Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/1 Corinthians/Chapter 10
Paraphrase vs. 23-33
Everything is allowed, but not everything is helpful or constructive. Nobody should seek their own good, but instead good for others. Eat whatever is sold at the butchery and don’t worry where it came from since all things came from God’s earth. If a non-Christian has you over for dinner and you want to go, don’t be a bad guest and not accept what the host is offering. However if someone specifically says, “This has been offered in sacrifice” don’t eat it for both you sake and theirs. Specifically theirs since they are not open-minded enough to see its spiritual unimportance. No matter what you eat or drink, don’t let others condemn you for thanking God for your meal. So when you have a meal, eat it for the glory of God, this includes not causing offence to other people with other beliefs. Just as I (Paul) try to not upset others, you too should try and consider other so that they may become saved.
Words Of Potential Importance (NIV)
Vs, 23 “Permissible”, beneficial, Constructive
Vs, 24 good, others
Vs, 25 Conscience
Vs, 26 earth
Vs, 27 unbeliever
Vs, 28 offered, sake
Vs, 29 freedom
Vs, 30 thankfulness, denounced
Vs, 31 glory
Vs, 32 stumble
Vs, 33 please, seeking, saved
Verse by Verse Commentary
Paul begins the last section of Corinthians chapter 10 with a reminder to the church that “Everything is permissible” The wording of this verse is almost identical to earlier in Corinthians at 6:12. While the context in chapter 6 was specifically sexual impurities, the specific meaning of this phrase in both sections is that humans have free will. Saying that “everything is permissible” isn’t specifically in reference to any social or even religions permissibility, but instead a general idea of choice, Paul received most of the wording for this understanding from preexisting Greek philosophical texts. Paul continued with the general language of the Greek philosophers and continues to say that while things are permissible they may not be beneficial or constructive. The Greek teachers of the age would use a scale of usefulness to see if actions were worth undertaking. Paul adopts this philosophy and applies to more specifically to Christianity.
Paul finishes his general philosophical call with a reiteration of the golden rule; however he specifically puts the emphasis on the good for others. This call towards a life of selflessness can be understood as one of the (if not thee) driving principles of Jesus’ ministry. Verses 23 and 24 are set up as prerequisites for the rest of the chapter as they remind Christian’s of their opportunity for choice, and their necessity make that choice love.
the passage becomes more centralized as we quickly learn that this section deals with the consumption of different foods and drinks, especially those that were used in pagan sacrifices. To understand this verse you must have some understanding of the historical context that lies behind it. Judaism and Christianity are not the sole religious systems found near the Mediterranean Sea, and in fact once you move past Israel and into Grease you find that cities like Corinth have a large pagan population. One chief aspect of these traditions is the sacrificing of animals to their gods. While most of the food went to the local prophets or their own family, some would end up back at the market place. The worry that some first century Christians had was that they would inadvertently eat food previously offered to another pagan god. Paul is writing here to ease those with this concern by telling them that ignorance is bliss, if they are unaware of the foods origins, eat it without raising questions of conscience.
Paul backs up his claim in verse 25 by reminding the Christians in Corinth that “The earth is the Lord’s.” This comes directly from Psalm 24:1 which states the glory of God and God’s creation. Just as in Peter’s account with God and the sheet of unclean food. Paul is writing to remind his readers that everything on earth is from God, so everything must be good.
Verse 27 through 29 state the importance of social obligations by Christians to non-Christians. Just as we see in Luke 11:37, Jesus hoped to break down the societal barrier that caused this divided as he regularly ate with Pharisees and tax collectors. Paul continues this new tradition by telling those in Corinth to eat with non-believers and more specifically to be respectable guest at the same time by not questioning or denying everything put before you.
Verses 28 & 29
these next verses are for the most part summarized versions of 1 Corinthians 8:7-13. They address the question of what to do if another weaker Christian brother or sister notices that the food was offered to idols and feels it unclean to eat. As the stronger follower of Christ, you understand that eating the offered food has no spiritual implications; however you must respect the beliefs and short comings of your weaker friend and not partake in the food for their sake. This does however raise a few questions from the text. when and how do you inform the weaker brother of his misunderstanding, and also who does Paul have in mind when wiring this letter since it seems that only the “strong” Christians will be reading it.
Giving thanks for meals is a tradition that can be traced far back into Jewish heritage, alive in first centaury Christians (Romans 14:6) and can still be seen today in almost all forms of Christianity. Paul reemphasizes the importance of being grateful for having food and unimportance of were that food came from, he states, “Why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
Verses 31 & 32
from verse 31 to 33 we find a summary of Paul’s thoughts on what is important to think about in regards to food and drink. Paul states another central theme of the New and Old Testament (Deut. 6:4-5, Psalm 63:1) with the call to, ”do it all for the glory of God.” However right after this he retouches his second point that we should “not cause anyone to stumble” including those within and apart from the Church of God.
Paul ends with the same plea for Christians that he begins with, to seek the good of many over your own good. The last line explains “so that they may be saved.” This passage in scripture is undeniably a call for Christians to not become overly concerned with trivial matters of practice, and instead focus on the greater goal of loving others and bringing people to Christ. It forces us to question how well Christians have been able to accomplish this task over the centuries, and what must still be done.
- KEENER, CRAIG S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill. InterVarsity Press, 1993.
- BARNES;, ALBERT. Notes on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. Baker Book House, 1983.
- HODGE, CHARLES. 1 Corinthians. Wheaton, Ill. Crossway Books, 1995.
- SEMINARY.;, JOHN. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : an Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, Ill. Victor Books, 19831985.