THE BOOK OF ACTS
PAUL WRITES 1 CORINTHIANS - Part Two
Paul answers their question about things offered to idols.
Some of the sacrifice of the animal was sold in the market place
(shambles - chapt. 10:25) hence the question from the
Corinthians, "Is it okay to buy and eat that meat?"
First Paul says the god to whom the sacrifice was offered is
not a real thing, it is just the imagination of men, so the meat
cannot really be "contaminated." The truth is there is but ONE
true God. The other so-called gods are nothing - no gods at all.
But not everyone in Christian church, especially new
converts and still "weak" in the faith, babes in Christ, have
this basic and somewhat fundamental knowledge. They still in
their mind think that somehow the meat offered to an idol is
contaminated, and it just would not "sit right" with them to eat
that kind of meat.
Technically Paul says, to eat or not to eat that meat, means
nothing to the true God. It does not make you better and does not
make you worse.
Yet, your knowledge, and so your liberty to eat this meat
from the idol's temple, may deeply offend a new brother/sister in
the faith, that still has not grown to your knowledge. They could
well be offended to such a point that they may think twice about
the "Christian faith." So Paul instructs, the knowledgable
Christian is to refrain from offending a weaker brother, and
should then NOT eat such meat in the presence of that weak church
So emphatic was Paul on this that he went as far as saying
that to SIN against your brother this way and wound their weak
conscience, was a sin against Christ. And so if eating such meat
offered to idols would offend a brother, Paul said he would eat
none of it as long as the world was standing, lest he make his
brother to be offended.
The principle is that of the use of "alcohol." God's word is
not against the use of alcohol per se, only against drunkenness.
But not all in the church have this knowledge. Some can get VERY
offended in the presence of another Christian, if that Christian
drank any alcohol. So, the law against NOT offending a believer
in such a context, is greater than the law that allows a believer
to drink alcohol. A Christian should not drink alcohol in the
presence of a Christian who would be very offend, and damage
their conscience, if someone of the Christian faith drank alcohol
while in their company.
We see then that there are some situations that it is a sin
against Christ to offend your brother or sister.
Paul establishes his absolute "apostleship" - he tells them
he has indeed SEEN the very Christ. He was especially an apostle
to them because he was one of the very founding ministers of the
Church of God in Corinth.
Some were calling into question Paul's apostleship.
This section is mainly about Barnabas and Paul having the
right to "live off the church" - be full time paid ministers of
the Gospel. Again, some were saying Paul had no such right or
He points out to them that others they knew WERE getting
physical aid while doing God's work. One of the well known ones
was the apostle Peter, who had a wife, and both her and Peter
lived by physical means from the Church. Other well known
apostles did also, including Christ's very own brothers.
Paul said this authority to do so, was not just men's ideas
but came from the very word of God. He then quotes and takes them
to Old Testament verses to prove his point.
To Paul it was simply a matter of reading what God had to
say on the subject. And so it was that those who planted
spiritual seeds, should be able to reap physical things from the
Church of God, and if so, could indeed "live off the church" or
be what we might call a "full time minister."
Paul also showed them that some were indeed being supported
by their physical means, but he never quoted names (verse 12).
But he tells them that he and Barnabas (maybe others with Paul,
the "we") never used this God given authority, yet adds another
verse from Leviticus 6:16, to back his point that ministers of
the altar lived off the altar - lived off the physical things of
the members of the household of God (Israel - sacrifices
- priesthood as the type for the Church of God).
He then gets very specific and says, "Even so has the Lord
ordained (or established as law) that they which preach the
Gospel should live off the Gospel" (verse 14).
But, a BIG but, then Paul goes on to say, he NEVER used that
authority of the law of God ON THEM. I guess from the start he
had, or knew that the Corinthians had a problem in giving their
physical material goods to him and others with him. So he did not
"push the point of truth" to them. He set his mind to work at a
secular job as we have seen in recent chapters going through
Acts, and how he applied his trade of tent-making while preaching
and teaching and raising a congregation in Corinth.
He tells them that he is obliged, he is obligated, has no
choice in the matter, but to preach the Gospel, so he will not
glory, in not living off them, for God had called him to preach
the Gospel, and woe to him if he did not. But he adds that there
is a kind of reward in not looking to them for physical support,
and what that rewards was that he could preach the Gospel without
getting paid for so doing, and without having to apply the
authority of living off the material goods of anyone.
A modern translation of the Bible will really bring out the
true sense of verses 1-18.
He finishes this chapter by stating that he used in his life
of teaching the Gospel, the principle that he became like those
he was preaching to, yet making sure he remained within God's
law. So he put himself in the other man's shoes as we say. He
really tried to come from their perspective and situation in
life. He did it so he might win some to Christ (verses 19-23).
Paul said he ran as if in a race, but it was not a physical
race like that of the Olympic Games, whom the victors only get a
crown for winning that is physical and so perishable. But Paul
said he ran a spiritual race, he fought a spiritual boxing match,
he watched himself in all manner of life and thoughts and words
and actions, so that after preaching to others the way to life
eternal, he himself would not fall away or be cast from the ship
of salvation and the Kingdom of God (verses 24-27).
