Text: 1 Corinthians 1:10-20
By: Emmanuel, Adeoye (Evangelist)
Paul first attacked the serious problem of defilement in the church, yet he said nothing about the problem itself, instead, he took the positive approach and reminded the believers of their high and holy position in Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 1:1-9, he described the church that God sees; in 1 Cor 1:10-31, he described the church that men see. What we are in Jesus Christ positionally ought to be what we practice in daily life, but often we fail.
Note the characteristics of the church because of our holy calling in Jesus Christ.
Set apart by God (vv. 1-3). The word church in the Greek language means “a called-out people.” Each church has two addresses: a geographic address (“at Corinth”) and a spiritual address (“in Christ Jesus”). The church is made up of saints, that is, people who have been or “set apart” by God. A saint is not a dead person who has been honored by men because of his or her holy life.
No, Paul wrote to living saints, people who, through faith in Jesus Christ had been set apart for God’s special enjoyment and use.
In other words, every true believer is a saint because every true believer has been set apart by God and for God. When a man and woman pledge their love to each other, they are set apart for each other; and any other relationship outside of marriage is sinful. Just so, the Christian belongs completely to Jesus Christ he is set apart for Him and Him alone. But he is also a part of a worldwide fellowship, the church, “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:2). A defiled and unfaithful believer not only sins against the Lord, but he also sins against his fellow Christians.
Enriched by God’s grace (vv. 4-6). Salvation is a gracious gift from God, but when you are saved, you are also given spiritual gifts. (Paul explained this in detail in 1 Cor 12-14.) The Greek word translated “enriched” gives us our English word plutocrat, “a very wealthy person.” The Corinthians were especially rich in spiritual gifts (2 Cor 8:7), but were not using these gifts in a spiritual manner. The fact that God has called us, set us apart, and enriched us ought to encourage us to live holy lives.
Expecting Jesus to return (v. 7). Paul will have a great deal to say about this truth in 1 Cor 15. Christians who are looking for their Saviour will want to keep their lives above reproach (1 John 2:28-3:3).
Depending on God’s faithfulness (vv. 8-9). The work of God was confirmed in them (1 Cor 1:6), but it was also confirmed to them in the Word. This is a legal term that refers to the guarantee that settles a transaction. We have the witness of the Spirit within us and the witness of the Word before us, guaranteeing that God will keep His “contract” with us and save us to the very end. Tins guarantee is certainly not an excuse for sin!
Rather, it is the basis for a growing relationship of love, trust, and obedience. Now, in the light of these great truths, how could the people in the Corinthian assembly get involved in the sins of the world and the flesh? They were an elect people, an enriched people, and an established people. They were saints, set apart for the glory of God! Alas, their practice was not in accord with their position. When Paul mentioned the word fellowship in 1 Cor 1:9, he introduced a second aspect of the Christian’s calling.
Called into Fellowship (1 Cor 1:10-25) Having mentioned the problem of defilement in the church, now Paul turned to the matter of division in the church. Division has always been a problem among God’s people, and almost every New Testament epistle deals with this topic or mentions it in one way or another. Even the 12 Apostles did not always get along with each other.
In 1 Cor 1:13, Paul asked his readers three important questions, and these three questions are the key to this long paragraph.
The key word in this paragraph is wisdom; it is used eight times. The key idea – that Paul expressed is that we dare not mix man’s wisdom with God’s revealed message. The entire section on wisdom (1 Cor 1:17-2:16) presents a number of contrasts between the revealed Word of God and the wisdom of men. God’s wisdom is revealed primarily in the cross of Jesus Christ but not everybody sees this. Paul pointed out that there are three different attitudes toward the cross.
Is Christ divided? (vv. 10-13a) The verb means, “Has Christ been divided and different parts handed out to different people?” The very idea is grotesque and must be rejected. Paul did not preach one Christ, Apollos another, and Peter another. There is but one Saviour and one Gospel (Gal 1:6-9). How, then, did the Corinthians create this four-way division?
Why were there quarrels (“contentions’) among them?
One answer is that they were looking at the Gospel from a philosophical point of view. Corinth was a city filled with teachers and philosophers, all of whom wanted to share their “wisdom.
Another answer is that human nature enjoys following human leaders. We tend to identify more with spiritual leaders who help us and whose ministry we understand and enjoy. Instead of emphasizing the message of the Word, the Corinthians emphasized the messenger. They got their eyes off the Lord and on the Lord’s servants, and this led to competition.
Paul will point out in 1 Cor 3 that there can be no competition among true servants of God. It is sinful for church members to compare pastors, or for believers to follow human leaders as disciples of men and not disciples of Jesus Christ. The “personality cults” in the church today are in direct disobedience to the Word of God. Only Jesus Christ should have the place of pre-eminence (Col 1:18).
Paul used several key words in this section to emphasize the unity of the saints in Christ. He called his readers brethren, reminding them that they belonged to one family.
The phrase “perfectly joined together” is a medical term that describes the unity of the human body knit together. So, they had a loving union as members of the body. They were also identified by the name of Jesus Christ. This was probably a reference to their baptism.
We do not know who the people were who belonged to “the house of Chloe,” but we commend them for their courage and devotion. They did not try to hide the problems. They were burdened about them; they went to the right person with them, and they were not afraid to be mentioned by Paul.
This was not the kind of “cloak and dagger” affair that we often see in churches – activities that usually make the problem worse and not better. Paul was the minister who founded the church, so most of the members would have been converted through his ministry.
Apollos followed Paul (Acts 18:24-28) and had an effective ministry. We have no record that Peter (Cephas) ever visited Corinth, unless 1 Cor 9:5 records it Each of these men had a different personality and a different approach to the ministry of the Word; yet they were one (1 Cor 3:3-8; 4:6).
because the Corinthians were making too much of it “I was baptized by Apollos!” one would boast, while another would say, “Oh, but I was baptized by Paul!” It is wrong to identify any man’s name with your baptism other than the name of Jesus Christ. To do so is to create division.
I have read accounts about people who had to be baptized by a certain preacher, using special water (usually from the Jordan River), on a special day, as though these are the matters that are important! Instead of honoring the Lord Jesus Christ and promoting the unity of the church, these people exalt men and create disunity.
Crispus had been the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:8); and Gaius was probably the man Paul lived with when he wrote Romans (Rom 16:23). “The household of Stephanas” (1 Cor 1:16) is probably described in part in 1 Cor 16:15-18.
Apparently, Paul did not carry with him a record of the names of all the people he baptized. It was sufficient that they were written in God’s book.
Was Paul crucified for you? (vv. 25) The mention of the cross in 1 Cor 1:17 introduced this long section on the power of the Gospel versus the weakness of man’s wisdom.
It is interesting to see how Paul approached this problem of division in the church. First, he pointed to the unity of Christ: there is one Saviour and one body. Then he reminded them of their baptism, a picture of their spiritual baptism into Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:13).
The key word in this paragraph is wisdom; it is used eight times. The key idea – that Paul expressed is that we dare not mix man’s wisdom with God’s revealed message. The entire section on wisdom (1 Cor 1:17-2:16) presents a number of contrasts between the revealed Word of God and the wisdom of men.
God’s wisdom is revealed primarily in the cross of Jesus Christ but not everybody sees this. Paul pointed out that there are three different attitudes toward the cross.