I’ve heard it said that when God looks at us as Christians, he sees the righteousness of Christ. Theologically speaking, it’s a way of thinking about substitutionary atonement: Jesus Christ, as sinless substitute, stands in for us and bears the penalty for our sins on the cross, so that God sees him when he looks at us. Now, a couple cursory searches didn’t reveal any verses that explicitly state that God views us as Christ, so the concept is at best a theological inference. However, I can say with confidence that when God smells us, he smells Jesus Christ.
There was a time in my life when I would have tried to introduce 2 Corinthians with a parody of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” centered around the line “Back to Corinthians.” But today I have grown in wisdom to the point where I can recognize that idea as very stupid.
For better or worse, I have a bias for certain passages, and the first part of 1 Corinthians 15 is one of them. And honestly, approaching my favorite passages can be intimidating. I want to provide a good introduction for those unfamiliar with the passage, supply helpful information to expand others’ understanding of the passage, and show those for whom it might not be a favorite passage why I’m so fond of it. I want to do right by the passage. But my own expectations can be crippling, and here I am searching for pages on Pascal’s Wager when I should be digging into today’s chapter. I can’t cover everything in a single blog post. It’s not gonna be perfect, but let’s get to it.
Each weekday, I try to get into the day’s passage, dig something up and bring it back out for you. I’m having a hard time of it today. But that’s on me, not on the passage. Paul’s talking about Moses and the Exodus and the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings as a metaphorical lesson for the Corinthian church, and he’s back on the idolatry thing, this time saying that meat sacrificed to idols is actually sacrificed in the service of demons. There’s no shortage of stuff to dig into here. But it’s easier to watch some dude speedrun all of Super Mario All-Stars on Youtube than to get out the exegetical shovel and figure out what Paul’s trying to get across here.
Hoo boy. Add another can to the ever-growing opened-can-o-worms pile that Paul’s accumulating, because today we’ve got that super-controversial topic of food sacrificed to idols! Boy, all you 21st-century American Christians who have been sacrificing meat to Zeus and Molech, has Paul got some words for you!
At the time when Paul wrote this letter, the Corinthian church had problems. We’ve seen their issues with factionalism and inflated egos, but in chapter five we see their issues with sexual immorality. We also see Paul drop the hammer.
Translation’s a tricky business. Generally, my translation of choice is the NASB, because it cuts fairly close to the original languages of the Bible. But, in my fondness for the NASB, I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of the KJV-onlyists. Fact is, a lot of people more qualified and knowledgeable than I have put together a lot of different and useful translations, and God communicates to us through their work. The NASB’s attempt to retain the original text’s grammatical constructions (where possible) can sometimes obstruct clarity and readability. Just look at 1 Corinthians 4:5.