1 Corinthians 11:19
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
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(19) For there must be also heresies.—Better, For there must be also sects. There have been many attempts to explain where lies the difference between the “divisions” of the former verse and the “sects” of this verse. From all that we know of the Apostolic Church it is clear that neither of these words can mean sects separated from the Church, but “parties” in the Church. Christ had foretold (Matthew 18:7) that “stumbling-blocks,” or “scandals,” must arise in the Church, and it is possible that our Lord on some occasion spoke of these as “sects” (Justin Martyr attributes the use of this very word to our Lord); and St. Paul, possibly, uses the word here because it was the one traditionally reported as having been used by Christ in some of His unrecorded utterances. Christ has foretold that in the divine economy of permission such divisions will arise. They are allowed because this is a state of continual judgment; and the existence of such “offences” will be God’s means of manifesting those who are void of offence, and those who are not.

11:17-22 The apostle rebukes the disorders in their partaking of the Lord's supper. The ordinances of Christ, if they do not make us better, will be apt to make us worse. If the use of them does not mend, it will harden. Upon coming together, they fell into divisions, schisms. Christians may separate from each other's communion, yet be charitable one towards another; they may continue in the same communion, yet be uncharitable. This last is schism, rather than the former. There is a careless and irregular eating of the Lord's supper, which adds to guilt. Many rich Corinthians seem to have acted very wrong at the Lord's table, or at the love-feasts, which took place at the same time as the supper. The rich despised the poor, and ate and drank up the provisions they brought, before the poor were allowed to partake; thus some wanted, while others had more than enough. What should have been a bond of mutual love and affection, was made an instrument of discord and disunion. We should be careful that nothing in our behaviour at the Lord's table, appears to make light of that sacred institution. The Lord's supper is not now made an occasion for gluttony or revelling, but is it not often made the support of self-righteous pride, or a cloak for hypocrisy? Let us never rest in the outward forms of worship; but look to our hearts.For there must be - It is necessary (δεῖ dei); it is to he expected; there are reasons why there should be. What these reasons are he states in the close of the verse; compare Matthew 18:7; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:2. The meaning is, not that divisions are inseparable from the nature of the Christian religion, not that it is the design and wish of the Author of Christianity that they should exist, and not that they are physically impossible, for then they could not be the subject of blame; but that such is human nature, such are the corrupt passions of men, the propensity to ambition and strifes, that they are to be expected, and they serve the purpose of showing who are, and who are not, the true friends of God.

Heresies - Margin, "Sects." Greek Αἱρεσεις Haireseis see the note at Acts 24:14. The words "heresy" and "heresies" occur only in these places, and in Galatians 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1. The Greek word occurs also in Acts 5:17 (translated "sect"); Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5; Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22, in all which places it denotes, and is translated, "sect." We now attach to the word usually the idea of a fundamental error in religion, or some "doctrine" the holding of which will exclude from salvation. But there is no evidence that the word is used in this signification in the New Testament. The only place where it can be supposed to be so used, unless this is one, is in Galatians 5:20, where, however, the word "contentions" or "divisions," would be quite as much in accordance with the connection. That the word here does not denote error in doctrine, but schism, division, or "sects," as it is translated in the margin, is evident from two considerations:

(1) It is the proper philological meaning of the word, and its established and common signification in the Bible.

(2) it is the sense which the connection here demands. The apostle had made no reference to error of doctrine, but is discoursing solely of "irregularity" in "conduct;" and the first thing which he mentions, is, that there were schisms, divisions, strifes. The idea that the word here refers to "doctrines" would by no means suit the connection, and would indeed make nonsense. It would then read, "I hear that there are divisions or parties among you, and this I cannot commend you for. For it must he expected that there would be "fundamental errors of doctrine" in the church." But Paul did not reason in this manner. The sense is, "There are divisions among you. It is to be expected: there are causes for it; and it cannot he avoided that there should be, in the present state of human nature, divisions and sects formed in the church; and this is to be expected in order that those who are true Christians should be separated from those who are not." The foundation of this necessity is not in the Christian religion itself, for that is pure, and contemplates and requires union; but the existence of sects, and denominations, and contentious may be traced to the following causes:

(1) The love of power and popularity. Religion may be made the means of power; and they who have the control of the consciences of people, and of their religious feelings and opinions, can control them altogether.

(2) showing more respect to a religious teacher than to Christ; see Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:12.

(3) the multiplication of tests, and the enlargement of creeds and confessions of faith. The consequence is, that every new doctrine that is incorporated into a creed gives occasion for those to separate who cannot accord with it.

(4) the passions of people - their pride, and ambition, and bigotry, and unenlightened zeal. Christ evidently meant that his church should be one; and that all who were his true followers should be admitted to her communion, and acknowledged everywhere as his own friends. And the time may yet come when this union shall be restored to his long distracted church, and that while there may be an honest difference of opinion maintained and allowed, still the bonds of Christian love shall secure union of "heart" in all who love the Lord Jesus, and union of "effort" in the grand enterprise in which all can unite - that of making war upon sin, and securing the conversion of the whole world to God.

