1 Corinthians 10:1–11:1: Do All to the Glory of God
In chapter 8–9, Paul identified two of the three major issues surrounding whether a Christian may eat food sacrificed to idols. In chapter 8, Paul dealt with the issue of weaker Christians who do not understand the fullness of their liberty in Christ. In chapter 9, Paul acknowledged that liberties are important, and yet love should lead us to relinquish those liberties in order to lead people to Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul now moves to address the third major issue: the question of when and whether eating food sacrificed to idols qualifies as idolatry. Once Paul deals with this final question, he brings all of these themes together, with a plea that all things should be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31), and toward the good of our neighbor (1 Cor. 10:32–33). Finally, Paul points us to Christ as the ultimate example of loving God and loving our neighbor. Thus, in 1 Corinthians 10:1–11:1, Paul urges us to be imitators of Christ.
1. Why was Israel’s eating, drinking, and playing idolatrous, even though they were trying to worship Yahweh, the true God of Israel, who brought them out of Egypt (1 Cor. 10:6–10)? Why were the Corinthians guilty of idolatry by eating meat at the pagan temples, even though they didn’t directly worship the idols? What scenes, involvements, relationships, or other influences in your life may defile you spiritually, even if you aren’t directly worshiping idols?
2. We can learn from the instruction we find in these examples of Old Testament history (1 Cor. 10:11)? What have we learned about the patterns of corruption, the deceitfulness of sin, and the weakness of people from these Old Testament stories? What have we learned about God’s unchanging character? What have we learned about how God relates to his people? What is one practical lesson you can apply to your own life from these lessons?
3. What does this passage teach us about the fellowship we have with Christ at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:14–22)? What does Paul mean when he says that we have a “participation in the blood of Christ” and a “participation in the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16)? What does this mean in your relationship with God and with fellow believers at the Lord’s Supper (cf. Westminster Larger Catechism, #168–175)? What does it mean for the Lord to be “a jealous God” (cf. Ex. 20:5)?
4. What two criteria do Paul give to us for evaluating everything we do (1 Cor. 10:31–33)? What does it mean to do something “to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31)? How do you determine what will be for the “advantage” of your neighbor” (1 Cor. 10:33)? Would you be willing to tell a fellow believer to imitate you, as you imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1)? Why or why not? How might each of us help one another to imitate the example of Christ?