Summary: Paul strongly, yet tenderly, appeals for unity in the church at Corinth. They were not only “saints” they were also brothers (members of the same family).
DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH
INTRODUCTION: Paul strongly, yet tenderly, appeals for unity in the church at Corinth. They were not only “saints” they were also brothers (members of the same family).
One of the finest tributes paid to the church in Jerusalem was that they were together (Acts 2:44, 4:32, 5:12). Peter said one of the virtues of Christian living is unity (I Pet. 3:8). Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-23).
Unity is essential if the church is to be an effective witness for Christ. Nothing could be more contradictory to the Christian message than a divided church (Eph 2:14-16).
The sad news is that churches do become divided. Such was the case at Corinth. There was a “party” spirit. It is the “first” issue Paul dealt with in the church.
Consider Paul’s words.
I. Paul’s Appeal (v.10)
This is an urgent appeal. Look at the following.
A. The Spirit of the Appeal: “Appeal” = beseech. This means to call alongside of, to help. Paul was calling them to line up with him and strive for unity.
B. The Source of the Appeal: “Name of our Lord.” This appeal is made in and with the authority of Christ. “Lord” = authority. “Jesus” = saviour. “Christ” = anointed one.
C. The Subject of the Appeal: “All of you agree.” Put an end to the dissension. “No division” = schism, split, tear, crack, cliques. Let’s knit together. Let this broken bone heal. “United” = perfectly joined together. Be one in purpose and fellowship.
II. Paul’s Address (v. 11-17)
He brings the problem to light. He had heard through Chloe’s family (v.11). He’s not dealing with a rumor but a fact. Ponder the following.
A. The Quarreling (v.12): The Greek word refers to a battle in a war as well as a domestic or political strife. They were quarreling over preachers or Christian leaders.
B. The Questions (v.13): Paul asks three questions to show the fallacy of their divisions. Christ isn’t divided and neither should His church be divided. “Divided” = distributed. No one group possesses more of Him than another group. None of them were crucified on their behalf. Only Christ was, therefore, their commitment must be to him!
C. The Gratitude (v.14-17): Paul wasn’t like some, he didn’t keep a record for publicity or for boasting. He was thankful he hadn’t baptized many.
CONCLUSION: See v.17. He was not minimizing baptism, but baptism does not save. How is one saved? The cross. What is our message? The cross. We may not agree on a lot of things, but there is one thing we must agree on and that is the cross!
It is the preaching of the cross that brings redemption and unity. For any church plagued by disunity I would simply say “kneel at the cross!” Our message, mission and mandate center around the cross. Stay close to the cross and you will stay close to one another!