Summary: In today's lesson we are urged to heal the divisions in the church because they are contrary to the unity that exists in Christ's body.
Today we continue studying The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
In our first lesson we looked at the salutation of 1 Corinthians (1:1-3). Then, in our second lesson (last week) we looked at the thanksgiving of 1 Corinthians (1:4-9).
Today, we move into the body of the letter. The apostle Paul begins his letter by addressing the issue of “Divisions in the Church” in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17:
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:10–17)
We live in a world in which people often have disagreements. Some of our disagreements are relatively minor, but other disagreements can be rather major.
Perhaps you have heard the story of the man and his wife who were having an argument about who should brew the coffee each morning.
The wife said, “You should do it, because you get up first, and then we don’t have to wait as long to get our coffee.”
But the husband said, “You are in charge of cooking around here and you should do it, because that is your job, and I can just wait for my coffee.”
The wife replied, “No, you should do it. And besides, it is in the Bible that the man should do the coffee.”
The husband was surprised, and said, “I can’t believe that. Show me.”
So the wife fetched the Bible, and opened the New Testament and showed him at the top of several pages, that it indeed says: “HEBREWS”!
I like the way pastor John MacArthur shows how disagreements are not only part of life, but also how they escalate in our lives. He says:
Quarrels are a part of life. We grow up in them and around them. Infants are quick to express displeasure when they are not given something they want or when something they like is taken away. Little children cry, fight, and throw tantrums because they cannot have their own ways. We argue and fight over a rattle, then a toy, then a football, then a position on the football team or in the cheerleading squad, then in business, the PTA, or politics. Friends fight, husbands and wives fight, businesses fight, cities fight, even nations fight—sometimes to the point of war.
Unfortunately, even Christians can have disagreements. That is the situation in the church at Corinth. The apostle Paul heard that there were disagreements in the church at Corinth. These disagreements had escalated to the point of causing divisions in the church. And so Paul felt compelled to address the matter.
Let me briefly review what we have covered so far in our series on Challenges Christians Face.
First Corinthians 1:1-3 is the salutation of the letter. The apostle Paul utilized the standard letter-writing convention of his day by opening with a salutation in which he identified the greeter (himself), the greeted (the church at Corinth), and the greeting (grace and peace).
Then, the apostle wrote the thanksgiving of 1 Corinthians (1:4-9). Paul thanked God for the Corinthians’ past gifts, present state, and future prospects.
Now, as we move into verse 10, the apostle begins the body of his letter. And he immediately addressed the issue of divisions in the church in Corinth. Paul urged the Christians in Corinth to heal the divisions in the church because they are contrary to the unity that exists in Christ’s body.
And so, in today’s lesson we are urged to heal the divisions in the church because they are contrary to the unity that exists in Christ’s body. Let’s utilize the following outline for today’s lesson:
1. The Appeal Regarding the Divisions (1:10)
2. The Knowledge of the Divisions (1:11)
3. The Cause of the Divisions (1:12)