1 Corinthians; The saints and the idols

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posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 06:02 PM
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Among the writings of Paul, 1 Corinthians is the letter which teaches the church what it means to be a Christian community.
The opening verses (ch1 vv1-9) have the effect of defining where the church comes from and what it’s based on, and I will want to show how the rest of the teaching follows on from that.
I was drawing out a definition of the church in the attached thread;
Defining the church
Part of the definition was that the church has been sanctified, set apart for God.
So the next concern is how this affects their relations with other gods (ch10 vv14-28).

v14 Paul begins with a clear instruction; “Shun the worship of idols”.
If his readers had a Jewish heritage, that would have been enough.
They would have known the first commandment as the starting-point of their faith, the most fundamental teaching of the Old Testament;
“You shall have no other gods but me”.

But most of the Corinthians were probably Gentiles, without the same background.
It seems that they’re taking part in non-Christian ritual meals, and he’s having to exert himself just to convince them that this leads them into idolatry.

vv15-17 First he reminds them of the nature of the Lord’s Supper, eating at the Lord’s table, drinking “the cup of blessing”.
There is KOINONIA, a shared meal in the presence of their God.
This is germane to his argument, because he wants to show them there’s a direct conflict.

vv18-22 A sacrifice in the ancient world was commonly a meal shared with a god.
This was certainly the case, as Paul reminds them, with many of the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
Then God would have a portion of the beast, instead of the whole beast, while human worshippers or priests would have the rest.
That’s why Paul says the Israelites were “sharing in fellowship (KOINONOI) with the altar”.
They were sharing a meal with their God.

This is leading up to the point that the ritual meals tempting the Corinthians have got the same function.
Anyone who takes part in them is “sharing in fellowship (KOINONOI) with demons”.
They are not just sharing a social occasion with the neighbours, but joining in the worship of the god those neighbours are worshipping.

But this is not compatible with joining in the table of the Lord.
They cannot sit down where the Lord is head of the table and drink from his cup, and do the same thing in the household of a completely different god.

He anticipates an objection they might bring forward; that since the gods represented by the idols don’t exist, no harm can come from the apparent connection.
He agrees that these gods are not “something”.
In fact he believes them to be something worse; be believes that their worshippers are attaching themselves to demons.
Yet even if they are “nothing at all”, taking part in their worship remains an act of disloyalty.

It is not wise for the Corinthians to divide their loyalties and “provoke the Lord to jealousy”.
“Are we stronger then he?”
He’s already warned them against imitating the misbehaviours of the Israelites, reminding them how God punished their mass idolatry (v6, alluding to Numbers ch25).
They should learn from the mistakes of “Israel after the flesh”, and shun worship of idols in any form.

vv23-28 He’s explained to them why they should not be eating food which is being sacrificed to idols.
But what about food which has been sacrificed to idols?
Not all of the meat which was dedicated at these ceremonies would be consumed on the spot, and much of it would be found later in the food-markets.
Paul’s principle is that this meat is harmless, in itself.
If you eat it unconsciously, you won’t be taking part in an act of worship.
You can buy food in the markets without bothering to make anxious inquiries on the subject.
The same holds good if you’re eating in somebody else’s house.

But if you’re eating in somebody else’s house, and somebody warns you that the meat has been sacrificed, that alters the situation.
The meat is still harmless, in itself, but now you have to consider the effect of your eating on the person who told you.
If the informant is supposed to be a fellow- Christian (“Are you sure we should be eating that?”), you might be in danger of leading him astray. He might follow your example and then take it further, into outright idolatry, if he’s not clear in his mind about the difference.
If he’s a non-believer (“Are you sure you should be eating that?”), you might be in danger of giving him the wrong impression, that Christians don’t have a problem with idols.
Either way, Pauls’ advice is that you should hold back from eating- not for the sake of your own conscience, but for the sake of the other person.
In other words, this is about avoiding even the appearance of idolatry.

