (to build a house)}. This is the act of building, structure, architecture, a building, upbuilding. It is a building that is used as a home. Figuratively, this refers to spiritual progress – becoming a person who is a better home in which God can reside.

Image credit: “Flowering Garden with Path” by Vincent van Gogh, 1888.

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