By Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
I Corinthians 1 (Problem 1) This epistle was written by Paul when he was staying in Philippi at the close of his three-year ministry at Ephesus. The year was probably somewhere around 59 AD.
Paul’s relationship with the church at Corinth is presented in Acts 18:118. Various themes are addressed in the epistle, but all have to do with proper Christian ethics.
The occasion of the letter occurred during the visit of three brethren from Corinth who were possibly of the house of Chloe (1:11). Their names were Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (16:17).
The problem: There were divisions among the people in the church.
These issues had reached the point of becoming “contentions.” This means there was strife in their hearts which led to debates. Verse 12 of chapter 1 mentions three ministers who seemed to have major support within the church. Nowhere does the Bible lead us to conclude that the ministers played any active role in this division, but the problem existed anyway. People seemed to be proud of which preacher had led them to salvation, or had baptized them, or was their favorite. Now they were struggling to get along and further the gospel of Christ because of the strife.
The response: Paul rebuked them for their carnality. He all but seems to scream at them, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1:13).
He would stand for no one to receive glory but the Lord Jesus Christ. He publicly announced his happiness that he had only baptized a few of the church members because he wanted no glory or exaltation for himself. “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1:29) was Paul’s creed to which he clung with a fervent grip until his death. There is no division in Christ, and none can be allowed in His body, the church.
Our lesson: We are the body of Christ and can afford no contention or division. It is true that some ministers may have meant more to you and blessed you more than others, but we must never allow those emotions to bring discord to the body of Christ. We must love one another, forgive one another and bear with one another in order to fulfill the Great Commission of reaching our world. Divided and broken churches can never grow and move forward. Put your hurts and disappointments under the blood of Christ and remember the words of our Lord, “(Joh 13:35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”