Vol.XVII No.X Pg.2
December 1980

Diversified Corinth

Robert F. Turner

Most of you will be familiar with the argument that since Paul did not advocate the forming of a new "sound" church in Corinth, despite much error there, he was saying a UNION of such diverse doctrines is acceptable. Bro. Almon Williams has prepared a paper on this, which I will share with you.

He says the above concept ignores Paul's stated purposes relative to writing, instead of coming to them in person. "To spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth" (2 C.1:23). Following verses (2 C.2:1-9) stress his desire to correct problems by letter, "lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice." This indirect method allowed the Corinthians to deal with their own situation without Paul's personal presence, although under his supervision. It may have occasioned their comment that his letters were "weighty and powerful" (2 C.10:10).

The corrective nature of Paul's letters shows he did not approve of their situation — as God's longsuffering with us is not equivalent to his approval of our life (2 Pet. 3:9). In addition, Paul makes it clear that this waiting for correction had a termination point. "To spare you I came not as yet" says, when I come I will no longer spare. Note 2 C.13:2, "I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare." Further, "I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction" (2 C.13:10). That's approval??"!?

Then note 2 C. 10:2, "But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some." And again, v. 11, "Let such a one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present."

Urging them to repent and straighten up before he arrives, he says "But I will come to you shortly .... shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" (1 Co. 4:18-21). There was no intention on his part to leave a single error unrebuked. Regarding the Lord's Supper, he rejects their variations because they were not according to the pattern delivered (1 C.11:22-23), and he says, "And the rest will I set in order when I come" (v. 34).

Paul urged tolerance in matters of opinion; but when there was variation from the divine pattern he makes a poor example of unity in diversity.