1 Corinthians 1:10-13 ~ 20130203 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
02/03 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Say the Same Thing; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130203_1cor1_10-13.mp3
10 Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες, καὶ μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοῒ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ. 11 ἐδηλώθη γάρ μοι περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί μου, ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης ὅτι ἔριδες ἐν ὑμῖν εἰσιν. 12 λέγω δὲ τοῦτο ὅτι ἕκαστος ὑμῶν λέγει· Ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου, Ἐγὼ δὲ Ἀπολλῶ, Ἐγὼ δὲ Κηφᾶ, Ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ. 13 μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός; μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἢ εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Παύλου ἐβαπτίσθητε; 14 ⸀εὐχαριστῶ ὅτι οὐδένα ὑμῶν ἐβάπτισα εἰ μὴ Κρίσπον καὶ Γάϊον, 15 ἵνα μή τις εἴπῃ ὅτι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα ⸀ἐβαπτίσθητε· 16 ἐβάπτισα δὲ καὶ τὸν Στεφανᾶ οἶκον· λοιπὸν οὐκ οἶδα εἴ τινα ἄλλον ἐβάπτισα. 17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου, ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Paul is addressing the church of God in the city of Corinth, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, part of the wider body of Christ. Paul gives thanks to God for the good things God is doing in this church; God's grace is evident, and God is not giving up on these believers. Jesus will sustain them to the end guiltless in the day of Christ Jesus. God is faithful, and Paul's confidence lies not in the character of the Corinthians, but in the character of the faithful God who called them into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Having created an atmosphere of gratitude, having laid the foundation of Jesus, that it is all about Jesus and the faithfulness of God, Paul is ready to tackle the first major problem in this church. It is interesting where he starts. He doesn't start with the sick and twisted form of immorality that was being accepted in this church (ch.5), he doesn't start with the public litigation among believers (ch.6), he doesn't start with their questions over marriage (ch.7) or their questions about eating food sacrificed to idols (ch.8-10), he doesn't start by addressing their drunkenness and self-centeredness at the Lord's Supper (ch.11), he doesn't immediately address their abuse of spectacular spiritual gifts and lack of love (ch.12-14), or even their confusion over the resurrection (ch.15). Look at the first problem Paul addresses in this messed up church:
Paul spends the bulk of the first four chapters addressing this issue of division. This issue takes front and center in the letter.
If you remember back to his greeting in the first verses, he pointed them to the fact that they were a church; the church of God in Corinth, and that they were part of the wider body of Christ, that they were called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole thanksgiving is addressed not to you singular, the individuals, but to you plural, the whole group. And he says that you all have been called into the fellowship of Jesus. Division is the polar opposite of fellowship. You were called into fellowship; fellowship with Jesus and fellowship with one another. What in the world are you doing tearing apart Christ's body?
An Earnest Plea
Do you hear the earnestness of this plea for unity? Paul says 'I appeal to you'; I urge you, I beg you, I implore you, I entreat you. Brothers. He doesn't address them as converts or troublemakers or inferiors, but brothers; brothers and sisters. He comes along side them with brotherly affection and appeals to them in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for there is no higher name to appeal to. He is our Lord, our King, our authority, both yours and mine, so we are both under obligation to obey him. By the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, coming in the authority of that name, being under his authority, appealing to all that he is, his character, his desire, all that his name stands for, for his sake, for his benefit, for the fame of his name.
Say the Same Thing
Paul's earnest appeal is that they all agree. Literally, that you all say the same thing. What does this mean? In many cults, there is a creepy form of unity where everyone robotically uses the same words and phrases, and even dresses the same and acts the same and thinks the same. Is it this kind of cult-like uniformity that Paul is calling us to? It cannot be, because he will go on to teach in this very letter that there is much diversity in the body of Christ. There are different gifts given to different members of the body; there are different situations each person finds themselves in; there are different levels of maturity; different people have different strengths of conscience – and Paul does not condemn these differences, rather he encourages unity in the midst of diversity, seeking the advantage of others, being characterized by love toward others, all for the glory of God. This is not the monotone unity of each individual playing the same note, but each having our unique instruments tuned to the same master key, and playing our distinct parts from the same piece of music so as to create harmony and not just noise. To say the same thing does not mean that we all use exactly the same words; we can use different words to express the same thought. But if someone interviewed each of us about what was most important, would they come away impressed with the truth that each one has his own story, but we are all saying the same thing? Do we all agree on what the main thing is and do we all agree to keep the main thing the main thing?