Since their calling has called them away from the world, the separation needs to be maintained.




posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 06:04 PM
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At first sight, the theme of this passage seems to be relevant only to the circumstances of Corinth and the other churches of Paul’s time.
The specific problem of “eating meat sacrificed to idols” is not a living issue for the modern church in the western world.
However, Paul is putting forward principles which can be applied more generally, in a variety of circumstances.
His instructions are based on the foundation stone of Biblical teaching, the first commandment, namely “You shall have no other gods but me”.
Therefore the need to “shun the worship of other gods”, as Paul commands, can take as many different forms as the gods themselves.
Wherever there is any activity in the modern world which belongs to the structure of other religions and involves participating in those religions, then the instruction that we should not take part in them will still apply.
One good example is that Christians should not take part in attempts to contact the dead, an activity which belongs to a different belief system, and which the Bible has already forbidden.
It would not be very difficult to identify other such situations in the modern world.
I believe this would have to include the “Interfaith” project, insofar as it aspires to bring the Christian faith into close relation with other religions, with which, on Biblical principles, it must be incompatible.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 06:45 PM
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I believe this would have to include the “Interfaith” project, insofar as it aspires to bring the Christian faith into close relation with other religions, with which, on Biblical principles, it must be incompatible.
reply to post by DISRAELI
 

It is this very principle which has led me out of the modern "christian" church and seek after the truth of Yahuwah. He calls for his people to be a qodesh, or 'set apart' people, not conforming to the spirit of this world.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 06:46 PM
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John 2:15-17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Thinking your blessings before eating is taking the time to remind yourself of God and that he is the reason you can eat. Love not the food but your Father.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 06:51 PM
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reply to post by occrest
 

Yes, the fact that God calls his people to be "set apart" was something I noticed in the very first thread of this series, based on the opening verses of the epistle.
It was also the key principle of the two threads previous to this one, calling for the saint to separate himself from sin (ch6) and for the community to separate itself from the backsliding member (ch5).
Thank you for your contribution.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 06:54 PM
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reply to post by bitsforbytes
 

Yes, thank you for that.
And of course Paul's point is that we should not be offering our thanks to other gods instead, or even appearing to do so.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 07:02 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


It seems to me to be a wise move. If we are not set apart, then the pressure for us to conform and fall away and be like everyone else if pretty powerful. Most people can't resist being liked.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 07:07 PM
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reply to post by ketsuko
 

Yes, indeed.
The problem is, as Paul observed in a previous passage (ch5 v10) is that it is not really feasible to be physically separate from the people of the world.
Therefore we're forced to work hard at keeping ourselves separate from them while living amongst them.
(I'm not sure that he would approve of the monastic option)



edit on 28-10-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 07:37 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Well I meant that if we are not set apart by being ostracized for being what we are. Otherwise, there is a powerful lot of pressure being placed on Christians to bend our beliefs and conform them to the beliefs of others and other faiths.



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 07:49 PM
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reply to post by ketsuko
 

Isn't there just!
Unfortunately, the readiness of Christians to respond to the pressure to conform is just as evident as it was in Paul's time, making Paul's warning always topical.
I really should have come up with more topical examples of the pressure of idolatry, but my mind blanked out at the time.




edit on 28-10-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 28 2013 @ 09:50 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Great post OP . I think the issues you brought up are very relevant still today. People are influenced to take oaths , celebrate holidays and birthdays, conform to dress standards lacking religious display etc as the world modernizes. Christians are often made to choose between faith and career , for instance for a time when yoga was really taking off people were being pulled in through corporate retreats, personal trainers, therapist and others all without considering the spiritual implications. Even schools and day cares are taking up this practice.

I used to carpool with a Jehovah's Witness and we discussed the JW stance on things like birthdays etc which when I was growing up people in school would make fun of the JW kids for not being allowed to participate in Halloween or Christmas events. I understood his reasoning and since then I don't really celebrate my own birthday or holidays but I did not do this to conform to the JW way or anything it just seemed like an idolators actions that I phased out of my life.



posted on Oct, 29 2013 @ 03:15 AM
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occrest



I believe this would have to include the “Interfaith” project, insofar as it aspires to bring the Christian faith into close relation with other religions, with which, on Biblical principles, it must be incompatible.
reply to post by DISRAELI
 

It is this very principle which has led me out of the modern "christian" church and seek after the truth of Yahuwah. He calls for his people to be a qodesh, or 'set apart' people, not conforming to the spirit of this world.


