1 Corinthians 11:17-19
Now in this that I declare to you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse.…
There be divisions among you. "There must be also heresies [sects] among you." Distinguish between the divisions which lead to the formation of separate sects, and the sectarian feeling which may disturb the harmony and the work of a particular Church. The apostle refers not to sects dividing the Church into parts, but to parties and party feeling within an individual Church. Such party feeling tells most injuriously on spiritual profit and progress. "St. Paul must be understood as saying that, not only will there be dissension and divisions among Christians, but that some of them will go their own way in spite of the instructions both in doctrine and practice delivered to them by Christ's apostles." We may illustrate the sources from which sectarian feeling within the Church is likely to arise.
I. SECTARIANISM FROM SOCIAL CLASSIFICATION. Christianity assumes the absolute equality of all men before God. But so far as Christianity is an organization, it is bound to recognize and make due account of class distinctions. These become a constant source of difficulty, the ground and occasion of much offence.
II. SECTARIANISM FROM FAMILY DISPUTES. Within the same class there arise jealousies, misunderstandings, and heart burnings. The Church is too often made the sphere for the expression of such ill feeling.
III. SECTARIANISM FROM PERSONAL DISPOSITION. Such as that of Diotrephes, "who loved to have the pre-eminence." Suspicious, masterful, or conceited men are the most fruitful sources of Church dispute and division. The evil man in Church life is the man who "looks only on his own things, not on the things of others."
IV. SECTARIANISM FROM INTELLECTUAL DIFFERENCES. Such should never occur, because the true unity of a Church is its common life in Christ, and not its common opinion about Christ. The life must be always the same, and so it can be a basis of union. Opinions must differ according to variety of capacity and education. Impress that, if the causes of sectarianism cannot be wholly removed, their influence may be overruled by the culture of high Christian life and sentiment. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.