ISSUE 1: DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH As stated in my…
ISSUE 1: DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH
As stated in my previous post, Paul addressed 16 major issues facing the Corinthian Church, and the issue of Church division was number one; this division problem first because of its critical nature (Proverbs 6:16-19). Again, the purpose of this study is to help us gain a better understanding of first Corinthians.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no DIVISIONS among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 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” (1Cor. 1:10-11).
To proffer a solution to a problem, you must first know the cause of the problem. From the report Paul got from the house of Chloe, he discovered that the schism was mainly between two camps: Paul’s and Apollos’ camps respectively. He then diagnosed that there were two reasons for the division:
~ a manifestation of their spiritual state – spiritual babes; and
~ the teaching styles of both Paul and Apollos – how they preached or presented Christ to the people.
“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” (1 Cor. 3:3-5).
Apostle Paul didn’t in anyway discredit the ministry of Apollos, he rather affirmed Apollos’ ministry by saying that: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). The truth is: Paul preached Christ, Apollos preached Christ, but their way or style of preaching gave rise to these schisms.
The division was as ardent as that of Manchester United and Chelsea FC fans, or between APC and PDP loyalists cum supporters in Nigeria. Pathetically, today brethren don’t speak with each other anymore because of their political affiliations and interests. Paul’s fans would often clash with Apollos’, arguing on who is a better teacher between the two servants of God; and this wasn’t a pleasant sight to behold, specifically by unbelievers.
This was exactly the same division Apostle Peter wanted to create on the mount of transfiguration after he saw Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. Peter said: “…Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Mark 9:5). Because by this statement he meant that he should build three houses on that mountain for Jesus, Moses and Elijah; so that if anyone needs grace and mercy, you consult Jesus’ Temple. If it’s the law you need, you consult Moses’ Temple. And if it’s power you need to destroy your enemies with fire, then you’ll obviously consult Elijah’s Temple. But Peter was so wrong and ignorant.
Peter gave utterance to the Devil even on that holy mount of transfiguration, to speak through him to try and dissuade Jesus from His mission on Earth – just like he (Satan) tried doing in Matthew 16:22-23, but Jesus rebuked him without further ado. And just God the Father spoke immediately to shut him up, and to declare that only Jesus is to be heard – not one else (Mark 9:7), that was what Paul did in addressing this first issue.
As believers we must guide sternly against giving the Devil any place in our heart, else he’ll truncate God’s dealings and doings. Apostle warned: “Leave no [such] room or foothold for the Devil [give no opportunity to him]” (Ephesians 4:27, AMP). Apostle Apollos also gave place to the Devil by his teaching style – he relied more on his intellectual capabilities – a style preferred by the Greeks, rather than the Holy Spirit’s wisdom (as Paul did – 1Cor. 2:1-5), which gave rise to the division.
Paul, however, gave a polemic overview of his own style of preaching (implying to, and in contrast with the teaching style of Apollos) when he was with them in Corinth – how that his deliberate style of preaching wasn’t much of intellectual adequacy, but of simple and plane semantics since they were spiritual babes. Whereas, Apollos’ style of teaching was of much literary astuteness and intellectually perspicaciousness – what the Greeks loved (1 Cor. 2:1, 4-5, 12-13).
Who really was Apollos? Let’s find out more about him.
Luke, being a very sound, vast and accurate Christian historian, who had perfect knowledge and understanding of the early Church (Luke 1:2-3); and who is credited for writing the Gospel according to Luke, and Acts of the Apostles, said these of Apollos:
“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue…” (Acts 18:24-26).
Apollos was Apostle Paul’s colleague and partner in the development of the Churches in both Ephesus and Corinth. He was from Alexandria, Egypt (an Alexandrian – Jewish Christian).
He was that zealous preacher that was preaching with only the knowledge of John the Baptist’ gospel of baptism unto repentance, which Acquila and his wife Priscilia took him aside and taught him more adequately (Acts 18:26). It was also his converts that Apostle Paul baptised in the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-6).
History has it that Apollos studied under Philo, an Alexandrian philosopher. Philo was also a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism that combined Jewish religious traditions with Greek culture. Philo used philosophical allegory to harmonize Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy.
He adopted allegorical interpretation instead of literal interpretation of the Bible. His work combines Plato and Moses into one philosophical system, and his ethics were strongly influenced by Aristotle.
Philo’s allegorical interpretation of scriptures allows him to grapple with morally disturbing events and imposes a cohesive explanation of stories. He interprets the human being, and the stories of the bible as aspects of the human being.
For example, he said Adam represents the mind, Eve represents the senses, and Noah represents tranquillity. This was the man who greatly influenced Apollos. And with the intellectual background of the Greeks, some of the Churches in Corinth (the believers), loved and preferred the preaching and teaching style of Apollos to that of Paul.
Paul’s conclusion of the matter was:
“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours. And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:21-23).
Our boast should be in Christ alone – we should point men to Him alone, and not on your pastor or any pastor irrespective of his preaching or teaching style.
God bless you for reading!