- The Corinthians argue against Paul's prohibition of feasts in pagan temples:
(a) They have knowledge about idols: that there is no reality to idols so attendance at the temples is not worshipping what did not exist (8:4).
(b) They have knowledge about food: that it is a matter of indifference to God (8:8).
(c) They seem to have a magical view of the sacraments: those who had Christian baptism and who partake of the Lord's Supper are not in any danger of falling (10:1-4).
(d) They had doubts about Paul's apostolic authority to prohibit them because of his failure to accept their financial support and his own apparently compromising stance on idol food sold in the marketplace (he abstained when eating with Jews but ate when eating with Gentiles, see 9:19-23).
- In chapters 8-10, Paul explains 5 issues:
- 8:1-13 Corinthians' abuse of others in the name of "knowledge" indicates a misunderstanding of the nature of Christian ethics which springs not from knowledge but from love.
- 9:1-27 There is a crisis of authority when Paul's own conduct was questioned. Paul launches into a vigorous defence of his apostleship (in terms of his right to their support, even if he has given it up, 9:3-18) and his freedom (to act as he does about idol food, 9:19-23).
- 10:1-13 They misunderstand the true nature of idolatry and their false security in the Christian sacraments. Paul warns them, on the basis of analogies from Israel, that the Christian sacraments are no sure protection against such disobedience.
- 10:14-22 Paul expressly prohibits pagan feasts at pagan temples reminding them that idolatry involves fellowship with demons.
- 10:23-11:1 Meat bought in the Corinthian marketplace was likely to have been symbolically offered to an idol in pagan temples. Paul teaches that they may freely buy and eat such meat except they should abstain if in a pagan home someone points out its temple origins.
The one who thinks he has knowledge is self-deceived as that very claim has given evidence that he does not have real knowledge.
The person who loves has reached the fullness of knowledge OR the person who loves is the one who is truly "known", that is, "recognized" by God as having knowledge. In the earliest manuscripts, the two words "God" are not existent.
According to the Corinthians, since there is no reality to an idol because there is only one God, how can they be faulted for attending pagan feasts at the temples. Paul's concern is the effect that believing in such "gods" has had on their devotees.
For some, "gods" (traditional deities) and "lords" (deities of the mystery cults) are reality.
One God and one Lord stand in contrast to "many gods" and "many lords".
3 realities about God: (a) Father: personal relationship, (b) the Creator, (c) we are for him--our very existence is for his purposes.
3 realities about Christ: (a) the designation "Lord" in OT belongs to the one God, (b) Jesus is the one through whom God created the world, and (c) through whom God redeemed us.
Even though all may believe at the theoretical level that an idol is no god, not all share this knowledge at the experiential level. Some believers are among those for whom the "gods" and "lords" were a genuine reality while they were pagans. Such people may eat the food in pagan feasts as though it were being sacrificed to a god ("having been sacrificed" not accurate). This causes them to defile their new relationship with Christ.
Food has nothing to do with our relationship to God. It is a matter of indifference.
For the Corinthians, freedom is the right to act as they please without restraint. For Paul, the true use of freedom is the free giving up of one's rights for the sake of others.
The weak in conscience may be encouraged to eat in the temple, thus leading them back to idolatry and destruction.
Paul's use of the word "destroyed" is invariably referring to eternal ruin.
The freedom (of going to pagan feasts) becomes sin against the brother and sin against Christ (Mt 25:45). Paul's switch to plural ("brothers") may indicate sin against the church.
Paul uses "I" in referring to his own personal conduct, thus leading to the next passage on defending his freedom.