(Regarding 1 Corinthians 3)"...by saying that the Corinthians are acting and thinking not like "spiritual" but "fleshly" people, like "mere men," he is charging them with the thoughts and conduct of those who do not have the Spirit. The tension is palpable, and the result is centuries of debate and misunderstanding. But the most obvious way to take Paul's words is that he is using strong language to force his readers to face up to the inherent inconsistency of their position. They have the Spirit, but at this junction they are neither thinking nor acting as if they do. This is a more believable approach than those that suppose Paul himself is introducing an ontological distinction in the congregation [as antinomians believe]. That is surely intrinsically unlikely, given the concern of the first four chapters to establish unity. Others try to find a shift in meaning in pneumatikos (spiritual) from chapter 2 to chapter 3, or base a massive tripartite division of humankind (natural/carnal [kjv]/spiritual) on these verses. But apart from the fact that the same division cannot be found clearly drawn out elsewhere in Paul, such a reading flies in the face of one of the principle emphasis in Pauline ethics, namely, the appeal "to be what you are."
- D.A. Carson, from the essay "Reflections on Assurance" from Still Sovereign, pg.255
When Paul announced this gospel message, it carried its own weight, its own authority, quite independently of the rhetorical or linguistic skill of the hearld. But if the hearlding of this gospel was the authoritative summons to allegiance, it could not but pose a challenge to all other 'powers' that claimed human loyalty. That is why to retain or to embrace, symbols and praxis which spoke of other loyalties and other allegiances was to imply that other powers were still being involked. And that, according to Paul, was to deny 'the truth of the gospel' - N.T. Wright