1 Corinthians 1:10-17: Divisions in the Church
10 Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες καὶ μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοῒ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ. 11 ἐδηλώθη γάρ μοι περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί μου, ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης ὅτι ἔριδες ἐν ὑμῖν εἰσιν. 12 λέγω δὲ τοῦτο ὅτι ἕκαστος ὑμῶν λέγει· ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου, ἐγὼ δὲ Ἀπολλῶ, ἐγὼ δὲ Κηφᾶ, ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ. 13 μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός; μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἢ εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Παύλου ἐβαπτίσθητε; 14 εὐχαριστῶ [τῷ θεῷ] ὅτι οὐδένα ὑμῶν ἐβάπτισα εἰ μὴ Κρίσπον καὶ Γάϊον, 15 ἵνα μή τις εἴπῃ ὅτι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα ἐβαπτίσθητε. 16 ἐβάπτισα δὲ καὶ τὸν Στεφανᾶ οἶκον, λοιπὸν οὐκ οἶδα εἴ τινα ἄλλον ἐβάπτισα. 17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου, ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
10 Now, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all be in agreement and that there be no schisms among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same way of thinking. 11 For it has been communicated to me by Chloe’s people concerning you, that there has been strife among you my brothers and sisters. 12 Now I say this, that each of you are saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos,” and, “I am of Cephas,” and, “I am 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 give thanks that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 But I also baptized Stephanas’ household; beyond that I do not know if I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel, not with sophisticated words, lest the cross of Christ be rendered ineffective.
There are a number of potential ways one can take the four genitive proper nouns Παύλου, Ἀπολλῶ, Κηφᾶ, and Χριστοῦ. They can be understood as genitives of relationship (BDF §162).1 In his grammar, Richard Young categorizes these particular genitives as having a social rather than a familial relationship.2 Another possible interpretation is to understand the genitives as predicate. One may also take them to be possessive (GGBTB: 81-83).3
The infinitive βαπτίζειν may be part of an object-complement construction (GGBTB: 182-89) or an infinitive in simple apposition.
The reading τῷ θεῷ is likely an addition to the text, a scribal assimilation to 1:4 (see Metzger, TCGNT: 479).4 Also of note, some manuscripts read τῷ θεῷ μου, which is an obvious assimilation to 1:4.
Commentary and Reflection:
V.10 marks the beginning of Paul’s reason for writing to the Corinthians. The conjunction δὲ functions as a discourse marker indicating a change in development. According to Steve Runge, “The use of δὲ represents the writer’s choice to explicitly signal that what follows is a new, distinct development in the story or argument.”5 The change in development is further noted by the exhortation to unity (Παρακαλῶ…ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες καὶ μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοῒ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ). Some commentators have label 1:10 as the thesis statement for the epistle (i.e. Mitchell, Witherington). They argue that the epistle is dealing with the issue of unity, and 1 Corinthians as a whole addresses different areas where the issue of unity is at the heart of the matter. Others (Bjerkelund, Thiselton, Ciampa and Rosner), argue for a non-rhetorical uses of verb Παρακαλῶ, and that Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians is one that comes from a personal relationship with the Corinthian believers. This is further strengthened by Paul’s appeal to his “brothers and sisters (ἀδελφοί).”
Paul’s appeal for unity, “by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ), consists of four parts: (i) complete agreement amongst all (τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες), (ii) the absence of schisms (μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα), (iii) united in one mind (ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοῒ), and (iv) and united in one thought (ἦτε κατηρτισμένοι… ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ). Without a single focus and united heart, there are bound to come schisms and divisions, especially within a large group of people practicing the same beliefs.
The schisms that arose in Corinth were centered on the leaders of the early church. Some belong to Paul, some to Apollos, Peter (Κηφᾶς), and finally Christ. The placement of Χριστός at the end shows the utter foolishness of the schisms.
Time and space does not permit me to dive any further into the exegetical issues of the text. I told myself that I would be concise and to the point, which is very difficult for me. Please forgive me for the abrupt finish. I will try to be more concise from now on.
Now a day there is a lot of this leader following taking place. If I may, it may sound something like this: “I am of Piper, I am of MacArthur, I am of Driscoll, I am of Sproul, I am of Chan.” It is good to listen to men who faithful teachers of the word of God, and I would argue that these men are good examples of faithful teachers. Even more, it is good to imitate those who be imitators of those who are walking in obedience to the gospel (cf. 1 Cor 4:16). But where we must be careful is in how we view others who may not “imitate” the same man as us. What I mean by this is that we must allow room for disagreements in areas not centered on the gospel, areas like eschatology, ecclesiology, baptism, etc. While these are important subjects, they are not hills to necessarily die on. Let us be united in one mind, striving for the same goal: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1 Richard A. Young. Intermediate New Testament Greek: A Linguistic and Exegetical Approach. Nashville: B&H, 1994: 26.
2 Friedrich Blass, Albert Debrunner and Robert Walter Funk. A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.
3 Daniel B. Wallace. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.
4 Bruce M. Metzger. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. New York: United Bible Societies, 1994.
5 Steven E. Runge. A Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis. Bellingham: Logos Research Systems, 2010: 46.