“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
This verse addresses three questions to the four factions in the Corinthian church. All three of the following questions in Greek expect a “no” answer. These three sarcastic questions demolish the folly of schism.
Is Christ divided?
Is Christ divided? No! The word “divided” means to distribute, to parcel out. It is impossible to part Christ into certain pieces and pass Him out. The Corinthian church broke up into four vying parties. A divided church divides Christ. This is an incongruity to the true nature of Christ (Ro 12:5; 1 Co 12:12-13; Ep 4:4-6). No one should split Christ into various parts. No group should exclusively claim Christ as their own. Is the nature of Christ’s body divided? The Greek answers no! No matter how great a human leader a church may have, he should not usurp the glory of Christ. We owe ultimate loyalty to Him.
Was Paul crucified for you?
Was Paul crucified for you? No! People claiming allegiance to Paul’s splinter group were wrong as well. Paul assails this party that followed him. Paul could not pay for sin. Jesus Christ is the only one who could do that. This is an argument to an absurd point. It is a horrible thought that Paul could mediate their salvation.
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Were you baptized in the name of Paul? No! Paul baptized none of the Corinthians in his name. No dislocated loyalty to Paul should detract from loyalty to Christ. Any distraction from loyalty to Christ dislodges unity in the church. Paul wanted no part of the splinter group loyal to him.
The phrase “into the name” implies incorporation into the body of Christ (Ga 3:27). The word “name” carries the idea of a person here. To baptize in the name of Paul usurps the place and person of Christ because it would make Paul the object of faith.
Factions in the church form when we get our eyes off Christ.
A divided church contravenes the believer’s nature. This is why Jesus prayed for the unity of the church (John 17:20-22).
A church in conflict reflects badly on the Lord. It also takes the heart out of the church for evangelism or discipleship. That is why it is crucial to take our eyes off human leaders exclusively and put them on Christ centrally.
Have you examined your loyalties? Does some leader rival Jesus in your life? Can that leader’s opinion blunt the truth as it is in Jesus? Do you identify more with a particular leader than Christ Himself?