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Verse 19. For there must be. It is necessary, (dei;) it is to be expected; there are reasons why there should be. What these reasons are he states in the close of the verse. Comp. Mt 18:7; 2 Pe 2:1,2.

The meaning is not that divisions are inseparable from the nature of the Christian religion, not that it is the design and wish of the Author of Christianity that they should exist, and not that they are physically impossible, for then they could not be the subject of blame; but that such is human nature, such are the corrupt passions of men, the propensity to ambition and strifes, that they are to be expected, and they serve the purpose of showing who are, and who are not, the true friends of God.

Heresies. Margin, Sects. Greek, aireseiv. See Barnes "Ac 24:14".

The words heresy and heresies occur only in these places, and in Ga 5:20; 2 Pe 2:1. The Greek word occurs also in Ac 5:17, (translated sect;) Ac 15:6; Ac 24:5; 26:6; 28:22; in all which places it denotes, and is translated, sect. We now attach to the word usually the idea of a fundamental error in religion, or some doctrine, the holding of which will exclude from salvation. But there is no evidence that the word is used in this signification in the New Testament. The only place where it can be supposed to be so used, unless this is one, is in Ga 5:20; where, however, the word contentions or divisions would be quite as much in accordance with the connexion. That the word here does not denote error in doctrine, but schism, division, or sects, as it is translated in the margin, is evident from two considerations.

(1.) It is the proper philological meaning of the word, and its established and common signification in the Bible.

(2.) It is the sense which the connexion here demands. The apostle had made no reference to error of doctrine, but is discoursing solely of irregularity in conduct; and the first thing which he mentions is, that there were schisms, divisions, strifes. The idea that the word here refers to doctrines, would by no means suit the connexion, and would indeed make nonsense. It would then read, "I hear that there are divisions or parties among you, and this I cannot commend you for. For it must be expected that there would be fundamental errors of doctrine in the church." But Paul did not reason in this manner. The sense is, "There are divisions among you. It is to be expected; there are causes for it; and it cannot be avoided that there should be, in the present state of human nature, divisions and sects formed in the church; and this is to be expected, in order that those who are true Christians should be separated from those who are not." The foundation of this necessity is not in the Christian religion itself, for that is pure, and contemplates and requires union; but the existence of sects, and denominations, and contentions, may be traced to the following causes:

(1.) The love of power and popularity. Religion may be made the means of power; and they who have the control of the consciences of men, and of their religious feelings and opinions, can control them altogether.

(2.) Showing more respect to a religious teacher than to Christ. See Barnes "1 Co 1:12".


(3.) The multiplication of tests, and the enlargement of creeds and confessions of faith. The consequence is, that every new doctrine that is incorporated into a creed gives occasion for those to separate who cannot accord with it.

(4.) The passions of men—their pride, and ambition, and bigotry, and unenlightened zeal. Christ evidently meant that his church should be one; and that all who were his true followers should be admitted to her communion, and acknowledged everywhere as his own friends. And the time may yet come when this union shall be restored to his long-distracted church; and that while there may be an honest difference of opinion maintained and allowed, still the bonds of Christian love shall secure union of heart in all who love the Lord Jesus, and union of effort in the grand enterprise in which ALL can unite—that of making war upon sin, and securing the conversion of the whole world to God.

That they which are approved. That they who are approved of God, or who are his true friends, and who are disposed to abide by his laws.

May be made manifest. May be known; recognised; seen. The effect of divisions and separations would be to show who were the friends of order, and peace, and truth. It seems to have been assumed by Paul, that they who made divisions could not be regarded as the friends of order and truth; or that their course could not be approved by God. The effect of these divisions would be to show who they were. So in all divisions, and all splitting into factions, where the great truths of Christianity are held, and where the corruption of the mass does not require separation, such divisions show who are the restless, ambitious, and dissatisfied spirits; who they are that are indisposed to follow the things that make for peace, and the laws of Christ enjoining union; and who they are who are gentle and peaceful, and disposed to pursue the way of truth, and love, and order, without contentions and strifes. This is the effect of schisms in the church; and the whole strain of the argument of Paul is, to reprove and condemn such schisms, and to hold up the authors of them to reproof and condemnation. See Ro 16:17: "Mark them which cause divisions, and AVOID THEM.

{a} "must be" Mt 18:7; 2 Pe 2:1,2

{1} "heresies" "sects" {b} "that they" Lu 2:35

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