1 Corinthians 10:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 10:23, NIV: I have the right to do anything,' you say--but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'--but not everything is constructive.

1 Corinthians 10:23, ESV: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

1 Corinthians 10:23, KJV: All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

1 Corinthians 10:23, NASB: All things are permitted, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted, but not all things build people up.

1 Corinthians 10:23, NLT: You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'--but not everything is good for you. You say, 'I am allowed to do anything'--but not everything is beneficial.

1 Corinthians 10:23, CSB: "Everything is permissible," but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible," but not everything builds up.

What does 1 Corinthians 10:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul returns to address a philosophy popular in his era, even among some Christians. He first mentioned it in chapter 6 when confronting sexual immorality among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:12). It represented a misunderstanding of what it means to be free in Christ. This is sometimes termed as "hyper-grace." This is an attitude which presumes that if all my sin is forgiven, and I am not under the law of Moses, I must be free to do anything I please.

Paul again says "no." While it's true that many things—most things—are not sinful in and of themselves (1 Timothy 4:4), that is not the end of the thought process for believers. Christians should apply a different standard for the best use of their freedom. "Is this lawful?" is the wrong place to stop. Instead, we should continue by asking "Is this helpful? Does this build myself and others up?"

Paul is again addressing the issue of whether it is okay to knowingly eat meat that has been offered to idols. He has agreed that such meat has no power in and of itself (1 Corinthians 8:4–7). He will not agree that it is okay to eat such meat in most instances, however, because of how doing this otherwise "lawful" thing might harm others instead of building them up (1 Corinthians 8:8–13).