What exactly DOES 1st Corinthians 9:19-22 mean, anyway?

pretzel face

Ohhhhh, the ways this passage is twisted, and perverted, and turned on its head by the oh-so-hip, oh-so-cool, oh-so-relevant “pastors” of the many seeker-sensitive, non-offensive, cross-less “churches” that pepper the American religious community today. They take the words of the apostle Paul, and they use them as an excuse to perform all kinds of free-for-alls by inviting all kinds of filthy, heathen, Satanic methods into a place that is supposed to be sanctified, consecrated, and set apart for the worship of Almighty YHVH.

And what is their excuse? “See??? Paul said he was ‘all things to all men!’ So take that you Bible-thumping Pharisee!” And we who love the precious word of God and consider ourselves slaves to it, shake our heads and groan on the inside, knowing that one more person has just allowed themselves to be conformed to this evil world, whilst trying to hold on to Christ. So, for the sake of clarity, let us examine just exactly what the apostle meant. Here are his actual words:

1st Corinthians 9:19-22 (New King James Version)19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

But, let’s take the attitude of those who would say, Of course they played Marilyn Manson music in church this morning! They were reaching out and being relevant to Marilyn Manson fans! I mean, how else are they going to draw them?” And let’s draw it out to its inevitable conclusion. This is what they would have Paul say–

1st Corinthians 9:19-22 (New Seeker-Sensitive Version)For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I may win more; and to the murderers I became a murderer, so that I might win murderers; to the blasphemers, as a blasphemer, so that I might win the blasphemers; to the pornographers, as a pornographer, so that I might win pornographers. To the pagans and Wiccans and Druids, I became a pagan and Wiccan and Druid that I might win the pagans and Wiccans and Druids; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

But is that what Paul was saying? If you think it is, then stop reading right now and go back to reading Rob Bell or Doug Paggitt. Because you will not like what I am about to say. Paul was not saying that he committed acts that were sinful, neither was he saying that he brought Satanic rituals into the church, nor is he saying that we should be conformed to this world so that we can be “all things to all men.”

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Edward Payson In order to qualify yourselves for instructing and preparing your children for God’s service, you [must] diligently study His Word to ascertain what He requires of them and frequently pray for the assistance of His Spirit, both for them and yourselves. . . . You will carefully guard against saying or doing anything which may, either directly or indirectly, lead them to consider religion as an object of secondary importance. On the contrary, you will constantly labor to impress upon their minds a conviction that you consider religion as the great business of life, the favor of God as the only proper object of pursuit, and the enjoyment of Him hereafter as the only happiness, while everything else is comparatively of no consequence, however important it may be otherwise.

– Edward Payson

1783 – 1827

Rewriting Acts – A Relevant Perspective

In light of all the editions and revisions being made to the Word of God in recent years, we understand much of this has been done to suit the belief system of the editors. With that in mind as well as recent events such as Ravi at the Mormon Tabernacle and Driscoll at the Crystal Cathedral, we recommend the following changes. We are certain these will be much more in keeping with the issue of relevancy and contextualization. In addition, it will ensure that people like all those meanies, judgmental Pharisee-types here at DefCon will have to close shop for they will no longer have a Biblical leg to stand on.

In each example, we will start with the original and then put in the suggested revision to match what we are seeing and hearing today.

Let’s start with Acts 2:22, 23, 36, 37 – “22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know– 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?'”

REWRITE – “22 Hey dudes, listen up: Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be God did some really cool things that some people might call miracles and then told us that God did it through Him. Well, you guys are smart enough to figure out for yourselves whether that was the case or not. 23 At any rate, you guys have heard about Him before, if nothing else, you use His name all the time at the workplace. Well, the Romans put Him on a cross because He was like, well, um, you know, He was making the kind-hearted, very religious, good-upright Jews unhappy and He even tried to start a few riots. 36 Well, this same Man Who got crucified also claimed to be both Lord and the Christ. We want all you guys to follow Him because after all when you reach the end of your current journey, He will be there to greet all of us with open arms. 37 So when the multitude heard the nice things that the apostles said, they decided to invite them back again to the next Jerusalem conference knowing they could trust these men not to confuse the issues. They knew that these men were not going to rock the boat and demand they do nasty things like repentance. They knew they wouldn’t call them down for their sins but would instead seek to lift up their self-esteem. 42 Because of the really cool programs, and the worldly music they offered at the First Church of Jerusalem, and the contextualized messages that encouraged their depravity such as “Biblical Sex for 40 Days Except the Sabbath” the church grew exponentially and was featured on all the late-night talk shows from Jerusalem to Asia Minor.”

Example 2 – Acts 7:51-55, “51 You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” 54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

REWRITE – Example 2 – Acts 7:51-55, “51 Listen up fellows. I am not here to offend you in anyway, but you know we have all done a few things we shouldn’t have done in our lives, and I’m sure there are times we all ignore what the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to do, but hey, after all, we are only human and God understands this. 52 There are some people who didn’t treat the old preachers very well, but I’m sure it wasn’t any of you guys or your ancestors. In fact, history tells us that some people just didn’t understand the prophets and tried to get rid of them, but some of the prophets just weren’t with the program anyway. Well, one or two of those old guys told us that Jesus was coming, and He came. He was a really good guy and hung out with really cool guys like our friend Peter. 53 Jesus told us that we have to just learn to love each other and don’t judge, so who am I to tell you what you need to do. 54 When the gathered nice group of people heard these wonderful things they invited Stephen to be the new president of the Jerusalem Ministerial Association. He was then able to go about preaching more of the great news that “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” 55 When Stephen saw how much everybody liked him, he cut a lucrative book deal with Jerusalem Christian Bookpress entitled, “49 Days of Learning to Become a Better Religious You.” His ministry expanded to both Europe and Asia, and he was able to walk about with his head held high knowing that he was accepted in every major religious establishment.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE — Personally, I think it will be a best seller and rewriting church history will be the best thing that could happen for Western Christianity Religiosity. Sadly, there are a few downfalls. True Bible believing Christians will reject it as false, but they are in the minority and it won’t affect book sales as most who claim to be Christians are unlearned when it comes to true doctrine anyway. Secondly, this material probably won’t go over to well with the church members that are being persecuted for their faith. However, I’m sure somebody will find a way to make it culturally accepted and the church will probably expand and still be able to get along with the local governments when they stop being so particular about what they will preach. After all, no government could have an issue with Christians preaching the new message of “love yourself”, “build your self-esteem”, and “We never condemn anybody for God wants you just as you are and we don’t care if you stay that way because that is between you and God.”

PS – Not sure how we can rewrite the persecuting parts of Acts like Paul and Silas in prison, but I’m sure any number of modern preachers could help so that it makes us all look better in the end.

PS2 – Stay tuned for the rewrite for the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel edition.