What does 1 Corinthians 10:19 mean?
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?
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 10:14–22 describes why it is essential to run away from idol worship of any kind. Participating in communion by taking in the representations of Christ's body and blood brings us into participation with Him. To be involved with idolatry causes people to participate with demons. Nobody can remain in participation both with Christ and demons. Paul uses questions to warn the Corinthians about stirring up the Lord's jealousy in this way. He is stronger than us and willing to act when betrayed.
Chapter Summary:
Idol worship is an extremely serious sin. Paul reminds the Christians in idol-saturated Corinth of that by referring to the history of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness. Though blessed by God, they worshiped false idols. God killed many of them for it. Paul commands his readers to flee from idol worship. To participate with idol worship in any way is to participate with demons. God always provides some way to avoid sin. So, they must avoid giving anyone the idea that they approve of idol worship, even by knowingly eating food offered to idols. Their first question must always be, ''Will this glorify God?''
Chapter Context:
The previous chapter concluded with Paul's commitment to continue to control himself. He exercises discipline so he does not become ineffective in his ministry. He begins chapter 10 by reminding the Corinthians of how the Israelites brought consequences on themselves in the wilderness. Among their many sins was worshiping idols, and God killed many of them for it. The Corinthians must flee idol worship and any appearance of supporting the demonic practice. They are free to eat meat if they don't know that it is idol food. However, they should be ready to set aside their own freedoms and rights whenever doing so will glorify God and win others to Christ.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 4/15/2024 11:45:25 PM
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