Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Is Christ Divided? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

"… be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10).

The church of Corinth, being composed of Gentiles and Jews, had divided itself into separate groups. Instead of thinking as a single body, unified in Christ, they found their identity among those who were most like them. This was a common problem in the early church because of the Jewish/Gentile dynamic and the clash of cultures in the Roman-Greco world.

Those of Jewish background claimed to be followers of Peter, whose Aramaic name was Cephas. The false teachers who had infiltrated the Corinthian church had questioned Paul’s apostolic authority. This probably caused many of the Jewish Christians to align themselves with Peter, who was an apostle to the Jews.

Gentile converts in Corinth, on the other hand, followed Paul, who was the apostle to the Gentiles. Others followed Apollos, who was an Alexandrian Jew and distinguished for literary culture and eloquence. It is likely that the highly educated in the Corinthian congregation aligned themselves with him. As the Judaizers opposed Paul because they thought he was not an apostle, the followers of Apollos did not value him as a profound preacher. Paul was not a rhetorician after the Grecian school nor a philosopher, and in a day when these were in vogue, the apostle would not have been considered a credible speaker.

Paul rebukes the church for not being unified in Christ. Some evidently claimed Christ, but likely saw themselves as having a superior relationship to Him. The Corinthian believers, as Christians in all ages who have fallen into divisions, should have followed Christ, not men. “To no other being in the universe do believers stand in the relation which they all sustain to their common Lord,” Hodge wrote. “As, therefore, there is but one Christ, but one redeemer, but one baptism, Christians cannot be divided without violating the bond which binds them to Christ and to one another.

“Is Christ divided? Of course the answer must be in the negative. As Christ is incapable of division, as there can be but one Christ, the church cannot be divided. It is contrary to its nature to be split into hostile parties, just as it is contrary to the nature of a family to be thus divided. As the head is one, so are the members.”

How can the Corinthian situation be compared with divisions in the church today? What are some specific groups in popular Christianity that seem to follow after a man more than Christ? What are some warning signs that a person, or a group, has more allegiance to a man than to Christ? How can you guard against those things?