No Rips; Knit Together
Paul goes on to clarify what he means. He appeals that we all agree, or say the same thing; that there be no divisions among us, that we be united in the same mind and the same judgment. To say the same thing means that there be no divisions among us. Jesus uses this word divisions in his parables to describe a tear in a garment (Mt.9:16; Mk.2:21). John's gospel uses this word to describe difference of opinion on who Jesus is (Jn.7:43; 9:16; 10:19); some said he must be the Christ, while others said he can't be the Christ; some said he can't be from God because he breaks the Sabbath; others said he must be from God; some said he has a demon and is insane; others said that a demon-oppressed man doesn't speak like he speaks or open the eyes of the blind. These are watershed issues; is Jesus from God or not from God? A difference of this magnitude will create an irreparable rip in the fabric of the community.
Paul appeals that we say the same thing; that there be no divisions that tear us apart; that we be united in the same mind and the same judgment. This word 'united' is used in the gospels of repairing or mending fishing nets (Mt.4:21; Mk.1:19). It is sometimes translated 'restore', 'knit together' or 'perfectly unite'. When there are rips in relationships, they need to be sewn back together. In our thinking and in our purpose, we must be united, functioning as a team, working toward the same goal.
In verse 11, he communicates the source of his information, and more insight on what kind of division he is concerned about.
We don't know who Chloe's people were. Most agree that this is a woman's name, possibly a businesswoman with connections both in Corinth and in Ephesus, where Paul is writing from. Obviously the Corinthians would have known who this was, and it would demonstrate that Paul was not speculating. It is interesting that he doesn't keep his source anonymous with something like 'I have heard' or 'some people are complaining'. There is accountability in this. If Chloe's people are lying, they will have to answer for it. If it is the truth, they will have a harder time denying it. We don't know if this report came from believers or unbelievers. If it came from believers, we understand it to be out of care and concern for the health and well-being of the body of Christ in Corinth. If it came from unbelievers, this would bring serious shame; even the unbelieving community is aware that there is quarreling in the church, to such an extent that they felt they needed to inform the Apostle.
This word 'quarreling', sometimes translated 'strife, rivalry, or dissension' shows up frequently in lists of things that should not characterize Christians, alongside things like envy, murder, deceit, maliciousness, drunkenness, sexual immorality, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, disorder, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, fits of anger, divisions, slander, and evil suspicions (Romans 1:29-31; 13:13; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:19-21). Quarreling may sound like a minor issue, but to Paul it was deeply disturbing and demanded immediate attention. Quarreling, strife, or dissension would undercut the essential unity of Christ's body, and undermine their effectiveness in the world.
Obviously this was not a major theological or doctrinal issue, or Paul would have addressed it head on, as he does in other churches who had deviated from the simplicity of the gospel. Apparently these people got the gospel right, but they had personality conflicts and opinions and preferences that were causing division in the body. They each picked their favorite teacher or apostle, and developed a personality cult around that individual. Some claimed to belong to Paul, the church planter in Corinth and the apostle to the Gentiles. Some claimed to belong to Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, Egypt whom Acts describes as 'an eloquent man, competent in the scriptures, fervent in spirit (Acts 18:24-28). After Paul had planted the church in Corinth and moved on, Apollos was sent to Corinth with the blessing of the believers in Ephesus, and 'he greatly helped those who through grace had believed' (Acts 18:27). Some claimed to belong to Cephas, the Aramaic name of Peter, the rock, the apostle to the Jews. Some claimed to belong exclusively to Christ. This seems to be a super-spiritual group who claimed to have an exclusive direct connection to Christ, and didn't need any human to teach them. There was either an over-emphasis or under-emphasis on the human instrument God used to minister to them. They had an 'I' problem; I follow Paul; I follow Apollos; I follow Cephas; I follow Christ. This was pride. This was not a doctrinal dispute; Paul claimed to be on the same team with both Peter and Apollos (1Cor.3:6; Gal.2:6-10). They were all teaching the same gospel. They each had distinct personalities and backgrounds and teaching styles, but they were co-workers for Christ. And it is clear that they did not elicit this kind of party spirit. Paul condemns his own fan club first. We could bring this up to date, and say 'I follow John MacArthur; I follow James MacDonald; I follow John Piper; I follow Beth Moore; I really don't need any teacher; I study my bible and pray and the Holy Spirit is my guide'. All of these are great! Listen to all of them! Learn from all of them! But don't pit one against the other. They are all preaching the same gospel. Don't over-emphasize the teacher and don't under-emphasize the teacher. They are all God's gifts to you for your good. Don't in arrogance toss them aside as if you have no use for them. And don't idolize them or become overly dependent on them. This is an issue of style over substance, personality over character. 'He makes me laugh. He really brings it down to earth. I love the way she digs into the original languages. He communicates with such passion. His illustrations really make it stick'. Here's another way to bring it up to date. 'I love the old hymns. I really connect with contemporary worship music'. These are issues of style, of preference. Paul crushes all of this divisive party spirit.
