1 Corinthians 9-10 (3)
Malcolm Horlock, Cardiff, Wales
1 Corinthians 9 and 10 – Part 3
1. Warnings from Israel’s history in the wilderness, 10. 1-14
(i) Israel’s blessings, vv. 1-4
(ii) Israel’s sins, vv. 5-10
(iii) Conclusions : Don’t ignore, v. 11 Don’t presume, v. 12 Don’t despair, v. 13 Don’t dabble, v. 14
2. Fellowship – with whom or with what? 10. 15-22
(i) The ‘wise’, v. 15
(ii) The fellowship of Christ, vv. 16-17
(iii) The fellowship of the Jewish altar, v. 18
(iv) The fellowship of demons, vv. 19-20
(v) The conclusion, v. 21
(vi) The ‘strong’, v. 22
3. Christian liberty, 10. 23-11. 1
(i) Seeking the profit of others, vv. 23-24
(ii) Freedom to buy in the market, vv. 25-26
(iii) Freedom to eat at an unbeliever’s meal, v. 27
(iv) ‘But what if . . . ?’, vv. 28-30
(v) General guiding principles, vv. 31-32
(vi) Seeking the profit of others, 10. 33-11. 1
(ii) Israel’s sins, vv. 5-10
In verses 1-4, Paul had listed five of Israel’s initial blessings; now, in verses 5-10, he lists five of their subsequent failures and sins. Everything went wrong for Israel because, although God met their needs, they didn’t meet His requirements – not by a long way. And, as noted in the previous article, it is likely that the apostle deliberately chose those five instances of Israel’s failures and falls which resulted from temptations very similar to those now facing the Corinthian church.
Verse 5. Paul introduces this second sub-section with the statement, ‘But with most of them God was not well pleased’. Even his word ‘most’ is a vast – and deliberate – understatement. The fact is that, when Israel were numbered in the second year after they came out of Egypt, there were well over 600,000 men aged 20 and upwards, Num. 2. 32 (and this number excluded the priests and Levites, Num. 3-4). Of these 600,000, only two men made it through to the land of Canaan, Num. 26. 63-65. And that is not a good success rate in anyone’s book!
Indeed, if we assume that the number of women roughly matched the number of men, Israel’s population at the time must have numbered around 1.2 million people aged 20 and older. The Bible makes no direct comment about what happened to the women of Israel during Israel’s wanderings, but it is not unlikely that none of the women who had been aged 20 or above when they came out of Egypt reached the end of the wilderness. In which case the survival rate was only two out of over 1.2 million! And what happened to all the others? Oh, Paul says, the rest were ‘scattered in the wilderness’ – the word translated ‘scattered’ carrying the meaning ‘to spread over, to strew, to lay low, to overthrow’.1 Hundreds of thousands of corpses, once fed full with supernatural nourishment, littered the wilderness like so many fallen leaves.
Paul draws his evidence from five case studies. Ignoring their chronological sequence, he rushes us from Numbers 11, through Exodus 32, Numbers 25, and Numbers 21, to end up in Numbers 16. Without speculating as to the reason for it, we will follow Paul’s order.
Verse 6. ‘These things became our examples’ – literally, ‘these things were types of us’. We note in passing how, both here and in verse 11, Paul includes himself among those who need to pay heed to the lessons being taught. I hardly need to say it, but ‘If Paul needed these lessons . . .‘
‘They also lusted’ – that is, ‘they also craved’, ‘they also longed with great longing’. This particular word occurs in the Septuagint in connection with only one wilderness episode, that recorded in Numbers 11, where the word is found several times. I quote, ‘the mixed multitude that was among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” . . . he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah (‘Graves of Craving’) because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving’, Num. 11. 4-5, 34.
I pause to observe that Israel retained an appetite for the kind of food they had enjoyed before they had been redeemed – for the kind of food which they had once left behind them, and for which they now certainly had no need. Perhaps, just perhaps, O Corinthians, a hint that eating idol food is by no means essential – the very point which Paul had made back in verse 8 of chapter 8.
