Friday, September 28, 2007

Is Christ Divided? session 12

Session 12, which should have been put up last week.

Is Christ Divided?
Notes for the house groups on 1 Corinthians.

Week twelve, beginning Sunday 23 September: 1 Corinthians 10

Main themes: Eucharistic sharing and table manners

Questions to prompt discussion

1.What does it mean to participate in the blood of Christ?
2.What are demons?
3.Is St Paul opposed to vegetarianism?
4.Can you apply Paul's arguments here to issues other than meat-eating? What would happen if you applied it to the discussion of slavery?

Supplementary thoughts:
What the NIV translates as 'participation' is the Greek word koinonia which means communion and fellowship; a very rich word which can't be trivially translated! (compare Acts 2.42 - they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and the koinonia) How you interpret Paul's teaching depends much on how you understand this word. Is this describing something symbolic or is there a fundamental reality to sharing in the nature of Christ through sharing in the meal? Consider Paul's reference to the sacrifices offered in the Temple (v 18)

In the time that Paul was writing the word 'daimon' did not have unequivocally negative connotations, and it refers to spiritual beings or influences which were not as powerful as the gods (let alone God). Think about Paul's use of the word and compare it with the language in Ephesians 6.12.

Paul is employing a distinction between 'the menu and the venue'. Eating meat from the market place is not a problem - all of creation belongs to God - but taking part in a sacrifical meal IS a problem, because of the religious and worshipping connotations. There was undoubtedly a desire on the part of some in the Corinthian community to not face up to the social ostracism that followed on from a refusal to participate in these social rituals. Paul is emphasising the seriousness of what is at stake. Paul is very clear-sighted here about what is of spiritual significance, and what isn't, and emphasises that for the Christian 'Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others'. The issue is not so much what is actually done (eating meat) so much as the context - and therefore meaning - of what is done; in particular, whether there is anything idolatrous taking place. If it can be done 'to the glory of God' - and without harming others - then it is permissible.

Notes on verses

v16 - koinonia - variant forms throughout this paragraph
v 18 - everyone who consumed meat from the sacrifice offered in the Temple shares in the rite and the benefits of the rite
v 22 - compare Deuteronomy 32.21
v 23 - refers back to 6.12
v 28 - unclear if the objector is a fellow Christian or not
v 32 - refer back to the discussions on 'offence' in previous weeks for more context

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