Week 5 1 Corinthians

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Small Group Material: 
Week Commencing: 
17 May 2009
Bible Base: 
1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1

Background
As always, remember that we are reading a letter which represents one side of the correspondence between Paul and the church in Corinth, and we can only guess in our reconstruction of what their letter was about.
 
It seems that the presenting issue was the question of eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols. This is discussed in chapter 8. Paul makes it clear that in his eyes idols are nothing compared to the true God. It seems likely that the Christians at Corinth who saw themselves as strong shared this view – they seem to have been arguing that joining in with feasts at pagan temples (possibly for the purpose of socialising with business contacts???) was OK because idols did not exist or have any power. Paul tackles this argument from 2 points of view – first, that if their engaging in such things harms the faith and spiritual lives of other Christians they should not do it; second, in ch 10 he reminds them of the OT prohibitions against idolatry. Idols may not be real; but being involved in idolatry compromises their following of the one true God, and also leads to other things which were sinful (such as sexual immorality associated with idolatry). The first argument leads Paul into a discussion about ‘rights’; Paul’s basic position is that he will not exercise his ‘rights’ if in so doing he damages the faith of another Christian. This is discussed further in the passage we are looking at.
 
Discussion Questions
1)      Eating meat offered to idols is not often an issue for us today. Can you think of any examples today of areas of behaviour where Christians disagree?
2)      What is Paul’s general principle in dealing with such issues?
3)      Our culture is one which seems to be obsessed with the idea of “rights”. As Christians, should we ever stand up for our rights? What about the rights of others? How does this discussion connect to the command of verses such as Micah 6:8 to “act justly”?
4)      In terms of the actual issue of eating meat which has been offered to idols, what does Paul himself think? What is he saying through the scripture quoted in v 26?
5)      When will Paul eat such meat, and when will he not each such meat? (see verses 27-30). What is his underlying motivation?
6)      “I try to please everybody”. That could be seen as weakness and compromise. What does he mean by “pleasing everybody”?
7)      Think back to the examples you gave in question 1. How do Paul’s principles work out practically in these examples?
8)      How does Paul’s argument relate to the choice of hymns and songs in our worship?
9)      Some in our church like children to feel at home in church and able to enjoy themselves in church. Others find it difficult when children run around in the area around the table/altar. How does this passage speak to this practical situation in our church?