Questions From Readers
● What was the “meaning of the loaves” that is mentioned in Mark 6:52?
Mark 6:51, 52 reads: “He [Jesus] got up into the boat with them [the disciples], and the wind abated. At this they were very much amazed within themselves, for they had not grasped the meaning of the loaves, but their hearts continued dull of understanding.” Earlier, the disciples had seen Jesus Christ miraculously multiply five loaves and two fishes to the point where about 5,000 men, besides women and children, could be fed. The leftover fragments that had then been collected filled 12 baskets, providing tangible proof that all those present had been satisfied. This should have taught the disciples that Jesus was empowered by God to perform miracles.—Matt. 14:19-21; Mark 6:41-44.
Therefore, when Jesus later walked on water and the wind abated on his entering the boat, the disciples had a basis for associating these miracles with the miraculous multiplication of the loaves. Certainly, if Jesus Christ could feed the multitude, it should not have seemed so unusual or amazing that he could also walk on water and that he could cause the wind to abate.
However, the disciples were as yet unable to see one miracle in the light of another. Their hearts simply did not grasp the greatness of the power that had been granted to Jesus Christ by holy spirit. They reacted with such amazement as would have been characteristic of persons who had no basis for believing that the Son of God could walk on water and cause the wind to stop blowing.
● What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote that the existence of sects among the Corinthians would make manifest persons who were approved?
Based on reports that he had received from others, the apostle Paul wrote: “When you come together in a congregation, I hear divisions exist among you; and in some measure I believe it. For there must also be sects among you, that the persons approved may also become manifest among you.”—1 Cor. 11:18, 19.
The apostle recognized that reports do not always give a complete picture of the actual situation. However, because of his personal knowledge about the Corinthian congregation, he knew that the information conveyed to him contained the element of truth. That is why he could say: “In some measure I believe it.” He concluded that there must be factions or sects among the Corinthians. However, the very existence of these factions would show up individuals who were approved from God’s standpoint.
When factions develop, often certain individuals endeavor to build up a following for themselves. Their spirit of discontent and their desire for prominence or recognition will quickly become apparent. But persons who are approved servants of the Most High continue to aid their fellow believers humbly. By their speech and actions, they demonstrate that they are convinced that the head of the Christian congregation is the Lord Jesus Christ. They will not identify themselves with groups that exalt imperfect men; nor will they try to gain the plaudits of men for themselves.
Persons who truly are approved servants of God avoid contributing toward the development of factions and having any involvement with them. Also, when sects come into existence, such approved persons do what they can to promote unity and love. Yes, lovers of truth will stand out by shunning a party spirit and by continuing to help others to appreciate the need for unity under the headship of Jesus Christ. In this way sects or divisions actually serve to identify genuine believers, persons who have pure motives.