Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 2)

Relief with sacrifice to Asklepios (c. AD 320)

Sometimes the Weak Brother is Right

In 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul wrote about idol meat. The one who avoided idol meat had a weak conscience. Romans 14 refers to meat-avoiding weak believers as well. Both passages warn the eaters that their eating could cause stumbling and destruction. Both argue for love over liberty. Both deal with standing and falling. However, though these passages deal with similar issues, the Corinthians were struggling with much closer involvement with idols.

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, the strong are said to have knowledge. Paul used two words for knowledge. First, γνῶσις, “knowledge,” is found in 1 Corinthians 8:1,7,10,11. The same word as a verb, γινώσκω, “I know,” is found in 1 Corinthians 8:2,3. Second, εἴδω, “I see” or “I understand,” occurs in four verses in 1 Corinthians 8:1 (know), 2 (know), 4 (know), 10 (see). These two words are somewhat interchangeable1. Romans 14:14a uses εἴδω, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus.” Romans 14 does not use γινώσκω.

The knowledge of the strong2 was this: Because there is only one God, they could recline at the table in the temple where meat was sacrificed to idols and eat. At the end of chapter 10, Paul discusses a different issue (eating idol tainted meat sold in the market), but in chapter 8 and most of chapter 10 the issue is meat eaten at the idol temple.

Paul says, (v.10) “For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple3, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?” The “strong” position of ch. 8 was reclining and eating in the temple (not just eating market bought meat). This is also seen in Paul’s use of the word εἰδωλόθυτα, which has been shown to refer to meat offered to idols and eaten in the presence of the idol4. The concern in 1 Corinthians 8:10 is that the weak might be emboldened to eat in the temple, not just the market.

There is some disagreement over whether eating in the idol temple was religious or secular. Garland says, “They may also have justified their actions by downplaying any religious ceremony … as a bunch of mumbo jumbo that had no spiritual effect on them whatsoever”5. Willis argues that such events were essentially secular6. Witherington refutes this by giving evidence that even in the adjoining rooms, the idol was present and a short ceremony honoring the idol would have preceded the meal7. However, engaging in a socially dictated religious ceremony doesn’t imply personal religious belief. As an example from popular culture, the baptism of Michael Corleone’s son8 comes to mind. The strong of Corinth seem to have thought in a similar way, as Paul demonstrates when he explains their knowledge.

The knowledge of the strong was a chain of ideas: An idol is nothing (8:4) since there is one God. Participating in an idol’s ceremony is worshipping nothing and means nothing. Therefore, it doesn’t violate the prohibition against having other gods. The weak, however, does not have that knowledge. He also holds to the doctrine of one God. He believes that the idol does constitute a sinful violation of “No other gods.”

Paul’s Extended Argument

Other than the fact that his “conscience is weak,” how does Paul depict the ethical position of the weak and the strong? Let’s look at Paul’s extended argument in 1 Corinthians 8-10:

  • Paul warns about knowledge. It puffs up (8:1). It keeps one from considering that he lacks knowledge (8:2). Being known by God is better than having knowledge.
  • Paul says the thinking of the strong is supposition. In 8:2, he says, “If anyone imagines that he knows something.” (ESV) That word for imagines is “δοκέω.” Paul uses it again in 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Paul did not use this word for the thinking of the weak in Romans 14:14 (he chose λογίζομαι). Paul’s respect for the weak seems to be greater than his respect for the strong.
  • Using the Old Testament (10:1-18), Paul argues forcefully against temple-idol meat. We must note that Paul is making the argument of the weak.
  • The objection of the strong in Paul’s audience is inevitable and Paul expresses it for them: (v. 19) “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?” Garland says, “Paul is conscious that his statements might seem inconsistent with what he wrote in 8:4, ‘that an idol has no real significance’ ”9. The question of v. 19 is written to expect a “No” answer10. Paul answers it, (v. 20) “No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.” Without admitting there are other gods, he says there are demons behind the idols. Paul is arguing that the strong are wrong and their “knowledge” isn’t very good thinking.
  • Paul concludes: (v. 21) “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.” We must see this in Greek, “οὐ δύνασθε ποτήριον κυρίου πίνειν καὶ ποτήριον…” (“Not strong you are to drink…” The strong, if they follow and apply Paul’s argument, are “not strong.”
  • Note what Paul says to the strong at the beginning of chapter 10. “For I do not want you to be ignorant” (10:1, NIV). In Greek, “Οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν” (“But I don’t want you to be without knowledge.”) What follows (10:1-18) is precisely what the weak brother thinks: Idolatry is forbidden and idols are idolatry. The strong need the vital knowledge Paul gives in ch. 10, not the weak. This is why Paul (8:2) warns the strong that they think they know, but they do not yet know as they should. And in 10:12, if anyone thinks that he stands, he should take heed lest he fall.

Re-examining the “Knowledge” of the Strong & the Thinking of the Weak

To summarize, let’s re-examine the “knowledge” of the strong and the thinking of the weak.

The “knowledge” of the strong

Premise 1: There is only one God; these idols are not false gods (they are nothing).

Premise 2: It is forbidden to worship false gods.

Therefore, The prohibition doesn’t apply to our idols.

The thinking of the weak

Premise 1: There is only one God; idols are false gods.

Premise 2: It is forbidden to worship false gods.

Therefore, The prohibition does apply to idols in our city.

First, is the reasoning of the strong logical? The strong in Corinth could say that the weak is committing a logical fallacy: Because “gods” in Premise 1 is a false god and what is forbidden in Premise 2 is real gods, the idolatry prohibition doesn’t apply to Corinthian idols.

The weak might reply: Then what was the point of God prohibiting idolatry in the first place? What did God want? Clearly, from Moses to Achan to Daniel, God wanted it applied to the idols of the day, even though they were never “really other gods.” So the thinking of the strong would mean that all Old Testament instances of idol avoidance were not really necessary and all Old Testament instances of idolatry would not have been sinful if the people had just remembered that there is only one God. If the prohibition against idolatry ever applied to anything, it applied to the idols in our city.

The response of the strong to this counterargument, while important, goes beyond the point of this paper.

