I’m pondering 1 Corinthians 9 at the moment. I’m curious about why Paul uses an evangelistic example (chapter 9) as a corrective to ethical problems (chapters 8 and 10)…
In other words:
- Chapter 8: by reclining in idol temples, the knowledgeable strong are sinning against weak brothers and sisters by emboldening them to eat idol meat
- Chapter 10: these strong are endangering themselves by flaunting demons as they play with idols. They may eat meat from the marketplace [not in an idol temple], but should cease if questioned, for the sake of the weak one’s conscience
In the midst of this, as a digressionary example:
- Chapter 9: I become like a Jew to win the Jew; like one under the law to win those under the law; like one without the law to win those without the law; like the weak to win the weak. I become all things to all people, so that by all means I might save some. Furthermore I restrain myself so that I won’t be disqualified
This makes sense as an example: Paul restrains his own rights for the sake of the weak, and for the sake of himself. Likewise the strong in Corinth should restrain their own knowledge and rights for the sake of the weak (chapter 8), and for the sake of themselves (chapter 10).
But why utilise what appears to be his own evangelistic mindset in order to exemplify an ethical stance of food-eating that he wants the Corinthians to follow? I suppose perhaps he wants to surprise them with the fact that their choice of food/location is inadvertently an evangelistic issue: while they are caught up with ‘gaining’ prestige and honour and food, Paul is more interested in ‘gaining’ people by accommodating (his eating) to the weak, following the pattern of the God who became weak for us.