Though most of the Corinthians were Gentiles, Paul refers to the Israelites led by Moses as “our fathers”, because all Christians share the same spiritual ancestry (Galatians 3:7-8, 29). The word “for” in the first sentence connects this chapter to the points that Paul has been speaking to in chapters 8-9 that, among other things, declares that Christians must be willing to “give up” things that they may even see as their own “rights,” if that behavior is detrimental or a stumbling block to others. Concerning verse 7, McGarvey says “The ‘playing’ which Paul refers to (quoted from Exodus 32:3-6, 19, 25) was familiar to the Corinthians, who had indulged in such licentious sportfulness in the worship of Bacchus and Venus…Eating at the feast of idols was the very privilege for which the Corinthians were contending.”
The wrongness of that behavior should be obvious to them, but even eating at the idol temples, as many would, could present a temptation to fall into the old ways of idolatry and sexual immorality. Therefore, Paul says in verse 12 “…let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” But he continues in verse 13 by saying that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” These words should be a comfort to the faithful. No matter what temptation we are presented with, God will always provide a way out – but we have to choose to take it!
Finally, in verses 23-33, Paul deals with the issue of eating food that had been sacrificed to idols. Much of the meat that was sold in the markets could have come from such a source. Paul makes it clear that idols are nothing in reality, and that eating such would not be a sin by itself. But if it was a matter of conscience, that was different; and the conscience referred to might be that of a brother in Christ. For if someone else believed it was wrong to eat such food, the Christian should not do it in their presence or in a view that would offend or jeopardize the salvation of someone else. Our own liberty does not include damaging the sensibilities or faith of another.
Paul speaks of a very important tradition in verses 17-33 of chapter 11 – one that was instituted by the Lord Himself – the Lord’s Supper. Incredibly, they had turned the observance of the Lord’s Supper into a meal, with some even becoming drunk. Just as bad, the wealthy would bring enough food to be gluttons, and leave the poor hungry. This was not fellowship, and it was not “in remembrance” of the Lord; and by doing this, one was eating and drinking “judgment on himself.” Paul admonishes them not only to observe the Lord’s Supper properly, but with reverence, with each one “examining” himself while doing so.
It is difficult for many of us to realize at times the complete turn-around that many of these Corinthians had made, or the struggles that they continued to have in doing so. The society they lived in, and had participated in fully, was pagan; and idol-worship, drunkenness and revelry, as well as promiscuity, were a way of life. It was certainly not any easier for them to be holy than it is for us today.
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.