1 Corinthians 11:17-19
1Co 11:17 But as I give this command, I cannot show appreciation, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.
1Co 11:18 Because first, I hear that there are schisms among you when you come together as a church, and to some extent I believe it,
1Co 11:19 because there must be groups with different preferences among you, so that those of you who are approved may become obvious.
One of the tricky things about translating Greek into English is that sometimes you come across a word which has been appropriated into English. It might seem the easiest part of the process, but sometimes it is not, because the English use of the word may have a connotation that is not intended at the time it appeared in the NT. This is one of those cases. Verse 19 mentions ” groups with different preferences” — that is, subgroups within the churches which follow a certain practise or person or idea, in comparison to the others who do not. The Greek word is hairesis, from which we get the English heresy. But Danker’s Lexicon says that the “later technical sense “heresy” does not occur in the NT.”
What Paul is saying is that the church in Corinth is following a pattern that appears in a number of churches, a pattern in which those of like mind tend to unify, with the side effect being disunity within the whole church. Paul says that is not necessarily a bad thing, because it should then be easier to see the bad apples compared to the good ones. When one of those subgroups tries to force the whole church to get on its side and exclude the others who think or act differently — that is when it becomes a destructive heresy (2 Peter 2:1). Clarification of the truth is God’s will, but divisiveness and animosity are not.
LORD, keep us true to your word, and appreciative of our different approaches to it.