Summary: Dissension in the Corinthian church was the first problem addressed by Paul. He introduces the thoughts of this passage with an appeal for unity.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
Being much concerned about the rise of denominations in the church, John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes!”, came the answer. Then he asked, “Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?” The answer was “Yes!” each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was “No!” “No?” To this, Wesley asked, “Who then is inside?” The answer came back, “There are only Christians here.” (Source unknown)
Dissension in the Corinthian church was the first problem addressed by Paul. He introduces the thoughts of this passage with an appeal for unity. It seems that quarrels had split them into factions and these appears to have been four rival parties within the Church (vv. 11-17):
4. Those who professed to follow Paul who had founded the church.
5. Those who counted themselves to be followers of Apollos, a native of Alexandria.
6. Those who claimed to follow Peter, more favorable to Jewish forms and ceremonies.
7. Those who renounced all the others and claimed only Christ.
With the many churches and styles of worship available today, we could get caught up in this same game of "my preacher is better than yours". Paul makes it clear that God’s message is much more important than any human messenger. In view of all these divisions Paul says that he is thankful that very few in Corinth were ever baptized by him (v. 14). Some speakers use a lot of impressive words but they are weak in content. Paul is stressing that solid content and practical help is what is important for the listener. The persuasive power should be in the story and not in the storyteller. Paul concludes his exhortation regarding the divisions in the church with a call to evangelize (v. 17).
I must never let my appreciation for any teacher, preacher or author cause me to follow a man rather than the message of God’s Word. My allegiance must be to Jesus Christ and to the unity He desires in the body of Christ.