1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1: Paul’s Hermeneutics, Part 2 (Be imitators of me)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondAnother key element of Paul’s hermeneutics is his use of his own story to teach the gospel.

Beginning in 1 Cor 9:1, Paul uses his surrender of his own rights as an apostle as an example of how to live as a Christian, that is, of how to honor the gospel.

This argument consumes the entire chapter — one full chapter on how Paul’s life is an example of Christ-like living. And so it should be no surprise that he summarizes the three chapters by declaring —

(1Co 11:1 ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 

(It was surely a mistake to put this verse in chapter 11, when it really belongs at the end of chapter 10.)  Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1: Paul’s Hermeneutics, Part 1 (Principles)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondNotice that the question of eating meat sacrificed to idols is so important that Paul consumes three chapters on the topic — so many verses that we usually assume Paul drifted off to another subject or two, only to return to meat and idols. But it’s really all a very elaborate argument about meats and idols.

And notice what Paul does not do. He does not say, “I am an apostle empowered to know all God’s rules. Since you asked me, I’ll tell you what the rule is.” No, he uses all these verses to explain in detail why he thinks as he does. It’s not just a rule. It’s never just a rule. There’s always a reason.

What are the principles from which Paul reasons? Continue reading

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New post up at Wineskins

WineskinsbannerMy post Fix Me, Jesus: Jesus’ Plans for the Churches of Christ is up at Wineskins.

And there are posts by Keith Brenton and by Paula Harrington following up, with more to come.

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1 Corinthians 10:25-31 (The earth is the Lord’s)


(1Co 10:25-26 ESV) 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.  26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

Therefore, meat is fine to eat, and we are under no obligation to ask whether it was sacrificed to an idol. Don’t ask. Enjoy.

Paul quotes from Psalm 24, and as is often the case, he is referring to the broader context – Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 10:19-24 (authority, expedience, and edification)


(1Co 10:19-20 ESV) 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

Paul denies the reality of Apollo and Zeus and Venus, but he declares that they are false fronts for demons. And this is a little surprising to most Westerners.

In fact, the Bible never claims that there are no spiritual beings other than the Triune God. The Gospels plainly admit the existence of Satan and various personal demons. We covered this in some detail in this brief series: Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 10:13-18 (a participation in the body of Christ)


(1Co 10:13 ESV) 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. 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.

Paul immediately transitions from the dire warnings of verses 6 – 13 to words of comfort — some of the most comforting ever spoken. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 10:5-12 (Falling away over food)


(1Co 10:5-6 ESV) 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

We now learn that Paul’s purpose in discussing the Exodus is to compare the church with the children of Israel — especially the fact that not all of Israel made it to the Promised Land. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (all were baptized into Moses)


(1Co 10:1-4 ESV) For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Weird, huh? I mean, where on earth is Paul coming from? What in the world does being baptized in the Red Sea and following a rock around the desert have to do with the gospel
— much less the weak and the strong?! We’ll get there. But first, let’s sort out the metaphors. Continue reading

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The Church of the Firstborn

the-church-of-the-first-born-hebrews-12-23In the comments, for the last several days there has been discussion over the meaning of Hebrews 12:23, particularly its reference to the “church of the firstborn.” Since I have access to more exegetic resources than most, I thought I’d poke around a bit in the text and the commentaries to see just what this is all about. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 9:20-27 (“To the weak I became weak”)


(1Co 9:20-22 ESV) 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

This passage will surely be in album 1 of Paul’s “Greatest Hits.” I mean, this gets quoted all the time for all sorts of reasons. Let’s start in context. Continue reading

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