The last example of Paul himself was for the benefit of all
the brethren at Corinth. It was to encourage them to fight the
same spiritual battle, and to watch their step. If he as an
apostle of God, used so mightily by the Lord, could possibly
"fall away" or be "a castaway" - then so could they. They needed
to fight the good fight and remain true to "the way" as it was
sometimes called (Acts 19:9,23).
Paul turns to a little history of ancient Israel to teach a
lesson in NOT lusting after evil things. Israel came out of Egypt
with Moses and did eat "the same spiritual meat and did drink the
same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that
followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (verse 3,4).
One of a number of clear verses in the New Testament that
shows Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament for the most
part. Jesus was of the Godhead, was eternal, was with God the
Father from the beginning, and was God, and was with God (John
1:1). He was God in the sense of being of the Godhead. He was not
God the Father, for He was WITH God (the Father), but He was ALL
that the Father was and is (except in final authority as Paul
with show the Corinthians in chapter 11:3).
Jesus was the one guiding and teaching the Israelites, but
with many of them God was not well pleased, and killed many of
them in the wilderness. For they lusted after evil things. Paul
warns the Corinthians not be worship idols, not to be sexually
immoral, not to put God to the test, seeing how close to evil we
can come and practice before the Lord will correct us. He tells
them not to murmur, bicker and complain, that God is not fair,
not just, not this or nor that, doesn't listen, doesn't help, and
any number of other complains we may invent about God.
The examples written down about ancient Israel are for OUR
learning, for our example, so we will not do likewise. And if we
are SELF-confident, vain in our thinking all is just fine with us
spiritually speaking, then we better get sober-minded and take
heed lest we fall flat on our nose. Some of the Corinthians were
being so "spiritually cocky" they were in real spiritual danger
and didn't even know it, until Paul told them it was so (verses
Then Paul gives some encouragement in verse 13. Showing them
that God will not try and test us, allow troubles to come upon us
that we are not able to bear. But will always make it possible
for us to endure and to be delivered form all adversity.
He then goes back to the subject of idolatry. He points out
that the unconverted in their false worship of false gods, all
that they do, believe, practice, as religion towards their false
gods, is really the false worship towards demons, the world of
evil spirit beings. The outward physical idol and physical
sacrifices on a physical altar, was nothing, but the spiritual
mind-set they did it all in was towards demons, even though they
did not recognize it as such.
This was a way of Paul saying that the Corinthians had come
out of this false life style of the deceived world, and had been
given the way, the spiritual food of God's table. We wanted them
to remember they could not have the table food, life style, of
the world, and also the table food of life from God. The two do
not mix, the two cannot mix. If we try to mix the two as God's
children, then we will provoke Him as our Father to jealousy,
and as Paul said, "Are we stronger than He?" The answer inferred
is "No way!"
It all comes back to ancient Israel. God had called them to
be His, and they wanted what He had to offer, yet at the same
time they wanted their old way of carnal lustful life of sin and
evil, the way of demons. But a child of God cannot have their old
wrong way of life and God's way of life at the same time. And the
Lord will correct us to keep us on His team and in His family
Paul then goes back to the eating of meat that some could
get offended over, and eating the idol meat at some festival.
You will by now notice how Paul writes, not all that neat
and "completely finish this issue and move on to the next." He
jumps back and forth at times. Not the easiest type of writing to
follow, but that's what gave Paul his writing signature, just
different than most others.
There are many things that a Christian can do, that is
within the way of the Lord, technically what the Lord allows, no
law against it, but Paul argues, those ways we have freedom to do
are not always serving and loving and without offense to others,
be it a Christian or none-Christian. You may go to a festival,
and eat what is before you asking nothing about if the meat has
been offered to an idol, for as we have seen, Paul said that
a physical idol is not a god, just nothing in reality but a piece
of wood or stone. But if someone there says to you, "What are you
doing, this meat was offered to an idol!" You should not eat it,
not because God does not allow you to do so, but because the
other person would be offended. His conscience, not yours, would
be offended. And if you ate the meat and he was offended then
your liberty in God would end up being "evil spoken of" by him
and others like him.
So, Paul taught, it is one of the big responsibilities of a
Christian to give no offence to anyone, outside the Church of God
or inside the Church of God. We are not always to seek just what
we have liberty to do in God. By so living many eventually will
The context shows that this is not a discussion on "clean
and unclean" meats, or the food laws of God.
Our charity towards others is all summed up in the words of
Jesus, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your
good works and glorify God in heaven."
A difficult section of Paul to understand in its depth.
Probably the Corinthians understood it well, as they were much
closer to the time, but we are two thousand years from it.
We see a few plain things. The head of man is Christ. We can
understand that. We look to Jesus as our leader, guide, spiritual
Elder brother. He has care for us, love for us, kindness for us.
He is the gentle shepherd. The head of the woman is the man.
Man was made first and woman was made for man, God said in the
beginning. Woman was made from man's rib, not his foot to be
walked on, but from that which is close to his heart. As Christ
is to man, so should man be to women. And then God is head of
Christ, in the same way Christ is head of man. God the Father has
final authority over all and everything (verses 1-3).