Verse 7. This is a straight lift from Exodus 32. 6. Note the direct connection which Paul makes between (i) idolatry, and (ii) eating and drinking. But it is likely that the Israelites indulgenced themselves without restraint in more ways than one. In other words, that the ‘play’ mentioned wasn’t as innocent as it sounds – that they weren’t playing Monopoly or ‘Ring a Ring O'Roses’2 but were engaged in licentious acts of immoral sexual behaviour. Idolatry linked with eating – and worse. Are you listening, O Corinthians?
Verse 8. Then, Mr. Corinthian, you might like to note that Israel’s great sin at Baal-Peor, recorded in Numbers 25, forges an even stronger link between (i) idolatry and immoral behaviour and (ii), yet again, eating! I quote; ‘the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They (the women of Moab – adopting the ‘counsel of Balaam’, Num. 31. 16) invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods’, Num. 25. 1-2. Immorality, idol sacrifices, idol worship and eating . . . surely you can’t miss the connection, O Corinthians?3
Verse 9. ‘Some of them also tempted’ – they sorely tried the Lord’s patience. We are now in Numbers 21, where ‘the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food . . . and our soul loathes this worthless bread”’, v. 5. O, they had food enough for their needs, of course, but they fancied something different to eat. As the psalmist expressed it, ‘they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy’, Ps. 78. 18 – not food to meet their need. And the result was the fiery serpents! Again, as in Numbers 11, the specific cause of Israel’s grumbling was the menu. Still tuned in, O Corinthians?
Verse 10. And ‘some of them also murmured’ – which they did on many occasions, but in particular on the occasion of the rebellion of Korah, when, as a result of their murmuring, God was angry and sent a plague which destroyed 14,700 of them, Num. 16. 41-50. But what, we may wonder, has this to say to the Corinthian situation? This time there is no mention either of idolatry or of which kind of food one should or should not eat. Yes, this is true, but given the challenge which some at Corinth were already posing to Paul’s authority and apostleship, is it not relevant that Numbers 16 was the occasion when the authority of God’s accredited servants, Moses and Aaron, was challenged and set aside by others – with the most disastrous consequences? Hopefully, O Corinthians, you won’t miss this point either!
(iii) Conclusions, vv. 11-14
Verse 11. Conclusion 1: Don’t ignore! ‘All these things happened to them’ – better ‘these things befell them’. It’s not that these things just ‘happened’ to Israel by chance. They weren’t random historical events. First, they were allowed by God ‘for examples’ – or ‘as types’. And then, second, God recorded them, Paul says, to provide instruction to us – to flash red lights of warning in our faces, which we ignore at our peril.
By using the expression ‘the ends of the ages’, it’s possible that Paul intends to stress that, whereas Israel’s experiences at the Exodus and in the wilderness are to be found in a relatively early chapter of God’s great plan and purpose for men, we (the church) live in an ‘age’ when the events of the last chapter have already begun to unfold.
Verse 12. Conclusion 2: Don’t presume! Now comes the punch-line! This, Paul says, is the one central lesson which these events teach; ‘Therefore (‘So that’) let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’. Don’t fool yourselves, Paul is saying, none of us can afford to be complacent; the experiences of ancient Israel shout too loud and clear a warning. Only two out of 1.2 million actually finished their course! We must learn from their mistakes. Ah, but will we? One German philosopher of the nineteenth century wrote, ‘What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it’.4 Clearly, Paul is hopeful that the Corinthians will perform better!
If, in chapter 8, Paul taught them that a believer’s attitude to idol meat should be determined by his concern for his brother – because his brother is ‘weak’ – in this chapter, he teaches them that a believer’s attitude to idolatry itself should be determined by his concern for himself – because he is considerably weaker than he thinks, and idolatry is far more dangerous than he has ever imagined. It is necessary, he is saying, for you, Mr. Corinthian, to avoid idolatry not only for the sake of others but for your own sake too! For it is not only that the ‘weak’ brother may be caused to ‘stumble’, but that you, the supposedly ‘strong’ brother, are in real danger of falling as well.
I have to say that, having been a Christian for some 45 years, I find it salutary in the extreme that the incident mentioned in verse 8 is found in Numbers 25 – at the end of Israel’s 40 years of wanderings, when the people who fell had already surmounted many obstacles and had already overcome many temptations. They were on what should have been their last lap – but they never finished it! The Lord wants us to know – and never forget – that we are most vulnerable when we least realize it.
