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The Epistles of Paul - 1 Corinthians Part 12: Idolatry, Angels and Demons
Discussing the first portion of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 we had seen Paul's own assertions that the Corinthian Greeks to whom he had written this epistle were indeed descended from the Israelites of the Exodus. We discussed corroborating historical evidence which proves that Paul's words are literally factual. For that reason Paul had also admonished them not to commit the sin of fornication, or race-mixing, as their fathers had done and for which many of them were destroyed. This was among other acts of disobedience which Paul had mentioned from Scripture as an illustration for their admonishment. From fornication, Paul then turned to admonishing the Corinthians concerning idolatry. There he made a very revealing statement, one which is often glossed over by churchmen who are ignorant of its significance, where he said “Behold Israel according to the flesh” and then after a few rhetorical questions concerning the efficacy of idols he finished his reference by stating that “whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh”. It is absolutely evident that Paul's intention with those words was to identify the nations of the oikoumenê as “Israel according to the flesh”, or as the Christogenea New Testament has it, “Israel down through the flesh”.
There are three major aspects of Old Testament Scripture, both in its history and in its prophecy, which Paul of Tarsus had indubitably held in mind as he wrote his epistles to the Christian assemblies of Europe and Anatolia: First, that the ancient children of Israel were practitioners of pagan idolatry, and not of the Hebrew law. Therefore they do not appear as Hebrews in their dispersions, but as pagans. Second, that the ancient children of Israel were all taken off from Palestine and the ancient Kingdom of Yahweh as a result of that idolatry. And third, that there were promises of God which were made to the patriarchs concerning the children of Israel which transcended either their adherence to or their apostasy from the Covenants, and among those were the promises that they would multiply into an innumerable people and become many nations. Paul discussed these things at length in places such as Romans chapter 4 and Galatians chapters 3 and 4. Paul was bringing the Gospel of Reconciliation to those nations, which were all of the lost sheep of the House of Israel, and that is the full Biblical commission. Many of those pagan nations of Europe were indeed of the children of Israel, and Paul asserts as much here. Paul had explicitly connects the Corinthian Greeks to the Old Testament Scriptures, history supports his connection, and indeed, history supports all of the other aspects of his assertions. For this reason Paul explained to Herod in Acts chapter 26 that he labored for the hope of the promise made to the twelve tribes, for which he was accused by the Jews. By making such a statement, Paul also shows that the Jews are not the twelve tribes, and that the twelve tribes are not the Jews.
While we discussed the first portion of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 we had a digression concerning strange gods, and how in the Old Testament there were people who were considered to be the children of those gods. There are some who would respond that children only means followers, and that is an outright deception. Regardless of how sinful the children of Israel became, and regardless of the pagan idolatry which they engaged in, they remained the children of Yahweh and for that reason they were called to obedience in Christ, as the Scripture says in Amos chapter 3, “2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The children of strange gods never had any opportunity to somehow become children of Yahweh. The children of Israel were never considered the children of strange gods, and even in their complete apostasy they remained children of Yahweh being punished for their sin. Likewise we read in Jeremiah chapter 46: “28 Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” Likewise we read in Hosea “9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” Here Hosea describes a time when Israel would be alienated, and a time when Israel would be reconciled. In the intervening period they would multiply according to the original promise to Abraham, that they would be “as the sand of the sea”. The apostle Peter cited this very passage in reference to the Christians of Anatolia as a holy nation and as a chosen race, because those Christians were also of the children of Israel. The Christian Gospel is the announcement to the nations of pagan Israel to depart from sin and to return to Yahweh in Christ. That is Paul's Gospel of Reconciliation, the “compliance of the Nations” which he had discussed in Romans chapter 15, which was “to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”, as he had professed in verse 8 of that chapter. This is why the apostle John, in chapter 11 of his gospel, said of the speech of Caiaphas that “he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” Christ came for the children of Israel among the Judaeans, and also for the children of Israel of the nations of the dispersions of Israel, so that “the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head”, as it says in Hosea. They were children of God because they were Israelites, regardless of their religion, and because of their lack of true religion they required that salvation which is found in Christ.
