A major theme throughout I Corinthians, chapters 8-11, is the importance of being a good example to all people within the Christian family and outside the family. The simple practice of social customs provides a continual opportunity to make deliberate, concerted efforts to avoid being offensive to others. God is honored by this carefulness when it is done from godly motives.
I Corinthians 10: 31-11:1 Williams Translation
So if you eat or drink or do anything else, do everything to honor God. Stop being stumbling blocks to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, just as I myself am in the habit of pleasing everybody in everything, not aiming at my own welfare but at that of as many people as possible, in order that they may be saved. You must follow my example, just as I myself am following Christ’s.
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I Corinthians 10: 1- 13 (A Translation by William Barclay)
Brothers, you must never forget that our ancestors all journeyed under the pillar of cloud, and all passed safely through the Red Sea. In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized as followers of Moses. They all ate the same supernatural food, and they all drank the same supernatural drink, for they drank from the supernatural rock which accompanied them on their journey- and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless most of them incurred the displeasure of God, and the desert was strewn with their dead bodies. These events are intended as symbolic warnings to us not to set our hearts on evil things, as they did. Nor must you become idolaters, as some of them did. As scripture says: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to indulge in their heathen sport.’ Nor must we commit fornication as some of them did, in consequence of which twenty-three thousand died in a day. Nor must we try to see how far we can go with God and get away with it, as they did, and in consequence were destroyed by serpents. Nor must you grumble against God, as some of them did, and in consequence were killed by the Angel of Death. What happened to them is intended as a symbolic warning to us. These events were recorded as advice to us, for we are living in the age to which all the ages have been leading up. One warning emerges from all this- anyone who thinks that he is standing securely must be careful in case he collapses. You have been involved in no trials except those which are part of the human situation. You can rely on God not to allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to cope with. No! When trial comes he will send you along with it the way out of it, to enable you to bear it.
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Jesus’ resurrection should mean a whole lot to Christians. Paul says that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain. Therefore, the linchpin of Christianity is that Jesus is the Messiah, and he was killed under Pontius Pilate, and was raised bodily to eternal life. Jesus being Messiah is crucial to understanding his relationship to the Kingdom – he is the King of it! In previous posts I emphasized the fact that the King died for you. Instead of meeting you on the battlefield, he took the cross, and died for you in order that you would be his on the last day.
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II Corinthians 6: 14 – 7: 1 Moffatt Translation
Keep out of all incongruous ties with unbelievers. What have righteousness and iniquity in common, or how can light associate with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial, or what business has a believer with an unbeliever? What compact can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God – as God has said,
I will dwell and move among them, I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore come away from these, separate, saith the Lord, touch not what is unclean; then I will receive you, I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord almighty.
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In part 1 there was a general sketch about Paul’s deep compassion for the Corinthian believers and the issues addressed in I Corinthians. To narrow the focus, an overview of some matters discussed in chapters 8 – 11 of I Corinthians could help our understanding of the warnings regarding the Lord’s Supper.
The problems about eating meat that had formed part of a sacrifice offered to pagan idols was a very real issue for these Christians of the first century; Paul discussed this in chapters 8 and 10 here, and he also addressed it in Romans, (which was probably written later.)
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The relating of the last supper of the lord Jesus with his disciples in the eleventh chapter of I Corinthians is probably the first written account of this event, recorded years before any of the gospel records could be read. It gives a glimpse of what was practiced among Christians during the first century, and it emphasizes important truths to be considered.
Understanding Paul’s Christ-centered heart for the Corinthian believers and the situations of concern at Corinth can help one to perceive the solemn warnings regarding the partaking of the bread and the cup in I Corinthians, chapter 11.
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