“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.”
King James Version (KJV)
11:18 In the church - In the public assembly. I hear there are schisms among you; and I partly believe it - That is, I believe it of some of you. It is plain that by schisms is not meant any separation from the church, but uncharitable divisions in it; for the Corinthians continued to be one church; and, notwithstanding all their strife and contention, there was no separation of any one party from the rest, with regard to external communion. And it is in the same sense that the word is used, #1Co 1:10|; #1Co 12:25|; which are the only places in the New Testament, beside this, where church schisms are mentioned. Therefore, the indulging any temper contrary to this tender care of each other is the true scriptural schism. This is, therefore, a quite different thing from that orderly separation from corrupt churches which later ages have stigmatized as schisms; and have made a pretence for the vilest cruelties, oppressions, and murders, that have troubled the Christian world. Both heresies and schisms are here mentioned in very near the same sense; unless by schisms be meant, rather, those inward animosities which occasion heresies; that is, outward divisions or parties: so that whilst one said, I am of Paul, another, I am of Apollos, this implied both schism and heresy. So wonderfully have later ages distorted the words heresy and schism from their scriptural meaning. Heresy is not, in all the Bible, taken for an error in fundamentals, or in anything else; nor schism, for any separation made from the outward communion of others. Therefore, both heresy and schism, in the modern sense of the words, are sins that the scripture knows nothing of; but were invented merely to deprive mankind of the benefit of private judgment, and liberty of conscience.
1Co 11:18 When ye come together in the church. In a meeting of the church. I hear that there be divisions among you. He had spoken in chapters 1-3 of the divisions in the congregation. He now tells them that he had heard that these divisions were manifest at their church meetings.