I’ve been trying to figure this verse out in light of my own recent efforts to get a close JW friend to study and question WTS reasoning as I believe Jehovah wants all of us to do. Here’s the verse:

(1 Corinthians 1:10) Now I exhort YOU, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that YOU should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among YOU, but that YOU may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.

This is one of the scriptures that he cites as his reason for not wanting to read any so-called “apostate” books. He says it won’t do anyone any good to read it and get discouraged because there’s only one Organization to turn to anyway. Most of us are very familiar with his logic because we have used it in the past ourselves… So my first question was how could we all speak in agreement with so many differing theories and opinions on the Scriptures? Am I violating this scripture myself by writing this post? By having a blog like this one? But on the other hand, we’ve already learned that several doctrines of the WTS are flat out wrong, such as 607 B.C.E. and 1914/1919, identity of the faithful and discreet slave, etc. We have learned that the WTS maintains an enforced “unity at all costs” (See Captive to a Concept, page 76 and In Search of Christian Freedom, page 18) in an attempt to maintain their hierarchical control.

While attempting to reason with the brother and persuade him to at least consider reading the testimony of Ray Franz in Crisis of Conscience, my initial question was: How do I overcome this objection? But really I saw that I needed to understand this verse better. So after praying about it and looking up the cross-referenced scriptures and reading the entire chapter it makes a lot more sense. Here’s two relevant cross-references:

(2 Corinthians 13:11) Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably; and the God of love and of peace will be with YOU.

(Philippians 2:2) make my joy full in that YOU are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind,

So we are admonished to “think in agreement” and to be “of the same mind”, and not “have divisions among us”. But the logical follow-up question then would be this: “In agreement” with regard to what?  “Of the same mind” as to what?  The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 1 helps, especially the verse following after verse 10. Let’s read it again, this time with more context:

(1 Corinthians 1:10-25) Now I exhort YOU, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that YOU should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among YOU, but that YOU may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought. 11 For the disclosure was made to me about YOU, my brothers, by those of [the house of] Chlo′e, that dissensions exist among YOU. 12 What I mean is this, that each one of YOU says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to A·pol′los,” “But I to Ce′phas,” “But I to Christ.” 13 The Christ exists divided. Paul was not impaled for YOU, was he? Or were YOU baptized in the name of Paul? …17 For Christ dispatched me, not to go baptizing, but to go declaring the good news, not with wisdom of speech, that the torture stake of the Christ should not be made useless. 18 For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. 19 For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God, God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing. 22 For both the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness; 24 however, to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men.

So here we get to the crux of Paul’s discussion about divisions and what the brothers needed readjustment with. The disunity didn’t exist with regard to individual doctrines. (The circumcision issue had been this type of problem) That wasn’t Paul’s point at all!

The problem was a lack of unity of heart and a oneness in the Christ. They needed to stop showing off, and stop competing with one another. Just like when the Apostles couldn’t stop arguing about who was the greatest among them. That Pharisaical way of thinking, the angling for prominence was what they needed help overcoming. They were all one in Christ.

Yet time and again the comments regarding 1 Corinthians 1:10 in the Watchtower emphasizes only one thing: Doctrinal and organizational uniformity. Dozens of references to this verse in the WT Library contain not one paragraph that points out this fundamental meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:10. It’s similar to what happens when we read or study WT teaching on John 6:68. That’s where Peter says “Lord whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life?”. Every time it’s read, the word “WHOM” gets changed into the word “WHERE”, and that is the trap and the misunderstanding that is perpetuated, ad infinitum.  The mind can get caught in an endless loop of misdirected logic. The same thing is happening with the thinking process on this verse. Every time I read it I kept getting caught up in the Watchtower’s exclusive usage of the verse- to hammer home the viewpoint that the Governing Body are the sole channel of spiritual truth. Only after I read it and read it and prayed about it and read it again did it become clear.

It’s so simple. Look to Christ. Love and worship the Father and the Son as they have loved us. That’s unity of worship. That’s what Paul under inspiration of Holy Spirit was telling them. And that’s what God and Christ are telling us too.

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7 Comments on 1 Corinthians 1:10- What Did Paul Really Mean?