Paul uses “suppose” for the thinking of the strong, warns him about the dangers of “knowledge,” tells him he might actually be “without knowledge,” corrects the knowledge he does have, and finally tells him that he is “not strong” to sit in that temple and eat idol meat. The “strong” is gradually encouraged to become “weak.” Is Paul trying to weaken the faith of the Corinthians? No. We are in need of re-thinking what Paul meant by “weak in faith” and “conscience is weak,” because the weak position can be the faithful, knowledgeable, and right position.

Notes

1 They are used this way in v. 2, and in vv. 4-7.

2 Paul doesn’t call them “strong.” They’re “strong” by being counterparts to the “weak.” Here, Paul calls them the ones “with knowledge.”

3 The Greek text says, reclining in an idol’s temple.

4 Ben Witherington, Not So Idle Thoughts about Eidolothuton, Tyndale Bulletin, 44:237-254.

5 David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, pp. 356.

6 W. Willis, Idol Meat in Corinth. The Pauline Argument in I Corinthians 8 and 10, Chico, Scholars Press 1985, p. 63.

7 Ben Witherington, p. 242-5.

9 Garland, p. 479.

10 The word “No” in Paul’s reply (v. 20) is added. This might be because the question was phrased to expect a “No.” V. 20 can be translated, “But I say, that…” (KJV). Is Paul answering it “yes” or “no”? I believe that the question in v. 19 is presumed by Paul to be on the lips of the strong—it is their question, so they expect the “no” answer. Paul himself doesn’t really see it as a “No.” If so, it should read like this:
v. 19: What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything!?
v. 20: But I AM saying that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

Dan Miller Bio


Dan Miller is an ophthalmologist in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He is a husband, father, and part-time student.

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Don Johnson's picture

I am heading off to Family Camp this AM and can't get into much discussion. I still think it is significant that Paul doesn't use the word "strong" to describe those with knowledge, but that will have to wait till I have some time to address it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dan Miller's picture

Don, I think you are pointing out something significant. The trouble is that it's tough to attach meaning to something that Paul didn't say. 

Don has argued in the past that the way Paul deals with the meat disagreement in Romans (follow your conviction either way) and the way he deals with the meat disagreement in 1 Cor 8-10a(Don't Do It!) are so different that the passages should not be seen to be utilizing the same ethical tools.

I see it as Paul utilizing the same ethical tools for different issues. I think that since Paul is going to say, "Don't Do It!" to the temple-idol-meat, ch. 10, perhaps  he doesn't want to use the term "strong" for them in ch. 8. But also perhaps Paul thought of them as the strong and just didn't mention it. In Romans, he went the entirety of ch. 14 without using the word "strong" in reference to the strong.

There are other problems with trying to separate Rom 14 and 1 Cor 8-10. One is shared ideas that connect these passages.

Romans 14:1 - 15:9    1 Corinthians 8, 9, 10
“weak in faith” Romans 14:1 “weak in conscience” 1 Corinthians 8:7 
About food restrictions Romans 14:2 1 Corinthians 8:1 
Practice your beliefs with thanksgiving to the glory of God. Romans 14:6 1 Corinthians 10:30-31 
Don’t cause a weaker brother to stumble into sin by your freedom. Romans 14:13-14, 21 1 Corinthians 8:9-11 
We “know” all foods are clean. Romans 14:14 We “know” all idols are nothing. 1 Corinthians 8:4, 7 
Don’t destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Romans 14:15 1 Corinthians 8:11 
Food is not important in the kingdom of God. Romans 14:17, 20 1 Corinthians 8:8 
Seek for the good of others. Romans 15:2 1 Corinthians 10:24 
The scriptures give us warnings and examples. Romans 15:4 1 Corinthians 10:6 
Christ is our example of giving up freedoms. Romans 15:7-9 1 Corinthians 11:1 
Christ gave up freedoms for the sake of winning both Jews and Gentiles. Romans 15:8,9  Paul gave up freedoms for the sake of winning both Jews and Gentiles. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Crowley, JD (2014-02-23). Commentary on Romans for Cambodia and Asia (ASEAN Bible Commentary Series) (Kindle Locations 9710-9738). Fount of Wisdom Publishing House, Phnom Penh. Kindle Edition. 

I think Tobin and Reasoner had similar charts - I might look tonight at home.

The biggest problem with Don's idea that Paul didn't think of the eaters as "strong" is that Paul uses other terms that he should have equally avoided if that was he goal. He says that eating in the temple is their ἐξουσία (8:9), a word he uses for the "right" or "liberty" to eat & drink(9:4), marry (9:5), get paid for preaching (9:6). ἐξουσία isn't used in Romans 14, so this doesn't tie the passages together. But if Paul specifically avoided "strong" for the eaters, surely he would have avoided ἐξουσία. And he probably would have avoided "weak" for the conscientious temple-idol-meat abstainers.

Don Johnson's picture

Well, I think that the tendency is to think of the strong as spiritually mature, and indeed that is the way he uses it in Rm 15. He is encouraging the strong to join with him in bearing the weaknesses of the weak. (I think he also uses a new word for weak at this point here, but I haven't time to check.)

I would think that those with knowledge in 1Cor think of themselves as spiritually mature. But Paul points out the tendency of knowledge to puff up. This "puffing up" perhaps looks wise and mature in its own eyes, but really isn't.

The strength in Rm 15 is not because Paul has the right view of the meat issue along with the others who ate any kind of meat, as to the Lord (14.6, 14). The strength is that which comes from a person who sees the difference and yet is willing to make ministry to the weak more important than every possible exercise of his right view of meat. In other words, the strong are the spiritually mature, they have the right attitude and the right practice. They are self-forgetful and others oriented, seeking to build up the body of Christ, even if it means inconveniencing themselves.

As for the use of authority in 1cor 8.9, I will think about that one, but perhaps a preliminary answer - They were taking this right/authority, but they didn't actually possess this right/authority. As we see later, what they were doing was wrong, so the word is being used from their perspective, not Paul's. Does that make sense?

It is late at night at the KOA, the mosquitos are buzzing around, and we've had an auspicious beginning to Family Camp. Shared Nanaimo Bars with our American friends tonight. They didn't last long.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dan Miller's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
...

