The interpretation of what lies behind the factionalism that Paul addresses here in this opening section of 1 Corinthians is many and varied, one of the less plausible ones in my opinion is that of the Kephas group being aligned with the “Super-Apostles” of 2 Corinthians, that this group saw itself being positioned behind an elite apostle in opposition to Paul. But the nature of the “Super-Apostle” controversy in 2 Corinthians is typified rather by a love of Rhetoric and Triumphalism, that is the “Super-Apostles” are “Super” because their speech adheres to the trends and currents in Greek/Hellenistic persuasive speech, and that the signs of an apostle are to be found in victory. While the Apollos group is likely to find itself alongside the “Super-Apostle” group in their love for Hellenistic Rhetoric (Acts 18:24 introduces Apollos as eloquent which is thought to be gifted in the Rhetoric of the day) there is little evidence to suggest that Apollos, (or his group) would find themselves comfortable in the triumphalism of the “Super-Apostles” The lack of such a mention of the “Super-Apostle” group in 1 Corinthians would lead us to believe that between when Chloe’s people reported on the schism at Corinth and when Paul probably visited this group arose.
Paul’s main point as seen in this passage, however is not to dwell on the nature of the factions, factions are wrong, and divide Christ. The most common modern question that comes up in relation to this text is that of how do we understand denominationalism in light of this text? We separate ourselves on practice, and some other points of doctrine, and Paul later in this same letter says that some of these disagreements can be tolerated within the church. These days often theologians separate issues into three teirs; Those of primary, secondary, and tertiary importance, of primary importance is clearly the doctrines of the nature of God, and of how he has saved us, in second place come issues of practice; do we baptise infants, or believers, and then there are things which we can totally differ on such as “how often should we take communion” The words of Rupertus Meldenius seem rather poignant in connection with this;
“In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity”