For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions and quarrels among you. (1 Corinthians 1:11)
The air was thick with tension. Chloe and her household were in great distress. Hearing the arguments from those she called brothers and sisters caused her to agonize in her own thoughts. "Aren't we all disciples? This is not how the church is intended to be. Are we losing our first love?" she considered gravely.
Chloe, a devout widow in the Corinthian church, was acutely aware of the foundation of love and unity among the believers that Paul had laid while still with them. But he had warned them that after his departure factions would arise, and he had told them to be on guard against divisions. True to what he spoke, personal sentiment and wounded pride led to growing differences among the disciples.
Chloe's household was greatly disturbed by what they were experiencing. Brothers were speaking against brothers, sisters against sisters. Gossip and slander were heard among the once tight-knit group of disciples. Their hope of bearing witness to the Kingdom of God was slipping from their grasp like an ailing man breathing his last breaths of life. Chloe could sense the fingers of a deathly grip coming upon them. She could sense the divisions forming.
Contentions and quarreling were consuming the Corinthian community. When they could not agree even about small matters, some rose up in defiance saying, "I don't care what others are saying; I know what Paul said, and that is what I am doing." Others would speak ill of the first, saying, "Apollos taught us differently, and we know we are right in this matter." Others claimed loyalty to Cephas, and still others said they would only follow Messiah Himself. Brothers went their own ways, divided. None would humble themselves to seek reconciliation with their brothers.
Sides were taken, the gatherings grew quiet, and the vacuum of silence was filled by the overconfident, unsurrendered ones who were unwittingly becoming the servants of Satan. Their love was failing and their disunity growing. Chloe's household seemed to be the only ones disturbed by the divisions. What were they to do? Where were they to turn? They sent word to Paul and told him of the divisions that were devouring them. They prayed and eagerly awaited his reply.
Paul's response to the Corinthians clearly conveys the Holy Spirit's urgency against denominations. Obviously, the concerns of divisions, contentions, and quarreling from Chloe's household were of the utmost importance to him. It was one of the first things he mentions in his letter to them:
For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions and quarreling among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:11-13)
Paul was pointing out to them the basic truth that Messiah is not divided or denominated, and those in fellowship with Him are also not divided or denominated. He wasted no time in addressing the fact that denominations would disqualify them from continuing on in Messiah. In verse 10, he identified the antithesis of denominationalism, pinpointing the depth of unity the believers were to live by as they were led by the one Holy Spirit:
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)
Paul scorned denominationalism in verses 10 and 13, and scolded the Corinthians for the very hint of it. Verse 12 was the time when denominations were born into the church, born from the womb of Satan, when his seed mixed with the self-glory of carnal men. Paul exposed the workings of Satan in verse 15, when he said plainly that no one was baptized into his name. He never intended for the Corinthians to denominate and splitter into names, as is the pattern of Christianity. He was appealing to any good sense left in them by asking, "Is Messiah divided?"
To scorn is to find fault with, to show contempt or disdain for. Paul considered it contemptible and despicable to continue on with denominations, knowing it would reduce the Body to the fallen and divided corpse which we know today as Christianity. He scolded them for the sin that leads to denominations:
For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:3)
They were mere men, dividing and denominating, seeking their own glory as those devoid of the Holy Spirit's leading. Denominate means to give name to a particular persuasion of doctrine or practice. No man can give a name to any portion of Messiah's Body; only God Himself has that privilege. It is His Body, His house. As for the Corinthians, divisions were consuming them, and certainly, if they were divided, it would not be possible to represent the undivided Messiah.
So the question hangs in the air: "Is Messiah divided?" Or is Christianity the religion where Satan, the king of division, masquerades in all of his powerful splendor? Oh, Corinthians, what will become of the denominations born in you!? What will become of the contentions among you? How can I serve God in a body that's divided and hateful?! Oh, Corinthians -- this was Chloe's dilemma.
Throughout the past 1900 years, Christianity has continually denominated in order to fulfill its purpose of presenting a false messiah to the world. Within its 42,000+ denominations, the evil one needs "a few good men" to do his will as deceivers, "preaching Christ" while living a divided and denominated life in a divided and denominated religion. We must beware of those who are wolves in sheep's clothing. They shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for they do not enter His kingdom, nor do they allow those who are entering to go in.1 Paul considered denominations as unworthy of the true Body of Messiah. Denominationalism is the tendency or propensity to separate and divide. This happens when mere men, who are as 1 Corinthians 3:1, are not able to hear as spiritual men, but only as carnal.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:1)
Paul upbraided the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 6:5, saying it was to their shame that none of them were wise, since they were not able to peaceably judge the matters between brothers without denominating. They were reduced (since there were no spiritual men among them) to something less than what was expected of them. Christianity, in its denominated condition, masquerades unity and presents a false messiah to the world, deceiving people into thinking they have found forgiveness when indeed they have not. This is the very purpose of Christianity, as a tool of the evil one: to present a false messiah to the world, so as to deceive the masses.
The Corinthians were the first among the first-century believers to partake of this purpose of deception, initiated by the evil one. Their compromise led them into communion with Satan, and over time he transformed them into his own deceitful workmen, as 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 makes clear:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
Accumulating Teachers for Themselves
Paul prophesied to Timothy the coming of a denominated religion that turns aside to fables, closing their ears to the truth. Not able to endure the sound and objective doctrine of the Word of God, Christianity must turn aside to fables and myths in order to justify the false messiah it presents to the world.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
In the midst of this splintered and divided religion, the sincere ones within "her" earnestly seek for the truth, but find none, because Christianity is simply not the good soil where true disciples can bear fruit -- 30, 60, or 100 fold. To the contrary, it is made up of various denominated bodies produced by men accumulating teachers for themselves. We must go to Him outside the camp of the rocky soil of Christianity, in order to keep His commandments and live them out in obedience to His Word.
So Christianity, fulfilling its purpose, successfully presents a false messiah to the watching world, while Satan basks in all the grandeur of his greatest masterpiece, engineered by his deceitful workmen and false apostles. Christianity is the antithesis of what Paul urged the Corinthians to be: perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.2 It is the antithesis of the prayer of unity from the Son of God in John 17:21-23.
All those who are willing to do His will must respond to God's call to "Come out of her, My people."3 They must come out of that fallen system of denominations, and into the good soil where all His believers are one. There, we can bear fruit in the good works that are prepared for us to do before He returns.
We must go to him outside the camp4 of Christianity, no longer entangled in the confusion of the greatest masquerade ever presented. For God is not the author of confusion, but is the author of fusion among His true believers, where we can be together again.