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1Corinthians 10:13 is often memorized as a stand-alone verse that promises God always provides a way to escape sin, if only you’ll take it. But in context, Paul is saying something quite different.
I was taught that 1Corinthians 10:13 teaches: every time we face the temptation to sin, God provides a way for us to escape the temptation. If we grab hold of the way out, we will avoid falling into disobedience and be delivered from the temptation. But if you don’t find it, that’s your fault. God has done His part; it’s up to you do do yours.
The problem is: it doesn’t work. Left to ourselves, we are never going to choose the way out because we are sinners. We choose to sin.
I do not believe Paul teaches this theology.
In 1Corinthians 8-10, Paul addresses the question of whether it is okay to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols, an issue which is splitting the Corinthian church.
- In 1Corinthians 8, Paul agreed that it is okay to eat the meat, but if the action causes another to stumble, refrain.
- In 1Corinthians 9, Paul used his practice of declining support when it would hinder his proclamation of the gospel, as an example of how the Corinthians should exercise their freedoms.
- In 1Corintihians 10:1-12, Paul cited the example of the Israelites in the wilderness to make the point that being part of the tribe does not guarantee God is pleased with you. Each individual has to choose faith and choose to follow God.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. -1Corinthians 10:13
- The Greek word translated temptation (Strong’s G3986) can have the idea of temptation or enticing someone to do something wrong.
- It can also mean testing or putting pressure on something to test its quality. Trials typically test faith.
- If Paul means temptation, obedience is at stake. If Paul means trials, persevering in faith is at stake.
- Paul has been talking about trials in this section: The Israelites were not falling into transgressions on their journey; they were tested to see if they will trust God. Paul faced a test over whether to work or accept support. The Corinthians faced a test over whether to limit their freedoms for the sake of their brothers.
- Our trials are common to humanity. They don’t require superhuman abilities to endure.
- The Greek word translated “escape” (Strongs G1545) can mean: 1) the way out or exit; 2) the end or conclusion; or 3) the outcome or result.
- I think outcome fits the context best. God provides along with the trial the outcome which is you will endure.
- God is faithful so that even if His children fail the immediate test, they will repent and grieve over their sins. They might sin but they won’t fall away.
Paul is NOT saying if you ever find yourself in a circumstance where you are tempted to sin, look for the escape route God has provided and you’ll be able to avoid sin.
Instead Paul is saying your faith is being tested. The test is hard but God is faithful. If you are His, He will not let you fall away.
Paraphrase: No trial has overtaken you but such as all people face; and God is faithful. He is not trying to break you and He will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able. Rather with the trial, God will also provide the outcome which is that your faith will endure.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
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Series: 1 Corinthians: Pride & Prejudice in the church
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