Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:12)
Paul’s objective here is to maintain Christ’s exclusive authority in the church, so that we may all exercise dependence upon Him, that He alone may be recognized as Lord and Master, and that the name of no individual will be set in opposition to His.
The apostle condemns as most destructive those enemies of our faith who draw disciples after them (Acts 20:30) and split the church into parties. No man may have such preeminence in the church that he usurps Christ’s supremacy, No one may be held in such honour that he undermines, even in the slightest degree, the dignity of Christ.
It is true that a certain degree of honour is due to Christ’s ministers, who are masters in their own place, but we must always keep in view that Christ must have what belongs to Him without any infringement. He shall be the sole Master and looked upon as such. Hence the aim of good ministers must be to serve Christ together and claim for Him exclusive power, authority, and glory. They must fight under Christ’s banner, obey Him alone, and bring others in subjection to Him. If someone is influenced by ambition, that man gathers disciples to himself, not to Christ.
The fountain of all evils, the most hurtful of all plagues, the deadliest poison of all churches is a minister who seeks his own interests rather than those of Christ. In short, the unity of the church consists of dependence on Christ alone. Men occupy an inferior place to Christ and may not detract in any degree from His preeminence.
– John Calvin
Extracted from the book 365 Days with Calvin: A Collection of Daily Readings from the Writings of John Calvin