Summary of 1 Corinthians 8:
Paul is answering another question of the Corinthians and first Paul cautions the Corinthians that knowledge can be deceiving. You think you know when in reality you may not. But love builds up and supersedes knowledge.
So with respect to eating food for idols: we (Christians) know there is only One, True God. But others do not. Albeit it’s okay for Christians to eat food sacrificed to idols (because we know it’s just another cow basically) others who do not know God are committing a sin because they are looking at it in a religious sense. They are following the Christians’ example. (You know, the ubiquitous saying amongst children “But so-and-so ate the apple so why can’t I?”)
This food Christians ate brings us no closer to God; but it brings those unbelievers farther from God. So Paul says to be careful in exercising your freedom when it could hinder those away from God. Paul says this is a sin against Christ: doing something we know can pull others away from Him. Christians must sacrifice for others.
Summary of 1 Corinthians 9:
Paul declares he is an apostle with the right to be supported by the church. By right Paul can share in what he reaps just like a soldier, a farmer, and a shepherd share in what they reap.
But Paul says he did not use this right because it might hinder the gospel of Christ. It is commanded by the Lord that Paul can receive support but he himself is choosing not to. He boasts of this!
Paul preaches the gospel because he is compelled to spread the Word. He becomes all things to all people in order to win people for the Lord and share in an eternal reward and not an earthly one. Paul refuses all things that would hinder his reward or him finishing the race. His crown is one that will last forever in this race we all run. Paul runs and fights all for an eternal prize to which he won’t be disqualified from.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 23, Day 2: 1 Corinthians 8-9
3) He made sure that his actions were not a stumbling block to the weak. He uses the example of not eating certain foods if it causes others to sin against Christ. He puts up with things so as not to hinder the gospel. He makes himself a slave to win people to Jesus. He becomes like a Jew, a Gentile, like the weak to save some. He does this to get a crown to last forever.
4) Sin, homosexuality
5) Although Paul has the rights and the freedoms to behave how he wants and do what he wants, he chose not to so that he could bring others to Christ.
6) Personal Question. My answer: You don’t have to be right all the time. It’s better to be humble and like Jesus than pompous and not. I can try not to be right all the time, apologize more, be more giving of my time.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 23, Day 2: 1 Corinthians 8-9
1 Corinthians 8 is a great passage that counters the “me” society. Life is not about you; it’s about others.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 23, Day 2: 1 Corinthians 8-9
1 Corinthians 8:
The meat offered on pagan altars was usually divided into three portions. One portion was burnt in honor of the god, one portion was given to the worshipper to take home and eat, and the third portion was given to the priest. If the priest didn’t want to eat his portion, he sold it at the temple restaurant or meat market.
The meat served and sold at the temple was generally cheaper. In that day and age when many were poor and couldn’t afford food, this was an important question.
The issue raised many questions for the Corinthian Christians: Can we eat meat purchased at the temple meat market? What if we are served meat purchased at the temple meat market when we are guests in someone’s home? Can a Christian eat at the restaurant at the pagan temple?
Instead of talking about food, Paul first talks about knowledge and love. Christian behavior is founded on love, not knowledge; and the goal of the Christian life is not knowledge, but love.
We really don’t know anything. The knowledge that is important is the knowledge God has of those who love Him.
Because there is only One True God, idols are not competing gods. Idols are therefore nothing in the world, and are only so-called gods.
Indeed, in the ancient world, there were many, many different gods – and even gods known as the unknown god to cover any gods one might have missed (Acts 17:23).
When Paul calls Jesus Lord, he uses the Greek word kurios, and this word would have meant something to Bible reading people in Paul’s day.
Leon Morris on Lord: “This term could be no more than a polite form of address like our ‘Sir.’ But it could also be used of the deity one worships. The really significant background, though, is its use in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to render the divine name, Yahweh… Christians who used this as their Bible would be familiar with the term as equivalent to deity.”
