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Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – Divisions in Corinth

Summary

Paul urges the Corinthians to be of one mind and purpose rather than dividing themselves on the basis of loyalty to individual leaders of the church.

Analysis

After his greeting and thanksgiving, Paul begins this letter by speaking of divisions among the Corinthians and by urging them toward unity. From reports by members of Chloe's household, Paul knows about splits in the congregation. The group from Chloe's household may be those who delivered the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:1 from the Corinthians to Paul.
Church members are lining up behind different preachers and arguing for the priority of their favorite leader: "What I mean is that each of you says, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or 'I belong to Christ'" (1 Corinthians 1:12). According to Acts 18:24, Apollos was an Alexandrian Jew, well-versed in the Old Testament scriptures and an eloquent speaker. Cephas is another name for the apostle Peter. One faction claims to be "of Christ" rather than of any of the three apostles mentioned.
Work that each apostle has done (such as performing baptisms) seems to matter in the divisions the Corinthians are drawing about themselves. Paul rejects any ranking of human leaders or statements about affiliation with them. Instead, he urges the Corinthians to recognize their unity on the basis of two facts: it was Christ alone who was crucified for them, and all of them-regardless of who performed any particular baptism-were baptized into Christ.