1 Corinthians 10:14-22: Communing with Christ
- Not a sin offering
- Not a physical eating
- Not a mere remembering
People have died for the issue of how Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper. And this is a good thing. It is not good because people are dying but because people are willing to die to uphold biblical truth. Christ commanded His church to remember His death by means of the Lord’s Supper, this is a non-negotiable for His Church. I love to remind us that people died for these truths because we are so lackadaisical. In our politically correct climate we are scared off having conviction about anything and would rather go soft on any distinctive that might cause Christians to differ. When it comes to the issue of how Christ is present in the Supper it not only negates the bibles teaching to deny soft pedal these things but also robs us of the knowledge of great blessing and grace being poured out upon us by God. Today as we remember the Lord’s death we will prepare our hearts by looking at Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 10:14-22.
Paul is writing to the Corinthian church on a number of issues that have arisen in the congregation. They have been asking certain questions on specific topics as they try and negotiate how to be the church in a sinful city like Corinth. One of the issues was marriage, 7:1; but another was food offered to idols, 8:1. It is fascinating to see how Paul answers a question, he teaches us so much by his theological method. He uses so many other doctrines to answer this one question. He touches on the true definition of love, the reality of other gods, the unity within the Trinity, the Creatorship of Christ, teaching on conscience, the Christian’s freedom to be a servant, cross cultural ministry, the relationship of the OT to the NT, God’s sovereignty over trials and many other things. All of these he employs to shine light on the question of can a Christian eat food offered to idols. In laying out all these other truths in order to help the Corinthians think Christianly and doctrinally about their situation he also touches on the spiritual nature of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor. 10:14-22.
Remember now that there were three main ways in which a person would be exposed to meat offered to idols, there was eating at the temple of the idol, buying it at the meat market or eating it at someone else’s home. Well, Paul gives his answer to these three different scenarios. Regarding eating food offered to idols, and participating in the feast at the temple, Paul gives a very solid and definite no, verses 14-22 deal with that particular scenario. Regarding buying meat at the meat market, must the Christian be like the Jews and become vegetarians when there is no kosher butcher, or can they buy the meat. Paul tells them that in the privacy of their own homes they are free to eat the meat bought at the meat market (v23-26). And thirdly, what if one is invited to a friend’s house, who is not a believer, can a Christian eat that meat? The answer is eat it unless you will cause someone else to stumble or question your dedication to Christ (v27-33). So the answers are, no, yes, depends!
So why is it wrong to eat in the temples? Now the ‘strong’ believers would not have liked to hear this for meat was a luxury, and the temple feasts were major social events, they would lose out on these things by not going. But Paul is adamant, and he wants the Corinthians to think through it for themselves (v15). His main reason is that just as we have fellowship with Christ when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, so we have fellowship with demons when we participate in the feasts and ceremonies at the idol’s temple. If you have ever wandered whether you are allowed as a Christian to go and worship at a mosque, or a Buddhist or Hindu temple, the answer is, No! There are demonic forces there, these grant experiences, and hold the people in blindness and bondage. This is the very thing from which we have been saved and should not be entangled in again. Paul is pointing out to the Corinthians that being involved in the temple services are not neutral they are spiritual affairs. And in the discussion he gives us insight into the question, how is Christ present in the Lord’s Supper. The doctrinal teaching of the bible does not come to us in the abstract form of a theological textbook but as truth applied to the issues of the day.
The language of this section is difficult and has encouraged many wrong understandings. So as we proceed I want to clarify the question at hand by looking at three negatives as a way of decluttering the text. We will show that the Lord’s Supper is not a sin offering, it is not a physical feeding upon Christ and it is not a mere remembrance.