Meals In Pagan Temples And Apostolic Finances How Effective Is Paul’s Argument In 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 In The Context Of 1 Corinthians 8-10? -- By: Joel R. White

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 23:4 (NA 2013)
Article: Meals In Pagan Temples And Apostolic Finances How Effective Is Paul’s Argument In 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 In The Context Of 1 Corinthians 8-10?
Author: Joel R. White


Meals In Pagan Temples And Apostolic Finances
How Effective Is Paul’s Argument In 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 In The Context Of 1 Corinthians 8-10?

Joel R. White

Freie Theologische Hochschule Giessen

The relationship between Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians regarding the consumption of meat in pagan cultic settings in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 and his defense of his right to apostolic support in 1 Corinthians 9 is most often described in terms of a simple comparison: In the same way Paul dispenses with his right to support, so the Corinthian believers should refrain from exercising their right to eat meat. A careful analysis of these two disparate themes, however, against the background of recent sociohistorical study reveals a more thoroughgoing connection that goes to the very heart of Paul’s Gospel.

Key Words: Paul, idol meat, finances, apostles, pagan temples, Corinth

This article seeks to establish the precise relationship of 1 Cor 9:1-23 to its broader context (1 Cor 8:1-11:1). There are a number of reasons why this is desirable. First, this section of 1 Corinthians has not always received the attention it deserves. The main topic it addresses—the propriety of eating meat1 that had previously been offered to idols—seems quirky, at least in the West.2 The particular issue raised by 1 Corinthians 9—the right of apostles to financial support—fares little better. It, too, seems to have little

relevance for the modern Western church. For many, then, this section of the letter holds only academic interest, if any at all.

Second, although 1 Corinthians 8 is usually discussed with careful consideration of 1 Corinthians 10 due to the clear thematic correspondence between those two chapters, its relationship to 1 Corinthians 9 has seldom been analyzed in detail. Scores of articles and monographs deal with one or the other of the topics in these passages (meat offered to idols/meals in pagan temples in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, Paul’s financial arrangements in 1 Corinthians 9), but few deal with both. This is entirely understandable because each topic is vast and can profitably be considered apart from the other on its own terms. Still, Paul draws a comparison between the two is...

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