10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
speak the same thing (v.10) — unity of testimony based on a common acceptance of truth.
divisions (v.10) = rents, schisms — not complete separations (yet)
perfectly joined together (v.10) = rendered fit — used of mending nets
mind (v.10) = the facility for grasping truth
judgment (v.10) = the opinion formed from truth
Paul was warning against the sort of divisions that would, in time, lead to the creation of denominations.
those of Chloe’s household (v.11) — That Paul readily identifies his source indicates that they weren’t tattling but were seriously concerned.
say (v.12) = mean — “This is what I mean … ”
each one of you (v.12) — They were all taking sides. (1 Corinthians 14:26).
Cephas (v.12) — Peter’s Aramaic name. Paul always uses this name except in Galatians 2:7-8. Use of the Aramaic indicates a Jewish audience.
Is Christ divided? (v.13) — Is Christ distributed to a particular person or party?
was Paul crucified (v.13) — pointing out his own insignificance
True the Lord used Paul to plant the seed of the Corinthians church — but He used Apollos in watering. Apollos — born at Alexandria, an “eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24) — would have appealed strongly to the Corinthians and could easily have causes some of them to form a sect (or group) around him — which, of course, would be contrary to the Holy Spirit and against the teaching of the Apostle Paul.
From 2 Corinthians 10:10 we know that there were certain factions in the church who were bitterly antagonistic toward Paul: “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”
“… And I (am) of Cephas …” In speaking of the Apostle Peter, with the exception of Galatians 2:7-8, Paul always used the name Cephas. Cephas was an Aramaic name; Peter was a Greek name.
This sect, in a Greek city, using the name of Cephas, seems to suggest that the leading men in this little group were Jews. No doubt they stressed the fact that Cephas was pre-eminent among the twelve, and that he was the leader and spokesman. Perhaps his conduct at Antioch had given them the idea that Cephas, not Paul, should be the leader in the church. Thus, although there is no evidence that Cephas ever visited Corinth, this group had chosen to cast their lot with him.
“… And I(am) of Christ …” It may have been that the leaders in this group thought they were superior to those in the church who claimed to be followers of Paul, Apollos and Cephas. — Greene, pages 51-52.
Strangely, this passage is often used against those who teach that saved Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians are “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5). It is used against them because they insist upon the great doctrine of the “one body” and its “one baptism” committed by revelation to the Apostle Paul. They, the very ones so fragmented by division, charge their opponents with making too much of Paul, claiming that the twelve apostles and Paul all proclaimed the same message, and that to teach otherwise is to foster party spirit.
But such an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 would be contrary to the context in this same letter from Paul, for in 4:16 he earnestly “beseeches” them “Be ye followers of me.” Was he contradicting himself, or are some of our spiritual leaders confused as to his meaning?
Those who seek to evade the issue of 1 Corinthians 1:11-13, and to escape Paul’s withering rebuke of their sectarian divisions should ask themselves why Paul alone, beside our Lord on earth, says “Follow me” (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philipians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9; etc.). They should ask themselves why Paul alone speaks of “my gospel,” “our gospel,” “that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,” “the gospel which was preached of me” (Romans 2:16; 16:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 2 Corinthians 4:3; Galatians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:8; etc.). They should ask themselves why, at Jerusalem, he discussed his gospel “privately” with “those who were of reputation” (Galatians 2:2). They should ask themselves what he meant when he said: “… I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles; I magnify my office” (Romans 11:13).
They should ask themselves what the apostle meant when he wrote to the Gentile believers at Ephesus about: “… the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward; how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery” (Ephesians 3:1-3).
Finally, they shoudl ask themselves whether a change in dispensation did not occur when the other apostles and elders at Jerusalem shook hands with Paul and Barnabas in a solemn agreement, publicaly recognizing Paul as now God’s appointed apostle to the Gentiles, and binding themselves henceforth to confine their own ministry to Israel (Galatians 2:9). Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians was the more fully justified because he was God’s chosen vessel to proclaim the glorioius message that in view of Israel’s rejection of Messiah “God [had] concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.”
“And that He might reconcile BOTH [believing Jews and Gentiles] unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Romans 11:32; Ephesians 2:16., cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13). — Stam, pages 39-40.
In other words, don’t follow Paul as a man, but follow what He says about Christ and the mystery of grace.