Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
Prejudices, Preferences & Partitions Among Saints
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
01 June 2014
In last week’s study of the introductory passage wee see Paul establishing the identity of true believers. Noteworthy by its absence is a vote of thanks to the Corinthians, as was Paul’s practice to other churches. However he does thank God for them. In the passage before us, Paul launches into the primary problem that was rearing its ugly head in the Corinthian church - that of partiality. The believers had forgotten their God-given status as saints and instead, were following their fleshly instincts which was causing disunity amongst them. So Paul exhorts them to rise above this divisive problem by focusing their minds on some basic yet hard-hitting truths.
• The standard for unity amongst saints (vs10)
Here Paul shows what a united church looks like – agreement amongst each other. No divisions. Completeness in the same mind and same spirit. This is not easy at all. But then, God doesn’t give us commands that we can easily follow. Rather, He gives us commands that we can only follow via His supernatural enabling. And this is the hallmark of any body of people who are led by God’s spirit – a supernatural bond of unity that is based on Christ. Unity must be founded in the person of Christ. Because when he is central to the church, all quarrels take second place. The moment Christ ceases to be central in the life of the believer, he will cease to be central in the life of the church. Of course, Paul wasn’t suggesting that disagreements should not exist. After all, diversity is not a sin but division is. There needs to be united by a body of truth that informs our spiritual living. It doesn’t mean that all views should be the same. But it does mean that there ought to be unity and oneness of mind when it comes to fundamental truths. This unity is not generated by us but by God. We can only keep the unity - or wreck it. This is the recipe for unity in all all relationships.
• The divisive problem among saints (vs 11-12)
Although the men who taught and preached the word of God amongst the Corinthians were excellent, united men, the people devoted themselves to their teachers and that caused divisions amongst them. This party spirit bred contentious squabbles and inevitable disputes which resulted in a divided church. We cannot allow our admiration of specific teachers to decrease our unity in Christ.
• The divine solution for quarrelsome saints. (vs 13-17)
Paul asks some rhetorical questions to focus the Corinthians on the fundamentals of the faith. The solution is simple – it’s about the Gospel of Jesus being practiced in our lives towards one another. Any source of unity other than Christ is bound to collapse at some time. Unless Christ is central, unless He is the focus of our pursuit, we can have no hope for unity.