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We’re united with ourselves… that’s all we need, right?

Posted by on Aug 16, 2011 in blog links, unity | 9 comments

We’re united with ourselves… that’s all we need, right?

Josh at “Called to Rebuild” has written an excellent post called “To the church in Corinth.” The post is primarily focused on unity in Christ, building on the first chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

After stepping through (in a modern context) what the Corinthian divisions and disunity might look like today, Josh asks an important question: What if we’re united among ourselves, that is, among the believers who are like us? Isn’t that enough?

For example, consider this paragraph:

But there is a convenient cover for this mentality, and it stems from the congregational view of the church. We take 1 Corinthians and apply it only to the specific group of Christians that we meet with. As long as there is unity in our group we think things are ok and according to God’s will. Never mind the fact that other believers are meeting separately just down the road. Yet we forget that 1 Corinthians was written to the saints who made up the entire city. This is because the ground of the church is the city. Scripture never speaks of the church in a county, the church in a region, the church in a nation, or the church on a particular street. The boundary is never bigger or smaller than the city.

Josh is right on the mark here. Paul was not talking about all those “of Apollos” being united among themselves, and all of those “of Cephas” being united among themselves, and all of those “of Paul” being united among themselves, and even all of those “of Christ” being united among themselves. (1 Corinthians 1:12) Instead, Paul exhorted that there be no division among any believers in the city of Corinth… the whole city of Corinth. (1 Corinthians 1:10-11)

It’s time for us to drop the excuses and seek to live in the unity in Christ that we already have with all brothers and sisters who are in Christ.


9 Comments

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  1. 8-16-2011

    Not to be a nitpicker here but..

    “Scripture never speaks of the church in a county, the church in a region, the church in a nation, or the church on a particular street. The boundary is never bigger or smaller than the city.”

    Isn’t Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia written to the church in a region?

    (The rest of the post is great though!)

  2. 8-16-2011

    Arthur,

    I think Galatians was written to the churches of Galatia. (Galatians 1:2)

    -Alan

  3. 8-16-2011

    right, and isn’t Galatia a region as opposed to a specific city?

  4. 8-16-2011

    Arthur,

    Yes, but he wrote to the churches (plural) in the region of Galatia. The only possible example of speaking of the church (singular) is a region is in Acts 9:31. There is variation in the manuscripts there. Some say “church”; some say “churches”.

    -Alan

  5. 8-16-2011

    Hey guys!

    Yeah, Arthur, Paul’s letter to the Galatians was written to the four churches he and Barnabas planted on their first journey out of Antioch. Whenever scripture speaks of a particular region it is always of the “churches” (plural) in that region, as Alan already pointed out.

  6. 8-17-2011

    Don’t some early manuscripts of Ephesians omit the phrase “in Ephesus” in the intro to the letter? (cf. P-46, B, 424C, 1739) as well as the works of Basil, Origin and Tertullian – suggesting that it was, in fact, a general epistle – rather than a church specific letter? Also, Marcion referred to it the epistle to the Laodiceans.

    Once it is removed from the context of a specific city, is there any other option than to read it as a boundless text?

  7. 8-17-2011

    I guess my point was more of a quibble.

  8. 8-17-2011

    Jared,

    I heard Ephesians referred to as a “circulating” letter due the possible lack of address. However, I’ve never heard it referred to as “boundless”. The text itself seems to refer to a group of believers who actually interact with one another.

    Arthur,

    The use of “church” or “churches” in various passages is an interesting discussion…

    -Alan

  9. 8-17-2011

    Yeah, Jared, Ephesians could have originally been the letter to the Laodiceans that Paul mentions in Colossians. This is plausible because it seems Paul was writing to people he had never personally met. Otherwise the common view is that it was meant to be a circular letter, passed on from church to church. Either way it was intended for specific assemblies of God’s people.