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The Importance of Christian Unity in 1 Corinthians

A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Lesson 34:
“Ye Are the Body of Christ”

 

 

Transcript

In Paul’s first extant letter to the Corinthians (he wrote an earlier letter which we don’t have), a prominent theme that emerges is the importance of Christian unity. This theme shows up beginning in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13:

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

So the Christians are specifically directed that they should be one in doctrine, organization, and judgment.

11 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.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Paul is concerned with the divisions and factions that existed within this branch of the Church of Jesus Christ. The members of the Church are guilty of contention. Some are even beginning to call themselves by the name of someone other than Christ. To this Paul replies,
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

The answer should be obvious: Christ is one and those who would take upon them his name must likewise be united. Idolatrous celebritization of leaders is strictly prohibited, like all other forms of idolatry.

He continues his rebuke of disunity in 1 Corinthians 3:3-4, “3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” This is interesting because it seems that these divisions are keeping the Saints from living like saints, but this goes beyond favorite apostles. They are also engaged in envy, and coveting any of your neighbor’s belongings which is forbidden in Exodus 20:17, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” Coveting can absolutely contribute to disunity, as seen here.

In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Paul notes that, “16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” From this, we can conclude that participation in the ordinances ought to help bring us together.

1 Corinthians 11:18, on the other hand, provides what was, for me, the humorous climax of the letter. Says Paul, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.” So not only are the Saints divided, but now Paul is divided within himself, with only part of him believing these reports.

So what can be done to heal the divided Corinthians? What can help bring them together? 1 Corinthians 12, suggests an answer. I will quote from the Wayment translation for a little extra clarity, beginning with verse 4:

4 There are different spiritual gifts, but the same spirit,
5 and there are differences in service, but the same Lord,
6 and there are different types of activities, but it is the same God who does them all in everyone.
7 Each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Each person who joins the Church of Jesus Christ receives the Holy Ghost, and with it a gift or gifts with which to serve others. The gifts of the Spirit should bring the Church together because we each have gifts that others need and others have gifts that we need. One person’s strength complements another’s weakness and one person’s weakness allows another person’s strength to emerge. We thus need one another because both our strengths and weaknesses can help perfect us in Christ when we are united together.

As we each serve one another in the spirit of Charity, which Paul especially emphasizes in chapter 13, using whatever gifts we have been given to bless others including in whatever capacity we have been called (1 Corinthians 12:27-31), the Church of Jesus Christ can be united together in love and divisions like those that arose among the Corinthians can be healed.

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