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1 Corinthians 10:19

ESV What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
NIV Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?
NASB What do I mean then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
CSB What am I saying then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
NLT What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods?
KJV What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
NKJV What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?

What does 1 Corinthians 10:19 mean?

Paul continues to build his case for why Christians must avoid knowingly eating food that has been offered to idols. He has shown how Christian communion involves participating with the blood and body of Christ, as well as how eating food from an altar results in participation with that altar.

Now he steps back to clarify something. He asks a question to which the clear answer is "no." Food offered to idols is not "anything." In fact, even the idols themselves are not "anything." By this, he means that these idols are not actually gods and, thus, the food offered to them is nothing more than food.

That point was being made by those in Corinth who wanted to continue to eat food that had been offered to idols and attend functions in pagan temples (1 Corinthians 8:4–6). Those who grew up in Corinth and came to faith in Christ later in life have struggled with the idea that they must stay away from all of it. It's not that they wanted to worship idols. It's that the worship of idols and false gods was so pervasive in Corinthian life that it was connected to everything.

Weddings, funerals, and business meetings were held in idol temples where idol food was served. Even those who did not worship one idol or another would attend banquets in the temples to those idols and purchase meat offered to those idols to feed their families. To completely avoid participating with idols in any way would isolate someone from many aspects of life in Corinth.

It's no wonder they pushed back on the idea of total avoidance. And if the idols were fake and had no real power, what difference did it make?

Paul agreed with them to a point earlier in this letter: "We know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4). He has not changed his mind, but he will show in the following verses that there is real power at work behind those false idols.
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