But Christ did not come for the children of devils. He had told the Judaeans who rejected Him, who Paul described as Edomites in Romans chapter 9, that they were not His sheep and for that reason they did not believe Him nor were they expected to believe Him. Christ called these false Judaeans the “synagogue of Satan” twice in His Revelation. Whenever we examine the identity of the devils, we find bastards, Edomites and Canaanites and others, rather than Israelites. If race did not matter, and if only religion mattered, there would have been commands to Joshua to convert rather than to exterminate the bastards. If race did not matter, if only religion mattered, then Paul would not have told Corinthian men and women to remain married to their unbelieving spouses while at the same time admonishing them to refrain from fornication, the pursuit of strange flesh, and using the example of Israelites joined to the daughters of Moab in his admonishment! Christ did not tell the Jews “you are not My sheep because you do not believe Me”, which is a religious statement. Rather, Christ told the Jews “you do not believe Me because you are not My sheep”, which is a racial statement! Spreading the Gospel, it is evident in Paul's epistles that race did matter, and religion did not, so long as the lost sheep of Israel were turned to obedience in Christ. That is why Paul told the Corinthians not to commit fornication, while also telling them to stay with the unbelieving spouses. In truth, race transcends the religious issue, and the religious issue is only a valid issue within the race of Israel, because it does not matter what the devils on the outside may believe. In fact, the apostle James said in his epistle “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” So the devils can believe in God, but they are still devils! In conclusion, we see that the children of God are the children of God regardless of their religion or their behaviour, and that the devils are devils regardless of what they believe.
In Deuteronomy chapter 32, which contains the very passage Paul that had cited in 1 Corinthians 10:20, we read of the children of Israel: “15 But Jeshurun [which is a symbolic name for Israel which means upright one] waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. 16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. 17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” The word for gods in verse 16 is only implied, and in both the King James Version and in Brenton's Septuagint the word gods was added although it does not appear in either the Hebrew or the Greek. In the original languages these words may have instead been interpreted as relating to the strangers themselves, rather than to their strange gods. The children of Israel were adopting the practices of aliens, practices which upon investigation go far beyond merely sacrificing to idols, and those things, described as abominations, had provoked Yahweh to jealousy.
In the Hebrew language, the word for devils in Deuteronomy 32:17 is shed (Strong's Hebrew # 7700), and according to James Strong it is a noun which means demon. In the corresponding Greek of the Septuagint the word shed was translated as δαιμόνιον, which is a variation of δαίμων, or demon, and which refers to “an inferior divine being, a demon”, according to Liddell & Scott, or “a god, goddess; an inferior deity” according to Joseph Thayer. There is no doubt from Greek writers throughout the centuries that a demon was a spirit-being, and that those spirit-beings were frequently worshipped as gods. It is these same demons of the pagan religions to which Paul refers here, but calling them demons he refers not merely to the dumb idols created by the hands of men, but to actual spirit-beings. The dumb idols were originally created by men as representations of those demons.
In Colossians chapter 2 Paul makes a rather enigmatic remark and tells his readers, as the Christogenea New Testament translates it, to “let no one find you unworthy of reward, being willing with humiliation even in worship of the Messengers”. The King James Version has the same passage to say “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels”. The meaning of this statement is elucidated in part with an understanding of the passage we have read from Deuteronomy chapter 32. However in contemporary Judaean literature we may find further elucidation, in the Dead Sea Scrolls in a work known as Songs of the Sage, a part of the collection known as Hymns from Qumran. The portion of the fragment designated 4Q510 which we are about to read is a part of what is also called The Qumran Songs Against Demons. From fragment 1 of 4Q510, which is also duplicated in fragments from 4Q511, from The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition by Martinez and Tigchelaar:
“Blessings to the King of glory. Words of thanksgiving in songs of splendour to the God of knowledge, the glory of the powerful ones, God of gods, Lord of all the holy ones. His realm is above the powerful mighty, and before the might of his power all are terrified and scatter; they flee before the radiance of his glorious majestic stronghold. And I, a Sage, declare the splendour of His radiance in order to frighten and terrify all the spirits of the ravaging angels and the bastard spirits, demons, Lilith, owls and jackals … and those who strike unexpectedly to lead astray the spirit of knowledge, to make their hearts forlorn. And you have been placed in the era of the rule of wickedness and in the periods of humiliation of the sons of light, in the guilty periods of those defiled by iniquities; not for an everlasting destruction but rather for the era of the humiliation of sin. Rejoice, righteous ones, in the wonderful God....” Paul of Tarsus, in many places in his epistles, had described these same things which the writer of this Qumran material had described, but Paul's descriptions were within a Christian context while the Qumran sect did not yet know of Christ.
