Letters to the Corinthians: A Good Example

It’s time to take a look at 1 Corinthians 10:23 – 11:1. This is one of the more interesting section divisions – for the most part one chapter has the ending of the section that’s in it, but here it ends at the beginning of the next chapter. We haven’t seen that since chapter 2.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

This section reminds me somewhat of chapter 6 – “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. It strikes me that their culture is a lot like ours with saying and cliches that we tend to fall back on.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

After telling them to be careful about what they use for the Lord’s Supper, he relaxes the rule for all other meals. Which puts a whole of items back on the menu. By the way, that’s Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”. I was just thinking about how the quotes from the Old Testament are usually more extensive in their original form – then I remember that chapter and verse numbers are a recent innovation – so Paul only uses the parts of the verses that he needs to support his teachings because it’s enough to refer to ancient wisdom, but it never seems to mean or to refer to anything beyond what he directly quotes.

If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

Sounds a lot like Romans 14, doesn’t it – which just shows how consistent he’s keeping is message from one church to the next. Who knows, at this point believers might have gotten a bit of an odd reputation concerning food because of the decision at the council of Jerusalem.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

This seems to echo what he said in 1 Corinthians 9 – “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” I think Christians would do well to follow this example because our partiality to fellow believers sometimes reveals how disrespectful we can of others and that’s certainly not how Paul operated.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

This is an intriguing thought – Christianity would be a whole different faith if we emphasized following Christ’s examples. There’s a lot of problems we have been having because we chose (usually) Paul rather than Christ. Paul says things that Christ never did. Which is why some of his statements get special emphasis. We’re about to see that in action. But here’s yet another isolated verse – not part of the chapter before it or the rest of the chapter it is in. It’s almost as if it’s a separate thought that doesn’t belong yet it was deemed important enough to include in the letter.

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