The strength in Rm 15 is not because Paul has the right view of the meat issue along with the others who ate any kind of meat, as to the Lord (14.6, 14). The strength is that which comes from a person who sees the difference and yet is willing to make ministry to the weak more important than every possible exercise of his right view of meat. In other words, the strong are the spiritually mature, they have the right attitude and the right practice. They are self-forgetful and others oriented, seeking to build up the body of Christ, even if it means inconveniencing themselves.

In considering this, we need to distinguish between what it means to be "strong" and what being strong means a person ought to do

Rom 15:1 - We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

If we are strong, then we ought to [love over liberty]. You can be strong and fail to live for others. So love over liberty isn't what it means to be "strong." 

Like: if you're a doctor, you should be kind to your patients. Well, there are unkind doctors. They're still doctors. What makes you a doctor is a bunch of other things (completed training, licensure, etc.). Kindness was taught and encouraged in Medical School. But it was never tested for.  

Don Johnson wrote:
As for the use of authority in 1cor 8.9, I will think about that one, but perhaps a preliminary answer - They were taking this right/authority, but they didn't actually possess this right/authority. As we see later, what they were doing was wrong, so the word is being used from their perspective, not Paul's. Does that make sense?...
Sure - some hold that "this right of yours" is sarcasm. If it is, then Paul's choice to use "right" but not "strong" is probably based on the terms these brothers were using for themselves and not his own selection. (I don't subscribe to this, but it's out there.)

Don Johnson's picture

On "ought to". I appreciate the discussion.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dan Miller's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Dan,

Thanks for the article, and all the good discussion it has prompted.  I'm looking forward to Part 2.  However, I must insert that anyone who thinks that Jews who trusted Christ would have no lingering scruples regarding OT dietary laws twenty years later hasn't labored where I live.  Believe me, some cultural traditions are harder to change than doctrinal issues.

This is in response to Pastor Barkman's comment on Part 1, but it depends on the 1 Corinthians 8-10 discussion, so I'll put it here.

In Ben Witherington's paper, Not so Idle Thoughts about Eidolothuton (p.243,250), he gives evidence that Jews (and women and all foreigners) would have been excluded from these pagan idol feasts. Therefore, while this is an issue that is based on OT teachings, it doesn't involve Jews. 

While Romans (and 1 Cor 10:25-32) deals with Jews and gentiles, 1 Cor 8-10a deals with gentiles who go to the temple and gentiles who conscientiously refuse. So this isn't about Jews who have life-histories of dietary-law living who are too slow to give it up.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Dan,

Thanks.  That is helpful.

G. N. Barkman

Dan Miller's picture

Andrew: Next, you wrote what I believe to be an erroneous assertion in saying, “The ‘strong’ is gradually encouraged to become ‘weak.’” Is that really Paul’s argument? You more fully defined this later saying, "The way that Paul reassures the weak is by pointing out the possibility of “weakening” of the strong."

Andrew's first quote is from Part 2. The second quote is from Part 3.

The way Paul deals with temple-idol-meat (1Cor8-10a, Part 2) is a little different from the way he deals with market meat (1Cor10b & Rom14, Part 3). I'll address the first quote here.

On the issue of temple-idol-meat, yes, I believe that Paul wanted the strong to weaken. Let me see if I can show that from the text. What were the positions of the sides in Corinth as Paul describes them in 1 Cor 8-10:22? 

Temple-meat-eaters: they believed that they could go into the temple, sit at the table with their friends and colleagues while the idol worship took place, and eat the offered meat. 

Temple-meat-abstainers: they believed that it was sinful to go into the pagan temple and eat.

In ch. 8, we learn the reasoning of the temple-meat-eaters:

  • There's only one God; the idol is nothing but a stone or chunk of wood. v.4-6
  • Since the idol means nothing, sitting there during it's ceremony means nothing and there is no special significance to the meat due to the offering.
  • So go ahead. Go in and eat.

What is the reasoning of the temple-meat-abstainers?

  • There's only one God; the idol is a false god. v. 7
  • Idolatry is condemned. We must not not be involved in idol-worship.
  • What is happening in the temple is idol-worship and is wrong. Do not go in and eat.

Agree so far?

apward's picture

No, I’m sorry but I don’t think that is derived from the text. You could say that Paul is presenting the “strong” arguments as you stated, but there is no “weak” side of the argument presented by Paul. I think you are reading that into the text. I think that throughout 8-10 Paul is stating actual liberties, but giving examples of when we should lay aside our liberties for the sake of others. He is not giving a point counter-point set of arguments.

You say, “On the issue of temple-idol-meat, yes, I believe that Paul wanted the strong to weaken.” Now you define “weak” as “unable by his faith” to eat the meat. But that is exactly what Paul says he is not saying, I Corinthians 10:28-29  “But if someone says to you, "This is food offered to an idol," do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for conscience' sake. I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person's. For why is my freedom judged by another person's conscience?”

The strong should not eat the meat, not because he has become weak or has become unable by his own conscience, but because of the weakness of the other person.

Dan Miller's picture

Note that the issue in ch.8,10:1-22 is a different issue from 10:25-30. That's vital and often missed. 

The first issue is eating in the pagan temple. The second is eating what is sold in the market

There was disagreement about whether one could eat in the temple. I described above the reasoning of the weak and strong side of that. 

Dan Miller's picture

In ch. 8, we have two groups:

Temple-meat-eaters: they believed that they could go into the temple, sit at the table with their friends and colleagues while the idol worship took place, and eat the offered meat. 

Temple-meat-abstainers: they believed that it was sinful to go into the pagan temple and eat.

In ch. 8, we learn the reasoning of the temple-meat-eaters:

  • There's only one God; the idol is nothing but a stone or chunk of wood. v.4-6
  • Since the idol means nothing, sitting there during it's ceremony means nothing and there is no special significance to the meat due to the offering.
  • So go ahead. Go in and eat.

I think you agree with that much, right?

Dan Miller's picture

double for some reason.

apward's picture

Yes, I do agree with you on the summary of the temple meat-eating argument. But I don’t agree that this is an entirely separate issue from the meat in the market. Again, look at the whole context of I Cor. 8-10; the whole section is dealing with Christian liberties that should sometimes be laid aside for the sake of others.

 I believe that Paul presents eating in the temple as a legitimate liberty, but that it is unwise to do so because you are voluntarily putting yourself in a very seductive position of temptation. Meanwhile it doesn't edify anyone, but could be a stumbling block to others. 

