In chapter three of 1 Corinthians there are many precious things and many unusual expressions. This chapter is unique; no chapter in the Bible can replace it.
In verse 1 Paul says, “And I, brothers, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshy, as to infants in Christ.” Here Paul speaks a very strong word. He refers to the Corinthians not merely as fleshly (v. 3), but even as fleshy. Fleshy is a stronger expression than fleshly, and refers to aspects of the flesh that are more gross. Fleshy denotes being made of flesh; fleshly denotes being influenced by the nature of the flesh and partaking of the character of the flesh. Paul could not speak to them as to spiritual, but as to those who were fleshy, infants in Christ. He was very strong with the believers at Corinth. If we were to speak such a strong word to the saints today, many would no doubt be offended and refuse to listen any further.
My burden in this message is to cover several crucial expressions used by Paul in this chapter. In verse 2 he says, “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food.” To give milk to drink or food to eat is to feed others. The King James Version renders the first part of verse 2 this way: “I have fed you with milk.” Feeding refers to the matter of life and differs from teaching, which refers to knowledge. Paul seemed to be teaching the Corinthians; actually he was feeding them. The first crucial expression in this chapter is feeding. To feed others is very pleasant. A mother, for example, is pleased to feed her children. Likewise, Paul’s desire was to feed the Corinthian believers not only with milk, but also with solid food.
In verse 2, milk is for drinking and solid food is for eating. Hence, the thought of feeding expressed here automatically implies drinking and eating. Before you came into the church life, you may have been a Christian for years, yet you had never heard a message on drinking. If we would be proper Christians, we must be drinking Christians. Drinking is a basic thought in the book of 1 Corinthians. In 12:13 Paul says that we have all been made to drink of one Spirit. This concept of drinking was not invented by Paul. The Lord Jesus speaks of drinking in John 4 and also in John 7. In John 4:14 He says to the Samaritan woman, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a spring of water welling up into eternal life.” According to John 7:37, the Lord Jesus, on the last day of the feast of tabernacles, stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink.” Thus, Christ speaks of drinking, and Paul also speaks of drinking. All Christians should be those who enjoy spiritual drinking.
Which is more vital to maintaining human life, eating or drinking? The answer is that drinking is even more important than eating. We can go several days without eating, but we cannot go nearly as long without drinking. Furthermore, during the course of a day, we drink more often than we eat. We may eat just three times a day, but we may drink twelve times a day. Medical doctors advise us to drink a glass of water many times a day. Although spiritual drinking is vital to the Christian life, this matter is almost wholly neglected by Christians today.
Paul’s reference to solid food in verse 2 surely implies eating. Therefore, along with feeding and drinking, Paul stresses the importance of eating.
In verses 6, 7, and 8 Paul speaks of planting. In particular, he says of himself, “I planted.” Paul was not only a feeder; he was also a planter. We are told that Paul fed the saints, giving them something to eat and drink, and that he also planted, but we are not told in this chapter that Paul was a teacher.
With the planting we have the watering and the growth. Verses 6 and 7 say, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God made to grow; so that neither is the one who plants anything nor the one who waters, but the One Who makes to grow, God.” Thus, in the first seven verses of this chapter, we have six wonderful matters: feeding, drinking, eating, planting, watering, and growing. What a marvelous chapter! Can you find any other chapter in the Word which covers these six matters? I do not believe that there is another chapter in the whole Bible which covers these six things. Regarding this, 1 Corinthians 3 is unique. In a very brief way, in the span of just seven verses, Paul covers six wonderful matters. In a practical and experiential way, he refers to feeding, drinking, eating, planting, watering, and growing.
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