Context: Paul completes his argument for prohibition against pagan feasts (chapters 8 to 10) which are totally incompatible with the Christian life. On the other hand, he allows consumption of meat sold in the marketplace which may have been consecrated to idols or even butchered by pagan priests.
- 10:14-22 Based on their understanding of the Lord's Supper (v.16-17) and the OT sacred meals (v.18), pagan feasts are idolatry and are a fellowship with the demonic.
- 10:23-11:1 The question of eating meat from the marketplace is a nonessential question.
The Corinthians are confused about the true basis of Christian behaviour. For them, it was a question of knowledge and rights (Greek gnosis and exousia). For Paul, it is a question of love and freedom (Greek agape and eleutheria). Knowledge and rights lead to pride; love and freedom lead to edification. The bottom line is the benefit of someone else--that they may be saved. Personal freedom is not the summum bonum (highest good) of Christian life; seeking the good of others is.
"what I say"="what I am about to say" below
participation (Greek koinonia) = fellowship. The cup in the Lord's Supper focuses on the vertical dimension of fellowship with Christ as the cup is Christ's "blood of the new covenant" (11:25). The bread focuses on the horizontal dimension of fellowship with one another.
The fellowship is the common sharing in the Lord's Supper that binds them together as a unique redeemed community. By common participation in the single loaf, the "body of Christ", they affirm that they together make up the "body of Christ", which in turn implies that they may not likewise become partners in similar associations that honour demons.
In OT sacred meals that followed the actual sacrifice, in which they together ate portions of the sacrificed food and are thus partners (koinonia) in the altar. This is similar to the pagan meals which also involved sacrifice, followed by a meal in which the sacrificial food was eaten.
Both the sacrifice and the idol are nothing. But what the Corinthians fail to discern is that to say an idol is not a god does not mean that it does not represent supernatural powers.
These pagan meals are in fact sacrifices to demons; the worship of demons is involved. Participants at the Lord's Table cannot also participate in the worship of demons.
In pagan feasts, one is engaged in idolatry that involves the worship of demons. Drinking the cup of the Lord (vertical dimension) points to the binding covenantal relationship one has with Christ; one cannot likewise have such a relationship with the demons. Sharing in the table of the Lord (horizontal dimension) binds one another through the death of the Lord; one cannot alse become fellows with those whose meals are consecrated to demons.
"Arouse the Lord's jealousy" refers to what the Israelites did in the desert (10:9). Those who would put God to the test by insisting on their right to what Paul insists is idolatry are in effect taking God on, challenging him by their actions, daring him to act.
Paul again quotes their insistence of rights. For the Corinthians, rights meant the right to act in freedom as they saw fit. For Paul, it meant the right to become slave of all (9:19), or the right to benefit and build up others in the body.
Meat passed through pagan sacrifices was expressedly forbidden to Jews. It was required of the Jews to investigate whether the meat had been previously sacrificed; Paul is telling the Corinthians not to conduct such inquiries. The matter lies outside the concerns of conscience altogether and is a nonessential.
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it" (Ps 24:1) is a passage rabbis used as a blessing over every meal; it is associated with the thanksgiving in v.30.
Possible situation: the one who has pointed out the sacrificial origins of this meat to a Christian has done so out of a sense of moral obligation to the Christians, believing that Christians, like Jews, would not eat such food. The purpose of the action is not to offend that person, nor his/her moral expectations of Christians.
recalls Paul's defence of his own conduct in chapter 9
Everything is for God's glory and for the sake of the gospel. Two imperatives must control Christian behaviour: (a) it must be for the glory of God (v.31), (b) one must give no offence to anyone--Jews, pagan, or fellow believers (v.32).
To give offence does not so much mean to "hurt someone's feelings" as to behave in such a way as to prevent someone from hearing the gospel, or to alienate some Christian.
Paul's definition for "pleasing others" (Ro 15:1-2) is "for his/her good, to build him/her up".