These are ludicrous questions designed to demonstrate the absurdity of the situation. Is Christ cut up into pieces? Does this group over here have a piece of Jesus, but that group over there claims to have more of Jesus? Do you think you have a corner on the truth about Jesus? Do you think that you have more access to Jesus than the next guy? There is one Lord Jesus Christ, we all want to get to know him better, to follow him more closely. Paul uses himself as the example. The way some of these people talk about their hero, you would think that Paul was their savior, that Paul bore their sins and was crucified in their place. You would think that they were baptized into the name of Paul and became followers of Paul. This is blasphemous! Only Jesus, the divine Son of God could pay for our sins! Only Jesus is worthy to be followed. Through baptism, we are being identified with Jesus, not some other person.
Centrality of the Cross
Notice what Paul is doing here. He is bringing our focus back to Jesus, back to the cross. Who is Jesus? What has he done for you? What have you become a part of?
This points us to how Paul viewed the cross. He asks 'was Paul crucified for you?' The obvious answer is 'no, Jesus was crucified for me'. Crucifixion was a means of carrying out the death penalty under Roman rule. To take up your cross was a way to say you embraced your guilt. I deserve to die. Paul is introducing the concept of dying for someone else. A crime has been committed. Justice demands the death penalty. Can someone voluntarily stand in for someone else? Can an innocent party suffer the penalty of the law and allow the guilty party to go free? In a very real way Jesus died for a man named Barabbas. Barabbas was a convicted criminal, a murderer (Mr.15:7) on death row. There was no hope for him. The night before the execution, the Jewish leaders bring in someone they are accusing of blasphemy and demand his execution. Pilate examines him and declares that he has done nothing worthy of death. Pilate, in a desperate attempt to get out of a difficult situation, puts forward Jesus and Barabbas as the two candidates for mercy. One will go free, and one will die. The crowds demand that Jesus be executed and Barabbas be released. Jesus does not speak a word in his own defense. He is executed and a notorious murderer goes free. Barabbas was guilty; Jesus was publicly declared as innocent. He died in the place of Barabbas. He took Barabbas' punishment.
And he took my punishment. Although I am not an insurrectionist rebel, guilty of murderer, and I am not on death row with the government of this land, I have committed high treason against the King of kings. Although I knew God, I did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. I exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Rom.1:21-25). I refused to live under the rule of God, determined to be my own ruler. I was foolish, disobedient, led astray, a slave to passions and pleasures, I passed my days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating others (Titus 3:3). I, a sworn enemy of the throne, was captured, convicted, and ready to hang. I was without hope. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me (Eph.2:4), while I was still his enemy, he sent his only Son to die for me (Rom.5:6-10). No, Paul was not crucified for me. Jesus was crucified for me, in my place, bearing my divine and eternal punishment. It is to Jesus I owe my undying allegiance, affection, and devotion. I stand, side by side with every other pardoned sinner, on the same footing, with the same standing, deserving nothing yet having been given all things, an eternal debtor to my only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I have been called into the fellowship of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. I am part of Christ's one body, undivided.
Let us all with our unique voices, say the same thing. Let us put to death quarreling, dissension, and strife. Let us be knit together in the same mind and in the same purpose.