February 28, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Purpose of Christian Freedom

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God. (10:31–32)

The purpose of using our liberty carefully and selflessly is to glorify God. The idea of eating and drinking is in the context of things offered to idols, but is not limited to that. Paul is saying that even in the most mundane, routine, nonspiritual things of life, like ordinary eating and drinking, God is to be glorified. His glory is to be our life commitment. It is the purpose of our whole life, which now belongs to the Lord because we have been “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 7:23). Not only when we eat or drink but in whatever [we] do we should do all to the glory of God. (For further material on glorifying God, see the opening section of this chapter.)

A person either lives a life that honors God or that dishonors Him. God’s own people had become such a reproach to Him that He allowed Israel to be conquered and exiled by Assyria in 722 b.c. and Judah to be conquered and exiled by Babylonia in 586. Those conquests, however, at first caused His name to suffer even more reproach, because the heathen nations around Israel and Judah were saying that Jehovah God was not strong enough even to save His own people. Through His prophet Ezekiel, who himself had been taken captive to Babylon, God promised that He would deliver and regather His people. But the purpose would be primarily to “vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Ezek. 36:23). God’s glory is His supreme concern and should also be our supreme concern.

God is dishonored when anyone sins, but He is especially dishonored when His own people sin. Because he has specially honored us by His forgiving grace, we specially dishonor Him by our sin. When in justice He is forced to chastise us, He is further dishonored by unbelievers, who charge, as did the nations around Israel and Judah, that He does not even take care of His own people. Sin of any sort takes glory from God.

In the same way God is specially honored and glorified when His people are faithful and obedient. Just as our sin reflects against His honor, so our loving obedience reflects to His honor. When we resist and forsake sin we glorify our heavenly Father. And when we willingly use our Christian liberty for His sake and for the sake of His other children, we glorify Him still more.

Our living should be so righteous, loving, and selfless that we give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God. Those three groups cover all of humanity. No action of ours should prevent an unbeliever, whether Jew or Gentile, from coming to Christ (cf. Acts 15:20–29), or should cause a weak brother in Christ to stumble (1 Pet. 2:11–19). That many people are offended by the gospel is their problem, but when they are needlessly offended by our way of living, that is our problem; and it dishonors the Lord. The term aproskopos, here translated give no offense, is rendered as “be … blameless” in Philippians 1:10.[1]


31. Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink. Lest they should think, that in so small a matter they should not be so careful to avoid blame, he teaches that there is no part of our life, and no action so minute, that it ought not to be directed to the glory of God, and that we must take care that, even in eating and drinking, we may aim at the advancement of it. This statement is connected with what goes before; for if we are eagerly desirous of the glory of God, as it becomes us to be, we will never allow, so far as we can prevent it, his benefits to lie under reproach. It was well expressed anciently in a common proverb, that we must not live to eat; but eat to live. Provided the end of living be at the same time kept in view, the consequence will thus be, that our food will be in a manner sacred to God, inasmuch as it will be set apart for his service.[2]


31 Paul is now ready to summarize this entire three-chapter unit (chs. 8–10). His “therefore” here is intended to draw his discussion on the food issue to a conclusion. As a general principle, believers should do everything “for the glory of God”—and Paul particularly mentions here (understandably) eating and drinking. To do something for the glory of God means to reflect God’s glory in the way we live. When others look at us and how we live our lives, they should be able to see that the standards we live by are different from those of the pagan world around us. They should be able to see Jesus living in us. Paul deals with this concept in more explicit detail in 2 Corinthians 3:18–4:6, 15–18 (see comments on those verses in this volume).[3]


10:31 / The statement begins with the Gk. word oun, “therefore,” a stronger and more formal inferential particle than is suggested by the niv’s rendering, So.… Paul uses oun seldom and deliberately in this particular epistle (Fee, Epistle, p. 487). Conzelmann rightly observes the importance of this statement and summarizes Paul’s argument poignantly:

In a style characteristic of Paul (eite … eite, “whether … or”), freedom is declared: the criterion lies outside myself. It is an objective and at the same time also a historic criterion: the glory of God. Oun, “so,” indicates the conclusion to be drawn from the now established possibility of freedom of action. (p. 179)[4]


10:31–32. Paul summarized his outlook into two principles. First, whether or not believers partake, they must do it all for the glory of God. The chief end of human beings is the glory of God; his honor should be the principle concern of those who love him (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37).

Second, whether believers partake or not, they should not cause anyone to stumble. They should neither cause anyone to sin nor hinder receptivity to the gospel. The principle of love for neighbor goes hand in hand with love for God (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39). This concern for others applies to Jews, Greeks, and the church of God. Paul mentioned these groups because each raised different considerations. Both Jews and Greeks are unbelieving, but each group has different standards and expectations. Moreover, the principle of love for neighbor must also extend to the church, which has still different issues.[5]


31. Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God.

In these concluding remarks, Paul utters the same sentiments he writes more expansively in one of his prison Epistles, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Paul exhorts the Corinthians to live their lives for God’s glory; to be positive without being offensive; and even in the daily activity of eating and drinking to exalt God’s goodness and grace.

We are unable to glorify God unless our lives are in harmony with him and his precepts. Nothing in our conduct should obstruct God’s glory from being reflected in us. That is, in everything we do and say, no matter how insignificant, the world should be able to see that we are God’s people. Exalting God’s glory ought to be our chief purpose in this earthly life (compare 1 Peter 4:11).[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 248–249). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Vol. 1, p. 347). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 349). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 220). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 170). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, p. 358). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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