After three chapters of commentary about food sacrificed to idols, Paul says all should be done to the glory of God, even eating and drinking. At the heart of the Christian faith is a meal, the Lord’s Supper. Paul illustrates the incompatibility of idol worship with Christ worship, but also wants to show that God’s glory can be found in the everyday.
Paul elaborates on his comments about disqualification from chapter nine. He lays out ways in which the Corinthian’s habits of eating meat in idol temples is dangerously close to many of the sins Israel was judged for in the wilderness. He warns them to take heed lest they fall, but also reminds them that God’s grace is sufficient in the face of temptation and persecution.
The Corinthians supposed that because Paul was not being paid he was less than an apostle. Paul shows the Corinthians how they are mistaken and gives them an example of selfless love in his own actions which contrasts sharply with how they destroy each other in their selfish practices.
Paul responds to more concerns mentioned in a previous letter from the Corinthian church. This time he takes up food sacrificed to idols. Once again the Corinthian’s selfish, party spirit is apparent; Paul says they need to lay aside their rights as Christ did for the good of the weak members of their community.
Paul takes up responding to issues mentioned in a previous letter written to him by the Corinthian church. In this case he looks at the assertions of some ascetics in the Corinthian group. While on the surface Paul addresses the issues of marriage, sex, celibacy, engagement, etc., underneath is the issue of what true devotion looks like. Paul says that in general a believer should seek to be devoted to God in the situation “in which you were called”; one need not by default change their situation in order to be faithful to God.
The Corinthians apparently had distorted a teaching of Paul’s on Christian liberty. Instead of using their liberty in Christ to magnify the love of God, the Corinthians were using it as an opportunity for incredible self-indulgence. Paul addresses specific instances of this in the church.
The Corinthians are arrogant despite gross sin in their midst. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for not addressing the sin; for tolerating immorality that even the “pagans” do not. The church is called to the privilege of playing a role in God’s Fatherly discipline–for God disciplines every child he loves.
Paul exposes the Corinthians haughtiness with a bit of irony. While the apostles are like “refuse” to the world, like condemned criminals sent to die in the Roman arena, the people of the church at Corinth act like kings. Arrogance does not follow from the cross; forget yourself and live for others.
Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:18-4:5 Books: The First Epistle to the Corinthians by Anthony C. Thiselton Quote: Speaking of verses 4:1 and 2, Anthony C. Thiselton suggests that the concept Paul is referring to is that of an “estate manager.” He writes: “This office normally included responsibility for overseeing a household budget, purchasing, accounts, resource allocation, …