That they which are approved - That they who are approved of God, or who are his true friends, and who are disposed to abide by his laws.

May be made manifest - May be known; recognized; seen. The effect of divisions and separations would be to show who were the friends of order, and peace, and truth. It seems to have been assumed by Paul, that they who made divisions could not be regarded as the friends of order and truth; or that their course could not be approved by God. The effect of these divisions would be to show who they were. So in all divisions, and all splitting into factions, where the great truths of Christianity are held, and where the corruption of the mass does not require separation, such divisions show who are the restless, ambitious, and dissatisfied spirits; who they are that are indisposed to follow the things that make for peace, and the laws of Christ enjoining union; and who they are who are gentle and peaceful, and disposed to pursue the way of truth, and love, and order, without contentions and strifes. This is the effect of schisms in the church; and the whole strain of the argument of Paul is to reprove and condemn such schisms, and to hold up the authors of them to reproof and condemnation; see Romans 16:17, "Mark them which cause divisions, and avoid them."

19. heresies—Not merely "schisms" or "divisions" (1Co 11:18), which are "recent dissensions of the congregation through differences of opinion" [Augustine, Con. Crescon. Don. 2.7, quoted by Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament], but also "heresies," that is, "schisms which have now become inveterate"; "Sects" [Campbell, vol. 2, pp. 126, 127]: so Ac 5:17; 15:5 translate the same Greek. At present there were dissensions at the love-feasts; but Paul, remembering Jesus' words (Mt 18:7; 24:10, 12; Lu 17:1) foresees "there must be (come) also" matured separations, and established parties in secession, as separatists. The "must be" arises from sin in professors necessarily bearing its natural fruits: these are overruled by God to the probation of character of both the godly and the ungodly, and to the discipline of the former for glory. "Heresies" had not yet its technical sense ecclesiastically, referring to doctrinal errors: it means confirmed schisms. St. Augustine's rule is a golden rule as regards questions of heresy and catholicity: "In doubtful questions, liberty; in essentials, unity; in all things, charity."

that … approved may be made manifest—through the disapproved (reprobates) becoming manifested (Lu 2:35; 1Jo 2:19).

There must be; it is not simply and absolutely necessary that there should be such divisions amongst you, (they are caused from the free acts of men’s corrupt wills), but yet these things do not fall out by chance, but through the providence of God, who hath so immutably ordered and decreed, to suffer Satan to show his malice, and men to discover the lusts and corruptions of their own hearts.

Heresies: though heresy be a term that, by ecclesiastical usage, is restrained to signify perverse opinions in matter of doctrine, as to which men are stubborn and tenacious; yet it is manifest, that the word is not natively so to be restrained, neither can it reasonably be here so interpreted, but signifies the same thing with schisms and divisions before mentioned: for though (as will appear from 1 Corinthians 15:1-58) there were corrupt opinions amongst them in matters of doctrine, yet it is unreasonable to understand the apostle here, as speaking with reference to them, these words being brought as a reason why he was inclined to believe that there were such schisms or divisions amongst them, because there must be heresies.

That they which are approved may be made manifest among you: God hath his wise end in suffering breaches and divisions, that such as are true and sincere Christians, opposing themselves to such violations of charity, might appear to you to be true and sincere, and to have the love of God dwelling, working, and prevailing in them.

For there must be also heresies among you.... This is a reason why he was ready to believe there might be something of truth in the report he had received of the divisions among them; for if there were heresies, false doctrines, and bad principles, among them, such as were subversive of the fundamentals of Christianity, as the denial of the resurrection of the dead, &c. it was no wonder that there were schisms and factions among them, since heresies generally issue in them. These, the apostle says, "must be"; because God has decreed they shall, whose counsel is immutable, and his purpose unalterable; and since this always was the case, that there were false prophets under the former dispensation, it must be expected that false teachers will arise in the churches now, bringing in damnable heresies; and since Satan is always busy to sow the tares of false doctrine; and human nature, being both weak and wicked, is so susceptible thereof, and so easily imposed upon and deceived, it cannot be thought that it should be otherwise; which, by the goodness and wisdom of God, are overruled to a very good purpose:

that they which are approved: who sincerely believe in Christ, are sound in the faith, and have a well grounded experience of it; who have themselves tried things that differ, and approve of them that are excellent, and have been tried by others, and found to be sincere, upright, and faithful, and are approved of God and good men:

may be made manifest among you; by their steadfastness in the faith, their zealous attachment to it, earnest contention for it, and warm and honest vindication of it; and by the departure of those from them who oppose it, and go on the side of error and heresy; by which means it is known who are the sincere followers of the Lamb, in doctrine, discipline, and conversation, and who not.

{16} For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are {f} approved may be made manifest among you.

(16) Although schisms and heresies proceed from the devil, and are evil, yet they come not by chance, nor without cause, and they turn to the profit of the elect.

(f) Whom experience has taught to be of sound religion and godliness.

