1 Corinthians 1:10-16 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What problem within the Corinthian church was brought to the apostle Paul’s attention? See verse 11 (printed below)

I say this, my brothers, because I have been informed by those who belong to the household of Chloe, that there are quarrels among you. (1 Corinthians 1:11)

According to verse 11, it was brought to the apostle Paul’s attention that there were “quarrels” within the church at Corinth. The Greek word translated “quarrels” contains the meanings, “strife,” “selfish rivalry,” as well as “quarreling.” Note that the apostle reports the source of his information: he was informed of these things by ‘those who belong to the household of Cloe.” There are no accusations being made by anonymous sources. Scripture commands that, in a loving manner, we be forthright and direct in our dealings with one another (note Matthew 18:15-17).

2. How did this problem (mentioned in verse 11 printed above under question #1) manifest itself in the Corinthian church? See verse 12 (printed below)

Now this is what I mean, each one of you is saying, I belong to Paul; or, I belong to Apollos; or, I belong to Cephas; or, I belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:12)

In verse 12 the apostle explains the nature of the problem as it existed in the Corinthian congregation: they were rallying around their favorite teachers and consequently splitting into contentious factions. The apostle Paul was the “founding father” of the Corinthian church, he was its “organizing pastor;” consequently, there were those who felt especially close and loyal to him since he was their pastor and spiritual father and they mistakenly viewed the Corinthian church as being Paul’s church. Apollos was a powerful and eloquent preacher; consequently, there were those hearers who became enraptured by the man and became the founding members of his “fan club.” Peter, unlike Paul, was one of the original apostles and one of the original leaders of the church in Jerusalem; consequently, there were those who felt that Peter should receive special honor and a pre-eminent position. Yet another faction asserted, “We belong to Christ.”

3. In what way could those who asserted, “I belong to Christ,” be guilty of forming a faction within the church?

On the positive side, this faction apparently saw the folly of exalting and rallying around any human teacher; they rightly exalted Christ alone and identified themselves with Him. But on the negative side, they seem to have held their spiritual knowledge and conducted themselves in a self-righteous and perhaps even in an arrogant manner. Consequently, they, too, became a source of contentiousness, instead of humbly and lovingly setting an example for their Christian brothers and sisters and graciously seeking to rally their fellow believers around Christ the Lord.

4. What exhortation does the apostle give to the church in order to correct the problem mentioned in verse 11? See verse 10b (printed below)

Now I urge you, brothers…that you be bound together by the same attitude and by the same purpose. (1 Corinthians 1:10b)

The Corinthian Christians are exhorted to be “bound together” (the Greek term also means “to be knit together”) “by the same attitude and by the same purpose.” Note: it is not that we must strive to achieve Christian unity; on the contrary, that spiritual unity is the work of the Holy Spirit (cp. Ephesians 4:3)—we are called to maintain that unity. The apostle exhorts the church to maintain and cultivate this sacred unity by means of “the same attitude.” That is to say, we are to have in us and exhibit among us the mind and attitude of Christ our Savior, what characterized our Savior was humility as opposed to self-centeredness (note Philippians 2:5-8) The apostle further exhorts the church to maintain and cultivate this sacred unity by having “the same purpose.” What is in view here is the purpose of striving together to exalt Christ (note John 3:30); the purpose of striving together to promote the kingdom of Christ and of God—our Lord taught us to pray for the coming of the kingdom of God and to seek first that heavenly kingdom (note Matthew 6:10 and Matthew 6:33).

5. In the first half of verse 10 Paul urges the Corinthian Christians to “be in agreement” (literally, to “all speak the same thing”) and have no divisions within the church. What do you think he means? Must every Christian have exactly the same view on every issue?

The apostle Paul exhorts the Corinthian Christians to ‘be in agreement” (literally, that they ‘all speak the same thing;”) in contrast to each faction saying something different: I belong to Paul, I belong to Apollos, etc. The Corinthians (and we ourselves) are exhorted to all say the same thing; namely, to profess that we, together with all other believers, belong to Christ (note 1 Corinthians 1:1-2). Paul further exhorts the Corinthians to avoid having “divisions among yourselves.” This is not so much a reference to having differences of opinion on various subjects, but rather an exhortation to avoid alienations and factions—the Greek word translated “divisions,” literally means “rips” or “tears.”