I want to seek your thoughts on who Paul speaks to in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.  Is he talking to saved people who are sinning or to people who have gone back to their sinful ways, fallen away and are no longer saved?  In the passage he says “you still live in flesh” which tells me that they are not ones that the Holy Spirit still indwells.


The audience of this letter is the Corinthian church, so presumably the audience is Christians, some of whom are doing well in their faith, but some of whom, apparently, are not doing well in their faith.  Otherwise Paul would not have had to write such a strong admonition to them.   Paul is speaking to saved people who are sinning.   All of us still live as if we were in the flesh at times, do we not?   We do things that the flesh calls us to do, even if it is true, from God’s perspective that we are no longer controlled by the flesh.  I know that I still do things that are according to the flesh, and I imagine that you do so as well.  That is what he means by “still live in flesh.”  A key phrase that settles the question is 1 Corinthians 3:1 where Paul says “I cannot address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ.   So, these disciples who are getting caught up in the flesh are acting like infants in Christ, but even an infant in Christ is still in Christ.  The audience is saved people who are doing badly spiritually.

John Oakes

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