Unity in the Church
…My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: Individuals among you are saying, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?… 1 Corinthians 1:12
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
Now this I say – This is what I mean; or, I give this as an instance of the contentions to which Irefer.
That every one of you saith – That you are divided into different factions, and ranged under different leaders. The word translated “that” ὅτι hoti might be translated here, “because,” or “since,” as giving a reason for his affirming 1 Corinthians 1:11 that there were contentions there. “Now I say that there are contentions, because you are ranged under different leaders,” etc. – Calvin.
I am of Paul – It has been doubted whether Paul meant to affirm that the parties had actually taken the names which he here specifies, or whether he uses these names as illustrations, or suppositions, to show the absurdity of their ranging themselves under different leaders. Many of the ancient interpreters supposed that Paul was unwilling to specify the real names of the false teachers and leaders of the parties, and that he used these names simply by way of illustration. This opinion was grounded chiefly on what he says in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “And these things, brethren, I have ‘in a figure’ transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes,” etc. But in this place Paul is not referring so particularly to the factions or parties existing in the church, as he is to the necessity of modesty and humility; and in order to enforce this, he refers to himself and Apollos to show that even those most highly favored should have a low estimate of their importance, since all their success depends on God; see 1 Corinthians 3:4-6.
It can scarcely be doubted that Paul here meant to say that there were parties existing in the church at Corinth, who were called by the names of himself, of Apollos, of Cephas, and of Christ. This is the natural construction; and this was evidently the information which he had received by those who were of the family of Chloe. Why the parties were ranged under these leaders, however, can be only a matter of conjecture. Lightfoot suggests that the church at Corinth was composed partly of Jews and partly of Gentiles; see Acts 18. The Gentile converts, he supposes, would range themselves under Paul and Apollos as their leaders; and the Jewish under Peter and Christ. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and Peter particularly the apostle to the Jews Galatians 2:7; and this circumstance might give rise to the division. Apollos succeeded Paul in Achaia, and labored successfully there; see Acts 18:27-28. These two original parties might be again sub-divided. A part of those who adhered to Paul and Apollos might regard Saul with chief veneration, as being the founder of the church as the instrument of their conversion, as the chief apostle, as signally pure in his doctrine and manner; and a part might regard Apollos as the instrument of their conversion, and as being distinguished for eloquence. It is evident that the main reason why Apollos was regarded as the head of a faction was on account of his extraordinary eloquence, and it is probable that his followers might seek particularly to imitate him in the graces of popular elocution.
And I of Cephas, Peter; – compare John 1:42. He was regarded particularly as the apostle to the Jews; Galatians 2:7. He had his own speciality of views in teaching, and it is probable that his teaching was not regarded as entirely harmonious with that of Paul; see Galatians 2:11-17. Paul had everywhere among the Gentiles taught that it was not necessary to observe the ceremonial laws of Moses; and, it is probable, that Peter was regarded by the Jews as the advocate of the contrary doctrine. Whether Peter had been at Corinth is unknown. If not, they had heard of his name, and character; and those who had come from Judea had probably reported him as teaching a doctrine on the subject of the observance of Jewish ceremonies unlike that of Paul.
And I of Christ – Why this sect professed to be the followers of Christ, is not certainly known. It probably arose from one of the two following causes:
(1) Either that they had been in Judea and had seen the Lord Jesus, and thus regarded themselves as particularly favored and distinguished: or,
(2) More probably because they refused to call themselves by any inferior leader, and wished to regard Christ alone as their head, and possibly prided themselves on the belief that they were more conformed to him than the other sects.