Saturday 11 September 2010

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is in not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (v.16-17)

1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Saturday 11 September 2010


In this passage Paul finally reaches a conclusion to a questionthe Corinthian church has written to him about, which he began toaddress in chapter 8 verse 1, namely whether Christiansare free to participate in community meals in pagan idol temples,since idols are not real gods. The categorical response, "flee fromthe worship of idols" in verse 14 is specifically spelt out in thecontext of this issue in the rest of the passage.

Paul suggests there are two reasons, the validity of which hisreaders can judge for themselves, for not sharing in meals in thetemples:

  • eating together expresses and creates fellowship
  • although idols are not gods, nevertheless demons use them toinfluence those who worship them.

On the matter of fellowship Paul refers to the Lord'sSupper, describing both the cup for which God is blessed orthanked, and the bread which is broken, as a "sharing" (the wordmay also be translated as "fellowship" or "participation") inChrist's body and blood. The emphasis is on the bonding of theparticipants with each other in this meal based around Christ'sdeath and resurrection. Both the offering of blessings and thebreaking of bread were part of normal Jewish meals, so this passagedoes not establish any sacramental understanding of the Lord'sSupper in terms of how we feed on Christ; instead, as verse 17makes clear, the focus is on community with each other. Thehistorical reference in verse 18 refers to  Deuteronomy 14:22-27 - food isoffered in sacrifice on the altar and then shared in a meal byworshippers. Christians do not want to be expressing similarfellowship with idol-worshippers.

The idea that demons - spiritual beings that do not honourGod - appropriate for themselves the worship offered to idols, andthat this makes God jealous, is found in  Deuteronomy 32:17-21. So both because ofthe value of Holy Communion, and because of the danger of beingcaught unawares in demonic worship, the feasts in the idol templesare not events Christians should attend.


To Ponder

What are today's 'idol temples' - places orevents where Christians ought not go because of the compromises ordangers involved?

What examples can you think of, other than theLord's Supper, where meals are used to create bonding or fellowshipbetween those who eat together? How do they achieve this?

To what extent do you believe that demonic powersare involved in encouraging the worship of modern idols in place ofGod?

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