1 Corinthians 1:11, 12
For it has been declared to me of you, my brothers, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.…
Introduce by showing the various elements of which the Church at Corinth was composed. There are signs that some members wore wealthy and learned, many were certainly poor, and probably many were slaves. Those who suddenly become wealthy are always in peril of showing masterfulness, and claiming undue authority and. influence. Party feeling ran high in Corinth, and this, with the mixed character of the population, tended to break society into sects and schools. This affected the Church, and. Paul received reports of the disposition to make parties within it, and so destroy the unity of the Church in Christ; such reports greatly distressed him, and they are in part the immediate occasion of his writing this Epistle. The subject of the verses before us we may take to be Church unity - how it may be preserved and lost. Our Lord and his apostles manifest a peculiar anxiety for the conservation of the unity of the Church, and appear to regard that unity as essential to the Church's stability and growth and witness.
I. CHURCH UNITY PRESERVED BY MAKING EVERYTHING OF CHRIST. He is the one living Head, the only Master and Lord. The common life of the Chinch is the life in Christ. The Church is a whole vine, made up of many branches, but Christ is the uniting and quickening Life in them all. The direct and immediate dependence of each individual upon the same Lord Jesus Christ is the one secret of maintaining the unity. We have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Then it follows flat a man keeps in the unity as he keeps up his dependence on Christ, and the unity of the Church is realized only in the completeness of the loyally of its members to Christ, And the one thing that mars the unity is the one thing that separates from Christ, viz. man's self willedness. The yielded will to Christ's living lead is not a crushed will. Such yielded personal wills to Christ ensure a mutual sympathy which will ever preserve brotherhood and unity in the Church.
II. CHURCH UNITY LOST BY MAKING TOO MUCH OF MAN. We are greatly helped by human teachers, but there is a constant peril of our making too much of them, and putting their modes of setting the truth in the place of the truth itself. Following after favourite preachers has always been, and still is, one of the weaknesses of Christian life and habit. In the early Church differences were observed in the teachings even of the apostles themselves, and preferences were easily based on these differences. The four Gospels have marked individuality, and the writings of the apostles which are preserved for us indicate that particular aspects of the truth gained prominence in the teachings of each of them. While this fact secures that we see all round the Christian revelation, it may easily be exaggerated and misused. It is when it is made the excuse for manifesting the party spirit. The gospel truth is a many sided unity; the unity lies in the revelation of one Christ; the many sidedness is involved in the various relations to men in which the one Christ stands. Paul put forward prominently "justification by faith," "the salvability of the Gentiles," and "Christian liberty." Apollos had a singularly attractive power of eloquence, and became a sort of "popular preacher." Peter became the centre round which the Jewish elements of the community gathered. Apply, by showing the serious moral evils of sectarian feeling and partisanship; its influence on the man's own Christian spirit who may nourish it; its mischievous influence on the community; and the hindrance it presents to the progress of the gospel. "Nothing more certainly eats out the heart and life of religion than party spirit. Christianity is love; party spirit is the death of love." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.