What does it say?
Paul had his detractors in Corinth that challenged his apostolic authority. Chapter 9 defends his apostleship and replies especially to those challenging his right to remuneration for his ministry, though he personally never took advantage of that right in Corinth.
1 Corinthians 10 is a warning from Israel’s history to flee idolatry and all of its consequences, including the demonic influences inherent in any form of idolatry ancient or contemporary. Rather, we should do all things for God’s glory.
In chapter 11 Paul takes up a cultural issue of prayer regarding head coverings and cultural differences among believers from different backgrounds. He offers a principled response and also instructs them regarding the correct meaning and significance of the Lord’s Table.
What does it mean?
Those that are very black and white thinkers often struggle to understand how believers from different cultures can have differing understandings and applications of God’s truth. 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 is valuable in that Paul reminds us that the mission we have received is to all peoples everywhere. God and his truth never change, but we apply that truth differently according to culture and circumstance in order to reach those who have yet to know God’s love.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul reiterates what he said in 8:12 about not living under the Law, but understanding that our freedom is not license to sin, but freedom to choose what is most expedient and edifying in any situation in order that God might receive the greater glory. The cup of blessing (10:16) is the term for the third cup of wine in the Passover feast, over which thanksgiving prayers are offered and probably when the Lord instituted his memorial supper.
At this time all decent women are veiled in public, but Greek women and men pray without a head covering, while Roman and Jewish men and women pray with the head covered. In chapter 11 Paul is not giving irreversible commands for all believers always, but pointing to God’s order and purpose in sexual identity and offering a solution that is respectful of all cultures at Corinth. In the same way, his instruction on the Lord’s Table focuses on the symbolism and truth of the memorial and moves away from specific methodologies and any perversion of meaning.
How will I respond?
Is there an area of my life where my freedom has become a legitimate stumbling block for others? How can I best apply to my life the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:23?