So I think the context (specifically I Cor. 10:9-13) indicates that it is a matter of temptation to idolatry. Paul does a risk/reward analysis on eating inside the temple: a high risk for sin through temptation with devastating consequences for you and other believers, and nil for edification. So sure, you have liberty, by why use it when only bad things for you can others can happen as a result? Which is summed up in the next verse:

1 Corinthians 10:23-24  Everything is permissible," but not everything is helpful. "Everything is permissible," but not everything builds up.  24 No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.

On the issue of demons, Paul is not saying that Christians who eat at the temple are the ones worshiping demons, but that they are present when active demon worship is taking place and drinking from the same cup of those under the influence of demons. That is a dangerous situation for temptation. Why exercise your liberty to put yourself in that situation when nothing good can come from it, only disastrous results for you and others through temptation? You shouldn't. I think that's Paul's argument.

Dan Miller's picture

JG, a missionary in GB and old member here started talking about sieves as tests of right and wrong. 

  1. So one sieve would be, is the action explicitly forbidden? 
  2. Next would be, Does your application of Bible principles cause you to conclude it's wrong? 
  3. Next would be, Will it hurt your brother spiritually?
  4. and so on...

If something doesn't get through the first sieve, then in a sense, the other sieves don't matter. But we can still talk about the reason the other sieves wouldn't allow it to pass.

In ch. 8, Paul expressed the thinking of the strong. And some of the thinking of the weak. Then he cautions against temple-idol-meat on the basis of sieve 3 - harm to brothers. 

However, in 1Cor 10:1-22, Paul was not talking about sieve 3 (harming a brother). He was talking about sieve 2. And I think he's saying that Bible principles so clearly forbid temple-idol-meat that it's practically sieve 1. 

Look at these statements:

7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were .... 

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 

18 ... are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 

20 ...what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 

21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 

22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Paul is talking to the temple-idol-meat-eaters about their own sin of idolatry. They were participating with demons and provoking the Lord to jealousy. 

So I see 8:7-13 as about why temple-idol-meat should be avoided because it's dangerous to weak brothers. (We agree there). But I see 10:1-22 as about the sinfulness of temple-idol-meat for the strong themselves. 

apward's picture

Dan, this goes back to the very first objection I raised with you. You can’t start with theological conclusions (like the principle of the 3 sieves) and use that as a basis for your interpretation of the text. Even though that’s a good principle, the interpretation must be derived from the context. Context is king. The context is talking about Christian liberties, their application, and when they should be voluntarily laid aside. Based on the context, I believe the passages are best interpreted as saying that in ch. 8 one should abstain from temple meat-eating because it tempts other to violate their conscience. And in ch. 10 one should abstain from temple meat-eating because it is a strong temptation to you for idolatry without providing any potential edification. Look back over the verses in ch. 10. The context is temptation.

“Don’t become idolaters” v.7 Why say “become” if they were already idolaters by eating in the temple? Because they are being tempted to idolatry.

I Cor. 10:13 clearly spells out that he is speaking in the context of temptation.

“I do not want you to be partners with demons!” v. 20 Why say “I do not want you to be” if they already are partners with demons. Clearly, Paul indicates that if they are currently partners with demons then they would not be welcome at church (v. 21). If they were presently practicing idolatry and worshiping demons then wouldn’t Paul be commanding them to repent or undergo church discipline?

The context indicates they should be laying aside a liberty because it is a very tempting situation with potentially disastrous consequences and no potential edification.

Dan Miller's picture

Is it possible that you really disagree with these?

  1. It's wrong to do something if Scripture forbids it by principle.
  2. It's wrong to do something if it might harm your brother.
  3. Something could be wrong by #1, but not #2 (done in private).
  4. Something could be wrong by #2, but not #1.
  5. Something could be wrong by both #1 and #2.

------

We must read the words in context, of course. But the read words themselves first.

“Don’t become idolaters” (NKJV) v.7 Why say “become” if they were already idolaters by eating in the temple? Because they are being tempted to idolatry.

Here are some other translations:

KJV: "Neither be ye idolaters"

NIV: "Do not be idolaters"

NASB: "Do not be idolaters"

ESV: "Do not be idolaters"

The words "be" (γίνεσθε) is present middle imperative.

------

Nothing in 1 Corinthians 10:1-22 says the concern is for a third person. Paul is writing to the temple-idol-meat-Eaters and telling them they themselves should not be idolaters.

apward's picture

No, I don't disagree with those options, what I'm saying is that we shouldn't decide ahead of time that Paul is talking in terms of those different categories before we look at the context.

In verse 7 I was actually reading the HCSB, yes, the word can be translated either "be" or "become." But if you look at the range of usage in BDAG what is the best fit?

1. to come into being through process of birth or natural production, be born, be produced 

2. to come into existence, be made, be created, be manufactured, be performed

3. come into being as an event or phenomenon from a point of origin, arise, come about, develop 

4. to occur as process or result, happen, turn out, take place

5. to experience a change in nature and so indicate entry into a new condition, become something

6. to make a change of location in space, move

7.to come into a certain state or possess certain characteristics, to be, prove to be, turn out to be 

8. to be present at a given time, be there 

9. to be closely related to someone or something, belong to

10.to be in or at a place, be in, be there

 

So even if you translate it as "be" according to #7​ it still gives the idea of coming into that state of being. As in "do not prove to be idolaters" or "do not turn out to be idolaters"

Also, my statements on verses 13, 20, and 21 still stand.

Dan Miller's picture

Andrew: Also, my statements on verses 13, 20, and 21 still stand.

Here's your statements:

I Cor. 10:13 clearly spells out that he is speaking in the context of temptation.

“I do not want you to be partners with demons!” v. 20 Why say “I do not want you to be” if they already are partners with demons. Clearly, Paul indicates that if they are currently partners with demons then they would not be welcome at church (v. 21). If they were presently practicing idolatry and worshiping demons then wouldn’t Paul be commanding them to repent or undergo church discipline?  ((Dan: Yes, he would! cf 1C5:11)

Are you denying that there were Corinthians who ate meat in the Temple and felt that it was ok since they considered the idol nothing? 

apward's picture

I’m sorry, I don’t think I was being clear. Yes, there were, at the time, Corinthian Christians eating at the temple table because they believed an idol was nothing. What I was attempting to demonstrate was that my interpretation is consistent with Paul’s statements concerning those Christians, but I do not believe that your interpretation is consistent with those statements.