In turn, Songs of the Sage is only echoing many of the far earlier sentiments expressed in the Enoch literature, much of which was also preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Representative of the Enoch literature in this regard, and relating to the events recorded in Genesis chapter 6, is 4Q202 (or 4QEnochb ar), Column II, a text which corresponds to Charles' edition of 1 Enoch in chapters 5 through 8 (5:9-6:4 and 6:7-8:1), where we find: “2 It happened that wh[en in those days the sons of men increased,] 3 pretty and [attractive daughters were born to them. The Watchers, sons of the sky, saw them and lusted for them] 4 and sa[id to each other: « Let’s go and choose out women from among the daughters of men and sire for ourselves] 5 [sons....”. There are reconstructions in this translation which are corroborated from other scrolls, such as 4Q201 and 4Q204. The offspring which resulted from these mixed unions are later called bastards, for instance in 4Q204 where we see issued the prophetic command to “Exterminate all the spirits of the bastards and the sons of the Watchers”. That watchers is a word used of certain angels is evident from the Biblical book of Daniel at 4:13, 17 and 23, where it is without doubt used of angels. The word also appears in a similar context in the Greek poet Hesiod’s Works And Days, lines 252-255 where he wrote: “For upon the bounteous earth Zeus has thrice ten thousand spirits, watchers of mortal men, and these keep watch on judgments and deeds of wrong as they roam, clothed in mist, all over the earth.” [This paragraph was redacted from a paper at Christogenea entitled The Problem With Genesis 6:1-4.]
In Sumerian literature, from inscriptions which predate the patriarch Abraham by at least 500 years, we see in the Epic of Gilgamesh that a goddess was said to have created the giant Enkidu. Gilgamesh himself was a giant who was said to have descended from the gods and from man, and he ruled as a king over the ancient city Erech. After his death, Gilgamesh was said to have become ruler over the underworld, the abode of the dead. The name of Gilgamesh even appears at least twice in the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the Enoch literature known as the Book of Giants (4Q530, 531), where he is mentioned with the Nephilim and the Giants, who are called the “assembly of his friends”. Therefore Gilgamesh is an exemplary model of these Scriptures concerning devils. He also would have qualified as one of those “new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not” mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:17. Bear in mind that according to Scripture, Abraham's Hebrew fathers were also pagans (Joshua 24:14-15). In the Old Testament, Goliath and his brethren were also said to be the sons of Rapha, the Hebrew word for giant from which the plural is Rephaim.
The Greeks had many similar myths, where both men and tribes were said to be descended from the union of the various so-called gods with earthly women. Paul called these myths “vain genealogies”. Ostensibly, the Israelites having turned to paganism had carried with them in their dispersions the myths of the non-Adamic pagans, ostensibly elaborating on them in their travels. These stories are told from one perspective in the Biblical literature, and from the opposite perspective in the pagan literature, just as we should expect to find if the Biblical accounts are true, and therefore they are proven to be true! The Kenites, the Rephaim, and other children of the watchers, the fallen angels, survived the flood of Noah apart from the ark, which is evident with their mention in Genesis chapter 15 and elsewhere in Scripture. These bastards and their demon spirits are credited with the deception of men in the Enoch literature, in the words of the Sage of Qumran, and in the words of Paul of Tarsus. They are the source of the pagan idols and all of the associated abominations. The children of strange gods are their children, those of the non-Adamic races which are not listed in Genesis chapter 10, and they are the walking, talking, breathing devils which we see mentioned so often in both the Old and New Testaments. As the apostle John had warned in the 4th chapter of his 1st epistle, “1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” John was not talking about disembodied spirits, but embodied ones. In John's day the bastard spirits denied Christ and Christianity. Today they have infiltrated it instead, seeking to destroy it from within as Paul, Jude and Peter had all warned would happen.
With this we shall continue where we had left off, in the middle of 1 Corinthians 10:20:
Now I do not wish for you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink of the cup of the Prince, and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Prince, and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Prince to jealousy? Are we stronger than Him?
