Divisions and Wisdom (Part 2 of 8) (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
Divisions within a congregation are usually caused by so-called improvements in doctrine, or worship; by forming new schemes of religion, new articles of faith, and modes of discipline.
but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
This is how every church should be; there should not only be love and affection between Christ’s Christians, such as existed between the first Christians, who were, of one heart and of one soul; but there should be agreement about both doctrine and discipline. Such an agreement is absolutely necessary to the peace, comfort, and well being of a church; for how should "two", and much less more than two, "walk together", unless they are "agreed?" (Amos 3:3 ).
but that ye be perfectly joined together. The word used here for "perfectly joined together," means to restore, mend, or repair that which is rent or disordered; to amend or correct that which is morally evil and erroneous, Galatians 6:16; to render perfect or complete; to fit or adapt anything to its proper place, so that it shall be complete in all its parts, and harmonious; and therefore to compose and settle controversies, to produce harmony and order. Here, the apostle evidently desires that they should be united in their affection for one another and in their point of view; that every member of the church should occupy his appropriate place, like every member of a well-proportioned body, or part of a machine, has its appropriate place and use. See his wishes more fully expressed in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
perfectly joined together—the opposite word to "divisions." It is applied to healing a wound, or repairing a hole in fabric. This expression comes from a versatile Greek word, meaning "to adjust the parts of an instrument, the setting of bones by a physician, or the mending of nets." The general meaning would appear to be "put the broken unity back together"; and consequently, by the use of such an expression Paul states by implication the disunity of the church in Corinth.
in the same mind and in the same judgment.
The meaning is the view taken by the understanding, and the practical decision arrived at, as to what is to be done. The mind refers to things to be believed: the judgment is displayed outwardly in things to be done.
In the same mind cannot mean that they were to be united in precisely the same shades of opinion, which is impossible; but that their minds were to be predisposed towards each other with mutual good will, and that they should live in harmony.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
For it hath been declared unto me, of you, my brethren,
Just in case the advice the apostle had just given was thought to be impertinent and needless, and to be based upon groundless suspicions and jealousies of his, he indicates that he not only had some hints of their contentions (conflict, disagreements) and divisions, but he knew about the whole affair because a trusted friend had written to him about it. He knew all the disturbing details and the situation was clear to his mind; he had no reason at all to doubt the truth of this information; nor could they deny it, the proof was too strong, the evidence was undeniable.
He calls them my brethren, which was a token of the love and high regard he had for them, and his deep interest in their welfare, even as he prepares to administer a needed rebuke.
by them which are of the house of Chloe.
Some will say that Chloe was the name of a city in Cappadocia; but it is generally accepted by most commentators that it was the name of a woman. Horace mentions a woman with this name several times, and so does Martial. Pausanias calls the goddess Ceres by the same name; she is the goddess of husbandry; the word signifying green grass of the field. The person the apostle speaks of was a woman that probably lived at Corinth, was a member of the church there, and was the head of a wealthy family; whom some suppose to have been the wife of Stephanas, and the mother of Fortunatus and Achaicus. It is likely that she became upset at the growing animosities, and disturbances causing divisions there. She wrote to the apostle, and gave him a complete account of the internal strife and divisions she was personally aware of, and then she asked him to use his power and influence as the Lord’s apostle to put a stop to it. Paul mentions this family by name, to show that he had not overreacted to some idle tale, received reports from someone with an axe to grind, or from only one
person, but none of those things apply, because he had heard it from a family with a good reputation; and who could have no other interest in the matter, than the good of the church, and the glory of God.
The Corinthians also "wrote" to the apostle (1 Corinthians 7:18
), consulting with him concerning certain subjects; marriage, the eating of things offered to idols, the decorum to be observed by women in religious assemblies. But they didn’t say a word about the atrocities and turmoil that had crept in among them. That information reached Paul from other sources. That’s why his language when addressing those evils is, "It hath been declared unto me;" or "It is reported commonly" (1 Corinthians 5:1, 29
). He says all this before he refers to their letter, which shows that the letter did not give him any hint of those evils, which is an indication of its genuineness. Observe his prudence: He names the family, to show that his allegation is not without authority: he does not name the individuals, since that might place them in danger. He quietly implies that the information should have come to him directly from their leaders; after all, they had formally consulted with him about matters of less importance.
This is the only mention of Chloe in the New Testament, making it impossible to solve the question of who she might have been. But most commentators agree she was a woman (probably a Christian) whose business interests caused her representatives (those in her household) to travel between Ephesus and Corinth. Paul is writing this letter from Ephesus, where these people from Chloe's household have visited him and told him about what is happening in the Corinthian church. These members of Chloe’s household could have been servants or her husband and children (1 Corinthians 16.1710
), and they could have been the ones who carried the letter from the Corinthian church. But there is no evidence of this being the case.
A Founding Mother of the Faith
Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church addresses the influences of their pagan culture. The apostle is disturbed that members of Chloe’s household have reported among believers disputes which threaten to divide the local body at Corinth. Regardless of whether or not Chloe was from Corinth, she was certainly well known by the Corinthians.
The term “household” could mean immediate members of her family, fellow-worshipers of the church meeting in her house, or servants belonging to her. Whether those in Chloe’s household were involved in the disputes or merely relating details about the group is uncertain. They did report the matter to the apostle Paul.
Little is known about Chloe, but Paul called her by name. This passage supports the fact that Paul had many women as friends and he esteemed them as co-heirs in the gospel. In contrast to their places in secular society, women were considered to be valuable and influential participants in the building up of the Christian church.
that there are contentions among you;
The Corinthian church suffered from quarreling and conflict. This conflict made them divide up into "parties" or "cliques," each party having its own "leader." These are the voices of the competing parties:
i. "I am of Paul": There was the "Paul Party," who declared "We are following in the footsteps of the man who founded our church, the apostle Paul. We're the ones really right with God!"
ii. "I am of Apollos": There was the "Apollos Party," who declared "We are following in the footsteps of a man who is great in power and spiritual gifts, and an impressive man. We're the ones really right with God!" (Acts 18:24-2511
iii. "I am of Cephas": There was the "Peter Party," who declared "We are following in the footsteps of the man who is first among all the apostles. Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and he's our man. We're the ones really right with God!"
iv. "I am of Christ": There was the "Jesus Party," who declared "You all are so carnal, following after mere men. We are following in the footsteps of no one less than Jesus Himself. We're the ones really right with God!"
v. It is possible there was not an actual "Paul Party" or "Apollos Party" or "Peter Party" or "Jesus Party" at Corinth.
Later in this letter, Paul writes that he transferred to himself and Apollos what was applicable to others (1 Corinthians 4:612
). The actual Corinthian factions may have been centered around people in the congregation, not the different apostles who ministered to them. Even if this is the case, the picture fits. Paul may be "changing the names to protect the innocent," or to show mercy to the guilty!
vi. The Corinthians' boasting about their "party leaders" was really boasting about themselves. It wasn't so much that they thought Apollos was great, but that they were great for following him.