"Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you." (1 Clement 47)Early on in the church's existence parties and factions arose. People were gravitating to one apostle or another, preferring one minister over another, and counting themselves superior because of their chosen association. Paul writes, "For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' " (1 Cor 1:11-12) However, this present time of strife was different from the first.
"But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love." (1 Clement 47)Then, in their carnality they were rallying around honorable men, now they were taking up sides around me of no reputations. Then, they were taking up side for those who wished no sides be taken, for Paul, not wanting to be a part of of any faction, said, "Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:13) But now they had given themselves to those who actively sought to divide the Body of Christ, to those who sought to "pervert" them in the way. Instead of rejecting those who brought division, they rallied around them, formed their factions, and fought against one another. Clement reminds them that such behavior us unbecoming of a christian.
"It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most stedfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves." (1 Clement 47)Their good name was being soiled, the name of the Lord was being blasphemed, and danger and destruction was being brought upon the church itself. Such is the fruit of division, strife, and sedition. You cannot eat the fruit of poison without taking its poison within yourself. You cannot side with the wicked without bringing wickedness into your midst. You cannot allow someone to pervert you without becoming perverted in your way. All these things we must guard against, we must be vigilant, we must take heed, to reject these temptations whenever and from wherever they come.