Summary: Christian Idolatry was alive and well in Corinth and its live and well today watch Paul address the gospel of I.
1Corinthians 1:10 - 17 The Gospel of I or the Gospel of Christ Crucified?
One of the letters primary concerns in the church at Corinth is their own spiritual pride & immaturity, it had led them to value outward appearance, eloquence of rhetoric, the wisdom of words over and above the genuine work of the Spirit of God.
V10 Paul begins by appealing to them to all agree, all in the Name of Jesus Christ . In the last nine verse His name had been mention and verse ten is no different (11th mention ) This acts as a bridge to the subject matter under the Grace of God which has drawn them together that they unite . But Jesus Christ has decreased in this fellowship and been replaced with the personal pronoun ‘I’.
He appeals that there would be no divisions amongst them to be united in the same mind and the same judgement.
V11-17 Paul gives them a description of the problem as reported to him by Chloe’s people. (Supporters, visitors to Corinth unknown firstly this isn’t Gossip, as they put their name to the report). But what were not prepared to say to someone face we shouldn’t be saying it to others, without identifying ourselves to those were speaking about.
v11 He speaks of quarrels amongst them in church. In V12 he details that the Corinthians have started to exhibit arrogant devotion to particular itinerant Christian preachers, who they had aligned themselves too.
To draw the believers at Corinth to their senses he poses three questions
V13 is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for You? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul?
Is Christ Divided? ‘I follow Christ’ Paul is saying can Christ actually be divided in His Church of course not but party agendas had caused this split.
Was Paul crucified for You? Paul is calling them to take their eyes away from following men, replacing Christ with men, After all it wasn’t Paul, Apollos or Cephas who was crucified for you but Christ, no-one else.
Or were Baptised in the name of Paul? Again Paul is saying the gospel is not about holding credence to who baptised You, is of no significance, for you were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ not in the Baptisers name. Paul is calling them to think about the logical conclusion of their antics.
1. The problem the Gospel of ‘I’ v13 - 17
V14-17 So these divisions were as a result of who had baptised them;
Some said, “I follow Paul” - who had planted the Church yet he had only gone on to baptise two individuals in Corinth, who he mentions by name Crispus & Gaius v14 & later he mentions the household of Stephanas v16 beyond that he cannot remember, (Baptising people is not paramount to Him).
As we see from v17 Pauls apostolic commission was not to baptise, but to preach the gospel. It’s likely that after Paul had left Corinth he was being maligned by those puffed up with spiritual pride, maybe even a particular group. Paul wasn’t called to be a public speaker with great rhetoric & wisdom ( Greco Roman world was awash with) although he was a great communicator, but to have done that it would be to put his trust in man.
Paul was called by God as an Apostle ( 1:1, 9:1-2) to proclaim the gospel his trust was not in his own ability but in the gospel (Rom 1:16), he knew the preaching of the gospel was folly to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the power of God v18. Others baptised, but his thrust was to exalt Christ, to evangelise and in so doing, it was never about Him but Christ.
Others said, “I follow Apollo’s” - Paul new well, they had meet at Ephesus, he had only known the Baptism of John until (Acts 18:24-25) So whilst in Ephesus Priscilla & Aquilia taught him the way more adequately. He was a great communicator of the gospel & competent in the Scriptures ( Acts 18:24) Paul had urged him to return to Corinth (16:12) & when Paul had left it appear Apollo’s carried on with the work at Corinth (Acts 18:24-19:1). This would also concur with Paul’s statement in (1Cor 3:6) I planted , Apollo’s watered, in Gospel ministry , but God gave the growth.
A number said, “ I follow Cephas” - is Aramaic equivalent to Peter and both names refer to Peter the Apostle as Paul uses the Aramic equivalent later in his letter also (1Cor 15:5) Cephas had at some point travelled to Corinth with his wife (1Cor 7:8). Whether he had or not their appears possibly a Jewish contingency who have nailed their colour to the flag of Cephas. It strange isn’t it but we as humans like to put ourselves in groupings don’t we, whether in politics, religion,class, we seem to align ourselves to people and to causes.