What does 1 Corinthians 10:23 mean?
ESV: “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
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.
NASB: All things are permitted, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted, but not all things build people up.
CSB: "Everything is permissible," but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible," but not everything builds up.
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.
KJV: All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 10:23—11:1 shows that merely asking, ''Is this lawful?'' is the wrong question for Christians. Instead, we must continue by asking, ''Will this glorify God?'' and ''Will this build up our neighbors?'' Paul instructs them to act on this by refusing to eat meat they know has been offered to an idol. The reason is to avoid causing anyone to think Christians approve of idol worship in any way. They are free, though, to eat any meat they don't know to have been offered to an idol, with a clear conscience, and with thanks to God. The key message of this passage is that our intent, and the effects of our actions on others, are more important than the physical things involved.
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 11:39:56 PM
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