Paul sums up his raison d’être in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 10, verse 31. He says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Paul always saw himself as an example for other Christians to follow (1 Corinthians 4:16) He didn’t tell the Corinthians or any other Christians to do something he wouldn’t do himself. His life after his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 18) was one of total dedication to glorifying God (1 Corinthians 10:31). He saw Jesus as the One to copy, and he urged other Christians to be like him, in copying Jesus. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Paul’s statement of verse 31 comes within the context of an admonition for the Corinthians not to live as the Fathers had lived; they had been idolaters, (Exodus 32:4-6) ‘as were some of them’ (1 Corinthians 10:7). The Fathers were examples (v 11) of the consequences of idolatrous living. They fell to temptation and were destroyed by serpents (Numbers 21:6); they complained, and they were destroyed by the destroyer (Exodus 12:23). They committed sexual immorality and twenty three thousand fell in one day (1 Corinthians 10:8; Psalm 106:29).
Paul clearly saw that the old age had gone, and that he and the Corinthians were living in the new age of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13; 9:15). He told them ‘the ends of the ages have come’ (1 Corinthians 10:11), but sadly, like the Fathers, some of them were idolatrous.
They were to flee from temptation and look to God for a way of overcoming their temptations, because He is faithful and He will enable them to find a way out. (v 13)
They were to be as wise men knowing they were blessed in the communion of the blood and body of Christ. They all ate of the one bread, i.e., Christ. (vs 16, 17; John 6:51)
They were not to be like the Gentiles who sacrificed to demons and not to God (v 20). They were to have nothing to do with such practices, and they were to come to the Lord’s table unified in Him. (v 21)
If they were invited to dinner they were to eat what was set before them, asking no questions as to where the meat came from. (v 27) On the other hand if they were told by the host it had been ‘offered to idols’ (v 28) they were not to eat it, ‘for the sake of’ their host’s conscience. (vs 28, 29)
Paul pointed out that he had liberty to eat what he wanted, because it made no difference if the meat had been offered to idols. However, he would refrain from eating for the host’s conscience (v 28). The old laws of prohibition no longer applied, ‘for the earth is the Lord’s. and all its fulness’ (v 26; Psalm 24:1). All food was good (Acts 10:9-16), and under the New Covenant there were no prohibitions as to what could be eaten.
This brings us to verse 31, ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.’ The Corinthians were to give no offence to the Jews, the Greeks or the church of God. (v 32) They were to seek the profit of all men that they may be saved. (v 33)
Following Paul’s example, we are to make this our aim, to ‘do all to the glory of God.’ – God foremost, for His glory, and to put others before ourselves. (vs 24, 33)