“Is Christ Divided?”

The Challenge of Church Unity in the 3rd Millennium

Two thousand years after the birth of Jesus Christ there are an estimated 20,000 identifiable “sects” in what has been called Christendom. This is probably greatly under estimated as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of small, individual, disconnected community churches centered around a single pastor. Churches with names like “Church of the Holy Ghost Fire Baptism” or “Christian Love and Freedom Church of the Apostles.” These are often identified as “non-denominational” as if to give the impression that they are disassociated from the “denominational.”

About thirty years after the man who identified himself as Jesus Christ the Nazarene his most zealous missionary asked an urban seaside church of Christians, “Is the Christ divided?” It seems likely that this former Jewish rabbi, who claimed to have had an appearance of Christ himself, knew that Jesus foretold the fermentation of the very Church that he had established. The man from Galilee had taught by two parables that predicted this very thing. Consider two of these illustrations:

“The Realm of the Kingdom can be compared to leaven that a woman kneaded into three parts of flour until the whole was leavened. … The Son of Humankind is the Sower of good seed. The field is the whole social order of humankind. The Children of the Realm are the good seed and the Children of the Evil One [the Devil] are the weeds. … So then, at the consummation of the Age the weeds will be gathered and burned in fire. The Son of Humankind will send out his angels and they will gather out of his Realm any person who is scandalous or lawless, and they will hurl them into the furnace of fire.” [Matthew 13:33-42 NCMM]

Thus, Paul would have known that the very Church [the Realm of the Kingdom] that Jesus founded would undergo a thorough fermentation with good seed growing among bad seed. This could only result in growing disharmony and disunity leading up to these 20,000-plus varied sects in Christ’s Kingdom [Christendom] as we enter the Third Millenium of Christ’s reign. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:17-19 give a clear indication that he understood why sects or schisms were present in this seaside church:

“However, though I give you these injunctions I cannot praise you because when you meet in assembly it is not for the best, but for the worse. The main reason for this is because when you do gather in an ecclesia I understand schisms are in your midst. I partly believe this. It is a necessity that there be heretical opinions in your midst so that the those persons approved will become apparent in your midst.” [NCMM]

These words almost echo the Nazarene’s parable of the wheat and the weeds and the promise the approved within Christ’s Realm will become manifest at the Harvest judgment upon the Return of Jesus the Nazarene. Paul himself writes about this parousia-judgment in two letters to the church in Corinth:

“Therefore, before the appointed time, do not become judgmental of others, until the Lord arrives. Then he will bring out into the Light the hidden things of darkness. He will make manifest the counsels of all hearts. Then every person will receive [appropriate] praise from The God. … Because everyone of us will appear before the judgment-step of the Christ, so that we might all receive our proper payment for the things done regarding the body, whether these are good or vile things.” [1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10 NCMM]

Given the above we ask, How did Paul respond to these problems of disunity within the Church of Corinth? What did he exhort or encourage? How, or in what areas of church life, did Paul write the Corinthians about achieving a degree of congregational unity and peace?

Speak and Think the Same Thing

Following his introduction, Paul goes right to the heart of the problem in the Corinthian congregation:

I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chlo'e's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apol'los," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius; lest any one should say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any one else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. [1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Revised Standard Version]

Paul boldly speaks his appeal in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, that is, in the authority Paul received from the Lord Jesus to declare the Gospel to the non-Jews. He first tells the Corinthians that they should “all … agree.” [RSV] Actually, the Greek is LEGETE [ = say, or, speak] and so is rendered variously: KJV: all speak the same thing; TCN: to agree in what you profess; GDS: to agree in what you say. That is, the various members of the church should all speak the same thing. There cannot be a variety of different views so that if one spoke to one church member one would hear something different than another member. Paul writes similarly at 2 Corinthians 13:11 and Philippians 2:2 where he encourages thinking in agreement with the same mind on matters.

Paul then says there should be “no dissensions among you.” They should speak the same thing and be without any dissension. The Greek is SCHISMATA [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 4978, a split], so he means there should be no schisms. Other translators render this cliques, parties, factions. The context would mean no schism or split in what church members speak about those subjects to be discussed in this letter.

Paul then emphasizes this by adding, “United in the same mind.” [RSV] Others render this as: KJV: perfectly joined together in the same mind; BECK: understanding; TCN: one mind. The Greek is NOI [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 3563, intellect, thought]. A similar phrase appears at Philippians 2:2. It strongly suggests that not only must they speak the same, but they should also have the same mental inclination regarding important church matters. Thus, “every wind of teaching” should not be blowing through the congregation as if everyone was free to believe contradictory things. [Ephesians 4:14, 15]

Paul further adds they should all have “the same judgment.” Or as others render this phrase, they should all have the same opinion or viewpoint. The Greek is GNOME [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance #1106, cognition, opinion, counsel]. Church members should all have the same opinion or viewpoint rather than holding to many different beliefs. If one asked a brother what the church believed it would be the same answer a sister would give. One should not find within the ecclesia a variety of opinions.

