Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians 9-11

November 30, 2017 Bible Study — Eating Meat Offered To Idols

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on 1 Corinthians 9-11.

    Paul makes the case that those who do the work of the Church, particularly pastors and preachers, should be paid by the Church. However, he also presents himself as a model of someone who refuses payment for doing the work of the Church. The Church should be prepared and willing to pay those who do her work, but there should be some (a relatively small number) who do so purely from the joy of doing so. I will also note that while Paul never accepted any financial support from the Corinthian Church, he does mention receiving such support from other Churches. It is also worth noting that it appears that the Corinthian Church provided financial support to some people who supported Paul’s ministry in other ways.

    Paul goes on to talk about eating food offered to idols, but he offers a guideline which can be useful in many areas. Paul accepts the premise of those who say that their freedom on Christ means that they are free to do anything. This reminds me of when I was preparing to make jalapeño mead. My friends told me, “Just because you can does not mean that you should.” Now, it turns out that jalapeño mead is delicious, but the advice they gave me is what Paul was saying here. Just because you are free to do something does not mean that it is not a bad idea to do it. Paul goes into a little more detail in his advice concerning meat offered to idols, and, as I said, this advice applies elsewhere as well. First he tells us that eating meat offered to idols as part of a service worshiping an idol is communing with the worshipers of that idol in the same manner as we commune with our fellow believers when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. You cannot be part of the body of idol worshipers and part of the Body of Christ.
    However, this prohibition does not extend to buying meat offered to idols. Many people believe that if you eat meat which was sanctified as part of worship you are taking part in that worship and acknowledging the power of that idol, even if you are unaware of doing so. Paul says that such thinking is nonsense and by that logic everyone who eats anything is acknowledging God’s authority over them since everything that is was created by God and belongs to Him. In this instruction on buying meat offered to idols Paul is telling us that we are not responsible for the actions of those with whom we purchase things (there is a caveat to this which is covered in Paul’s third category of eating meat offered to idols).
    Finally, Paul covers the circumstance of what to do if we are invited to eat with a nonbeliever, who in this context is assumed to be an idol worshiper. Paul tells us that if we wish to accept such an invitation we should do so and eat whatever is put before us. However, if someone, whether it be our host or someone else, points out that the food being proffered had been offered to an idol we should decline to eat of it. There are two parts to this. First, if the person who tells us is a believer, the fact that they are going to the effort of telling us it was improperly handled tells us that their faith is challenged by partaking and if we partake they may be tempted to do so as well, despite believing that by doing so they are doing wrong. The second part is if the person who tells us is our host. In this latter case they are essentially telling us that by eating we are taking part in their worship of their idol, we are telling them that their idol worship is “OK”. This same principle applies to buying something where someone tells us that it was produced in a manner which is immoral, or the profits from selling it will be used in an immoral manner. If we have reason to believe that what they are telling us is true, and that they are telling us because they oppose the immoral practice (as opposed to doing so because their reasons for wanting us not to do business with that vendor have nothing to do with the immoral behavior of that vendor) we should refrain from purchasing the product in question.

November 30, 2016 Bible Study — Supporting Those In Ministry

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

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Today, I am reading and commenting on 1 Corinthians 9-11.

    I have never quite understood Paul’s argument here. The way I read it, he is making a case to establish his authority to give the Corinthian Church instruction. He then makes the case that he has the right to receive economic support (a place to stay, food, and have other expenses covered) from the Corinthian Church when he ministers in Corinth. While I do not understand how Paul’s claim to having a right to economic support supports his claim to authority, I do believe he makes a very good case that we should provide economic support to those called by God to the ministry. I believe that Paul gives us two important messages in this discussion.

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    First, he tells us that we should provide material support to those called to ministry. Those whom God and the Church have called to ministry should be able to dedicate their lives to the ministry to which they have been called (I want to note that this includes pastors, but is not limited to pastors). We should strive to meet their economic needs to the best of our ability as a group. It is worth noting that this may involve offering them a place to stay in our homes and providing them meals rather than paying them money (although in the U.S. the latter is going to usually be the way which we should go). However, the second thing Paul tells us is that he never took advantage of his right to support by the Corinthian Church. This indicates to me that sometimes God calls people to minister without receiving support from those to whom they minister. This is a calling which can only be interpreted by the person who receives it. I do not believe it is ever my place to tell someone else that I believe they are called to minister while they provide their own support. I can say, an will say, that some people are so called, but I cannot say that a specific person is so called. If someone feels so called I can tell them that I think they are wrong, and I can help them analyze why they think they are so called. But in any case, only those who choose to refuse the support of those they minister should not receive such support and we should make every effort to make sure that they are adequately supported.

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    Paul then circles back to his discussion about our freedom in Christ. He intermixes some theological ideas with practical advice. He does so because it is so easy to reach the wrong conclusion by making a small mistake in applying either. He returns to making the point that our bodies are joined with Christ so we should not join them in idolatry (it is worth noting that many idolatrous practices of that day involved sexual activity). The key message he makes is that we should not take part in idolatrous worship practices. However, if we are invited to an event of some kind we are free to take part in it, unless someone involved with it points out to us that is part of idol worship.
    In his example, Paul uses the idea of meat offered to idols, which is interestingly relevant once more. He tells us that we are free to eat whatever meat we buy in the market place, or which someone offers us, with no questions asked. If, however, someone points out to us that the meat was offered to idols, we should not eat it. How is this relevant? It has to do with controversy which has arisen recently regarding fast food restaurants and grocery stores selling meat which meats Muslim dietary standards. If we go into the store or restaurant and buy it with no particular notice being brought to the fact that it is halal (that is, that it meets Muslim dietary standards), we are free to consume it. On the other hand, if someone makes a big deal out of the fact that it is halal, we should refrain. A casual examination of halal requirements indicate that one of them is that the food be dedicated to the Muslim deity.

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    There is a reason why I used the term “Muslim deity” rather than the word “Allah” above. Some people contend that Allah and the Christian God are the same being. I do know that many Bible translators translate the word God as “Allah” in Arabic and I understand why they do that. However, even if that may be a valid translation (and I do not know enough Arabic to know if there are any other options that would be better), if one looks at the characteristics of the god worshiped by Muslims and compare those characteristics to the God worshiped by Christians one quickly sees that these are not the same being. In reference to this, I like the way that C.S. Lewis put it in his Narnia series. There he said that if one does the things which Aslan(Jesus) calls us to do in the name of Tash(Allah), we are worshiping Aslan(God), no matter what name we use for Him. If on the other hand, we do the things which Tash(Allah) calls us to do in the name of Aslan(God), we are worshiping Tash(Alah), no matter what name we use for him.