What does 1 Corinthians 11:19 mean?
ESV: for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.
NIV: No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval.
NASB: For there also have to be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
CSB: Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
NLT: But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!
KJV: For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Verse Commentary:
Reports have come to Paul that the church in Corinth is even divided in their practice of the Lord's Supper. He now says this is believable. Part of that is because the believers in Corinth were separating into cliques based on loyalty to certain teachers (1 Corinthians 1:11–12).

Paul also says he can believe this because factions reveal who is genuine in the practice of their faith in Christ. Put another way, divisions over issues such as these clarify which of them has God's approval for their faithfulness in doing what is right. If misunderstood, this statement would seem contradictory. Paul has spent much of the letter telling believers to avoid divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10) and to set aside their own "rights" for the good of others (1 Corinthians 8:12–13). To call factions desirable would turn those prior statements upside down.

However, that is neither what Paul has said, nor what he means. He has referred to this type of division as something expected, not something appreciated. Why are factions or divisions necessary to reveal who is approved of by God? Wouldn't unity among all the people show that all were being genuine in their faith? In practical terms, division, though never desirable, sometimes serves the purpose of showing who has the conviction to stand for what is right even when others are not doing so.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 11:17–34 contains Paul's rebuke of the church in Corinth for their application of the Lord's Supper. They had turned it into a gathering at which the wealthy ate and drank too much, leaving the poorer Christians hungry and humiliated. Paul warns that communion should be a time of sober self-reflection about our sin and Christ's sacrifice, as well as a time to unite the body of Christ, the church, while taking in representations of the blood and body of Christ. Some in Corinth were sick and others had died as part of God's judgment for participating in communion in an unworthy manner.
Chapter Summary:
Paul confronts two issues the church in Corinth was failing to practice correctly. First, some women were not wearing head coverings while praying or prophesying in their meetings. Paul insisted they must do so, and that men must not, based on mankind's relationship to God and the social implications of that covering. Second, Paul describes the reasons for observing the Lord's Supper and how it should be done. The Corinthian Christians had brought God's judgment on themselves for practicing communion in a way which dishonored Christ's sacrifice for sin and humiliated the poor among them.
Chapter Context:
After concluding his teaching on meat offered to idols, Paul turns to two issues the church in Corinth was getting wrong. The first was head coverings when praying or prophesying in their meetings. Differences between men and women in that regard are because of both spiritual and social reasons. Paul also corrects the disastrous way in which they were practicing the observance of the Lord's Supper. They were dishonoring Christ's sacrifice for sin as well as the poor in the body of Christ, the church. Despite having more to say on communion, Paul will move on to the topic of spiritual gifts in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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