- 1 Corinthians 8-10 has to do with the question of eating meat that has been sacrificed to an idol. This was a matter of conscience in the first century. For some, defilement was an objective fact. If the meat had been sacrificed to the idol, it was defiled and could not be eaten. It was essential to find out--or better not to eat meat at all than to accidentally eat such meat. This is the position of James and the Jerusalem Council.
- Paul disagreed and never, ever mentions the letter of the Jerusalem Council. For him, defilement was a subjective matter. "Nothing is unclean in itself." It depended on your personal convictions.
- So Paul's instructions are very practical--Don't ask; don't tell. A lot of American Christians would crucify him for his pragmatism--Among the Jews he follows the Jews' rules. Among the Gentiles he doesn't.
- 1 Corinthians 11 is about worship problems. The first half is about women veiling their heads so that they don't shame their husbands when they prophesy in public worship. The second half urges them to eat at home if they're not all going to share the Lord's supper equally.
- 1 Corinthians 12-14 deals with controversy over tongues, with some apparently thinking themselves spiritually superior because they have the gift. Paul urges them to prophecy instead, unless of course they can come up with someone to interpret. Love trumps spiritual gifts.
- Additionally, some at Corinth may only have believed in an immortal soul, not in a bodily resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15 makes it clear that eternity involves a body, even if a spiritual one. This chapter gives us some of the most important evidence to the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
My personal take-away:
- Paul uses some athletic imagery in 9:24-27, imagery that would have been familiar given that the Isthmian Games took place every two years within just a few miles of Corinth. He disciplines himself for the race so that, after preaching to others, he himself does not fail to get the prize himself.