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Division | Corinth

Commentary on Paul’s Letters to the Corinthian Church

ARC Guide Level 1
Ideal for those getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.

1 Corinthians 1:10-17


10 I appeal to you, brothers,[a] 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 English Standard Version

Gospel Minimalism

In verse 10 Paul starts his appeal with what seems to us to be four wildly unrealistic demands on the body of Christ. 1. Agree on everything 2. Don’t be Divided 3.Be of the Same Mind 4.Be of the same judgement. At face value there is nothing more to say but, he better tell us how to do that! He doesn’t immediately answer that question, what he does instead is write a state of affairs as it has been reported to him by Chloe, a certain mature believer and her household. The long and short of it is that when Paul and Timothy came on the scene they presented the simple gospel with little to no extrapolation. Paul says that they were so minimalist with their presentation of the gospel that they only baptised 3 named individuals and one household. Sometime after they left these believers came into contact with the writings of Peter and Apollos and were understandably blown away by their depth of knowledge of God and the Christian life and found themselves asking, “why didn’t Paul teach us these things? Maybe he doesn’t know! Maybe he’s not a real apostle…maybe I would rather follow after one of these men, because they seem to know what they’re talking about more than Paul does”. Others in the group found this to be sacrilege to the teachings of Paul and said about Peter and Apollos’ teaching, “this is not the simple gospel that Paul taught us. We are going to stay faithful to the God of Paul”. Chloe and her household saw the writing on the wall and wrote to Paul to tell him all of this. Paul concludes this section with an interesting comment. He says that if he had presented the gospel with words of eloquent wisdom then the cross of Christ would have been emptied of its power. People would have said, “that’s a great argument! I will follow Paul!” and they would have continued in their sin.

Further Thoughts

The power of the message of the cross rests in our giving full credit to God for our salvation and not the efficacy of the message preached. Consider the half hearted message preached by Jonah,

“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 

Jonah 3:4 New International Version

Jonah travelled one day into a three day wide city and preached a 2 second message and it spread like wildfire. When it reached the King he declared that everyone would repent in sackcloth and ashes before God and they did. God relented in their punishment and all glory went to God. Consider also those who later only preached Christ after Paul had been imprisoned. Paul was such a gospel minimalist that he was able to take joy and comfort in the fact that the gospel was being preached even if it was under that pretence. God would still receive the glory. The division that resulted in Corinth came from the world of the Greeks where even a teacher and his disciples differed and taught different messages so the concept of a unified mind was out of these young disciples context for how things work in the world. Paul presented the gospel not as a rational, logical wisdom teaching, but, as he writes in Romans, as the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Ammi Ruhama Community Christian Union

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