Dissensions (or divisions)



There is one God; one Lord, that is, Jesus Christ; one Spirit, who is the Spirit of God; one faith and one Church, which is the Church of God, whose head is Jesus Christ. And all those who are members of this holy Assembly are called to pursue peace with all people and to be like-minded, to have the same love, and to be of one accord and to speak the same thing and to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. There should be no divisions among them (1 Corinthians 1:10: Philippians 2:2). However, it must be said that even though divisions must be rejected, there must be divisions among the Church of God. For Paul said to the Corinthians, among whom there were divisions: “For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18-19 – NKJV). Notice that divisions are called factions by the apostle Paul and that they must be among us so that those who live in a manner worthy of the Gospel, and thus are approved by God may be recognized.

What are divisions, according to the Scripture? And why must you flee them? To answer these questions I will remind you of the divisions existing among the saints of Corinth and how Paul exposed them. While Paul was at Ephesus, those of Chloe’s household told Paul that among the saints of Corinth there were divisions because each of them said: “I am of Paul’, or ‘I am of Apollos’, or ‘I am of Cephas’ or ‘I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:12 - NKJV). Therefore, the saints of Corinth did not speak any longer the same thing and they were not any longer perfectly joined in the same mind and in the same judgement, for some said that they belonged to Paul, some to Apollos and some others to Cephas, and some others to Christ. When Paul heard this, he was angry and grieved and so he rebuked the Corinthians saying: “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13) and again: “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. … Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's” (1 Corinthians 3:2-9, 21-23). Paul explained to the Corinthians that they committed a sin by saying that they belonged to Paul or to Apollos because Paul and Apollos were just God’s fellow workers, who worked in God’s field according to the grace of God which was given to them, and that it was not Paul nor Apollos who made the Word grow in them (thus, neither Paul, who had planted the seed, nor Apollos, who had watered it) but God alone. Therefore, the fact that they said ‘I am of Paul’ or ‘I am of Apollos’ was a wrong behaviour. They were carnal and they were moved by jealousy and strife (as you can see, divisions are associated with jealousies and quarrels, because it is the jealousy for a particular minister of the Gospel and the desire to exalt him above another minister of the Gospel that lead believers to part from one another and to quarrel), and they had forgotten that it was God who had worked in them what pleased Him and not Paul or Apollos. To what conclusion did Paul come then? He told the Corinthians not to boast in Paul nor in Apollos nor in Cephas because they were only ministers of the Gospel, who were theirs, because they had been given by God to the Church, while they were of Christ, who had bought them at a price, and Christ was of God.

Therefore, you must not say ‘I am of this minister of the Gospel’ or ‘I am of that minister of the Gospel’ because that is a carnal behaviour. Anyone who says such things walk according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. You are of Christ, and therefore you must not boast in men but in Christ. Look unto Jesus, remember always what He did for you, and you will avoid saying ‘I am of Tom’ or ‘I am of Dick’.