WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
Over 62,000 readers worldwide
A CALL TO UNITY
(Don’t confuse the messenger with the message)
(1 Corinthians 1:10-17)
Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth was written to address the many problems that had cropped up there, during the time, immediately following his founding of the church during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-8). The believers in Corinth had begun to question Paul’s authority as an apostle appointed by CHRIST. They were also misusing worship, suing each other in court, engaging in all sorts of immorality, and even denying that the resurrection of CHRIST ever took place.
The apostle Paul wrote this letter circa A.D. 57 on behalf of himself and Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth. Sosthenes was the man, who was beaten by the angry mob that day in the courtroom, while standing before the Roman governor Gallio of Achaia (Acts 18:17). Sosthenes must have converted to Christianity some time following that mob scene in his city. The obvious purpose of this letter was to correct any damage that had already occurred, and to stave off any further damage to the Christian belief system in this young church at Corinth.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “divisions” in verse 10 is “schismata”, and it describes a condition of “tears and splits that divide the wholeness of a unit”. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, after giving thanks to GOD, Paul focuses in on the obvious divisions taking place in the church at Corinth, and he sets out to present his appeal there for unity. The debate in the Church at Corinth over Christian leadership had all but destroyed the unity of that local congregation. They were constantly engaged in heated debate over who they should follow. Some wanted to follow Paul, while others were loyal to Apollos, and Peter, and fortunately, some, who were still in their right mind, were yet willing to follow CHRIST JESUS, the GOD appointed, true HEAD of the Church.
Some people, and understandably so, have come to cite this passage as an argument against forming different denominations within the Christian body. When we separate the Christian church into different factions, we are, in effect, arguing that our group is “best” or “right”, and as a result, we separate ourselves from others who are really equal members in the body of CHRIST.
We all can agree that, here in the twenty-first century, we have become more interested in teaching people about our various denominations (i.e. Baptist, Methodist, Catholic), than we are about teaching GOD’s perfect idea that is now called “Christianity”. However, it would serve us well to always remember that “Christianity” is the only “true” religion, because it is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. Every other religion, sect, or denomination known to man, is quite simply, a product of man’s own mind, and therefore, in essence, is wrong.
The good news is that GOD already knew that this kind of desire, for human superiority, would rise up out of the minds of men. And so, through HIS permissive will, HE grants us these options, as long as we respect HIS most basic of Christian principles, that were laid out for us, by CHRIST, in Matthew 22:37-40. There CHRIST states the greatest of all Christian doctrine when HE commands that, we;
“Love GOD with all our heart, soul, and mind, and that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. CHRIST goes on to say that, “All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (NLT).
And, even though, we may never organize our Christian churches in the same way, nor are we likely to ever worship GOD, in the same way, and in fact, we may never even believe in precisely the same things about the same ALMIGHTY GOD that we share. However, “Christian unity”, is intended by GOD to transcend all these differences, and bring men together in fellowship and love. It is that same kind of “Christian unity” that JESUS prayed about in John 17, and, that same kind of “Christian unity” that Paul wrote about to the Church here in this letter to the Corinthians, and indeed, in all of his other doctrinal letters. It is a unity that is not born of bricks and mortar, but rather, it is a unity of “personal relationships”, not unlike the one we’ve already seen, between the FATHER and the SON, as an example to us, for all time.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website