Verse 13. Conclusion 3: Don’t despair! But, if in verses 1- 12 we are admonished by Israel’s failures, in verse 13 we are encouraged by God’s faithfulness.
The temptations in view in this verse are obviously temptations to sin and failure. We are specifically told that these are temptations which God ‘allows’ – not trials or testings that He sends. These are temptations from which He makes a way out for us – not trials and testings that He leads us through. We have good authority for saying that God Himself never tempts anyone in this way, Jas. 1. 13, – that temptations to sin stem either from within or from our arch foe the devil, the ‘tempter’ as Paul described him, 1 Thess. 3. 5.
But every one of these temptations, Paul says, is ‘common to man’. Rest assured, no temptation is unique to us. And, for that reason (apart from any other considerations) we have no excuse for our failure and sin – because others have grappled with exactly the same temptations and have overcome them. And how did they do that? By availing themselves of the provision – the ‘way of escape’ – which God is pledged to make always available. For Paul vouches for the fact that the faithful God5 will never permit any of His people to be tempted beyond what he or she is able to handle. ‘The very gates of hell cannot make us stumble unless we choose to remove ourselves from (God’s) protection and power’.6 So when we fail or fall, it certainly isn’t because God’s provision isn’t great enough, or because He doesn’t make sufficient of that provision available to us.
Paul assures us that no one needs to despair in the face of the very fiercest enemy attack. We can all take heart today – knowing that, when our faithful God allows one of us His children to pass through the fire and furnace of temptation, He ‘keeps His hand on the thermostat and His eye on the thermometer’!7 Praise His name that He does!
But do I therefore have no responsibility as far as the ‘way of escape’ is concerned? Oh yes indeed, I do. And very often, as was once the case with godly young Joseph, Gen. 39. 12, the ‘way of escape’ is quite literally a clear road and two good legs!
Verse 14. Conclusion 4: Don’t dabble! ‘Flee (present tense) from idolatry’. In every case and always, Paul is saying, give idolatry the widest possible berth; shun it completely.
But, as I see it, verse 14 isn’t only the conclusion of the opening section of the chapter. It also forms the bridge between the first section and the second (verses 15-22). For in verses 15-22 Paul reinforces the conclusion reached in verse 14 – showing that any contact with idolatry is not only downright dangerous for the Christian – it is altogether irreconcilable with Christianity. The Christian not only should avoid it – he must avoid it.
Fellowship – with whom or with what? vv. 15-22
Verse 15. The ‘wise’. ‘I speak’, he says, ‘as to wise (as to sensible, prudent) men’ – a different word to that translated ‘wise’ through chapters 1 and 2. I cannot believe (particularly following his term of endearment, ‘my beloved’, in verse 14) that Paul is being sarcastic. The Corinthians gloried in their knowledge, but, Paul wants to know, were they practically wise as well? If they were, they would readily understand his next point – that all those who take part in a religious meal have fellowship with the one (whether divine or demonic) who stands, so to speak, behind the meal.
Taken together, the two words translated ‘communion’, ‘fellowship’ and ‘partakers’ occur six times in verses 16-21.8 These words differ little – if at all – in meaning. Both mean ‘to participate’, ‘to share with somebody in something’. Paul speaks of three very different fellowships in this passage: (i) the believer’s fellowship with the body and blood of Christ; (ii) the Israelite’s fellowship with the Jewish altar; and (iii) the Gentile’s fellowship with demons. Through the bread and the cup of the Lord’s supper, Christians have fellowship with what these symbolize (the body and blood of Christ) and with the One who stands behind the whole supper – namely, the Lord Jesus, vv. 16- 17. Through partaking of the peace offerings, part of which were offered on the altar of burnt offering, the children of Israel have fellowship both with the altar and with the One who stands behind it – namely, the God of Israel. And through the idol image and the sacrifices offered to it, pagans have fellowship with the demons that stand behind the whole system of idol worship. Just then as the supper links the Christian to Christ, and just as the peace offering links the Israelite to the Jewish altar, so too the idol feast links the pagan to demons.
Verses 16-17. First, the fellowship of Christ.
