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1 Corinthians 1:10-17

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? (verses 10-13)


“Divisions” and “quarrels” – these seem to be major issues in the life of the Corinthian church.

I could ask each of us, “Have you ever experienced any of this?” But I hardly need to. I assume, if we’re involved in church at all, we’ve seen it. This kind of disharmony seems to almost be a default setting. How easily we fall into it.

There seems to be an awful lot of pride in all of this. All of the “I” statements make it clear. “I follow Paul … I follow Apollos …” etc. People were lining up with the perceived styles and perspectives of different leaders, in an apparent attempt to show themselves “better than” their fellow believers. The irony, of course, is that all these leaders (Christ included!) are all on the same team. From what we know of the early church, none of them were actually fomenting division or rallying troops in opposition to the others. We hear Paul affirming the ministry of Apollos (I Cor. 16:12, Titus 3:13) and Peter affirming the ministry of Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16), and although Paul rebuked Peter publicly on one occasion (Gal. 2:11-14), this is the “iron sharpening iron” activity of brothers – there is nothing to indicate any ongoing breach. The Corinthians simply chose to take up these banners on their own, seeking to strengthen their individual positions.

Of course, it’s much worse when leaders themselves stir up such factionalism. It happens all too often. But the church of Corinth shows us that even without leaders joining the fray, party spirit and pride can fester.

Paul says, “Stop it.” But he doesn’t pull out his “Apostle” card – he simply appeals to these fellow believers as “brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 10). It’s as if Paul is lovingly saying, “Remember who you are, and whose you are.” The solution to divisiveness is to keep eyes on Jesus. We are his. We are his body, his family. Set divisions and quarrels aside.

It's a message equally as pertinent today as it was then.

What Paul urges the Corinthians, and us, is to “agree with one another in what you say … that you (may) be perfectly united in mind and thought” (verse 10). This seems like an incredibly high calling, with the potential downside of eliminating individuality. But Paul isn’t urging uniformity. We know this because later in this very letter he will revel in the rich diversity of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12), while also making room for differences of opinion on issues of conscience, like eating food sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8 ). Rather, Paul is urging us not to make “talking points” of our differences, pridefully speaking them out. Instead, we are to stake our ground on being united in mind and thought “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let the main thing be the main thing. Be united in Christ.

In another letter, Paul will say, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose … Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus …” (Philippians 2:2, 5). Jesus’ attitude, of course, was one of utter humility, laying aside his rank and rights, becoming a servant – all for us.

It’s an incredible antidote to prideful divisiveness.


Lord Jesus, may your mind so be in me that I may be an agent of love, peace, reconciliation and unity within your body. For your name’s sake. Amen.


Pray: Take the words of this classic hymn and make it your prayer today: May the mind of Christ, my Saviour, Live in me from day to day, By his love and power controlling All I do and say.


Photo by Janay Peters on Unsplash

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