IF eating at the temple is automatically equivalent to idolatry and partnership with demons (as my understanding of your interpretation suggests), the Paul would say “Repent you idolaters! Stop committing idolatry; stop partnering with demons.”

But that’s not what we see in the passage. Paul is not treating them as if they are currently committing idolatry. Paul’s statements indicate that what goes on in the temple is idolatry and partnership with demons, therefore by being in the temple they are under temptation to commit idolatry. And those who commit idolatry cannot share in the Lord’s table.

Look at his words again and see if Paul is speaking to them as people actively committing idolatry (I believe that’s your view) or as people putting themselves in a position of temptation to idolatry.

I think it’s clear that when you look at the whole passage (ch 10:1-22) and at the context of the discourse (8-10), Paul is not speaking to them as if they are currently committing idolatry, but as those who are unwisely placing themselves in position of strong and dangerous temptation.
 

Dan Miller's picture

Quick note:

Andrew: IF eating at the temple is automatically equivalent to idolatry and partnership with demons (as my understanding of your interpretation suggests), the Paul would say “Repent you idolaters! Stop committing idolatry; stop partnering with demons.”

Your over arching conclusions about what "Paul would say" are limiting ("IF...then") what you think the text is saying. If I did this, you would call it eisegesis; you would say that I'm basing my conclusions on outside ideas.

But, no, I would not say that eating in the temple is "automatically equivalent to idolatry." 

Even though Paul did believe that T-M-Eating was idolatry, I believe that there are very good reasons why he did not have the reaction you predict.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Here's where we are:

I believe that the text of 1Cor 10:1-22 obviously says that the TM-Eaters needed to re-evaluate. "12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." The issue is that the TM-Eater thinks he stands (he thinks he's ok to eat). But Paul is saying, Please! Re-think this! Don't be like the idolaters6. You think you're ok - but you're not12. You can say no to temptation13. So flee idolatry14! You have to think about this and judge for yourselves what I'm saying15. TM-Eating is participation with idols16-20. You can't do that21! Do you want to make God jealous22? 

And you believe that (my attempt) the text of 1Cor 8-10 says that:

  1. the TM-Eaters were indeed entering the temple and eating.
  2. they believe the idol was nothing and claimed their actions were not idolatry.
  3. because they believed the idol was nothing, they were correct that they were not committing idolatry.
  4. there was, for the TM-Eaters, a temptation that they themselves would commit idolatry whenever they did this (10:1-22).
  5. there eating also posed a risk to the "weak" (ch. 8).

Is that right? (I'm still not sure I've got you right on #4 and #5.)

apward's picture

I’m sorry, my if/then statements weren’t meant to be exegesis or eisegesis. My intent was to say that we both read the text, did our exegesis, but came to different conclusions. So let’s go back and see which set of conclusions are more consistent with the statements in the text. My purpose in giving the if/then statements was to underscore those areas where I believe your conclusions were inconsistent with Paul’s address.

I'm not entirely satisfied with your summary of your or my thoughts concerning the temple meat-eaters, because I felt that it is artificially derived. That’s to say, those weren’t the points that Paul was directly making, but we were trying to distil information about those people, when that wasn’t Paul’s main intention of communication. I thought that this would be more helpful.

Here are brief highlights to show the flow of thought in I Corinthians chapters 1-10: (I call it highlights, not because I’m cherry picking, but because I didn’t put enough time and detail in to call it a proper exegetical outline) (This is not entirely my own work, I relied heavily and sometimes quoted from James D. Price)

Chapter 1: By Christ you “were made rich in everything-in all speaking and all knowledge” (v.5). But there are various quarrels and Paul urges to “all say the same thing that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction” (v. 10). Our salvation comes from a message that appears to be foolish to the world, but it is the world’s wisdom that is foolishness (vs. 18-31).

Chapter 2: The natural man cannot understand the wisdom of God, but we have the mind of Christ.

Chapter 3 & 4: You are immature and selfish, as displayed by your petty arguments concerning Apollos and Paul. What you think is wisdom in argumentation with each other is actually foolishness. “I'm not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children” (v. 14). “Therefore I urge you, be imitators of me” (v. 16).

Chapter 5: There is sexual immorality among you, but instead of being filled with grief, you are inflated with pride. Do not associate with any immoral people, neither the greedy, swindlers, idolaters, revilers, or drunkards. “But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves” (v. 13).

Chapter 6: Don’t take your complaints with each other before unjust, worldly judges (vs 1-6). The unjust will not inherit the kingdom, you were once one of them, but now you are justified in Christ (vs. 7-11). Your body is not designed to simply perform its functions, nor to commit sexual immorality, it is designed for the Lord (vs. 12-20).   

Chapter 7: Marriage is proper and recommended (vs. 1-9). Divorce is improper and not recommended (7:10-16). Continence is commended but not commanded (vs. 17-40).

Chapter 8: Love for God and others is more important than our knowledge (vs. 1-3). Some of our brothers are weak in regard to the knowledge of God and idols, but hindering a brother is worse than losing a right (vs. 4-11). Christ and my brother are more important than my choice of food (vs. 12-13).

Chapter 9: Paul has the authority to answer this question (vs. 1-11). Paul has been teaching these principles by his example all along (vs. 12-27).

Chapter 10: Paul warns them about Israel's failure, because it serves as an example to us in our temptation (vs. 1-15).  Paul suggests separation from the questionable practices because of its inherent danger and temptation (vs. 16-22). The capstone principle about love, offenses, and the glory of God (vs. 23-33).

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God's glory.  32 Give no offense to the Jews or the Greeks or the church of God,  33 just as I also try to please all people in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (I Corinthians 10:31-33).

Dan Miller's picture

Andrew, thanks for the interaction sp far. I think we're doing little more than gainsaying at this point.

If you want to dig into the text of this passage (1Cor 8-10), I'd be delighted to do that. 

I'm not entirely satisfied with your summary of your or my thoughts concerning the temple meat-eaters, because I felt that it is artificially derived. That’s to say, those weren’t the points that Paul was directly making, but we were trying to distil information about those people, when that wasn’t Paul’s main intention of communication.

