Unhealthy Division (1 Corinthians 1:12-17)

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.” (1 Corinthians 1:10–11, AV)

When I moved to Savannah Georgia from Illinois, we purchased a house at the end of a long road. The first time I drove down this road, something struck me. There were two churches on the road one right beside the other. The name of the first church I passed as “First Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.” The church right along side of this church was named “Second Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.” I never got the full story regarding why there were two small and sparsely attended churches with virtually the same name sitting on connecting properties. However, I can imagine.

While I do not know for certain, it appears as if the second church was an offshoot from the first. Moreover, it seems likely that this may have happened due to some sort of church split. In my time as a Christian and a leader in many churches, I have seen the unfortunate results of divisions in churches. I know of many churches that have experienced church splits that have devastated ministries. In some of these cases the split has destroyed the ministry of the former church and the faction that split off.

The cause of church splits is normally contention between groups within the church. This is a most unhealthy situation that should never happen in the Lord’s church.

Paul received a report from Chloe’s people regarding contentions in the church at Corinth. There were factions in the church as various groups elevated certain teachers. In verse twelve, it is likely that he used these names illustratively rather than literally to make his point clear. Then he presents three rhetorical questions to get the church to understand how foolish they were in forming divisions.

The first, “Is Christ divided?” (v13). The Lord establishes the divine standard for unity. The church is the body of Christ. Christ is not divided and thus, the church is not divided. The problem is that churches often function in the flesh and do not walk in the truth that the church is united in Christ.

The second rhetorical is, “was Paul crucified for you?” this is to emphasize the point. We have one Savior. He is the one worthy of our praise and adoration.

Third, Paul asks, “were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” Jesus has supreme authority over the church. He is the head of the church. When people are baptized in the church they are baptized in the name of Jesus, under His authority.

Unfortunately, many things divide churches today. Many times, they are caused by superficial and needless arguments like music styles, building renovations, color schemes, etc. On other occasions I have seen where there are rivalries between Sunday school classes and groups in the church because they elevate their teachers over others. These divisions should never be.

To solve such division, the church must understand the supremacy of Christ and His teachings. Paul calls churches to be of one mind and judgment or understanding. Every person in a church must be vigilant to avoid cliques and factions. The reason is simple. Jesus stated this universal truth, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25, AV).

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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