It was in this chapter of Corinthians that I began to see a mass of overlapping chiastic structures which overlay the chiastic structures each chapter makes which I have been posting as we go through Corinthians. There are so many small and great, that who knows how long it will take to uncover them all. (By the way, it is absolutely impossible for a human mind, no matter how intelligent, to plan these and put them in Scripture in the abundance that they are found. The author has to be the Holy Spirit, and the chiastic structure is one of His thumbprints on His word).
Here is one:
1 Cor 10:16-11:34
1a) 1 Cor 10:16, The communion of the Lord’s table, the blood and body of Christ;
1b) 1 Cor 10:17, Though many, we are united as one bread and one body;
1c) 1 Cor 10:18-22, Observe Israel after the flesh (a natural example teaches a spiritual truth), those who eat of the sacrifices partake of the altar;
1d) 1 Cor 10:23-24, All things are lawful, but let no one seek his own welfare, but that of another;
central axis) 1 Cor 10:25-28, two point theme repeated twice (not transgressing conscience):
— 1.1) 1 Cor 10:25, Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;
— 1.2) 1 Cor 10:26, The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness;
— 2.1) 1 Cor 10:27-28a, At an unbeliever’s, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;
— 2.2) 1 Cor 10:28b, The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness;
2d) 1 Cor 10:29-11:1, Imitate me, as I imitate Christ, in seeking the profit of others rather than my own;
2c) 1 Cor 11:2-16, Head coverings for men and women (a natural example teaches a spiritual truth);
2b) 1 Cor 11:17-19, Divisions among you, even though one church;
2a) 1 Cor 11:20-34, The communion of the Lord’s table, His body and blood.
The d pair reveals something fascinating, and this is a theme Paul has been hammering home in Corinthians: it might be perfectly legal for you to do something. But if the welfare of another is transgressed in your pursuit of perfect legality, then you have fallen short of the Law. You have not imitated Christ (been a follower or disciple of Jesus), because the Law can be summed up by the verb Love, and Love does no harm to a neighbor.
The 2d pair itself forms a smaller chiastic structure:
1 Cor 10:29-11:1
1a) 1 Cor 10:29a, Not your own conscience but another’s;
1b) 1 Cor 10:29b-30, Even though I have perfect liberty to partake of that for which I give thanks;
central axis) 1 Cor 10:31, Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God;
2b) 1 Cor 10:32, Give no offense;
2a) 1 Cor 10:33-11:1, Not your own profit but that of many, following Christ’s example.
Do not be in such hot pursuit of perfect legality that you cause others to stumble, because that does not bring glory to God.
Now, this is not a license to throw out standards. If you do not eat meat when you are allowed to do so, how has a standard of holiness been transgressed? It hasn’t. If you do not divorce when you are allowed to do so, how has a standard of holiness been transgressed? It hasn’t. Do not let the enemy twist this logic into permission to ignore standards of holiness because someone is offended by righteous standards. That is not what Paul is saying.
He is saying, Lay down what you want, no matter how just it is for you to have what you want, if what you want will hurt someone else. So simple, and yet so hard for the flesh to let go of its bone! What bone have we got between our teeth today? Help us to drop it at Your feet, Lord!