1 Corinthians Chapter 1: Division in the Church
Key Verses: (1 Corinthians 1:10, 12–13, 15, 17)
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 15 No one can say that you were baptized in my name. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
In Paul’s absence for seven years, it is no surprise that the Greeks of Corinth were at risk of reverting back to a culture of an ingrained worship of the numerous Greek gods and goddesses. Such mythology had been embedded in their society for centuries.
So in the very opening of his letter, Paul begins immediately by pointing out the divisions in the church related to the critical matter of whom they will follow. He had heard in advance from the family of Chloe that this was an issue in Corinth that was seriously dividing the church.
He then emphasizes the centrality of Christ by indicating that Christ is not divided and that Paul was just an instrument of Christ in performing baptisms, which were done in Christ’s name, not in the name of Paul.
And finally, as early as verse 17 of chapter 1, he warns that such behaviors could negate the fundamental role of the Resurrection by referring to the cross of Christ potentially being emptied of its power.
A Moment to Reflect:
In your church community, do you find divisions among the congregants on essential elements of Christian doctrine? Do you fear that the central focus on the divinity of Christ and the importance of the Resurrection may, at some point, be seriously challenged within your faith community? If so, you may be the instrument of calling this to the attention of the church leadership to address the emerging issue. Paul, speaking to us across the centuries, will reveal more about this in devotionals to follow.