Paul concludes this section (1Corinthians 8-10) by summarizing his two main themes: 1) We need to take care lest our freedoms are a covering for idolatry and 2) We should limit our freedoms out of love for our neighbor.
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 10:1-13, 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.
10:14Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 18Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? – 1Corinthians 10:14-22
- The key word in this section is “sharing” which is the Greek word koinonia (Strongs G2842), which is usually translated fellowship. The basic meaning of this word is to have a share in something with someone else.
- If I have fellowship with a group, I belong to the group and I participate in whatever benefits are gained by being part of the group.
- Paul mentions two religious meals: communion in the Christian church and meals in the Jewish temple.
- When we take communion, we are saying we share in the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood.
- When the Jews ate the meat in the temple, they were saying we share in the benefits of the sacrifice to our God.
- What do you think you’re saying when you eat meals at the pagan temple? These religious meals are intended to be about more than eating.
- Paul is not saying that the food itself contains some property that makes you part of God’s people. Rather the meal has symbolism.
- You can’t belong to both groups: Christ and idols. The idols are fake but the demons are real. There are forces of evil who would love to entice you off the path of following Christ and into idolatry.
- Like a husband who wants his wife to be faithful to him alone, God is jealous and insists His people worship Him alone.
10:23All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. 27If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? 31Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. 11:1Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. – 1Corinthians 10:23-11:1
- It’s not enough to claim ‘the rules allow my behavior;’ I must ask what impact my behavior has.
- At the meat market, buy the meat, take it home and eat it. It belongs to the Lord.
- If you go to an unbeliever’s house for dinner, eat the meat without asking where it came from.
- But if they would interpret your eating as joining them in idolatry, don’t eat.
Knowing what’s right and wrong is not enough. I have to consider what message my actions communicate to others. And I want that message I communicate to be God’s glory.
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