Obviously, though, we can't act or think on the basis of Paul's "intention." We can only read his words. I'm gonna try again:

Here are the points that I read Paul to have directly made:

  1. 1Cor8 speaks of TM-Eating (Temple-Meat Eating):
  2. Strong believers who have "knowledge" that one can eat in the temple (as long as they consider the idol "nothing.")
  3. Strong believers who have the "right" to eat in the temple on that basis
  4. Strong believers who live in fellowship with "weak" believers who don't "have that knowledge."
  5. Strong believers who pose a risk of encouraging those weak believers to eat and violate their weak consciences.
  6. 1Cor 10:1-22 speaks about TM-Eating (Temple-Meat Eating):
  7. Some believers need to to re-evaluate. "12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."
  8. Part of the issue is temptation to commit idolatry.
  9. Behind the idol is actually a real demon. And participation with demons is wrong.
  10. TM-Eating is participation with idols.
  11. You can't do that21! Do you want to make God jealous22?
  12. 1Cor 10:25-30 is not about TM-Eating. It speaks of Market-Meat Eating.
  13. One may eat such meat
  14. But if someone you're eating with says it's Idol-Meat, then don't eat.

Perhaps you want to put "True-False-Unknown" after each of those. And if you put False, then re-word it according to what Paul actually said.

apward's picture

Obviously, though, we can't act or think on the basis of Paul's "intention." We can only read his words. I'm gonna try again:

Well, I don't think I'm splitting hairs by saying that I think we can and should think on the basis on Paul's intention because he has clearly communicated his intention to us by his words. By that I mean, it seems like below you are attempting to reorganize his thoughts and shift the emphasis away from what Paul is actually trying to say. That's why I posted the Paul flow of argument so that we can keep the focus on what Paul was communicating. 

Here are the points that I read Paul to have directly made:

1. 1Cor8 speaks of TM-Eating (Temple-Meat Eating)

I Cor. 8 speaks of knowledge and love in the situation of eating meat offered to idols.

Paul certainly mentions eating at the temple table in I Cor. 8:10. I think it’s safe to say that some of them were actually doing that, and that Paul probably isn’t just speaking hypothetically here. I’d also add that in chapter 8 he’s not speaking exclusively about eating at the temple. He does mention that in v. 10, but before then is speaking of the general situation of eating meat offered to idols (which also includes eating at the temple).

2. Strong believers who have "knowledge" that one can eat in the temple (as long as they consider the idol "nothing.")

Strong believers have “knowledge” that an idol is nothing and there is no God but one.

What does Paul mean when he uses the word “knowledge,” as in “We know that we all have knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8:1)? It is a reference back to his introduction:

I always thank my God for you because of God's grace given to you in Christ Jesus,  5 that by Him you were made rich in everything-- in all speaking and all knowledge--  6 as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, (1 Corinthians 1:4-6)

The “knowledge” is not that we can eat in the temple as long as we consider the idol as nothing. No, the “knowledge” is that an idol is nothing and there is no God but one.

***Those are fundamentally different and this may be the mistake that is the basis of what I believe is your misinterpretation.***

3. Strong believers who have the "right" to eat in the temple on that basis

Believers have the liberty or “right” to eat whatever and wherever they want. It is not “knowledge” that gives us this right, it is Christ Jesus who has freed us. Our knowledge of this liberty is what frees our conscience from our culturally instilled inhibitions.

4. Strong believers who live in fellowship with "weak" believers who don't "have that knowledge."

Yeah, that’s good. I’d only add that this is clear in I Cor. 8:7, and that the weak do not have the knowledge (not yet convinced or aware of their liberty) because they have been steeped in idolatry for so long.

5. Strong believers who pose a risk of encouraging those weak believers to eat and violate their weak consciences.

Yes, that good and clear from I Cor. 8:9-11.

6. 1Cor 10:1-22 speaks about TM-Eating (Temple-Meat Eating):

That’s oversimplification to the point of making a mistake. I prefer the way I stated it previously: Paul warns them about Israel's failure, because it serves as an example to us in our temptation (vs. 1-15).  Paul suggests separation from the questionable practices because of its inherent danger and temptation (vs. 16-22).

I believe that the idol-involved questionable practices includes eating in the temple, but is not speaking exclusively of eating in the temple.

7. Some believers need to to re-evaluate. "12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."

Good, but I wouldn’t say “some,” I’d say that all believers need to be evaluating the relationship between liberty and temptation in their daily choices.

All Christians exercise their liberty in one area or another. Every one of us should take hear lest we fall into sin through temptation in the exercise of our liberties.

8. Part of the issue is temptation to commit idolatry.

Paul warns them about Israel's failure, because it serves as an example to us in our temptation [to commit idolatry] (vs. 1-15).

9. Behind the idol is actually a real demon. And participation with demons is wrong.

An idol is nothing; it’s just a block of wood or mix of metal, not a demon. But when people worship idols does that mean they are worshiping wood? No the people aren’t really worshiping an idol; they are really worshiping the demons who have deceived them toward worshiping anything but the one true God. So those who worship the idol are partnering with demons, which is obviously wrong.

10. TM-Eating is participation with idols.

No, offering sacrifices to idols is participation with idols (and therefore demons). Eating in the temple means putting yourself in a position of temptation to join in with those who are participating.

11. You can't do that21! Do you want to make God jealous22?

If by “that” you mean offering sacrifices to idols, then I would agree with you because that is what they are being tempted to do. You can’t offer sacrifices to idols, you can’t worship demons. What makes God jealous? Worshiping other gods (Ex. 20:5).

12. 1Cor 10:25-30 is not about TM-Eating. It speaks of Market-Meat Eating.

1 Cor. 10:25-26 is not about eating in the temple; it mentions eating meat sold in the market.

V. 27 starts talking about eating meat in homes, which may have been sold in the market, butchered at home, found on the road-side, hunted, trapped, offered before idols in the temple, offered before idols in the home, etc. The point is that they have no idea where it come from.

13. One may eat such meat

A believer may eat anything, including meat sold in the market and meat offered in homes.

14. But if someone you're eating with says it's Idol-Meat, then don't eat.

But if your liberty in eating encourages a brother to violate his conscience, then let go of that liberty.

Perhaps you want to put "True-False-Unknown" after each of those. And if you put False, then re-word it according to what Paul actually said.

