Year A – Epiphany 3 – 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

1 Corinthians 1:10–18 10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Summary – The Corinthian church had many divisions. Paul appeals for them to be unified throughout this epistle (e.g., ch. 11). As indicated here some factions were due to following personalities. Paul explains that all allegiances to mere men are futile. Jesus is Lord. There should be a unity in the body of Christ, rather than divisions. He also seeks to limit his own personality connection to them by describing the few baptisms he performed in there context. In this he indicates that his normal procedure was to baptize households. The pronoun “other” (allos) in verse 16 refers to the noun “household.” “I do not know whether I baptized any other [household].” He only mentions the household head in the case of Crispus. But we know that the household of Crispus believed (Acts 18:8); therefore it seems likely that the entire household was baptized by Paul. In this passage Paul explains that he baptized the household of Stephanas. Thus, if Gaius had a household, it seems likely that Paul also baptized this household, but only referred to the head of household (e.g, Crispus, Stephanas, and Gaius). The main point, however, is that cross-work of Jesus is the foundation for the unity of His Body and all allegiances to ministers of the gospel must be limited and should not form the basis for prideful divisions.

Insight – This church had many divisions formed from the idolatrous valuing of leaders, gifts, or practices (see ch. 11-14). Almost anything can become an idol. In the list of different parties claiming a distinction, it is important to observe that one of these divisions or cliches also claimed to belong “to Christ” over against Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. Simply claiming the name “Christian” is not proof of unity. One can be just as self-righteous, petty, prideful, and sectarian, all the while naming “Christ” as your party leader.

Discussion – What are some divisive allegiances in your context? Do you have too much allegiance to your denomination, congregation, theological identity (e.g, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Reformed)?

Prayer – Our Father and God, we give you thanks for loving us, despite our many weaknesses. We ask You to help us see our many failings of living in unity in the Church. We believe  that the word of the cross of Christ is the power of God and so help us to apply the gospel in unity with other believers in order to testify to the Light of the World, our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name, Amen.

Year B – Easter 2 – Psalm 133

1 How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. 3   It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.  For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Summary:  Whether working or playing together, both can be rewarding experiences when everything goes well–and I’m sure you can think of times when it hasn’t.  More often then not, our worst fights are with those closest to us.  Nevertheless, it is a beautiful thing when we live in peace and harmony.  This is what David’s Psalm pictures.  The first image he uses is that of the anointing oil flowing down Aaron’s body, setting him wholly apart part for his unique task as high priest (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12).  The second speaks of the life giving dew upon Mount Hermon, which is the mountains only source of water for vegetation.  God is the one who has set apart and blessed this unity; so that it may provide life and refreshment to a barren world.

Insight:  God has set us apart, in Christ and as Christ’s body, the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10).  The unity that comes with being identified with Christ can been heard in Paul’s repetition of ‘one’ in Ephesians 4:  There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God.  Equally as powerful is Paul’s appeal that we must live according to–that is in unity with–our own anointing that once ran down our heads.  Do to this, we must live in conformity to all those mentioned above.  This is the resurrected life even now, a great blessing indeed.

Child Catechism:  What is unity compared with?  The anointing oil which covered Aaron and the refreshing dew covering Mount Hermon.

Discussion:  [ref.  Galatins 5:16-26]  What are some of the ways disunity comes about?  How does that compare with the fruits of the Spirit?  What does being led by the unity of Spirit look like?

Father,

So often, we live in conflict within ourselves and with others

filled with bitterness and hatred, with no end to the fight

Bless us with that resurrected life, in peace and with unity

which can only come from you

So that together, with our fellow man and with you

we may life in this good and pleasing unity

Lead by Your Spirit and it is in Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.

Contributed by M. West