Whatever all the verses from 4 to 16 are about in detail, is
not the scope of this Bible Story to explain. But one thing seems
certain, Paul is talking about "hair" - yes literal hair on the
head of man and woman (verses 14,15). Hair in Paul's time was
important, and the nature of women's hair is of course a well
known fact that for longevity it is generally greater than man's
- women do not (unless something is wrong health wise) go bald
like men do. Most women take a pride in the natural beauty of
having this genetic strength in their hair (although it is today
somewhat less appreciated by many women).
It would seem that this section of Paul is instruction for
the Church of God to appreciate the basic design of God, in Him
generally intending that women have longer hair than men. And
that as Paul shows in the very natural order of nature and
society, generally speaking through most generations (but maybe
not all) it was the natural order for men to have relatively
short hair and women relatively longer hair.
I will add this comment. Verse 4 and 5 has nothing to do
with "church services" - there is no such words used as "when you
come together in church" as Paul used in verse 18. Praying and
prophesying of verse 4 and 5 is a broad and wide statement with
no connection to what Paul got specific on as in "when you come
together in church" of verse 18. Praying and prophesying can be
done anywhere at any time in any location. Paul is really using
it to mean the Christian way of living at all times, in all
places. Understood like that will eliminate endless arguments and
debates about women's head coverings (hats, veils, hair) in
"church services." But it will keep in tact the basic teaching
that God wants women to glory in her hair, for he gave it to her
for glory, and that in comparison to each other, women should
have longer hair then men.
REMEMBERING THE LORD'S DEATH
I have given this a separate heading for it is one of the
great sacraments of the New Testament Church of God. The
remembering of the Lord's death is very special, as Jesus Himself
in the last chapters of the Gospels gave it special attention,
and instructed His church to give it special attention, as we
will see here in Paul's teaching as to the proper way to observe
it. And in verse 23, you will note that Paul received his
instruction on how to teach and instruct this sacrament from the
From verse 18, this is a time "when you come together in the
church." This is a church gathering function. Like other things
in the Corinthian church there was division over this matter.
They were making this remembrance into a large festival meal. But
you will notice that it was not even "all share" but "keep to
myself" attitude, and some were going hungry, while others were
full and even getting drunk (verses 20-22).
What is missed by many is the correct Greek of verse 20. The
margin of some KJV Bibles will give it. The Greek is "When you
come together therefore into one place, you CANNOT eat the Lord's
Paul is dogmatically telling them that the remembrance of
the Lord's death, is NOT to be as Jesus observed, a "supper" type
meal, as the Passover was. The Passover of the Old Testament was
a supper type meal, with roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and
unleavened bread, and wine added later to its traditional
Why on earth some denominations of Christianity want to call
this sacrament, "the Lord's supper" is a puzzle to me, for Paul
clearly stated that you CANNOT eat the Lord's supper. It is
really still the Passover but with changes made to it by Christ
Himself for the New Testament age. For Paul after stating we
cannot eat the Lord's supper, tells us WHY, "for I have received
of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that in the SAME
NIGHT in which He was betrayed....." (verse 23).
Paul then goes on to reiterate what Jesus did on that
Passover night before His death on the cross, the blessing of the
bread and the fruit of the vine, to represent His broken body and
shed blood for the remission of sins (verses 24-25).
Verse 26 does not prove you can do this sacrament as many
times as you like. Paul simply states that as often as this
sacrament is done (down through the ages until Jesus returns) the
Church of God remembers Christ's death until He comes again. He
had already told them (chapter 5) that Jesus was the Passover
sacrificed for us. The Passover was observed ONCE a year, and
Jesus instructed Paul to teach that on the NIGHT He was betrayed
we should remember His death.
Verse 27 has bothered some. The "unworthily" word. After all
we are all really unworthy of the love of God and Christ shown
towards us. The answer is again in the Greek word. "Unworthily" is
an "adverb." A "doing" word - the manner of - the way of
doing. The Corinthians were observing this sacrament in the
WRONG MANNER, just as we have seen in the context. They were
making a meal of it, some eating full, others going hungry, and
some getting drunk. They really did not know what it was all
about, they were not discerning the Lord's body at all, and so
judgement from God was coming upon them. The Lord was not just
standing by and turning a blind eye to it all. Many of
them were sick, weak physically, and some were even dying (verses
29-32). God was indeed doing some chastening.
If we judge ourselves Paul said, be willing to see the
improper way and attitude of observing this sacrament instituted
by Jesus, then we would not come under the judgement and
chastening of the Lord.
They were to eat their evening meal at home (verse 34) and
they were to examine themselves (verse 28) and then come together
in the church to observe the bread and cup, as explained in
The Corinthian church was blessed form God with many gifts
of the Spirit. Corinth was a hub of commerce, and people from
all over the Roman world came to it. Probably this was one of the
main reasons as to why the Corinth church was given so many gifts
of the Spirit, to be able to reach so many diverse people in one
This is such a full epistle with so much diverse teaching on
so many important aspects of Christian living, that I am
compelled to write more in a third section, so the New Testament
Bible Story can be of greater edification for all who will read
TO BE CONTINUED