Alexander the Great conquered the entire world. After his death it was divided up among the generals because they could not agree on who should rule. There is scarcely any series of wars more mind-boggling to follow than those of the successors of Alexander. For twenty years after the death of Alexander his generals fought for control of his empire, and even after the critical Battle of Ipsus, which settled the division of much of the old Persian Empire, wars raged for control of Macedonia and Asia Minor for another generation. The principals involved in these wars were Macedonian Generals who served under Alexander, and their descendents. They were not fought between states or principalities, but between armies, sometimes composed of regional troops or mercenaries, but always led by Greek and Macedonian officers. Also, the regions controlled by the various dynasties changed during the war years, so in several cases one cannot even form a permanent association of a particular dynasty with a fixed sphere of influence.
Herod the Great ruled over Israel and Galilee. After his death it was divided up among his sons because they could not agree on who should rule. At his death, all parties appealed to Caesar, who divided the dominions of Herod among his children, giving Archelaus Judea, with the title of Ethnarch. But Archelaus became so unworthy a governor, that the Roman emperor, wearied by the complaints urged against him, deprived him of power, and banished him into Gaul, Judea was now formally made a Roman province, and subjected to taxation. The Jews were very reluctant to submit to taxation, and frequently took up arms against the publicans, or tax-gatherers. ‘Herod is dead. It is safe now’ Well, it wasn’t so safe, really. Herod’s son, Archelaus, was now King and was more hated and more cruel than his father. There’d been riots and disturbances and mass executions.
The church at Corinth faced an almost similar fate. They were divided over whom they should follow: Peter, Paul, Apollos, or Jesus. Now, there was the trouble at Corinth. These were not schisms yet; they had not split off into other congregations, but there were four cliques, or factions within the congregation. Often, these same divisions are found in organizations like your business, church, and even family today.
1. The Devotees said, “We are of Paul. He started this church. We came to life in Christ by Paul, and Paul is the one we’re going to listen to above all others.” So undoubtedly there was a big group that followed Paul. We find these in organizations today, especially those going through adjustments, reductions, or changes at the top. If someone has been in charge for several years there will be a strong following for that person regardless of the qualifications of the new leader. Once they are gone or retired, those feelings remain and can cause problems in the future. The new leader is unfairly compared to the former. Unrealistic expectations are placed on the new leader based on the personality of the former.
2. The Fashionistas were attracted by the different kinds of preaching, and they had especially been drawn to Apollos. I am sure there were many in Corinth who were saying, “Oh, I love to hear Apollos! He’s a great preacher, a warm, capable, eloquent man, who can make the Old Testament come alive!” Paul might have been the better leader, but this group loved Apollos. You are a stylist if you are attracted by the fad of the day. You find yourself drawn to those who are electric and funny and cool and hip. They fill you full of warmth and love. Who wouldn’t? However, if the leader/manager God has provided isn’t that person we are still directed to honor, obey and follow.
3. The Classicists say, “Well, I don’t know about Paul or Apollos. Let’s get back to the beginnings. Let’s go back to Jerusalem. We are of Peter.” Every organization has a group like the classicists. They will always think back on the golden years of the organization. They will desire, and often try to implement methods and processes to get back to those days. The problem is that those days are in the past. Developing organizations learn from the past without living in the past.
4. The Spiritualists were drawing themselves up and saying, “Well, you may be of Paul or of Peter or of Apollos, but we are of Christ! We go back to the Lord alone. What he says we’ll listen to, not Paul or Peter or anyone else — it makes no difference to us.” This sounds holy but is, in practice, unbiblical. God has placed us under human authorities in every area: Parent/Child, Manager/Worker, Teacher/Student, Pastor/People, and more.
Greece would soon fall as would Rome. The church at Corinth remained because of one knowledgable person. Paul wrote sternly to them and said that there were to be no divisions in the fellowship. Proverbs teaches the same truth in 28:2, When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures. Many organizations are failing today not because of the economy but because everyone wants to be boss. Too many bosses leads to chaos and rebellion.
Which group describes you most often?