1 Corinthians 1:10
English Standard Version
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
Such strong and urgent ‘appeal’ from Paul to the Corinthian church! Is it possible for a church to have all agree? That there be no division among them?
Why did Paul write to the Corinthian church? How did he start the letter?
1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
These verses are the salutations: the ‘From’ and ‘To’ of any letter or memo – means of communication – containing a message. Paul wrote the letter together with Sosthenes (his secretary/co-author).
v. 2 “called to be saints TOGETHER with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus, both their Lord and ours:” Together stands out for me.
Paul wrote the letter because there were divisions among them. They were playing ‘kampihan’ – a Filipino term for taking sides; having factions.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
Truly, that is a scenario not only in their times but at any time in church history even till today.. not only at church but at any social institution – whether home, school, business, government etc.
Even when we were children, we played kampihan. Aside from teaming up to compete in games, we also kampi-kampi in our quarrels. Don’t children like to call allies to their cause when they quarrel? We want people to side with us when we have ‘enemy.’
Paul praised the church for their giftedness (vv.4-6). He knew how to sandwich his rebuke with good words. He acknowledged and reminded them that they were blessed with many abilities (in speech and knowledge, gift) by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
The other part of the sandwich is contained in vv.18-31. This passage is one of my favourite Biblical expositions on ‘wisdom’ truths.
The reason people quarrel is often because of pride. Pride that stems self/ego importance. See how Paul ended the chapter. v. 31 Let the one who boasts, boasts in the Lord.
NIV/NLT have a reference or footnote to this verse. When I first noticed this, I looked up Jeremiah 9:24. This verse became one of my most memorised verses. v. 23 is just as important – because it completes v. 24.
23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
The antidote to pride (cause of quarrels) – boasting in self is to boast in the Lord.
The whole passage vv. 18-31 speaks of the upside down kingdom of God so different from the worldly standard of wisdom. God considers foolish what the world thinks is wise. God chooses the weak and things that are not to invalidate the things that the world considers worthy.
To boast in the Lord is to take delight/ consider important the things that God delights in. To boast in the Lord is to take pride in the knowledge of the Lord.. to say that I know who my God is. My God is compassionate, merciful, just, and righteous. More than just head knowledge, it is about obeying Him to live a life of compassion, mercy, justice and integrity – a wholeness of being.
Kindness = compassion = mercy… Love is patient and kind. It takes humility to be patient and kind when people are impatient and unkind to us. It takes integrity (maturity in doing the right thing) to be just and righteous even when no one sides with you.
So many quarrels can be avoided, divisions resolved if only people take pride in the right things… not in wisdom, not in wealth, not in strength or power.. but in the knowledge of the Lord.
Today is another day to live at peace and in peace with one another. To all agree and have no division among the family of Jesus is to live humbly in unity in the fellowship of Jesus. To live in harmony with one another is to be united – boasting in the knowledge by the grace and mercy of our Lord: our God who practices steadfast love (hesed), justice and righteousness. To live life – loving God and loving neighbour as God commands us.
1 Corinthians 1:10