The Apostle Paul was said to be a hypocrite because of his complicated persona and teachings. But was he really a hypocrite, or just misunderstood? E. Randolph Richards expands on a complex teaching of Paul’s on whether or not Christians should be eating sacrificial meat.

“In the ancient world, temples were actually the butcher shops. They would sacrifice the animal on the altar; some of the meat would go to the priests of that temple, but then the rest would just be sold in the market.”

“Technically, the meat you would buy in the market had been sacrificed to an idol somewhere. So Christians were saying, ‘Well, is it okay to eat this meat?’

“Paul says, ‘You know what just sit down and give thanks to God for the food and eat with a clean conscience.’ (1 Corinthians 8:7-8) But then elsewhere he says, ‘Don’t you know that that meat has been sacrificed to demons and you’re dining with the devil?’ (1 Corinthians 10:18-20)

Are Christians supposed to eat sacrificial meat or not? Although it looks like Paul is flip-flopping on the issue, Randy points out that it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is being a hypocrite. He shares a practical example,

“A friend might talk me into joining him for a yoga class, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to touch my toes. So let’s say I take a little class at the local community college and the first day the guy says, ‘Ok, we’re going to flex and we’re going to become a little more limber. Some of you may be you’ll be able to put off old age a little bit longer, and we’re just going to see if we can get our bodies to been a little more like they used to.’

“But If I went to the class and the instructor began and said, ‘Welcome everyone I’m going to help you get in touch with Brahman the all-pervasive energy of the universe? Then I should slip out and not belong to that.’”

“I might tell one Christian, ‘yes it’s ok to take that yoga class,’ and I might tell another Christian, ‘no it’s not ok to take that yoga class.’ It depends on the context, as you would say.”

“So what we find with Paul is, his advice on these issues often depended upon the context.”


E. Randolph Richards is dean and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is a popular speaker and has authored and coauthored dozens of books and articles, including 

Paul Behaving Badly
Also on this edition of Neil Stavem
What Child Is This?"

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