About Jesus Steve Sweetman
opens verse 1 by saying that he did not want the Corinthians to be ignorant of
the facts. Knowing the facts as they
pertain to God and the Bible is very important.
Christians today are Biblically illiterate of the Biblical facts.
I would suggest that Paul would say we are ignorant of the facts, and
that we should not be.
the term "our forefathers" in verse 1. Paul was writing to a Gentile
church. Why would he call Jewish
forefathers the forefathers of Gentiles? There
might be two reasons. One reason
might be that there were Jews in the church, and, maybe there were many Jews.
Another reason might be that Paul understood these Greek Christians were
grafted into the Jewish tree, the Jewish family of God.
opens chapter 10 by referring back to some Israeli history when Moses led the
Children of Israel out of
might ask how should we interpret the word baptize in verse 2.
Paul says that they were all baptized into Moses.
What exactly does that mean? When
we are baptized by water, or the Spirit, we are baptized into Jesus and all that
He stands for. We are totally
immersed into Him. The same is true
with the Children of Israel. They
were in one sense of the word, baptized into Moses. No, they were not physically
baptized. But as they followed Moses
out of Egypt, they gave themselves to him and all that he said and represented, at least for
a while. Symbolically speaking, you
could say then that
verse 3 and 4 Paul speaks of Israelis eating and drinking from spiritual food
and water. Paul specifically speaks
of the "rock that accompanied them".
They drank from this rock. There
has been debate over this rock. Old
Jewish rabbinical tradition states that Moses carried this rock around with them
to provide water for Israel
while in the desert. The Old
Testament text doesn't specifically say this. You
can read about the rock in Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20.
Maybe the rabbis were right or maybe they were wrong.
What Paul might have been doing here is taking the rabbinical stand and
putting the New Testament in Jesus meaning to it. We do know that Paul is saying
that Christ is symbolized in the rock. Of
course, the rock was Yahweh's tool to provide water for
a result of God not being pleased with most of Israel, they died in the desert, never reaching the land that was promised to them.
They grumbled and complained against Moses.
They made their own god to worship, and sinned against God, their
provider. In the midst of the
fell away from God, resulting in their failure to obtain the promise of God.
In reality, they exchanged the worship of the true God for the worship of
a man made God, something we still do today.
verse 6 Paul says that “these things occurred as examples to keep us from
setting our hearts on evil things as they did”.
These people “sat down to eat and drink” the food that the Lord
provided, yet at the same time participated in “pagan revelry”.
Christians read the New Testament only, but here, Paul is using the Old
Testament as a means of teaching. The
Old Testament is just as important as the New Testament, and if you understand
the Old Testament, you'll better understand the New Testament.
tells his readers that because of this pagan revelry and immorality 23,000
Israelis died in one day. Paul says
that we must use this as an example and not do the same.
We should not claim to be Christian and participate in the good things of
God and commit such sexual sins as they did.
Paul goes one step farther by saying that
this is really testing God. (ch. 10:9) Paul
the Children of Israel complained, they committed idolatry, they sinned
sexually, and in all of this they tested God.
Paul says that we cannot do the same. The problem was that the
Corinthians were doing all of these things, and many of us do similar things
today. We often wonder why we don't
see the power as the early church did. I
think it is because we test God with our spiritually unhealthy way of living,
both as individuals and the church as a whole.
verse 12 Paul says that the “fulfillment of the ages has come”.
What could this possibly mean?
The safest interpretation is that the Old Testament and all that it meant
have been fulfilled in our day. Yet
maybe since Paul is talking about more than one age in the past, he is thinking
of ages before the creation of the earth and mankind.
This is only speculation, but many believe in the gap theory that says
there was a pre-adamic race between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
thing we do know is that Paul believed that the Old Testament Law and the
Prophets have been fulfilled in Jesus. The Old Testament writings are now viewed
in a different manner than they once were viewed.
Instead of being a Law to follow and prophecies to be fulfilled, all that
is written are “examples and warnings to us”.
Therefore we can learn lessons from the Children of Israel.
They disobeyed and reaped a just result.
God has not changed. His ways
have changed in one sense, yet He Himself is the same.
don't think the church is all that different than Israel
in Old Testament times. We have a
hard time staying on track and in the will of God.
For this reason, how God dealt with Israel
in Old Testament times is very relevant to us.
There is so much for us to learn from these things, and Paul is telling
us that is just what we need to do.
therefore concludes by saying, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful
that you don’t fall”. (ch. 10:12) Paul
is very mindful of pride and what it can do in a life.