I think I gave you more than you bargained for there.

Dan Miller's picture

Andrew: ...it seems like below you are attempting to reorganize his thoughts and shift the emphasis away from what Paul is actually trying to say...

On the contrary, I want to dig in and look at what Paul says. This is not more than I bargained for! So - here we go...

Andrew: 

1. 1Cor8 speaks of TM-Eating (Temple-Meat Eating)

I Cor. 8 speaks of knowledge and love in the situation of eating meat offered to idols.

Paul certainly mentions eating at the temple table in I Cor. 8:10. I think it’s safe to say that some of them were actually doing that, and that Paul probably isn’t just speaking hypothetically here. I’d also add that in chapter 8 he’s not speaking exclusively about eating at the temple. He does mention that in v. 10, but before then is speaking of the general situation of eating meat offered to idols (which also includes eating at the temple).

You changed "TM-Eating" to "eating meat offered to idols." A significant change. I will argue Paul's words refer to Temple-Meat-Eating in this chapter.

1. Paul begins ch. 1 "Περὶ δὲ τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων..." ("But about idol-things...") I encourage you to read Ben Witherington's work on εἰδωλοθύτων. He shows that this word refers to meat sacrifices to idols and eaten in the temple.

2. Knowledge:

In vv. 7-10 Paul cautions against the indiscriminate use of liberty. He speaks of "this knowledge"(v.7), "this right"(v.9), "knowledge" (v.10), and "your knowledge"(v.11). Up to this point, he has only discussed one "knowledge." It is obvious that the "knowledge" of vv. 1-6 and "this knowledge" of vv.7-10 are the same. vv.7-10 is explicitly about Temple-Idol-Meat, therefore, so is vv. 1-6. Now... what is that knowledge?

.

.

Andrew:

2. Strong believers who have "knowledge" that one can eat in the temple (as long as they consider the idol "nothing.")

Strong believers have “knowledge” that an idol is nothing and there is no God but one.

What does Paul mean when he uses the word “knowledge,” as in “We know that we all have knowledge” (1 Corinthians 8:1)? It is a reference back to his introduction:

I always thank my God for you because of God's grace given to you in Christ Jesus,  5 that by Him you were made rich in everything-- in all speaking and all knowledge--  6 as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, (1 Corinthians 1:4-6)

The “knowledge” is not that we can eat in the temple as long as we consider the idol as nothing. No, the “knowledge” is that an idol is nothing and there is no God but one.

I think I pretty much agree with you (read to the end). 

The "knowledge" of chapter 8 is:

  1. The idol is nothing.
  2. There is no God but one.

 . . . . . . The logical conclusion that TM-Eating is ok flows from those. You want to separate that conclusion from the "knowledge." I think that's good because in vv. 4-6, in which Paul explains the knowledge, he doesn't include the TM-Eating conclusion. So I heartily accept your edit of my statement #2.

I do hesitate on the second one, though, if both of those are seen as necessarily distinct from the knowledge of the weak. So the weak would say:

  1. The idol is a false god. 
  2. There is no God but one.

. . . . . . . Just as above, Paul explains the knowledge or thinking of the weak: "7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol." So, Paul states that the weak thinks the idol is not nothing. Instead, he thinks it is something which can be really offered to. However, Paul does not say that the weak thinks there are many Gods. 

If one says that 1 (idol=false god) means that one no longer believes in 2 (only one God), then the first commandment becomes a polytheisitic statement. Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me," is not an admission by God that there are other gods. God is not saying that there are many gods and we are to ignore the others. He is saying there are idols, they are real, and we are to refuse to worship them. We must all affirm that "The Lord is One," and know that a false god is a real thing that God prohibits. 

Dan Miller's picture

While you're stewing over the idea of the weak affirming the Shema...

3. Strong believers who have the "right" to eat in the temple on that basis

Andrew: Believers have the liberty or “right” to eat whatever and wherever they want. It is not “knowledge” that gives us this right, it is Christ Jesus who has freed us. Our knowledge of this liberty is what frees our conscience from our culturally instilled inhibitions.

Yes, that is an important distinction. I meant we have the "right" to act on the basis on our thining in the sense that we come to understand our right to act by thinking about the commands, principles, and examples of Scripture. But, yes, the actual basis of our freedom is the work of Christ.

4. Strong believers who live in fellowship with "weak" believers who don't "have that knowledge."

Andrew: Yeah, that’s good. I’d only add that this is clear in I Cor. 8:7, and that the weak do not have the knowledge (not yet convinced or aware of their liberty) because they have been steeped in idolatry for so long.

I agree - It is their "former association with idols" that makes them view the idol (and the whole process of idolatry in the temple) as real idolatry. 

So: the statement of the "strong" is "the idol is nothing"; the statement of the weak is "the idol is real idolatry." Paul doesn't go past that in ch.8. 

5. Strong believers who pose a risk of encouraging those weak believers to eat and violate their weak consciences.

Andrew: Yes, that good and clear from I Cor. 8:9-11.

Yeah, we agree on this.

Dan Miller's picture

6. 1Cor 10:1-22 speaks about TM-Eating (Temple-Meat Eating):

Andrew: That’s oversimplification to the point of making a mistake. I prefer the way I stated it previously: Paul warns them about Israel's failure, because it serves as an example to us in our temptation (vs. 1-15).  Paul suggests separation from the questionable practices because of its inherent danger and temptation (vs. 16-22).

I believe that the idol-involved questionable practices includes eating in the temple, but is not speaking exclusively of eating in the temple.

So you agree that 1-22 includes TM-Eating, but you disagree that 1-22 is only about TM-Eating. Instead, you think 1-22 is also talking about Market-Meat-Eating.

Here's why I think 1-22 is only about TM-Eating.

  • The conclusion of Paul's argument in 1-22 is, "21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons." Paul is specifically talking about the cup of demons and the table of demons, which indicate both the menu and the venue. And the venue is the temple.
  • Nothing about the "market" is mentioned until v. 25.
  • Whatever idol-meat Paul is talking about in vv.1-22, he is very much against eating it.
  • In and after v. 25, Paul is much more open to the acceptability of eating.

#6 isn't a huge deal. But I think Paul's words are pretty clear.

.

