Paul wrote his letter to the church in Corinth from Ephesus. There, as in many other ancient cities, strong men fought publicly against wild animals such as lions. They did it for honour in sport, and to entertain the crowds. (Later, the enemies of the Christians used those same wild animals to kill Christians.)
The sport itself was very cruel, even before people used it as a means to kill Christians. Men died frequently, and the crowds expected that to happen. As those strong men prepared to fight the lions, they too had to expect their own deaths.
Paul describes their attitude. ‘Tomorrow we shall die. So let us eat and drink.’ They expected to die, so they lived in a wild manner. This could be their last night on earth, so they tried hard to enjoy themselves. They ate plenty of meat. They drank too much wine. They had sex with women. They did everything that they could do in order to satisfy their own feelings.
Paul expressed complete shock that many Christians in Corinth were behaving in a similar manner. They insisted that they were free people. So, they did whatever they wanted to do. They liked to eat plenty of meat, and they even went into the house of a false god to do that (8:10). Even at church meetings, they were drinking too much wine (11:21). Paul had to urge them not to have wrong sex (6:13-20).
Christians should not have such attitudes. They believe that, after death, God will cause them to live again. So now they must live in a holy, sincere and careful manner. Unlike those strong men, Christians do not only prepare for their deaths. Instead, Christians prepare for a life that will never end.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.