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1 Corinthians 8





As was the case in the previous chapter, this chapter appears to be written in response to letter full of questions from the Corinthian church.  That is a pretty neat concept when you think about it. How many times have we run up on something that we just couldn’t quite figure out, that we just couldn’t quite understand and have, in turn, looked for an answer from someone who should know?  In this case the Corinthian church knew that Paul would know.  So, they sent him this series of questions.  Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do that?

The previous chapter probably felt very practical.  It was, after all, about marriage and divorce and being single.  This chapter, however, deals with eating meat sacrificed to idols.  So, at first glance, this one might seem a little less practical.  I don’t remember the last time I was at a meat counter in a store and saw some meat that had been sacrificed to idols.

But it was a significant problem in Corinth.  The city was a most immoral place and one of the causes of that immorality was the amount of idolatry that was practiced in the city.  In fact, there were a lot of civic activities and celebrations and parties that were centered around the worship of particular idols.  It was not uncommon for parts of an animal to be sacrificed to an idol and then rest of that animal show up at a “butcher’s shop” or be cooked right there and eaten during the ensuing celebration.

So, the big question in this chapter is this.  Is it OK for a Christ follower to eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol?

As the chapter opens, the issue of knowledge is mentioned.  It would seem that perhaps the folks at the Corinthian church may have suggested that they were smart enough to figure this one out.  But Paul reminded them that knowledge (without relationship) puffs up.  In other words, gaining knowledge without understanding application or connection with others leads to arrogance. 

On the other hand, Paul reminds them and us that love builds up. 

The real issue in this chapter is between liberty and love.  The question was is it OK for Christ followers to eat the food that had been sacrificed to an idol.  As Paul states in this chapter, an idol is literally nothing.  Therefore, any food sacrificed to an idol could not be contaminated or defiled. 

On other hand, a Christ follower who was young in the faith or perhaps even someone who was not a Christ follower yet but was watching, could have been very offended to see a Christ follower eating meat sacrificed to an idol.  Their offense would have come from a lack of understanding.

That’s where the struggle between liberty and love comes in.  Paul would say that Christians are free to eat that meat.  But he would also ask is that the best thing.  Specifically, he would ask about the possibility of someone else being offended by that.  Paul’s answer in this situation is that if someone were going to be offended then the Christian should not eat the meat.

Christian liberty is a most important issue.  But our love for others has to rule the day.  This is the old battle between privilege and responsibility.  Suffice it to say that responsibility should win that battle every time.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

1 Corinthians 7


This is one of those chapters that we probably should slow down and take two or three or four days and work through it. It deals with a most important topic(s): marriage and celibacy. And in it, Paul lays out some incredible principles for us to live by. However, I have this one page to do this chapter. So, I will go as far as I can go into the 40 verses before us.

In the first seven verses, Paul gives us five vital principles to inform us concerning marriage. The first one in verse one is Abstinence is good. This doesn’t mean marriage is bad. It just means abstinence is good. So, an unmarried person should not be sexually involved with someone else.

The second one in verse two is Sex is for one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage. Because of the rampant immorality that existed in Corinth, Paul said that every man should have his own wife and every woman should have her own husband. In other words, if you are not gifted to live a celibate life, then marriage is a great, God given alternative. But when you are married, you should not be sexually involved with anyone other than your spouse.

The third one in verses 3-4 is Marriage is a relationship of mutual ownership. The wife does not have authority over her own body and the husband does not have authority over his own body. This is not permission for abuse of any sort. That is always a sin. But it is simply a statement that marriage partners no longer live a life of autonomy. The sexual bond that exists between a husband and wife is not just recreational. It is a deep connection that is designed as a gift from God. Both partners have a duty or obligation to the other in this area. It is monogamous (one man and one woman). It is heterosexual (one man and one woman). And it is sacred (his own wife and her own husband).

The fourth principle in verse 5 is Physical intimacy may not be abandoned as a test of spirituality. This chapter does give an exception in that a couple could step away from physical intimacy “for a time” but only to “devote themselves to prayer” or to a spiritual purpose. But it must be a limited time so that either partner or both is not tempted by Satan.

The fifth principle in verses 6-7 is Marriage is a matter of permission not command. In other words, we are not commanded to get married. But God in His great grace created marriage as a wonderful gift to humanity and it is certainly within His will that people get married. But it is also in His will that others remain celibate.

Quickly through the rest of the chapter we find some other incredible things about God’s plan for marriage. In verses 8-9, Paul tells us that those who are widowed should endeavor to stay that single but it is better to marry again rather than burn with passion which could lead to immorality.

In verses 10-11, Paul reiterates that believers who are married should stay married.
And in verses 12-16, Paul speaks of marriages in which one person is a believer and the other is a nonbeliever. Paul says the believer should stay in that marriage. But he also says if the nonbeliever abandons the believing spouse, then the believing spouse is free from the marriage vows which means remarriage would be allowed.
And so… I didn’t even get through half of the chapter. I would encourage you to reread this chapter slowly. God has seen to it that some most important stuff is in these verses. Just remember marriage is holy. And at the same time it is good that some are able to remain celibate.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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