We will discover that Paul has received information, possibly by letter as well as eye-witnesses, regarding the subjects at issue. It turns out there are about fifteen of these matters. It seems possible that these issues which caused quarreling were centered around certain personalities.

Division Caused by Personality Cults

Before addressing those questions and subjects of debate in the Corinthian church, Paul pinpoints one of the key problems: personality cults. He writes, “There is quarreling among you.” These acts of strife, divisions, contentions, strifes, party feelings, or cliques center around certain personalities. There are likely differing opinions on the subjects Paul is to go on to discuss. Such ERIDES [ERIS], or strife, is a work of the flesh. [Galatians 5:20]

Paul lists four major personality cults: Paul, Peter [Cephas], Apollos, and Christ. It seems likely the latter - “of Christ” - are a self-righteous group, though claiming Christ, are really also part of the schisms. These different opinions claim a particular authority. Peter may have never visited Corinth but it is likely that some of those with a strong Jewish bent of mind leaned toward him. [Acts 15:1, 2] Apollos is described in the Corinthian context in Acts 18. He was “mighty in Scripture” though a neophyte Christian, and therefore likely not an elder yet. [1 Timothy 3:1ff]

It is almost a natural given that people tend to prefer one personality over another. The liberal prefer a liberal person. The moderates a moderate person. The conservatives a conservative person. Some prefer a gifted speaker. Paul is later to mention what the Corinthians said about him: “His epistles are weighty but his presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” It may be some preferred Apollos, the polished speaker from Alexandria, Egypt.

Though some men are shrewd enough to cultivate these very differences - called “politics” - others may deliberately avoid causing such. So, Paul is to relate later that he encouraged Apollos to visit the Corinthians but he declined. It may well be that the new Christian realized he was the cause of some divisiveness and wanted to avoid it for a time.

Some personalities naturally clash when they are similarly gifted or experienced. Church members may polarize around one or the other. This causes wider rifts in the congregation. How all of this can be healed or avoided Paul is to go on to explain when he discusses love.

Christ is Divided!

Paul now asks or states, “Is Christ divided?” Some scholars have this as a question while others as a statement: “Christ is divided.” Literally, the phrase is “has been parted the Christ” and may be rendered either way. Paul does not mean Jesus himself, but the Church - the Christ, or, the Anointed. Above we have explained why Paul said this was a “necessity” in 1 Corinthians 11:17-19.

Though Jesus the Nazarene established his own congregation, various schisms began almost immediately after his absence. One may read allusions to these in the record of Acts [Acts 15:1, 2] as well as in various epistles of the inspired disciples. Paul, Peter, John, and Jude all refer to these early heresies or schisms. [Read First Timothy and Titus, or see notes on such in Nazarene Commentary 2000©] Primarily these centered around two factions: First, Jewish teachers who wished to preserve the Law and Moses as a focus in the Christian Church. Secondly, the Greek philosophies include Plato, the Epicureans, Stoics. From these also emerged a powerful influence which strived to combine Jewish, Christian, and Greek dogma into one uniform religious empire. The later did become the dominate influence leading to the formation of the Universal [or, Catholic] Church.

This Universal Church first split into Eastern and Western and this schism still exists today in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. Throughout the ages smaller groups came and went and during the Inquisition went “underground” for centuries. The two major factions of the Realm of Christ persecuted any disparate movements. The Protestant Reformation plunged the world into centuries of religious wars and conflicts. More groups came and went, some enduring into our own times. The Puritans and Brethren escaped to America to establish their own empires. After Napoleon captured and imprisoned the Pope at the beginning of the 19th Century there was an explosion of new and flourishing sects, including the Mormons, the Adventists, the Christian Scientists, neo-Pentecostal, Unitarians, Cambellites, Russelites, Rutherfordites, and others too numerous to mention. Following the death of President Kennedy and the Hippy Movement, a new movement began called the Jesus Movement. This has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of new church groups. Some have world-wide followings while others never grew beyond their own neighborhood.

These developing new groups have fought for the airways and printing media to spread their Gospel around the world. This has all caused the current use of a new word, “Cult.” One group calling another group a “cult” because it did not share its views. Some former “Cults” - like the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Worldwide Church of God - have grown more and more acceptable and mainstream. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses are often left out of lists of cults in the United States. This is due to a new development called “New Age” which covers a wide range of apocalyptic sects which include survivalists, sects gathered around some “prophet,” or groups expecting extra-terrestials from space-ships to deliver them.

