Warning that the Corinthians are risking God's wrath (in eating food offered to idols). This step of his argument against
eating food offered to idols is full of allusions to symbols and incidents from Israel's Exodus and wilderness traditions,
but cites scripture only once, in v. 7
. (Biblical versions of these incidents are in Ex 13.21; 14.22; 16.4–35; 17.6; Num 20.7–11
That Paul uses the distinctively Corinthian terms of “spiritual” people and things in vv. 3–4
and then abruptly cites God's displeasure with those who consume “spiritual” food and drink in v. 5
suggests that he is again borrowing and countering Corinthian language. The enlightened Corinthians appear to have assimilated
the tradition of interpreting Exodus and wilderness incidents such as the cloud, and … the sea, and … spiritual food (manna), and … spiritual drink (water) from the spiritual rock spiritually as symbols of heavenly Wisdom or the know ledge she provides (see Wis 10.17–18; 11.4; 16.20–22; 19.7
Baptized … in the cloud and in the sea, prob ably another symbol of immortality given by Wisdom, considering the Corinthian emphasis on “baptism for the dead” in
, and Paul's deemphasis on baptism in
And the rock was Christ, an intrusive, parenthetical comment by which again Paul attempts to replace the Corinthians' “Wisdom” with his own “Christ”
as the agent of salvation (see 1.24 and 8.6
God was not pleased …, the focus shifts from the “ancestors” to “God,” and the tone from recitation of salvation to warning of judgment.
Paul develops this warning in five exhortations of “We must not/Do not … as some of [the ancestors] did” in vv. 6b–10
, framed in vv. 6a and 11
with parallel statements. (The biblical stories he alludes to are in Num 14.29–30; Ex 32.4–6; Num 25.1–9; Num 21.5–6; Num 16.13–14,41–49. )
That Paul actually cites scripture (Ex 32.6
) only in connection with idolatry indicates that this is his majorconcern; see v. 14
Watch out …, completes the warning begun in v. 5
Perhaps realizing the severity of his criticism in vv. 5–12
, Paul interrupts the flow of his argument with this reassurance.
Prohibition of eating food offered to idols. Beginning with a plea to “Flee idolatry” and ending with a blunt warning about
the consequences of banqueting in temples, Paul comes to the point of the argument begun in
. Picking up on
, he now explicitly counters the Corinthian “knowl edge” that “no idol/god in the world really exists” (
) by stressing the real communal relations involved when one dines in their temples, and he counters their claims about individual
“authority/liberty” with a call for group solidarity in the new community centered on Christ.
This interpretation of the bread in the sense of communal sharing is unique in the New Testament. In the main point of his
argument, Paul combines the body of Christ, represented by the bread, with “body” as a standard political symbol of how the people of a citystate, though many, are united.
Paul moves the focus from abstract principles of knowledge to concrete social practices—sacrificing and eating in temple banquets—
and formulates his final prohibition in v. 21
in terms of the mutual exclusivity of solidarity with the Lord and solidarity with demons (gods/idols).
These rhetorical questions allude to the warning historical examples given in vv. 6–12
Paul begins and ends this final step of his argument against eating food sacrificed to idols by restating that one must seek
the advantage of the other, not one's own, as he himself has tried to do (
). In between he concedes ethical “liberty” on two matters that he views as relatively unimportant (vv. 25–27,28–29a
). On conscience,
Anticipationof possible objections.
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