(1 Cor. 10:33) Was Paul a man-pleaser or not?

CLAIM: Paul writes, “I also please all men in all things” (1 Cor. 10:33). However, in Galatians 1:10, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Was Paul a man-pleaser or not?

RESPONSE: A parent might tell a hyper-sensitive child to toughen up and an insensitive child to soften up. Since two contexts are given, two commands are required. Similarly, these two churches (Galatia and Corinth) were struggling with different issues, so Paul was writing in different contexts to different needs. In Galatians, Paul is trying to show the people how to stay strong without compromising to false teaching, which is the context of this statement (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1; 5:10). However, in Corinth, Paul is trying to show how to compromise on non-essential issues like culture (1 Cor. 9:20-22) and diet (1 Cor. 10:24-32). This is the context for Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 10:33. We should please all men in cultural issues –not doctrinal issues (c.f. Rom. 15:2).