In the year 2,000 the Internet has become a global means for unnumbered individuals and groups to develop a following. Browsing the World Wide Web one can discover any number of views which will appeal to some, but not to others. Cafeteria or Buffet Christians have developed who are like people passing a banquet of choices, picking this, rejecting that until they have created an individualized plate of religion. Today anyone, anywhere can find a movement which will satisfy them. Truly, Christ is divided!

Speak and Think the Same About What?

It seems a logical conclusion that some of the matters Paul goes on to discuss in his letter to the Corinthians touch on such things about which they should be in agreement. A brief overview of First Corinthians highlights some of these subjects that could have been causing the ungodly “divisions.”

Disunity and Worldly Wisdom

We would expect that Christians coming out of the world of Greek culture may bring with them their former “opinions.” The real thinkers in Greek society were much familiar with Plato and Aristotle. Indeed, one not educated in these Greek philosophies could not be considered a “wise” person.

We are not surprised when Paul first tackles the Corinthian sectarianism by straightforward talk about worldly wisdom. When worldly wisdom becomes the source of Christian thinking then Christ is pushed aside. Consider Paul’s warning about such wisdom:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. [1 Corinthians 1:18-21 Contemporary English Version]

Paul makes two things clear: a) God did not choose many wise persons; and, b) because of the Corinthian spiritual immaturity Paul decided to preach to them only one thing: Christ crucified.

For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord." [1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Contemporary English Version]

Then the reason when Paul visited Corinth he decided not to get involved in Greek philosophies, but stick to the simple theme of Christ’s death.

When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. [1 Corinthians 2:1-5 CEV]

This did not mean that Paul never taught anything else but the execution of Christ. The Corinthians had proved too worldly, too fleshly, too spiritually infantile. He continues in 1 Corinthians 2:6, 7 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 to explain this:

Now to the [spiritually] mature we do speak in wisdom, but not the wisdom of this period of time, nor that [wisdom] of the leading [thinkers] of this present social order of humankind -- these have faded into the past. Rather, we speak the Wisdom of The God in holy mystery - the hidden wisdom that The God foresaw before the Ages for our own glory. … And so, brothers, I was unable to speak to you as spiritual persons, but more like fleshly persons, like infants in Christ. I made you drink milk not eat solid food, because you were too spiritually weak. You were not strong enough then. Indeed, you are still not strong enough, because you are still fleshly. Since jealousy and strife still exist among you, are you not yet fleshly, acting like [sinful] humans? [NCMM]

The Corinthians were not the only congregation of Christians where Paul warned of the danger of worldly philosophy. To the Colossians, he also writes:

Be careful that nobody spoils your faith through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense. He may set forth some human tradition, or some theory about the nature of the universe, but not the teachings of Christ. [Colossians 2:8 New English Bible; O. M. Norlie]

Just so as it was in the early history of the Christian church, today at the beginning of the 3rd Millennium, the modern social order of humanity is filled with worldly wisdom that contradicts “the doctrine of Christ.” Christian harmony and unity is maintained by avoiding what Paul calls “nonsense” and what God calls “foolish.” Modern Saints do well to focus on Jesus the Nazarene and his simple and loving teachings. Those who think themselves wise, or who boast of worldly credentials do well to consider Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 3:18, 19:

Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." So let no one boast of men. [CEV]

Scriptural and Apostolic Authority Unifies

Since the Corinthians had become sectarian and formed cliques around certain personalities, Paul also discuss this problem of personality cults. He defends the authority of the apostleship in chapters 4 and 9.

If there is one principle that both Paul and the charismatic disciple Apollos agreed on it is one that has not faded with the centuries. Note this in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “We want you to learn from us the principle, ‘DO NOT GO BEYOND WHAT IS WRITTEN!’ so you may not be arrogant champions of one teacher against another.” [NCMM, WEY]

There has been nothing greater that has resulted in the disunity of the Church than these two things: a) disrespect or disregard for Church authority; and, b) going outside the Scriptures for ideas and opinions which cause dissension. There is another old rule that is still workable: “Where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” Various speculations, based not on Scripture, but on human reasoning, have led to a variety of doctrines that can only be described as “unscriptural.”

At the beginning of the year 2,000 one complaint cries out against the Christian Church like the jeremiad of an Old Testament Prophet: “My People have rejected My Word!” [Jeremiah 23:36-40] It can be stated without fear of contradiction that 99.99999999% of all members of all the 20,000 sects have not studied their Bibles well enough. This includes even those supposedly famous for their Biblical knowledge.

