We read in Acts 18 that after Paul visited Thessalonica, he went to Berea, Athens and then Corinth. Corinth was a major city for trade. It is located on a narrow isthmus, so land-based trade had to go through the city, and it had major ports on both the east and west. During times of the year when sea travel was dangerous, they would drag ships over the isthmus rather than sail around the Greek peninsula. With that much trade passing through, it was also a center for immoral behavior. It was a difficult place for a church to exist without being negatively influenced by those around them. In much of 1 Corinthians, Paul tells them they are living the way God would want them to live. He begins this chapter by thanking God for giving him the opportunity to bring the message of Jesus to them and that they accepted it. However, he has heard reports they are not getting along with each other. Apparently they are even arguing that some are better than others based on who baptized them. Paul tells them these kinds of arguments come from thinking like someone who doesn’t know Jesus. Those who have trusted Jesus should get their wisdom from God.
It’s interesting that people would use baptism as a point of contention instead of unity. God has intended it to be a symbol of us trusting Jesus and no longer relying on ourselves for forgiveness of our sin. How could something like that be used as a source of pride and division? It is so easy to go off target in our relationship with God. Doing something good becomes a source of pride. Warning someone who is headed in a bad direction becomes a source of judgment. We need to keep getting our wisdom from God to avoid these kinds of pitfalls.