In my estimation, pride is one of the sins that plague the church today.
It was what caused satan to fall. It's
the basis for what I call "the religion of self".
We think way too much of ourselves.
case someone might say, “Paul, but you don’t understand my problem.
If things were different, then I would not sin”.
This kind of thinking is not acceptable. Paul clearly states in verse 13
that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man”.
All men and women are tempted in all sorts of ways.
None of us can claim special exemption to this rule.
None of us have a legitimate excuse to sin. None
of us have some kind of temptation that no one else has ever had which would let
us off the hook. We are all in the
same boat, having the same temptations. Furthermore,
Paul tells us that when we are tempted, God has provided a way for us to escape
the temptation. Therefore once again
there is no excuse for our sin.
verse 14 Paul tells the Corinthians that he is “speaking to sensible people”
when he tells them to “flee from idolatry”.
He therefore begins to make a case for not participating in ceremonial
meals offered to idols.
says, “Judge for yourself”. These
people should be able to come to the same conclusion as Paul comes to.
He tells them that when they eat the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, as
some call it, that they are really “participating” in the body and blood of
Jesus. They are really associating
themselves with the death of Jesus and all that it means.
Greek word “koinonia” is the word that is translated as “participate” in
this chapter. “Koinonia” means
to hold in common or to share” Thus,
when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are sharing in His sacrifice on
the cross. This is why I use the
word “associate”. Although the
wine and the bread are symbols, they are extremely significant symbols
representing, a very real event in history with lasting consequences.
the term "cup of thanksgiving" in verse 16.
The KJV uses the term "cup of blessing" and rightly so.
During the Last Supper Jesus ate with the Twelve, which was part of the
Passover meal, there would have been 4 cups of wine mixed with water to be drunk
during the meal. The third cup was
called the "cup of blessing", which I believe Paul refers to here.
The fourth cup was called the "cup of the Kingdom" which
represented the day that the kingdom would be restored to
verse 17 Paul speaks of us partaking of “one loaf” resulting in the fact
that we are “one body”. The
church is Jesus’ representative to the world.
Since Jesus is not on earth in a physical body, the church is His
physical body. This is part of what
is represented when we all partake of the one loaf in the Lord’s Supper.
again Paul refers back to Jewish history in verse 18.
He says that the priests actually ate the meat that has been sacrificed
to the Lord in the ceremonial offerings. They,
like the church, “participated” (koinonia) in the blood sacrifice.
They associated themselves with the sacrifice by eating the meat offered
in the sacrifice.
Paul has just established that both in Jewish history and in the present day
church, when people “participate” in these ceremonies, they are identifying
themselves with all of what that ceremony means.
So in like fashion, Paul goes on to say that if you “participate” in
pagan ceremonies and eat the meat offered to idols, you are actually
associating, or identifying yourself with a demon behind the idol.
Paul says that the wooden or stone idol itself is nothing, and the meat
offered to the idol is not all that important.
It is clear that Paul has no problem eating meat offered to idols.
The problem comes in when you eat the meat when it is part of a pagan
ceremony with the understanding that behind a wooden idol there is a demon.
Therefore he says in verse 21 that “you cannot drink the cup of the
Lord and the cup of demons…” It
makes no logical or spiritual sense.
we do participate in such pagan worship we are actually “arousing the Lord’s
jealousy”. I can only imagine if
our Lord gets jealous that there might be some consequences as a result of His
ends this section by asking, “are we stronger than He”?
Are we stronger than God? Do
we really think we can escape the Lord’s jealousy when we give ourselves to
idol worship at the same time claiming unity with Jesus in His death as we eat
the Lord’s Supper?
early on in the twenty first century post-modernism is infiltrating the church
and Christian thinking. Post-modernism
lays aside a detailed study of the Bible. It
sees the Bible more of a devotional book, not necessarily accurate in what it
says. Post-modern influence has also
joined together our religious ceremonies as a means of uniting other cultures
and religions with Christianity. One
example of this is native Indian cleansing ceremonies that have been somewhat
Christianized. Thos who participate
in these find no problem mixing a pagan ceremony with a Christian ceremony.
According to what Paul says in this chapter, Paul has lots of problems
with such things.
repeats in verse 23 what he said earlier in his letter, “everything is
permissible – but not everything is beneficial.
Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody
should seek his own good but the good of others”.
Participating in pagan worship is not right according to Paul, yet eating
meat that has been offered to pagan gods outside the context of worship is okay,
because it is just meat. It is no
big deal. So, it is quite
“permissible” to eat this meat, yet it is not always “constructive”.
