Appeal for Unity

Key Verse: “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.”
—I Corinthians 1:10

Selected Scripture:
I Corinthians 1:2-17

IN ADDRESSING THE church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul refers to them as “sanctified in the Anointed Jesus, constituted Holy Ones.” (I Cor. 1:2, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) He identifies these as those who have accepted through faith the merit of Jesus’ shed blood, and have given their hearts to God in unreserved consecration. Being called of God and set apart, or sanctified through Christ Jesus, these had received God’s unmerited favor and his peace, as identified in verse 3.

In verses 4-9, Paul offers an expression of thanks that is typical of his other epistles. Notice that Paul’s thanks are rendered not directly to the Corinthians, but rather to God, by whose grace they had been “enriched.” Paul mentions in his thanks to God precisely some of those things that the Corinthians had not always used wisely: “utterance” and “knowledge,” “the testimony of Christ” (vss. 5,6), and spiritual “gifts.” (vs. 7) Also, Paul does not immediately focus on their misconduct. Instead he lovingly reminds them (vss. 8,9) that their strength depends, both now and in the future, on God’s faithfulness, which he assures will be unfailing through “the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”—vs. 9

Paul finally begins to address one of the difficulties afflicting the church at Corinth: the breakdown of unity and the proliferation of divisions. This was evidently a major problem for these brethren, because Paul gives careful attention to the matter in different ways throughout the epistle.

The primary problem appears to have been the Corinthians’ desire for human leadership. Factions had cropped up around various figures accorded prominence within the church. Verse 12 states that some claimed to be followers of Paul, others of Apollos, still others of Cephas (Peter), with some correctly claiming to be followers of Christ (but having the wrong spirit).

In giving thanks that he had baptized only a few (vss. 14,16), Paul chided the Corinthians for elevating their leaders improperly, thereby causing serious injury to the churches in Christ. (vs. 13) Paul wanted no part of this spirit. His sole mission, he states in verse 17, was “to preach the Gospel,” and to do so in such a way that the power of Christ’s cross would in no way be compromised.

The lesson for the church today is the same as it was for the brethren of Corinth. God has seen fit to provide us with many human instruments to teach us and guide us along the narrow way. However, great damage can be caused to both these instruments as well as ourselves if we have the same spirit of division or human elevation that plagued the Corinthians. As Jesus himself said, “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.”—Matt. 23:8

Let each strive to do his part in maintaining the spirit of unity in the church, remembering that there is but “One body, and one Spirit … One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all.”—Eph. 4:4-6

Dawn Bible Students Association
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