Organized religion has done a poor job of teaching of the Bible's message of separateness for Christians.

Well it is more than just a poor job. It is a complete failure.



posted on Oct, 29 2013 @ 05:04 PM
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reply to post by NihilistSanta
 

Also one of the complications is the existence of gray areas.
In relation to the problem Paul is addressing, the gray area is the availability of meat which has previously been sacrificed to idols.
Then Paul takes the compromise view that the meat itself is harmless, and only to be avoided if eating it will "send the wrong message" to other people.

There will be similar gray areas in modern life, where it's not entirely clear whether a Christian needs to abstain.
Like visiting a house where the home-owner has previously conducted seances.
Practices which verge on the superstitious, lke allowing one's palm to be read.
And so on- other examples could probably be found.



posted on Oct, 29 2013 @ 06:11 PM
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reply to post by leostokes
 

Historically speaking, this goes back to Constantine and his successors.
Nominally, at least, they made the Christian church co-extensive with society, and this had the effect of burying the idea that Christians needed to be distinct from the rest of society.
So in the medieval mind there was not much difference between renouncing the world and subduing the flesh. They came to much the same thing.
Now that Christianity is emerging from that state and becoming more distinct from the rest of society, the lesson about the need to maintain separation urgently needs to be re-learned.



posted on Oct, 29 2013 @ 07:14 PM
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This thread is the sequel to;
The saint and his holiness
and also;
The saints and the sinner



posted on Oct, 29 2013 @ 10:51 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Now that Christianity is emerging from that state and becoming more distinct from the rest of society, the lesson about the need to maintain separation urgently needs to be re-learned.

The question comes to mind, who is going to take the lead in teaching Christians that separation is needed?



posted on Oct, 30 2013 @ 04:44 AM
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reply to post by leostokes
 

Well, for a start, I've already written three threads on the subject.
Now if the church will only take my lead...



posted on Oct, 30 2013 @ 06:08 PM
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The question of “eating meat sacrificed to idols” became an issue once the Jews were moved out of their homeland and forced to live among the worshippers of other gods.
Therefore it provides the theme of the first chapter of Daniel, set in the time when the Exile was just beginning.
As I was discussing in my thread on that chapter;
Let them eat beancake
Daniel was being expected to eat the meat which came from the king’s table, and which would have been dedicated to the king’s gods.
His case is covered by what Paul says in vv28-29 of this passage.
That is, when you positively know that meat has been offered in sacrifice, and other people know that you know.
In those circumstances, there was a need to avoid even the appearance of idolatry, for the sake of those around him, both Jews and non-Jews, who would be aware of what he was doing.

edit on 30-10-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 30 2013 @ 07:12 PM
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I do not intend to go through the whole of 1 Corinthians systematically.
It will only be a selection of passages.
This series has been inspired, indirectly, by the commentary written by Hans Conzellman.
In his comments on the first verse in ch6 (a passage which I do not intend to cover) he remarks that “The criterion of conduct is accordingly found in the nature of the community”.
In effect, I have taken this dictum and made it a guideline for a major part of the epistle.
The premise is that Paul’s teaching here is largely about getting the church to live up to the description of itself which he supplies in the opening verses.
The way this works will become evident in the different stages.

(It has to be said, though, that I increasingly find Robertson and Plummer more reliable on points of detail).



posted on Oct, 31 2013 @ 06:13 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 

A good example of something which is at least a "gray area" is participation in Halloween festivities. As Paul points out, the basic principle of "not worshipping" applies whether the powers which are invoked are real or not.

Not being American, this example did not occur to me.
But Primelight has just put up a thread making the same point;
Halloween festivity




edit on 31-10-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)





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