The gods of the non-Israelite nations, particularly the gods of the Canaanites, were worshipped by the children of Israel and therefore this continued when the children of Israel were taken away from Palestine, whether by the Assyrian captivity or in their earlier migrations. This is evident in many places in Scripture in addition to the passage from Deuteronomy chapter 32 which we have already cited. For instance, in Jeremiah chapter 13 we read: “10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.” At least many of the Greek idols known to us from their own writings were linked directly to Palestine or to the idols of Palestine, such as Athena, Astarte, Heracles, Perseus, Andromeda and Dionysus. The literal fulfillments of the words of the prophets of Israel in this regard are easily made manifest in history and Scripture in the knowledge of the Israelites of the dispersions. Furthermore, Israel being the wife of Yahweh as a nation, the Word of Yahweh said in Hosea chapter 2: “7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.” The Israelites in their dispersions never did find any truth in the idols that they had taken to worship. But they did return to Yahweh in Christ, thereby fulfilling the words of the prophet. Continuing in idolatry, they continue to provoke their God to jealousy and they invite His wrath.
From Exodus chapter 20: “3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
A correlation of the prophecy of the Revelation with the history of Europe in the Christian era can demonstrate that Revelation chapter 9 is a prophecy of judgment against the children of Israel which was fulfilled when from out of the pits of hell the Islamic hordes of arab bastards had invaded and destroyed a large part of Christendom. Yahweh used the arabs as a scourge to punish His people Israel, as they once again are being used today. In the conclusion of the Islamic plague of the Middle Ages the words of Christ say: “20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” Once again we see idolatry connected to the worship of devils, along with other abominable practices, such as fornication, which always accompanied that idolatry. In the religious systems of Byzantium and Rome, while pretending to Christianity they had maintained the devils of the ancient world, and appointed them to what they call “saints”, thereby imagining themselves to be able to transform devils into angels of light.
23 All is possible, but all does not profit. All is possible, but all does not build.
The 6th century Codex Coislinianus (H 015) and the Majority Text have the words “to me” before each occurrence of “all is possible”, and we see them moved to the end of each clause and rendered “for me” in the King James Version. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), and Claromontanus (D).
As we had discussed presenting 1 Corinthians 6:12, the Greek word ἔξεστιν (Strong's # 1832) is possible here also. According to Liddell & Scott it means “it is allowed, it is in one’s power, it is lawful”, and it should not be confused with lawful as in the sense of being within the Law of God. The King James Version has lawful twice here. Other Greek words, such as ἔννομος (Strong's # 1772) and νομίμως (Strong's # 3545) indicate that something is lawful in that sense, being related to the word νόμος (Strong's # 3551) or law. Paul is stating that all is possible for him, because with the grace of God all Israel is cleansed of their sin. We have already cited the first epistle of John where he said “... write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins”. Therefore if an Israelite commits sin, he has propitiation in Christ. But sin is not profitable, because it diminishes our relationship with God, as Christ explains in John chapter 14: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” If we love our God, we demonstrate our love by keeping His Word and He shall be with us.
24 No one must seek for that of himself, but that of the other.
The Majority Text adds the words “each one” to the final clause, where the King James Version has “every man”. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus (D) and Coislinianus (H 015). However the King James Version also adds the word wealth at the end of the clause, which is dishonest. Paul is not discussing material here, but rather he is making a reference to Christian deportment, where in verse 23 he says that for him all is possible, but all does not profit nor edify. The Christian should always behave in a manner which benefits and edifies his Christian brethren, and of course do so in a way which also pleases Christ, not provoking God to jealousy. As Paul wrote in Romans chapter 12, Christians should have “brotherly love affectioned towards one another; in honor preferring one another with diligence, not hesitating”.
25 Eat all that is being sold in a market, by no means making an inquiry on account of conscience. 26 "For the earth is Yahweh’s and the fullness of it.”
Paul quotes from Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” The word μάκελλον (Strong's # 3111) only appears here in the New Testament, and it is market, but more specifically it refers to “a meat-market, a shambles” (Liddell & Scott). The word shambles, as the King James Version has it, is an archaic word for a meat-market. Here Paul is telling Christians to obtain the meat they need for food, and not to worry about how it was slaughtered.