  1. Jayme says:

    Fantastic post JJ! I too did the same leg work regarding this passage and its WT interpretation with the same results you found. Yes, it is SO SIMPLE! We are ALL to be united in Christ rather than agressively dividing up into opposing camps, competing with one another. “I’m a Catholic” or “I’m a Lutheran” or “I’m a JW”, sadly the Christ does exist divided! For this reason I believe that doctrine dose play a role here in that in many cases it is by doctrine that many continue to argue about who is the greatest and to show off as it were. Isnt that exactly what the WT does? There are points that we may differ on but it should not become a dividing factor in our unity of heart and oneness in Christ. Just think what good could be accomplished if the energy spent in maintaining denominational lines were put towards the common goal of preaching “Christ impaled”. Ironically,the WT interpretation of this passage actually fosters the very problem which Paul was addressing when writing it!
    Think of it as Paul reasoned:
    The WT was not impaled for You, was it? NO!
    Or were YOU baptized in the name of the WT? …..Well, we shouldnt have been but sadly since 1985 everyone has been baptized “in association with Gods spirit directed organization” aka the WT society.

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  2. andrew says:

    Thanks JJ for the article. I think most of those who have left the organ. or even those of us who are still in it have had this scripture read to us several times when the application of the necesity of conforming our beliefs to those of the organ. However if that were true we should all be catholics with nobody questioning the teachings of the leaders. Thanks for the research.

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  3. Dennis says:

    Where would JW’s be today if Russell had applied 1Cor.1:10 or Jn.6:68 for that matter, the same way that the GB does today? If there is any doctrinal application here it seems to me that it’s the very simple Gospel that was preached in the beginning, “Christ Impaled”. I’m currently reading Lost Christianities and it is amazing just how much doctrinal disunity there was during the last half of the 1st century through the 3rd century (pre-Constatine) and not just involving the obligation of Christians to the law either. I agree whole heartedly that Paul was here condeming the divisions that were starting to manifest themselves at the time. Jayme, love the encouragement to just take a step back and “Think of it as Paul reasoned”. That’s a point I will use from now on when reasoning with any of the friends on this scripture.

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  4. Amos says:

    Excellent study. Paul carries this same theme through to chapter 3, ending his theme with the thoughts expressed from Vs 10-23.

    10, According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

    16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

    18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; 20 and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” 21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

    I appears that the cong. at Corinth was about to destroy itself, due to the divisions that had sprung up there, & this is what Paul was counselling them about, unity in Christ.

    The whole basis of the christians walk, is summed up in Vs 16,17. Christians ARE the “temple of God” on earth. This is what Paul was trying to point out to them (& us), that divisions will destroy “God’s Temple.”

    Amos

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  5. Amos says:

    I came across this passage today, & think that it fits nicely into the discussion.

    Gal.1:3-10;
    “3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
    4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
    5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

    6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
    7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
    8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
    9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

    10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

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  6. Jolly Roger says:

    Watching documentaries that deal with the Bible, Biblical history, and Christianity seem to be clones of each other, particularly when a Bible scripture is discussed. Without fail the documentary will produce some “expert” who starts his/her explanation out with the same phrase, “Well, what the Bible really says is…” , as if you, the viewer, are incapable of understanding what you just heard or read.

    It makes me wonder what breakfast must be like at the experts house, as the mother instructs the children:
    Mom: Okay kids, hurry up and eat or you’ll be late for school!
    Expert: What your mother really said was that time is essential to the day, and it might be considered imperative that you hasten the input of your Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs towards more rapid mastication, digestive disassembly, and eventual reinsertion of glucose alkaloids into your biological system, remembering that educational activity is the ultimate aim of this day.
    Kids: What?

    Apparently, the experts are in some sort of unofficial agreement that the folks who translated the Bible over the past 2000 or so years were all complete retards that got it all wrong and therefore need help. Further, the fact that the translators were totally independent from each other (separated by such things as social class, geography, and even time) and keep coming up with the same meanings for the written texts is apparently grounds for proof that there is some sort of cosmic conspiracy to hoodwink anyone who reads.

    During an interview for a story, a journalist asked Robert Frost what he “meant” by a particular passage in a poem, and I love Frost’s response: “What do you want me to do, say it again in worser English?”

    I think Paul was very explicit, and easily understood. His statement was not fraught with subtle nuances of meaning nor hidden senses of coded truth, he really meant what he really said. However, based upon the thread of thought within the comments listed here, the question that seems to be in discussion is whether “unity of thought” is more critical than truth. To which I would say, ummmmm, no.

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