10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13)
Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mk. 3:24); and likewise, we can infer that a local church divided against itself cannot stand either. Apparently this was one of the primary reasons for which Paul wrote to the church at Corinth – to exhort them that there be no divisions among them (1 Cor. 1:10b; 3:3-4; 11:18). Therefore, Paul’s first bit of gracious, Christ-centered pleading came in the tenth verse of the opening chapter. The address was serious – he exhorted them by the “name of our Lord Jesus Christ”; and yet, he was tender – he called them “brethren.” And he charged them to (a) have no divisions among them and (b) to be of the same mind (vs.10b). This didn’t mean that everyone’s opinions on every conceivable topic had to be unanimous; rather, their love for one another and Christ was to preserve unity even amidst differences and diversity. In fact, the word translated “perfectly joined together” in the NKJV is the Greek word katertismenoi and it is the same word used to speak of the disciples mending their nets (Mt. 4:21; Mk 1:19). In other words, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wanted the rips in the fabric of the local church repaired.
And so they would know what Paul was referring to, after all, you could imagine some Corinthian saying, ‘Divisions? What in the world are you talking about, Paul?’, he provided them with an immediate example: “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘ I am of Christ'” (vs.12). Let this be a lesson to us as to how easily fallen man, even a Christian fallen man, can corrupt the good blessings of God. The Corinthians had taken names like Paul, Apollos, Cephas, and Christ, and turned those names into badges of self aggrandizement. So rather than being unified they became schismatic and Paul besought them to mend the fractures by embracing Gospel-centered harmony. He recalled their attention to the centrality of Jesus in verse thirteen:
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul (vs.13)?”
Each question is meant to be a reminder of the One whose body they formed; the One who bore their wrath on the cross; and the One whose death, burial, and resurrection they identified with in baptism. As much of a blessing as Paul, Apollos, and Cephas were, they were not Jesus. Jesus takes center stage. The Christian boasts about His cross and Hisvictory over the grave. And when Gospel-centeredness is shared there should be great unity over the greatness of the Gospel.
Therefore, let us be exhorted to have a Chloe-like mindset (vs.11) and be concerned for unity in the local church, being net-menders as opposed to contentious, faction-leaders; all because the logic of the Gospel and the greatness of the cross dictate that it should be so.