Art Toombs Ministries

Online Bible Commentary

Church Unity 

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of 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 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (NKJV)





 

The writer of 1 Corinthians is the apostle Paul. He wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, Greece during his third missionary journey. The church was established by Paul during his second missionary journey when he ministered in Corinth for a year and a half during A. D. 51-52. 

Paul wrote this letter during his two year and three month ministry in Ephesus, Asia in A. D. 54-56. It was actually his second letter to the church (1 Cor. 5:9). However the first letter obviously was lost. The purpose of this letter is to emphasize that Jesus is our Lord and Master. 

In this passage, Paul continues on the theme that Jesus is our Lord and Master. He addresses sectarianism in the church in Corinth. Factions in the church have been created around the different teachers. 

So Paul calls for unity, that “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (v. 10). He writes this in response to a report from “those of Chloe's household” regarding divisions in the church (v.11). 

Paul, Apollos, and Peter (Cephas) have all taught and baptized these new believers and now factions have developed under each teacher (v. 12a). There was also a faction that developed in general under the teachings of Christ (v. 12b). 

Paul decries these divisions by asking the rhetorical question “Is Christ divided” (v. 13a)? There is only one teacher, Jesus Christ. The church teachers should not be the focus of these new believers. As Paul states, he was not crucified nor were the believers baptized in the name of Paul (v. 13b). The focus should be on the One who is worthy, our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. 

Next Paul tries to distance himself from being the focus by writing that he is thankful that he did not baptize more of the new believers (vv. 14-16). It was common for the Corinthian believers to be baptized by the teacher who led them to Christ. Paul wants no part of taking the focus off of the Lord Jesus. Jesus was their Master, not the teachers. 

Paul closes this passage by declaring that he was not “sent” by Christ, as an apostle, to them to baptize, but rather to “preach the gospel” (v. 17a). The goal was not baptism, but to change hearts. Baptism is only the public announcement of a changed heart for Christ. 

Also, Christ did not send Paul with the “wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (v. 17b). Paul was very plain spoken. He did not make himself the focus but rather made the gospel his focus. 

Corinthians prided themselves in showing their intellectual talents, and often latched on to people who expressed these intellectual talents. Paul is saying that it is not the eloquence of the words that should be the focus but the words themselves. The gospel is simple and is able to be understood by a child. That is the power of the gospel massage. 

The church should be united in Christ. Allegiance to our teachers is allowed but this allegiance should never exclude us from the unity of the church body under Christ.