27 Now if one of the unbelieving invites you [D adds “to a dinner”], and you wish to go, eat all that is being set before you, by no means making an inquiry on account of conscience.
We must not lose sight of the fact that Paul is answering the Corinthians “concerning those things you have written”, as he had told them at the beginning of chapter 7 where he discussed things such as marriage and fornication, and then he went on to address idolatry and the eating of foods sacrificed to idols in chapter 8. Here in chapter 10 Paul discusses the idolatry of the ancient ancestors of these same Corinthians, the Israelites themselves, and of the other surrounding nations which were also descended from the Israelites. Now he returns to the topic of food in relation to the idolatry of the pagan world which he has described. It is important to note that when talking about the eating of things sacrificed to idols that Paul is indeed talking about food, and that food is something which is customarily eaten. It may have been the custom of the Romans to eat things such as shellfish or swine, but it was not Paul's custom to eat such things. Therefore one cannot insist that Paul was approving of things which he did not consider to be food in the first place.
In chapter 8 of this epistle Paul wrote speaking of the inefficacy of idols, that Christians should esteem them as nothing, and then he said “7 Yet not in all is that knowledge, but some in the custom of the idol until this time are nevertheless eating of that offered to an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us to terms with Yahweh; neither do we have an advantage if we would eat, nor do we come short if we would not eat. 9 But beware lest in any way by your license this would become an obstacle to those who are weak.” If our brother esteems the eating of temple offerings as a contribution to idolatry, then we should abstain from eating so that we do not become an obstacle to our brother.
28 But if anyone may say to you, ‘This is a temple offering,’ [C, D, and the MT have “This is an offering to an idol”; the text follows P 46, א, A, B, and H] do not eat, on account of that person making the disclosure, and the conscience. [The MT and some later mss. append to the end of this verse: “For the earth is Yahweh’s and the fullness of it”, which is the content of v. 26 above. The text follows א, A, B, C, D, and H. The NA27 does not supply a reading for P46, although the earlier part of the verse is attested by that manuscript.]
As we had mentioned in conjunction with Romans chapter 14 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8, where Paul had discussed these things, in the pagan world it was difficult for city-dwellers and those without their own estates to obtain meat that had not been sacrificed to idols. Even the meat markets were associated with the pagan temples, and they sold the meat which had been sacrificed to the idols in those temples.
Here Paul indicates that Christians may indeed attend social functions hosted by the unbelieving, which to a Corinthian would infer an unbelieving Greek. Of course, a Christian should expect a pagan to serve all sorts of things that the Christian would not eat otherwise, so that is a risk every time such an invitation is accepted. Christians should not eat things which are not considered food, but that issue is not within the scope of Paul's statements here, since Paul is talking about food.
Paul explains why a Christian may attend the tables of unbelievers in verse 33 below, where he says that “Just as I also please all in all things, not seeking for the advantage of myself, but that of the many, in order that they may be preserved.” Christians should engage their unbelieving neighbors – those who are indeed potential Christians – setting an example that would win some of them over to the cause.
In connection with idolatry earlier in this chapter, Paul quoted the Scripture which said “the people were seated to eat and to drink, then rose up to play”, and discussed fornication and temptation connected to idolatry. Of course the Christian should desist from all of those things. Sitting at the table of the unbeliever the Christian should seek to convert the unbeliever, and not himself be converted to idolatry. If the food being served is a temple offering and the idol is acknowledged, the Christian should abstain from the food on that account, in order to show that the idol cannot be respected, rather than to fulfill the satisfaction of the idolaters. As Paul has said, “You can not drink of the cup of the Prince, and the cup of demons; you can not partake of the table of the Prince, and of the table of demons.” It is difficult for Christians to walk this thin line in a pagan world, but if the Christian seeks to please God first, and then his brethren before himself, that walk is much less difficult. So Paul said “...do not eat, on account of that person making the disclosure, and the conscience”, and then he proceeds to explain:
29 But I mean not that conscience of yourself, but that of the other; for what reason is my freedom decided by another’s conscience?
