How to Correct Division

By Roy E. Cogdill (1907-1985)

Certain ones from the household of Chloe had informed Paul that there were divisions among the brethren in Corinth. When he wrote to the church there, deeply concerned about their contentions, Paul condemned them for their “carnality,” and pointed out at least two indications or expressions of a carnal mind: glorying in men, and putting the wisdom of men above the wisdom of God. In beseeching them to overcome their problem along this line, he invokes the name of Christ. “Now I beseech you brethren, through 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 perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment”(1 Cor. 1:10).

By using the name of Christ to enforce and back up his admonition to them, the apostle called into play all the authority of heaven. This would be sufficient influence in the mind and heart of any individual who had respect or reverence for the Lord; this name would challenge attention and demand concern from all who were not completely hardened. The writer gives three particulars in which they are to work in overcoming their dissension:

“Speak the Same Thing”

It is impossible to have unity without all those involved being willing to speak the same thing. When men teach different doctrines, there is division; when they are willing to teach only the faith of the gospel of Christ, unity will prevail. So Paul’s order to these brethren is that they must all come back to the basis of a common faith, a common message, the gospel of Christ. This will correct their division; without it they can never have unity. Divisive doctrines, differing opinions and ideas will always bring discord. But when all men confine their “speaking” to the truth of God, unity will exist within the body. This is the Paul’s instruction for the restoration of unity in Corinth. But whatever will restore unity there, the same procedure will perpetuate unity in our generation.

“No Division Among You”

There are some who take Paul’s admonition that “there be no division” as justification for “peace at any price.” God does not want peace purchased at the expense of truth. Jesus made this very plain when he said, “Think not that I came to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Christ came into the world as the Prince of Peace, but he knew that his word, the truth, as it was preached in the world, as it entered into the hearts of men would most certainly create faith; it would find hostility in another heart, and the man would be hardened. Thus, with one man believing and another rejecting, it would be inevitable that the two should be set against each other. This cleavage should extend even into a man’s own family.

“For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-inlaw; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” A man’s primary concern shall be that he have peace with God; peace within his family must always be secondary to that. When we put peace with men above peace with God, we have forsaken God’s way. Peace at any price means I prefer men and their fellowship above God and his fellowship; it means I am set against God. I have separated myself from him by my disrespect for his word.

God’s word is the only basis on which peace can exist. If it exists on any other foundation, it is false and deceitful. It is easy enough to have peace if one is willing to pay for it by the sacrifice of God’s word. But that is not the kind of peace the Christian seeks. If God’s word brings the division, then let the division come. When a faithful disciple takes his stand upon the word of truth, he is at once at peace with all others who thus stand; he is at enmity with all those who do not so stand. Loyalty to God and fidelity to him must mean more than all the goodwill and all the peaceful relations with any men on this earth.

“Same Mind and Same Judgment”

As long as a Christian has the “mind of Christ” he will be likeminded with other Christians. Into such a group division can not come. But when men are willing to buy harmony at the cost of truth or righteousness, they do not have the mind of Christ. This is true not only in the church, it is true also in the community, in business, or anywhere else. Peace with God comes first; as long as that is maintained, the one having that peace is automatically at peace with every other person on the earth who is also at peace with God. Thus between and among the true and faithful disciples of the Lord there is always unity. When any breach or division comes, it is evidence that somebody has departed from the right relationship with God.

Thus Paul admonished the Corinthians, “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Such a course would restore peace to Corinth; such a course will perpetuate peace among any people and in any age (Gospei Guardian [13 Jan. 1955], p. 549).

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 13, pp. 387-388
July 5, 1990