1 Corinthians 11:19. Paul is prepared to believe what he thus hears; these divisions were inevitable: “For indeed parties must needs exist among you”.—δεῖ affirms a necessity lying in the moral conditions of the case (see note on ὀφείλω, 1 Corinthians 11:7).—αἵρεσις (see parls., and note on 1 Corinthians 1:11; from αἱρέομαι, to choose) is more specific than σχίσμα, implying mental tendency—in philosophy a school, Richtung, then a sect or party formed on a basis of opinion: see Cr[1693], s.v.; also Trench, Syn. § 4; “Heresy is theoretical schism, schism practical heresy”. These words designate, as yet, parties within the Church; in Titus 3:10, 2 Peter 2:1, they verge toward their ecclesiastical use.—Now there is a true purpose of God fulfilled in these unhappy divisions; they serve to sift the loyal from the disloyal. “in order that also the approved may become manifest among you”. These αἱρέσεις are a magnet attracting unsound and unsettled minds, and leaving genuine believers to stand out “approved” by their constancy; see 2 Thessalonians 2:11 f., where the same thought is differently applied; also Romans 5:4, ἡ ὑπομονὴ κατεργάζεται δοκιμήν, 1 Peter 1:7; alsoTert[1694], De Prœscr. Hœret., 4, “ut fides habendo tentationem habeat etiam probationem”. For δόκιμος, accepted on proof, see parls., esp. 1 Corinthians 9:27; those approved with God thus “become manifest” to men; “l’effet est de manifester au grand jour les membres de l’église sérieux et de bon aloi” (Gd[1695]). “Dominus talibus experimentis probat constantiam suorum. Pulchra consolatio!” (Cv[1696]).

[1693] Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of N.T. Greek (Eng. Trans.).

[1694]ert. Tertullian.

[1695] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1696] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

19. heresies] Sects, Tyndale. Rotten (i.e. factions), Luther. This word is variously translated in our version. In the Acts (Acts 5:17, Acts 15:5, Acts 24:5, Acts 28:22) it is usually translated sect. But in Acts 24:14 and in Galatians 5:20. so and 2 Peter 2:1, it is rendered, as here, by the word heresy. It signifies the deliberate choice of a doctrine or line of conduct, as opposed to receiving it on authority. St Paul must be understood as saying that not only will there be dissension and division among Christians, but that some of them will go their own way in spite of the instructions both in doctrine and practice delivered to them by Christ’s Apostles. So St Chrysostom and many other Greek Fathers. Cf. Acts 20:29; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 2:1; Judges 18; also ch. 1 Corinthians 14:38.

that they which are approved may be made manifest among you] The Greek is not simply so that, but in order that, as though God had permitted these evils to arise in order to test the faith and patience of Christian men. Cf. St James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:6-7.

approved] Probati, Vulgate; δόκιμος, he who has stood the trial. It is the opposite of ἀδόκιμος, reprobate, rejected; see ch. 1 Corinthians 9:17. δοκίμιον, a noun derived from this word, is translated trial in the passages cited in the last note. Cf. St James 1:12, where the words when he is tried should rather be rendered having become approved (δόκιμος), and 2 Corinthians 13:7.

1 Corinthians 11:19. Καὶ αἱρέσεις, also heresies) Schisms and heresies are here applied to one thing; nor is the also intended to make a distinction; but this is its meaning: not only many good things, not merely small stumbling-blocks, 1 Corinthians 8:9, are found among you, but there must be also heresies, or different opinions and schisms, which generally arise out of them. Now there is at once both necessity for these and it is profitable to the godly, where men less approved are mixed up with them. A schism is a mutual separation; heresy is the separation of one party from the unity of the Church, in regard either to faith, or worship.—οἱ δόκιμοι, those approved) Therefore there were at least some such persons among them. A conciliatory (ἀστεῖος) mode of expression; for what he really meant to say, was, that those less approved should be openly manifested.

Verse 19. - There must be also heresies among you. It results from the inevitable decrees of the Divine providence. "It is impossible but that offences will come" (Luke 17:11). Heresies. The word does not mean "erroneous opinions," but party factions. Originally the word only means "a choice," and is not used in a bad sense; but since the opinionativeness of men pushes "a choice" into a "party," and since it is the invariable tendency of a party to degenerate into a "faction," the word soon acquires a bad sense (see its use in Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5, 14: 28:22; Galatians 5:20; Titus 3:10; 2 Peter 2:1; and Gieseler, 'Church Hist.,' 1:149). The mutually railing factions, which in their Church newspapers and elsewhere bandy about their false and rival charges of "heresy," are illustrating the virulence of the very sin which they are professing to denounce - the sin of factiousness. That they which are approved may be made manifest among you. Similarly St. John (1 John 2:19) speaks of the aberrations of false teachers as destined to prove that they did not belong to the true Church. Good is educed out of seeming evil (James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:6, 7). Approved; standing the test (dokimoi), the opposite of the "reprobate" (adokimoi) of 1 Corinthians 9:27. 1 Corinthians 11:19Heresies (αἱρἐσεις)

See on 2 Peter 2:1. In Paul only here and Galatians 5:20. Better, parties or factions, as the result of the divisions.

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