In these verses, Paul speaks of two bodies of Christ: (a) His own, actual, physical body in verse 16, and; (b) His body which is the church in verse 17. Here we encounter another example of Paul using a word with a double meaning, which we met previously with the word ‘Rock’ in verse 4, and which we will meet again with the word ‘Head’ in the beginning of the following chapter. Both ‘bodies’ are symbolized in the bread of the supper. On the one hand, the bread focuses on the finished work of Christ, accomplished once for all in His physical body. On the other hand, it focuses on the unity of His body the church, through which He, the Head, is largely accomplishing His unfinished work today.
The title ‘the cup of (the) blessing’, v. 16, has nothing to do with the fact that our ‘blessings’ come to us on account of the blood, which the contents of the cup symbolize. The words follow a Hebrew construction that means ‘the cup over which a blessing is pronounced’. This was the title given to the third of the cups of the Jewish Passover ceremony – being the cup for which Jesus gave thanks at the end of the Passover supper. For us to bless and partake of the cup is for us symbolically to partake of what the cup represents. Our drinking of the cup symbolizes our participation by faith in the benefits of the blood that the Lord Jesus shed for the forgiveness of sins.
I suggest that the cup is mentioned before the bread on this occasion – not so much because of the role played by a cup in the idol feasts, which comes to the fore in verse 21, nor because it is the blood of Christ which provides the basis of all our blessings – but because Paul wants to enlarge on the significance and symbolic meaning of the bread (which he does at the end of verse 16 and in verse 17) and this could more easily be done if the bread is mentioned last.
The main thrust of Paul’s argument in this section is concerned with the fellowship which the Christian has with the Lord Jesus Himself (and which is wholly irreconcilable with having fellowship with demons), but he can’t resist making a passing reference in verse 17 to a second implication of the one bread of which Christians partake – literally, ‘Because it is one bread, we the many are one body – for we all partake of the one bread’. That is, contrary to the rendering in both the King James Version and the New King James Version, we are not said to be ‘one bread’ – we are said to be ‘one body’ because we all partake of the one bread. And so, when Christians share the one bread (that is, when they each break off a fragment of the one bread), they express both (a) their fellowship with Christ personally on the ground of His body given in death, and (b) their fellowship and oneness with all other members of the body of Christ, the church.
In summary, when you and I partake of the bread each Lord’s day, we identify ourselves symbolically with that which the bread represents – our Lord’s body – both His actual body, given in death, v. 16, and His body, the church, v. 17.
Verse 18. Second, the fellowship of the Jewish altar.
With reference to Israel, Paul asks, ‘Are not those who eat the sacrifices partakers of the altar?’ That is, they share in the benefits of what happens on the altar, and so enter into fellowship both with the altar and with Him whose altar it is. I am not aware of any instance where the Septuagint actually uses either of the words translated in our chapter ‘communion’, ‘fellowship’ and ‘partaker’ in connection either with the altar of burnt offering or with any of the sacrifices offered on it. But I regard the reference to ‘eating’ of the sacrifices as pointing unmistakably to the peace offering of Leviticus 3, 7 and 19.
Yes, it is true, Paul speaks here in terms of ‘sacrifices’ and not of ‘offerings’ – but Leviticus 3, 7 and 19 speak throughout of ‘the sacrifice of peace offerings’. Of these sacrifices, the Lord received His share first – being the blood (for consecration) and the fat (the best, the choice part) – then two portions (the breast and right shoulder) went to the priests – and the remainder was returned to the offerer – to provide a communal meal for him and his family and friends – which meal was eaten ‘before the Lord’.9
At that ‘peace offering’ meal the offerer and his guests enjoyed fellowship, not only with one another (in that they participated together in the common meal), but with the Lord God Himself. In effect they had the opportunity of close communion with Him, knowing that all was well (was ‘peaceful’) between Him and them, and sharing in His appreciation and acceptance of the offering that had been presented and consecrated to Him.10
Verses 19-20. Third, the fellowship of demons.
