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1 Corinthians 10:32

ESV Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
NIV Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God--
NASB Do not offend Jews or Greeks, or the church of God;
CSB Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or the church of God,
NLT Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God.
KJV Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

What does 1 Corinthians 10:32 mean?

Paul gave the ultimate standard for all our choices as believers in the previous verse. Whatever we choose to do, or not do, should be aimed at bringing glory to God. In addition, Paul now adds, Christians should strive not give offense to Jews, Greeks, or the church of God.

The word translated as "give no offense" might be better understood in this context as "don't cause to stumble." In chapter 8, Paul noted that believers ought not put a "stumbling block" in the path of others. The imagery is of a stone or stick that causes a person to trip, as applied to their spiritual path. That verse used the word proskomma for this obstacle. Here, Paul uses the same root word, with a negation: a-proskopos. In very literal terms, he means acting in a way devoid of those stumbling blocks.

In other words, our freedom in Christ should be filtered by asking whether that choice helps or hurts someone else's spiritual journey. Will it interfere with another's chances of trusting Christ for salvation? Will it complicate or derail the discipleship of another believer? Good as that thing may be, itself, it becomes sin when we use it without compassion for others.

As examples, Paul lists three groups that Corinthian Christians would have been aware of. These include unbelieving Jews still living under the law, unbelieving Greeks—meaning Gentiles—likely still living as idol worshipers, and their own spiritual brothers and sisters in the Christian church. Our goal must be to ensure our choices—whether to participate or abstain— do not contribute to turning anyone away from trusting God.

Specifically, Paul may have had in mind the choice of whether to enter an idol temple for any function. Or, whether to eat meat known to be offered to an idol. The principle, however, can be applied to the exercise of all our freedoms and rights as Christians. Even in the modern world, there are places, events, and objects that come with ungodly associations. Even if they are not sinful, in and of themselves, we need to be careful about what messages we send by interacting with them.

It should be noted, however, that a believer's goal is not paranoia. The mission is not to avoid ever being offensive in any way. Some may be offended by our faith in Christ or by our biblical convictions. Some people are not "weak" in their conscience so much as "obstinate," and seek to force others to live according to their own convictions. We are not called to compromise truth or righteousness for the sake of other people's feelings. Nor are we commanded to allow the preferences of other people to rule over our lives. Rather, believers are instructed to avoid giving unnecessary offense: when we can, we should avoid it.
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