1 Corinthians 10:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 10:20, NIV: No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20, ESV: No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20, KJV: But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

1 Corinthians 10:20, NASB: No, but I say that things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become partners with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20, NLT: No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don't want you to participate with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20, CSB: No, but I do say that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons!

What does 1 Corinthians 10:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has finally reached the main reason he will warn the Christians in Corinth from eating food that has been offered to idols. It's not that the idols themselves represent real gods. He has been clear. The idols are fake, and the gods do not exist (1 Corinthians 8:4–7). It's that those who worship them are, perhaps without even knowing it, offering sacrifices to demons.

Now Paul finally reveals why it is essential that Christians draw hard lines on what participation they will have with idols. Real demons stand as the power behind those figures made with human hands. Idol worship provides demons with an entry point into the lives of those involved.

The Bible is clear that though idols and gods are powerless human creations (Psalm 96:5), demons are true supernatural beings who exercise supernatural power in the everyday world. Demons are former angels that joined Satan in his rebellion against God (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28; Revelation 12:3–4, 9). The Bible teaches that they are active in the world today.

None of Paul's readers would have said, "What's a demon?" Demon possession of human beings was common and openly accepted as reality during the time of Jesus and Paul. Demons were understood to be both powerful and harmful, especially among believers. It's unlikely any of the Corinthian Christians would have suggested that participation with demons was not a problem.

Paul's teaching that demons were a real power behind fake idols also was not a new idea. Psalm 106 describes some of the sins of Israel, including the worship of idols. It says this: "They served the idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan" (Psalm 106:36–38).