Monday, 17 March 2014
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:13
Based on the divisions which have arisen in the church at Corinth which were noted in the previous verse, Paul now asks, “Is Christ divided?” Is there one head of the church or not? If there is, then why are we making divisions which don’t actually exist within the body? Is it right to follow after a teacher, preacher, apostle, pope, etc. as if that person was the object of our faith? The answer is obviously “No.”
But there is another consideration to the opening of this verse, Vincent’s Word Studies notes that “Some of the best expositors render [this] as an assertion.” In other words, and based on the structure of the Greek, they place this not as a question – “Is Christ divided?”, but as a statement of fact – “Christ is divided.” The Corinthians had already lost the object of their faith and they had already brought the divisions. Now, it was up to Paul’s instructions to return them to the proper path. In order to do this then, he continues with the second thought of the verse – “Was Paul crucified for you?”
His question is rhetorical and it demands a negative response. The cross of Jesus Christ is the only acceptable crucifixion for the sins of anyone, including Paul. The crucifixion of Paul would have simply been the end of Paul without the crucifixion of Christ. And Christ was not only crucified for Paul, but He was crucified for all. To somehow place an allegiance in Paul only diminishes the importance of the cross of Christ. Only He was sinless and only His blood can atone for the sins of the world.
What follows then is another rhetorical question, with another obvious “No” for a response. “Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” If Paul wasn’t crucified for anyone, then no one was baptized in the name of Paul! Baptism is a picture of the work of Christ. One is immersed as a picture of the death (which resulted from the crucifixion) of Christ. Paul wasn’t crucified for anyone; Paul didn’t die for anyone; therefore, no one was baptized into Paul.
The work of God in resurrecting Jesus is the second half of the picture of baptism. One isn’t merely submersed and left under the water. They are raised out of the water as a picture of the newness of life found in the resurrection of Christ. Paul’s newness of life came from Christ. And the same is true with anyone who has been reborn by the Spirit. Therefore to “follow Paul” or to “follow Calvin” or to “follow Pope Francis” is simply nuts. Only Christ has accomplished the work necessary to save a soul.
Life application: Let us not divide Christ, but let us always honor Him alone. At best, let us acknowledge the instruction of others without exalting them in an unnecessary way.
Lord God, thank You for Jesus my Lord. Because of His cross I am granted His sinless perfection. Through His death I am restored to You. And in His resurrection I stand justified and sure of eternal life in Your presence. Now Lord, grant me the willing heart and desire to live up to that which I have received. Help me to reflect the glory which is found in Christ and to share this good news with the world. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.