On the surface this seems to be a paradox, but if the one's priorities are in order, it certainly is not a paradox. Our own freedom is not decided by the consciences of others, but we do not wish our brethren harm, so we do not throw a trap before them. If they are going to be offended then we do not eat. Paul said in Romans chapter 14: “15 But if because of food your brother is distressed, no longer do you walk in accordance with charity. You must not with your food ruin that person for whose benefit Christ had died. 16 Therefore do not make him speak ill of your good; 17 indeed the Kingdom of Yahweh is not eating and drinking, but justice and peace and delight in the Holy Spirit. 18 He who in this is serving the Anointed is acceptable to Yahweh, and esteemed by men. 19 So then, we should pursue those things of peace, and those things for the building of one another. 20 You must not destroy the work of Yahweh on account of food. Certainly all things are clean, but are evil to the man who must eat in offense. 21 It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything in which your brother takes offense at, or is trapped by, or is sickened.” Christians have freedom to eat, and they have freedom to please their brethren. The nature of the food is not changed when it is sacrificed to an idol, and therefore if the idol is not esteemed by the Christian, eating the food cannot cause any damage. But if one's brother is going to be offended, then one's license becomes licentiousness, so one does better to abstain from such license.
30 And if I partake in thankfulness, why am I slandered for that which I am thankful? 31 Whether you eat, or you drink, or anything you do, do all to the honor of Yahweh [P46 has “all is to the honor of Yahweh”].
Paul spoke similarly in chapter 8 of this epistle where he said “12 Now in that manner, failing in regard for the brethren, and striking their weak consciences, towards Christ you fail. 13 On which account if meat offends my brother, I would not eat flesh for eternity, in order that my brother will not be offended.” Abstaining from that which is sacrificed to idols, one would not give occasion for one's brother to slander. One's brother may slander because he really does not know why one had chosen to eat such meat. Yet at the same time here, Paul is apparently persuading Christians not to so quickly judge brethren who they see eating in such a manner.
32 Be found inoffensive to both Judaeans and Greeks, and to the assembly of Yahweh.
Of course, Paul must be talking about Israelite Judaeans, since it is impossible for Christians not to be offensive to the enemies of God. The enemies of God were often offended by Paul, although he gave them no reason for such offense. Paul became as a Judaean to the Judaeans, referring to “his kinsmen according to the flesh, those who are Israelites” as he calls them in Romans chapter 9, but Paul did not become as a devil to the devils.
Being found inoffensive to their Greek brethren, these Corinthian Christians would have an opportunity to persuade those Greeks to the better way in Christ. Being found inoffensive to Judaeans, or to those who knew the law and who would expect Christians to keep it, they would lay aside their license for the sake of the brethren and demonstrate their love for God. As Paul had told the Romans in chapter 3 of his epistle to them, “31 Do we then nullify the law by faith? Certainly not! Rather we establish the law.” When Christian disagreement is resolved by consenting to the law, then Christians please both God and man. If men are offended by the law, then those men are found in opposition to God.
33 Just as I also please all in all things, not seeking for the advantage of myself, but that of the many, in order that they may be preserved.
Of course, Paul's challenges were different than those of Christians bearing the gospel today. Paul was endeavoring to pull his Greek Israelite brethren out of the pagan world and the immoral and destructive practices which accompanied paganism. In the meantime, he also sought to pull his Judaean Israelite brethren away from the rejection of Christ and the punishment which was about to come upon the Edomite Jews for their crucifixion of Christ. His words at Romans 16:20 are demonstrative of that. Where Paul talks about preservation, he means the preservation in this life which is promised to those who are obedient to Christ, and not in the life to come where all Israel has a promise of ultimate salvation. However giving up this life for Christ, one seeks an even greater reward.
Paul's desire to please all in all things did not mean that he would negotiate his Christian principles, but rather that he believed he could please all of his brethren by adhering to sound Christian doctrine, and what is found as the first verse of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 is actually the conclusion to what Paul had presented here in chapter 10, where he encourages his readers to:
11:1 Become imitators of me, just as also I am of Christ.
Yahshua Christ was found dining with the Pharisees, and teaching the Scriptures to the Pharisees. For instance, Luke wrote in his gospel (Luke 7:36): “And one of the Pharisees desired him [meaning Christ] that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.” However Christ was also found dining with publicans and harlots, and teaching the Scriptures to sinners. Luke had written in that same chapter the words attributed to Christ (7:34): “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” Paul sought to follow that example, and in bringing the gospel to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” he likewise had to deal with both pagans and Judaeans.