The rule that Paul says we need to follow in that this liberty is the
rule of “seeking the good of
others over the good of ourselves”. Not
everyone understands the liberty we have as Christians in this area.
Not call Christians in Paul's day, especially Jewish Christians
understood what Paul was saying here.
Paul says that everything is permissible, or, all things are permissible, we
need to understand this phrase in its context.
The word "everything" in the NIV or "all" in the KJV
doesn't mean everything or all things. The
context is speaking of things pertaining to the Law of Moses.
I say this because I have it heard it said that everything imaginable is
okay for the Christian. We have been
forgiven in advance, so go ahead and do whatever feels good.
One man used this verse to support his practice of frequenting nude
beaches. In many places in the Bible
the word "all" doesn't always mean "all".
"All" must be understood in its context.
in verse 25 Paul says that when you go to the market and buy meat, you don’t
need to ask if this meat has been offered to idols.
It is only meat. Don’t
worry about it. You are free to eat
any meat because “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”, including
may remember the Apostle Peter's vision in Acts 9 where the various types of
animals and birds came down from heaven. Peter
was told to eat, but he refused because these were unclean animals and birds
according to the Law of Moses. Peter
was then told not to call unclean what God now God calls clean.
It is obvious that the cross of Christ has redefined the Law of Moses.
says not to raise “questions about conscience”.
Basically, he says, “If you don’t ask, you won’t know.
If you don’t know, you won’t have a conscience problem”.
same thing applies when you get invited to eat with an unbeliever at his home.
If he serves meat, don’t ask him if it has been offered to idols.
If he tells you that this meat has been offered to an idol, then don’t
eat it. Don’t eat it for the sake
of the one who told you, not for your own sake, because you have the liberty to
eat the meat. We should note here
that the context does permit one to eat the meat if he knows if it has been
offered to idols if the one who told you it's been offered to idols isn't
offended by you eating it. Only if
he is offended to the point of losing his faith is when you don't eat.
verse 29 Paul says, “Why should your freedom be judged by another man’s
conscience”? We should not let
other people’s weak conscience or way of thinking change our thinking on such
issues. We should change our actions so that we will not cause a person with a
weak conscience to stumble and lose faith. We
don’t have to change our thinking on the issue.
When alone, we can eat the meat. “Why
am I denounced because of something I thank God for”? asks Paul.
Paul strongly believes that he can eat meat offered to idols.
He also believes that he should not participate in any idol ceremony, yet
at the same time, if eating meat will cause a brother to fall from faith, he
will not eat meat, although he will not change his position on the issue.
As a matter of fact, I believe Paul would try to help this particular
brother to see his position.
you read Romans 14 closely you will note that Paul does believe that those who
don't eat meat because of their understanding of the Law of Moses have weak
faith. We should also note here that
Paul is not talking about not eating meat for any other reason.
The point should be made that if someone chooses not to eat meat but be a
vegetarian, that's okay. Paul
would have no problem with that.
closes this section by saying, “follow my example while I follow the example
of Christ”. He has just stated his
thinking on the matter to follow. He
said, “Do not cause anyone to stumble … even as I try to please everybody in
every way. For I am not seeking my
own good, but the good of many so that they may be saved”.
The driving force of Paul’s life was for as many as possible to be
saved through his ministry. If that
meant he had to lay down some of these secondary issues that he believed in, he
would do that. Of course, he would
not lay aside the essentials of the gospel to please anyone.
In some corners of the church today the essentials of the gospel are
being laid aside for the sake of unity. This
should never be the case.
just used the term "secondary issues" and have applied it to eating
meat. I personally don't believe
that Paul viewed this as a secondary issue as we would view it today.
I believe that anything that concerned the Law of Moses was a primary
issue for Paul. The point to be made
here is that the cross of Christ made things like eating meat no big deal.
You could either eat the meat or not eat the meat.
We see this in circumcision. Over
and over again Paul said that circumcision, which was a very important issue in
Old Testament Judaism, now was no big deal.
That is to say, if you're circumcised that's no big deal, or, if you're
not circumcised, that's no big deal either.
The reason why I even call eating meat a secondary issue is because Paul
clearly states that eating the meat or not eating the meat is not the important
thing any more. That being
said, if you don't eat meat because of your stand on the Law of Moses, and,
especially if you based your salvation on the Law of Moses, then that is a big
deal for Paul. He would confront
anyone on that issue. That is a
primary issue for Paul, and should be for us as well.