Saturday, March 2, 2013

Essay 1–Cross and Unity–(1) The Problem

Outline: E1.1-Problem
Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:10-16
Discussion Audio (1h11m)

[Paul’s] point is that any division is wrong, even one based on the claim to be of Christ alone and so rejecting Paulinists and followers of Apollos.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary; 1 Cor. 1:12)

What defines Christian community? What is the appropriate focus for Christians?

Paul begins to address the first major issue in which the Corinthian church is embroiled – factional splits. These are not just mere disagreements but, based on Paul’s language, he equates them to all-out war that is tearing the church apart.

Paul appeals to the Corinthians to reconcile in the strongest terms possible. He appeals, not on the basis of leadership – not even Christ’s – but upon the cross of Christ and their initial entry into fellowship through the symbolic act of baptism.

Paul appeals to the Corinthians to “speak the same thing” (literal translation of phrase more commonly translated “agree with one another”, 1:10). It is clear that they are not speaking the same thing. Each faction is saying they follow a different leader. Paul implies that even “I follow Christ” is not appropriate as the primary basis for community.

So what should the Corinthians be saying? What should we be saying? Paul does not yet provide an answer.

  1. Summary Points[1]
    1. Ethnic divisions are unacceptable. Loyalty must not center on human leadership.
    2. No group has the right to claim they alone are loyal to Christ.
    3. “Our Lord Jesus Christ” is the only rightful center and source of unity.
    4. The cross and baptism form the central pillars of the believing community.
    5. Christianity is not about me; it’s about us.

The question is not “Who is my leader?” but rather, “Who died for us?”
(Kenneth E. Bailey; location 736)

[1] Bailey, loc. 731

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