‘What do I imply then?’ Paul asks. In effect, ‘Am I contradicting myself?’ In verses 16-18, Paul has argued that the fellowship that is established between the worshippers and the object of their worship, by means of what they eat and drink, is very real. Does this mean then – in spite of all that he had said in chapter 8 – that he did in fact attribute a real and genuine existence to those gods who supposedly presided at the heathen feasts and banquets? Certainly not! And to guard against any possible misunderstanding, he makes it clear that neither the idol itself – nor the food offered to the idol – ‘is anything’ – a point he had established back in verses 4 and 8 of chapter 8.
But the fact that the heathen deities have no existence does not mean that idolatry is therefore harmless, v. 20. Far from it, and this is because idolatry provides the channel for occult powers to engage and connect with men. It isn’t that the demons live in the statues, of course – but they do, so to speak, stand behind all forms of idol worship, and exploit to the full men’s readiness to worship the idols. That is, the lifeless images – and the non-existent gods they represent – mask a bona fide connection between the idol and the demonic power behind the idol.11
The pagan ritual of eating a meal in honour of the idol functioned, Paul is saying, as a very real ‘communion service’. And, whether the Christian meant to do so or not, for him to sit at the idol ‘table’ was for him to acknowledge and share in the idol worship, and in so doing to have fellowship with very real malign spirits – a fact which some of the Corinthians clearly hadn’t grasped.12
I suggest that, given the situation at Corinth, the Old Testament quote that Paul makes in verse 20 is particularly apt. It seems likely from verses 4-6 of chapter 8 that those who championed the liberty to eat idol meats in any situation based their argument (at least in part) on the ‘Shema’ of Deuteronomy 6. 4, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord’. Here Paul draws his arrow from the very same quiver, quoting himself from Deuteronomy, this time from Deuteronomy 32. 17, to prove that Christians couldn’t sit at an idol’s table! In other words, ‘Your knowledge, Mr. Corinthian, takes as its starting point the teaching of Deuteronomy 6 – then let your wisdom take into account the teaching of chapter 32 also’!
Verse 21. The conclusion.
Paul points, not so much to the incompatibility of the Lord’s supper and idolatrous feasts, or even to the inconsistency of someone partaking of both, but to the moral and spiritual impossibility of partaking of both. And this in words reminiscent of the no-nonsense saying of the Lord Jesus, ‘No man can serve two masters . . . you cannot serve God and mammon’, Matt. 6. 24.
Paul speaks of the ‘cup’ and of the ‘table’ of demons. Cups played an important part at any idol meal, with cups of wine being shared among the worshippers after a few drops had first been poured out as a libation (drinkoffering) in honour of the host-deity. In the fierce persecution orchestrated by the Roman Emperor Decius some 200 years later, apostates from the Christian faith were required to sign certificates which declared, ‘I have poured out a libation and have partaken of the offerings’. And we may detect here yet another echo from Deuteronomy 32 – for verse 38 of that chapter speaks of the false and foreign gods who ‘ate the fat’ of the sacrifices and who ‘drank the wine’ of the drink offering made by Israel.
We noted in a previous article that, whether in the temple precinct or in a person’s own dining room, the meal (the ‘table’, that is) was seen as a natural sequel to the idol sacrifice and involved the fiction that the god was the true host – that he had provided the food and that he presided over the ‘table’. To eat at ‘the table’ of the idol therefore involved the person in having fellowship not only with idolaters but also with their supposed god.13
Isaiah pictures the scene for us, ’But you are those who forsake the Lord, who forget My holy mountain – who prepare a table for Gad (‘Fortune’ or ‘Luck’; from which Gad the son of Zilpah got his name), and who furnish a drink offering (‘mixed wine’, literally) for Meni (‘Destiny’ or ‘Fate’)’, Isa. 65. 11 – with reference to two pagan gods of the day.
Meals of this kind were thought to unite men and the gods in actual table fellowship. The gods were regarded not only as having provided the sacrificial meal but as sharing the meal along with their human companions at the ‘table’. It was for this reason that, on special occasions, images of the gods were placed in a reclining position on couches with food before them, as if they really were partaking of the things which had been offered in sacrifice.14
I take the expression ‘the table of the Lord’, not as a reference to any literal table, but as representing rather the bread and the cup which would be placed on a table – and which, according to verses 16-17, express the fellowship we enjoy with the Lord Jesus through His body and blood given in sacrifice for us.15
When speaking of the meat offered to idols, Paul has made it abundantly clear that ‘meat’, in and of itself, had no significance, v. 19. Communion and fellowship with demons only takes place when the food is eaten in an atmosphere of idol worship. That is, a mechanical and thoughtless participation in the physical substance – even when this is done properly in accordance with all the rules – does not create fellowship. And the same holds true of the bread and cup of the Lord’s supper! And one obvious and very practical implication of this for us is that Paul expects the Christian to look beyond the emblems to that which they represent and symbolize – a point to which he will return with force in the second half of chapter 11.
