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Liberty in Christ
and Meat Sacrificed to Idols
in Christ: Extended Introduction
Liberty in Christ: Introduction
and New Testament Survey
for Liberty in Christ
the Law, and the 10 Commandments
of the Law of Liberty
and Yet Prohibition
Pagan Practices in the Old Testament
is Observing Times?
Bondage, and Righteousness
and Meat Sacrificed to Idols
and 1 Corinthians 8
1 Corinthians 10, and Idolatry
1 Corinthians 10, and Your Neighbor
and Practical Applications
Romans 14, the Conscience, and Morality
will now move on to an examination of 1 Corinthians 8 and
10 with regard to Paul's mention of liberty in the context
of the issue of meat sacrificed to idols.
As we get into the text of 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, we should
first do some review.
Number 1, we know that AFTER having heard Jesus declare all
foods clean in Matthew 15:11,17-20 and Mark 7:15-20 and AFTER
Jesus three times told Peter in a vision about food, "What
God has cleansed, do NOT call unclean," in Acts 15:5-6,19-20,23,29
and 21:25 the apostles including Peter ruled that Christians
could NOT eat meat sacrificed to idols. So, we know at least
for the duration of Acts that the eating of meat sacrificed
to idols was prohibited by the apostles.
Number 2, in Revelation 2, Jesus himself condemns the churches
at Smyrna and Thyatira for tolerating teachers who taught
Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols.
Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against
thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine
of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before
the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols,
and to commit fornication.
Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things
against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel,
which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce
my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things
sacrificed unto idols.
Just as in Acts 15 and 21, we see eating meat sacrificed to
idols listed side by side with fornication. These quotes from
Jesus in Revelation 2 would seem to indicate that the ban
placed on eating meat sacrificed to idols in Acts 15 and 21
was still in effect when Revelation was written in the mid-90's
Number 3, we know that as late as 202 AD, eating meat sacrificed
to idols was considered sinful by Irenaeus, an orthodox early
Christian writer who lived more than a century before the
Council of Nicea in 325 AD, and who had himself been trained
by Polycarp who was a disciples of the Apostle John. Irenaeus
lived from 120-202 AD. Here are some excerpts from Irenaeus'
famous work Against Heresies.
CHAP. VI.--THE THREEFOLD KIND OF MAN FEIGNED BY THESE HERETICS:
GOOD WORKS NEEDLESS FOR THEM, THOUGH NECESSARY TO OTHERS:
THEIR ABANDONED MORALS.
3. Wherefore also it comes to pass, that the "most perfect"
among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds
of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that
"they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of
God."(5) For instance, they make no scruple about eating
meats offered in sacrifice to idols, imagining that they can
in this way contract no defilement. Then, again, at every
heathen festival celebrated in honour of the idols, these
men are the first to assemble.
CHAP. XXIV. -- DOCTRINES OF SATURNINUS AND BASILIDES.
5. Salvation belongs to the soul alone, for the body is by
nature subject to corruption. He declares, too, that the prophecies
were derived from those powers who were the makers of the
world, but the law was specially given by their chief, who
led the people out of the land of Egypt. He attaches no
importance to [the question regarding] meats offered in sacrifice
to idols, thinks them of no consequence, and makes use of
them without any hesitation; he holds also the use of
other things, and the practice of every kind of lust, a
matter of perfect indifference.
CHAP. XXVIII.--DOCTRINES OF TATIAN, THE ENCRATITES, AND OTHERS.
2. Others, again, following upon Basilides and Carpocrates,
have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of
wives, and are indifferent about eating meats sacrificed
to idols, maintaining that God does not greatly regard such
matters. But why continue? For it is an impracticable
attempt to mention all those who, in one way or another,
have fallen away from the truth.
CHAP. XIV.-- VALENTINUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS DERIVED THE PRINCIPLES
OF THEIR SYSTEM FROM THE HEATHEN; THE NAMES ONLY ARE CHANGED.
5. Again, their opinion as to the indifference of [eating
of] meats and other actions, and as to their thinking that,
from the nobility of their nature, they can in no degree at
all contract pollution, whatever they eat or perform,
they have derived it from the Cynics, since they do in fact
belong to the same society as do these [philosophers]. They
also strive to transfer to [the treatment of matters of] faith
that hairsplitting and subtle mode of handling questions which
is, in fact, a copying of Aristotle.
It clear that Irenaeus believed the ban placed on eating meat
sacrificed to idols in Acts 15 and 21 was still in effect
in his day.
So, given that Peter, James, the other apostles who went along
with the Acts 15 ruling, and Irenaeus (the disciple of John's
disciple Polycarp) all upheld the ban on eating meat sacrificed
to idols and the fact that Jesus himself twice condemned those
who taught Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols (Revelation
2:14,20), is it likely that in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, Paul
himself advocated that we have a "liberty" to eat meat sacrificed
The obvious answer is "no." We believe this gives us quite
a mandate to start out our examination of 1 Corinthians 8
and 10 with the presumption that Paul did NOT teach eating
meat sacrificed to idols was "a liberty" in Christ. Nevertheless,
we will proceed with our step-by-step analysis of 1 Corinthians
8 and 10.