If idols are really nothing, it must mean nothing to eat meat sacrificed to nothing idols, and it must mean nothing to eat in the buildings used to worship these nothing idols. While this is true, Paul explains why they should abstain.
Paul asks the Corinthian Christians who know there is nothing to an idol to remember that not everyone knows this. And if someone believes there is something to an idol, and they eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
No one is less spiritual for abstaining from meat sacrificed to idols.
To influence the weak brother to go against his conscience is actually to sin against Christ. The Corinthian Christians who abused their liberty might have thought it was a small matter to offend their weak brothers, but they did not understand they offended Jesus Christ.
Theme of 1 Corinthians 8: Our actions can never be based only on what we know to be right for ourselves. We also need to consider what is right towards our brothers and sisters in Jesus.
- It is easy for a Christian to say, “I answer to God and God alone” and to ignore his brother or sister. It is true we will answer to God and God alone, but we will answer to God for how we have treated our brother or sister.
1 Corithians 9:
Paul defends his apostolic position before the doubting Corinthian Christians.
Paul asserts his rights as an apostle, as if he were a lawyer arguing a case. The words defense (apologia) and examine (anakrino) are both legal words, taken from the Roman law court. Paul feels like he’s on trial, or that he has already been “found guilty” by the Corinthian Christians.
Paul’s Rights as an Apostle
- Paul means that he has the right to eat and drink at the expense of the churches he served.
- Paul makes it clear that he had the right to expect support for not only himself, but for his family, also.
- Paul has the right to be supported by the people he ministers to. In Deuteronomy 25:4,
Just as strongly as Paul affirms his right to be supported by the people he ministers unto, he will also affirm his right to not use that right, if using it might hinder the gospel of Christ.
Anyone who preaches the gospel has the right to be supported by those he preaches to.
The Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel: We have no record of those specific words of Jesus, but in two places He states the principle. In Matthew 10:10 (for a worker is worthy of his food), and in Luke 10:8 (Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you).
Remember that Greek culture, which the Corinthian Christians approved so much, looked down its nose on all manual labor. Even though the Corinthian Christians seemed to think less of Paul because he worked with his own hands to support himself, it did not embarrass Paul at all. He will boast about it!
Paul’s ministry was not just a matter of choice or personal ambition; it was something he was called to, something he had to do.
Paul was free to do what he wanted, but bringing people to Jesus was more important to him than using his freedom selfishly.
Paul did not change his doctrine or message to appeal to different groups (he denies this in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23), but he would change his behavior and manner of approach.
Paul was willing to offend people over the gospel, but he wanted to offend them only over the gospel.
An Athlete’s Attitude
Sporting events were big in Paul’s day as well as in our own. This was especially meaningful to the Corinthians, because their city was the center for the Isthmian Games, second in prestige to the ancient Olympics.
Paul often uses figures from arena competition (at least twelve different references in his letters), including examples of runners, boxers, gladiators, chariot racers, and trophies.
To compete as an athlete, one must go intos strict training. Roman athletes had to train for ten months before being allowed in the games.
An athlete must refuse things that may be fine in themselves, but will hinder the pursuit of his goal. Even so, the Corinthians must refuse things that are fine in themselves (like meat sacrificed to idols), because having them may hinder the pursuit of the important goal: an imperishable crown, a heavenly reward that will never pass away.
Paul made sure that his body was the servant, and his inner man was the master. The desires of his body were not going to rule over his entire self.
1 Corinthians 9:27: Paul did not think the body itself was evil; after all, it belongs to Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20); nor would he agree with later ascetics who punished their bodies in a quest for super-holiness. Through the centuries, Christians known as flagellants would literally whip, beat, and torture themselves in a misguided attempt to fulfill this verse. Usually, these Christians thought they could pay for their sins through such self-torture, and they refused to recognize that Jesus paid all of the penalty of their sin.