Beware of Divisions

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Each one of you is saying, “I’m with Paul!”, “I’m with Apollos!”, “I’m with Cephas!”, “I’m with the Messiah!”

Well! Has the Messiah been cut up into pieces?

David Garland, a professor of Christian Scriptures, says “This letter should be read against the background of a mercantile society imbued with Roman cultural values that fed a ruthless preoccupation with attaining public status, promoting one’s own honor, and securing power.”

This secular influence had infiltrated the church in Corinth, leading to some discordant factions which grew out of the rivalry of leading figures, who may have hosted different house churches.

Paul writes to set them straight—that we don’t just follow the flavor of Christ we tend to like or most identify with. And we don’t belong to teachers; teachers belong to us. And we all belong to Christ, who is not one alternative leader among many, but the only possible foundation of the whole church.

We must always check ourselves against a party mentality. We do not belong to parties, we belong to Christ. Different teachers can shed light on different aspects of Christ, but we have to be careful not to overly identify with a particular teacher or preacher, but to always make sure we identify with Christ Himself. This, obviously, goes for denominations as well. And then we need to watch that by opposing all denominations, we don’t become a separate denomination.

Here’s four warnings Paul will give against the party spirit over the next few chapters of this letter:

  1. Factions give to particular apostles a place which only Christ should occupy.
  2. Many are looking upon the apostles as teachers of philosophy rather than preachers of the word of the cross.
  3. The true wisdom which is bestowed by the Spirit of God is not to be had by those of a factious spirit.
  4. These divisions represent the apostles as rivals rather than as fellow workers under Christ.

*These four warnings taken from The Interpreter’s Bible.

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