The Church may return to unity and harmony when it bases all that it does on “what is written.” “Every wind of teaching” will vanish when Jesus becomes the authority and his inspired disciples the commentators. Trusting in godly elders who have been appointed according to the Scriptural requirements will aid in maintaining unity. [Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-8] Paul counsels the early Hebrew Christians with the words: “Be mindful of your guides who spoke to you the Word of The God. As you behold their behavior, imitate their conviction. … Be obedient to those guiding you and yield [to them]. For these very men remain sleepless while watching over your souls -- because they will have to render an account - so they do this with joy and not groaning, for that would cost you. [Hebrews 13:7, 17 NCMM]

Paul continues in First Corinthians to address other issues and opinions which have divided the Greek church.

United on Matters of Morals and Marriage

Judging from 1 Corinthians chapters 5 through 7 there seemed division on matters of morality within the Church. Perhaps different ones had contradictory opinions on what should be done with habitual sinners. Paul discusses a case of incest which has been brought to his attention. He then states the Biblical reasons to remove the wicked from the congregation:

But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you." [1 Corinthians 5:11-13 RSV]

Here Paul states six reasons for such action. He repeats this injunction in chapter 6 where he amplifies some of these reasons:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. [1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 RSV]

Thus, the Corinthians would be united in those matters that would require shunning habitual sinners who refuse to repent and therefore endanger the “spirit” of the congregation. But, what about other matters of a more personal kind between members of the Christian congregation? Say, financial matters, or matters of business? Paul urges the Corinthians not to go to worldly courts with their problems. He counsels they work these out before those men appointed to judge within the congregation. [1 Corinthians 6:1-8] So, even in private business matters they could be in unity and of the same opinion. This, of course, would require they put their trust in the decisions of the elders judging the matter.

Paul also answers a question presented by the Corinthians regarding whether a person should refrain from marriage or intimate relations between married couples. He recommends celibacy, however, he states that marriage is no sin. Here Paul makes clear he only gives his own opinion though he does so based on the Pneuma’s pressure on him. [1 Corinthians 7:25, 40] So, opinions regarding these matters may vary to a degree because there is “no commandment from the Lord” on these matters.

Unity and the Conscience

The conscience is that faculty of mind that judges human action. The judges of Nuremberg declared that there was such a thing as “a universal human conscience.” Paul writes that the non-Jews will be judged by their conscience. [Romans 2:15, 16] The word conscience in English means with+knowledge and this is the same meaning of the Greek word SYNEIDESIS. Paul uses the word “conscience” more often in First Corinthians that all writers of the Bible together. Most of these occur in chapters 8 and 10. [1 Corinthians 8:7, 10, 12; 10:25, 27, 28, 29] It is interesting that the associated word “knowledge” also occurs often in chapter 8. [1 Corinthians 8:1, 2, 7, 10, 11]

The conscience can be a divisive element when it is not trained properly with Biblical knowledge. Hebrews 5:14 describe the “conscience” as a sense organ: “However, solid nourishment belongs to mature persons, those who through the use of their sensory organs have been trained like an athlete to be able to distinguish between what is good or bad.” [NCMM] Particularly new Christians - as well as those who have not studied the Bible well - may tend to have a “weak” [or, overly sensitive] conscience. These may tend to label certain attitudes, speech, or conduct as “bad” when, in fact, they may not necessarily be so.

Paul deals with the example of meat purchased in a market which has previously been offered up to an idol. Though Jews and Christians were told to abstain from blood and things sacrificed to idols [Acts 15:20], Paul states, “Everything that is sold in a meat market keep eating, making no inquiry [of the butcher] on account of your conscience.” [1 Corinthians 10:25 NWT] If a Christian was invited to a banquet by an unbeliever [1 Corinthians 10:27] he was not to ask if the meat had been offered up to an idol.

However, if the host [or, another person present] pointed out that the meat on the table had been offered to an idol, Paul recommends, in order not to offend another’s conscience, that the Christian refrain from partaking of the meat. [1 Corinthians 10:27-29] Paul’s directive is to always do what is for the highest good of one’s neighbor. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:23, 24, 31-33:

Some of you say, "We can do whatever we want to!" But I tell you that not everything may be good or helpful. We should think about others and not about ourselves. … When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God. Don't cause problems for Jews or Greeks or anyone else who belongs to God's church. I always try to please others instead of myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved.” [CEV]

When we honor the conscience of others, even though they be weak and overly sensitive, we work for the unity of the congregation. It is the “strong who must bear the burdens of the weak.” [Romans 15:1; Read Romans chapter 14.] Paul gives his own example in these matters of conscience:

Don't cause problems for someone with a weak conscience, just because you have the right to eat anything. You know all this, and so it doesn't bother you to eat in the temple of an idol. But suppose a person with a weak conscience sees you and decides to eat food that has been offered to idols. Then what you know has destroyed someone Christ died for. When you sin by hurting a follower with a weak conscience, you sin against Christ. So if I hurt one of the LORD'S followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live. [1 Corinthians 8:9-13 CEV]

Though meat offered to idols is not a modern problem in Western nations, it seems fair that the principles in Paul’s inspired counsel can be applied to contemporary matters. For example, some Christians [such as those in the southern United States] come from a background of abstinence regarding alcoholic drinks. Others from European or Mediterranean cultures drink wine and stronger drinks on most occasions and most meals come with such fare. Christians aware that their guests might be sensitive about drinking alcoholic beverages might loving choose to refrain on such occasions.

Similar decisions could be made regarding dress and grooming, entertainment, dancing, card games, manners, language, types of work, conduct with the opposite sex, and other matters. There are few people with an opinion. There are fewer people who think these opinions wrong. However, the sake of unity among the fellowship, it is not always necessary to speak these opinions. Indeed, people who express their opinions on every subject under heaven are often shunned in polite company. Such Christians are often observed, when responding to the thought of another, with the word, “No …. “ and then offering a differing opinion. Such ego-centric persons never are the solution to Christian unity, but rather the cause of it.

Unity by Orderly Meetings

Paul does not give his personal opinion on meetings in his epistle to the Corinthians. Rather, he gives what he calls “the Lord’s commandment.” In chapters 11, 12, and 14 he gives counsel on meetings that are orderly after God’s own character. He describes Him: “For He is a God, not of disorder, but of peace. … Therefore, let all things take place decently and by arrangement.” [1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 NWT]

In this regard he considers several related subjects:

For further details on early church order see the online publication Nazarene Community in the Nazarene Commentary 2000© or on the Friends of the Nazarene web page.

Unity Regarding Doctrine

Of course, the subject of doctrine and how a variety of opinions lead only to disunity no doubt moves Paul to discuss at least several features to one doctrine - the resurrection. It is clear some had different opinions. The Greeks did not believe in the resurrection but rather the immortality of the soul. It comes as no surprise, then, that some Christians in Corinth had a strong opinion that “there was no resurrection” but rather Christians continued alive after death as their souls were immortal. Paul discusses this subject in detail in 1 Corinthians 15:1-57. Indeed, he calls those who reject the resurrection - no doubt in favor of the soul’s immortality - a “fool.” [1 Corinthians 15:36]

Surely Christians should not be divided on such a subject as the resurrection? Careful and thorough study of the Bible will make clear that both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures teach on this subject. [For more details see the online publication Where Are the Dead? on the Friends web page or in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.]

Love as the Cure of Disunity

Paul devotes considerable space to the subject of love. Be doing so he points the way to a united and harmonious Church. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 -

Now, if I spoke in the languages of humans or angels, but lack loving concern for others, I am no more than a loud brass gong or noisy cymbal! If I am gifted as an inspired prophet -- knowing all mysteries and knowledge, along with the conviction to move mountains -- but lack loving concern for others, I am nothing! If I give away all my possessions to feed others -- and even sacrifice my body with the motive of boasting - but lack loving concern for others, I will receive no reward at all. Loving concern is manifest by patience and kindness. Loving concern never arouses jealousy. It never boasts. It is never arrogant. It never looks just after self. It never becomes upset. It keeps no record of wrongs. It is never happy when bad things happen. It always rejoices in the Truth. [Loving concern] always tolerates others. Always trusts others. Always hopes in others. Always endures others. Loving concern never fails. [NCMM]

The application of such characteristics will go a long way in curing any disunity in the congregation.

Unified in “One Faith”!

Paul writes to the Ephesians that there is only “one faith” in the Christian Church. Indeed, the Nazarene asked the question, “When the Son of Man arrives will he really find The Faith on earth?” [Luke 18:8] This faith contains involves a wide array of doctrines and teachings. By Bible study in association with a genuine Christian community - along with love and humility - an acceptable degree of unity and harmony will be maintained. Baptized Christians, both men and women, will speak the same thing in agreement, have the same mental inclination and the same opinion on clear matters of doctrine and church order.

Paul exhorts: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, continue steadfast, unmovable, always devoting yourself to the Lord’s work, because you know your labor is never in vain in connection with the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 15:58]

Friends of the Nazarene Publishing

Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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