For now, Paul hammers home the point that loyalty to Christ excludes all other loyalties – that allegiance to Christ excludes all other allegiances – that fellowship with Christ excludes all other fellowships, and the fellowship of demons in particular.
Verse 22. The ‘strong’.
‘Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?’ is yet another apposite reference to Deuteronomy 32 – this time to verses 16 and 21. I say ‘apposite’ because, in their context, Moses’ words relate to idolatrous practices among God’s people. It is just possible that Paul means, ‘In having fellowship with demons, do the self-styled ‘strong’ among you imagine that they are ‘stronger’ than the Lord?
- The expression translated ‘scattered/overthrown in the wilderness’ matches the very words of the Septuagint of Numbers 14. 16.
- Known to some as ‘Ring around the Rosey’.
- It is well known that Numbers 25. 9 quotes the number who fell at Baal-Peor as 24,000 – and not 23,000 as quoted by Paul. The most likely reconciliation lies in Paul’s words ‘in one day’ – a phrase which doesn’t feature in Numbers 25. I take it that, although the vast majority of the 24,000 who died in the plague, Num. 25. 9, did so on a single day, some 1,000 died on a different day – or, just possibly, on different days. I am aware that, before the destructive plague broke out, God commanded the judges of Israel to ‘take all the leaders of the people’, who had condoned and encouraged the worship of Baal-Peor, ‘and hang the offenders before the Lord’, Num. 25. 4, and that Jewish tradition ascribed 1,000 deaths to the action of the judges described in Numbers 25. 5. The explanation does not lie here, however, because Numbers 25. 9 explicitly says that 24,000 ‘died in the plague’.
- G. W. F. HEGEL. Compare, ‘Those who forget history are bound to repeat it’, George Santayana.
- Compare 1 Corinthians 1. 9.
- A fax from Larry Libby, quoted on page 29 of ‘Finishing Strong’ by Steve Farrar, Multnomah Publishers (my emphasis). Compare the apostle Peter’s assertion, ‘His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness’, 2 Pet. 1. 3.
- WARREN W. WIERSBE; ‘Be Encouraged’, Scripture Press, page 16.
- The one occurs twice in verse 16 and once each in verses 18 and 20. The other occurs once each in verses 17 and 21. In this passage, they appear to be entirely synonymous.
- Lev. 3. 1-17; 7. 11–34; 19. 5-8; Deut. 12. 5–7.
- See Richard E. AVERBECK’s articles in W. A. VanGemeren’s ‘Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis’; Volume 4, pages 135-142, 1000-1001 and 1004.
- Deut. 29. 17; 32. 17-21; Ps. 106. 36-37; Lev. 17. 7; Rev. 9. 20.
- It is alarming to find so much New Age material on the internet – material explicitly devoted to pagan ritual in 2006 as a channel of intercourse with the powers of darkness and even with the overlord of the empire of evil himself.
- See the ‘Introduction’ to Part 1 of our study on chapter 8; Precious Seed, Volume 60, Number 4, November 2005.
- See Footnote 2 to ‘1 Corinthians 8 – Part 2’; Precious Seed, Volume 61, Number 1, February 2006.
- Interestingly, the burnt offering altar of Israel is also described as ‘the table of the Lord’, Mal. 1. 7, 12 – being the same expression in the Septuagint as that in 1 Cor. 10. 21. Cf. ‘My table’, Ezek. 44. 16. In that Paul has referred to this altar only three verses before (v. 18), it was clearly open to him to draw attention here to the three ‘tables’ of fellowship (Christian, Jewish and pagan) and not just the two (Christian and pagan). But, equally clearly, this did not fit into his line of argument.