7. Some believers need to to re-evaluate. "12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."

Andrew: Good, but I wouldn’t say “some,” I’d say that all believers need to be evaluating the relationship between liberty and temptation in their daily choices.

All Christians exercise their liberty in one area or another. Every one of us should take hear lest we fall into sin through temptation in the exercise of our liberties.

Sure, I agree with that. But this is one time that Paul chose to say, "Hey, you think you're ok - but you better look closer." That points to Paul's doubt that the acts of his target audience in this passage put them in good "standing."

.

8. Part of the issue is temptation to commit idolatry.

Andrew: Paul warns them about Israel's failure, because it serves as an example to us in our temptation [to commit idolatry] (vs. 1-15).

Yep. 

apward's picture

Well I have major problems with Witherington’s logic and how it fits in 1 Cor. 8-10. First, he doesn’t actually present a positive case for the meaning “food offered to idols and eaten at the temple.” At best, he submits it as a possible meaning. The only evidence he provides in support of this meaning is 4 Maccabees 5:2, where the Hebrews were forced to eat pork and εἰδωλόθυτον at the high place. He believes that the location is integral to the definition of the word, but that is only an assertion, not a conclusion. It does not follow that the word demands a temple location.

Second, in regard to the Sibylline Oracles, Didache, and the NT references, he simply indicates that he believes his definition can fit well in those passages. He does not show that they demand his definition, nor does he show that the traditional definition is incompatible with those passages.

Third, during his digression he admits that dinning in the temple is actually dinning in a side room, and therefore does not necessarily indicate that a dinner would be present at any ceremony or even ever be in the presence of an idol. This doesn’t contradict anything he wrote in the article, but it seems to contradict your interpretation of I Cor. 10:1-22.

Fourth, he illogically rejects the traditional definition. The lone reference of ἱερόθυτον in I Cor. 10:28. He wrongly assumes that this weaker brother would be a Jew and therefore, if the traditional definitions were correct, a Jew would say εἰδωλόθυτον in this sentence. However, in I Cor. 8:7, the weaker brother is someone who has been “so used to idolatry up until now,” therefore, the weaker brother in view here is clearly a gentile Corinthian, not a Jew. So according to the traditional definitions, it would be natural for this one time a Greek Christian references meat offered to idols, he would use the Greek gentile term rather than the Jewish term. The traditionally understood definitions make sense. That doesn’t “prove” they are correct, but you can’t reject them out of hand.

Finally, what is clear from the article is that his use of his definition works when it is assumed to be correct to begin with. But that’s not enough to convince me. Taking it at its best, the article shows that εἰδωλόθυτον may mean “meat sacrificed to idols and eaten in the temple,” which may or may not be done in the presence of an idol.

So in regard to the subject of chapters 8 and 10:1-22, verse 8:10 mentions eating in the temple, but in the larger context of eating that “which has been offered to idols.”

The references you mentioned do not restrict the context to eating in the temple, but does imply that it is part of what he is talking about.

1 Corinthians 10:19 “What am I saying then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?”

You seem to be creating only 2 options: a) meat offered to idols and eaten at the temple, or b) meat offered to idols and sold in the market. But that is not what Paul presents. Throughout ch. 8 and 10:1-22 Paul is speaking about meat that is εἰδωλόθυτον; meat that we know is offered to idols. He also specifically mentions eating in the temple. I believe that Paul says you should purposefully avoid both of these known idol-related things a. for your brother (ch. 8,) and b. to avoid your own temptation (10:1-22). So, not only should the Christian voluntarily abstain from eating in the temple, but also from eating meat that is known to be sacrificed to idols. That is consistent with the whole of Chs. 8-10.

In 10:25 and 10:27 he brings up two situations where it is not known one way or the other that the meat is related to idols: a) sold in the market or b) offered to you in a home (some have suggested that all meat in the market and served in homes was known to be sacrificed to idols, but I reject that suggestion). Don’t ask, it doesn’t matter, just eat, but if someone tells you that it is sacrificed to idols then abstain for the sake of what is really important. That’s consistent advice from 8 throughout 10. Meat is nothing, idols are nothing, but conscience and temptation are real.

I believe that if your interpretation is correct then eating εἰδωλόθυτον is idolatry and not really a true Christian liberty that Paul is asking them to lay aside. Is it? 

According to the traditional interpretation, chs. 8-10 has a single, clear message: lay aside your liberties for the sake of brothers and for Christ.

If your interpretation is correct, what is the unified message of chs. 8-10? Is there a unified message?

 

Dan Miller's picture

 You are concerned that my interpretation of these verses will require us to change our view of the whole passage. That is a very understandable concern. I would encourage you in this: don't say first, "What does this mean for the overall meaning?" When you see that an examination of verses in a passage means you need to change your doctrine, you must carefully examine those verses. 

I see you saying, "Wait, where do you think this is going?" That's the point of the next 9 papers. 

This is the time to dig into these verses. See my last few posts about points 1-8. 

Regarding Witherington's work and the doubt you cast on his proof- I'd rather focus on the text of 1 Corinthians. 

apward's picture

No, no, I’m not concerned with the doctrinal implications. I’m concerned with the context. That’s the forest I am rightly concerned with. I think it’s good to pause and reflect to ensure you aren’t identifying a banana tree in a redwood forest. You can't determine the meaning of a verse apart from the larger context. How do your definitions and understanding fit within the context of the discourse? Not only is that a fair question, it is a vital question.

Dan Miller's picture

Great! For a minute there, I thought you didn't want to look at the verses for fear of seeing something new there. So, then, begin with my previous post regarding Points 1 and 2.

When you say "He does mention [Temple-Meat Eating] in v. 10, but before then he is speaking..." you are taking v. 10 out of it's context. Because v. 7 comes in the context of the whole chapter. Paul has been speaking of knowledge since the beginning of the chapter. He explained what that knowledge was in vv. 1-6. Then in 7-10, he starts warnings about the potential harm that can be caused by misuse of knowledge (and "rights). Paul doesn't introduce any other "knowledge" other than what he details in vv. 1-6. So, in context, the whole passage is talking about one set of knowledge. 

Paul calls the knowledge in v. 7 "that knowledge." "That" means there is an antecedent, which means the context of the knowledge of v. 7 is the knowledge of 1-6. In context, v. 7-10 is one extended warning regarding the use of one "knowledge."

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