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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#439 (16/9/21) - UNITY THROUGH BAPTISM (1 COR. 1:13-16)

This week our devotions are based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.

'Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else.)' (1 Corinthians 1:13-16)

Paul is warning the Corinthians against unhealthy allegiance to leaders who may have baptised them, or who have particularly inspired them. We can all become like that proverbial duckling who treats the first thing it sees as its parent and follows it blindly.

Paul is not devaluing baptism. The fact that he mentions it, shows its importance. Rather, Paul is seeking to make Christ the focus of their (our) baptised. He makes it clear that it was Jesus who was crucified and was raised for us - all symbolised in baptism. We are baptised into ‘His Name’. He is our primary leader. We are to be united in our devotion to Jesus rather than divided by our devotion to leaders who may have played a part in our coming to faith.

Paul is making the point that he is only a human leader and that baptism and shared history must not create unhealthy idolatry of leaders.

In application, is your loyalty, firstly, to Jesus rather than any human leader? Would you change church if that leader left?

A particular application for this text is seen in our tendency to look to the past and value past leaders involved in our conversion or a significant moment in our past over and against present leaders. Perhaps there was an emphasis in their teaching that captivated us but these present leaders are different. It’s not healthy or helpful to live in the past and is disrespecting what God is doing in the present.

Another application of this will help with the common problem of those who leave a church where they grew up, where they became a Christian and have been a longstanding member. Such people can find it hard to settle somewhere else. They can’t find a church that feels like home. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 speaks to this. Jesus is your primary leader and we need to stop looking for the perfect human leader or church.



1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


2. Icebreaker

How has God spoken to you from the Bible this week?


3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued in our series in 1 Corinthians. The title of the message was, 'OUR UNITY REFLECTS JEUS'. Overcoming worldly disunity by an application of the gospel is a big theme in this letter.

Please read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.


Broken relationships were common in Corinthian culture. Christians are called to reflect the character of Jesus and His Kingdom rather than their broken culture. Therefore, unity must be eagerly pursued, and the skill of overcoming relational landmines must be learnt.


Paul addresses the church his family. He appeals to them as ‘brothers and sisters’. Family is something that we stick with. We don’t treat church membership and unity lightly.


Paul appeals for unity ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Paul is speaking on behalf of Jesus and he knows that it’s Jesus’ will that they pursue loving unity.

Let’s also remember that the church represents ‘the name of Jesus’ and so our relationships in the church reflect on His character for good or bad!


Harmony is maintained through healthy thinking. We are urged to ‘agree with one another in what you say’. This unifying speech flows out of being ‘perfectly united in mind and thought’. Bad - culture-inspired - thinking leads to poor speech and disunity. Good - Jesus-centred - thinking leads to healthy speech and harmony.


Paul speaks of their dividing and quarrelling about leaders. Each leader has a different background, different gifts and a different history with the church that was creating an unhealthy celebrity culture.

However, we are to understand that harmony and strength are created by the variety of gifts in the body of Christ and her leaders.


The church is to be like an orchestra. The beauty of the music is in the variety of instruments. Jesus in our conductor. He's the composer. May our music reflect Him to this world that needs Him.

Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you, or what do you plan to do in response to Sunday's message?

2. Do you have any questions about this text?

3. v.10 - How does unity in mind and thought help to maintain unity?

3. v.11 - Have you ever experienced division over leaders in a local church? (Please be careful not to spread gossip with this question).

4. v.13- Why does division in the church cause Paul to ask 'Is Christ divided?'

5. v.14 - The title of Sunday's message was 'Our Unity Reflects Jesus'. What do disunity and unity reflect about Jesus?


5. SIV

Finally, it would be helpful to talk and pray about how we are doing in regard to Serve, Invest and Invite. Do you have any encouraging stories or any plans in this regard? How do you want to pray in regard to our mission?

Let's be praying and actively preparing to invite friends to our carol service on 5th December. Please make sure this is in you diary.

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