1 Corinthians 10


1 Corinthians 10:14

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

(a) My beloved. Like the other epistle writers, Paul often referred to his Christian readers as beloved. The original word (agapētos) means dearly loved, esteemed, favorite and is closely related to a verb (agapaō) that means to be well pleased or fond of or contented. This word captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child.

(b) Flee from idolatry. When it came to idolatry, a Corinthian Christian would have two questions. First, is it okay to purchase meat from the market given that meat had probably been offered to idols? Paul’s answer was, “it depends” (see entry for 1 Cor. 8:9). Second, is it okay to attend idol festivals? Here Paul drew a firm line: flee from idolatry.

We don’t flee from idolatry because Paul said so or because it upsets God. We flee because idolatry is an inferior and destructive way to live. In many societies even today, idol feasts are a cultural tradition. In reality, they are a form of devil worship (1 Cor. 10:20). The children of the light have no business engaging in deeds of darkness (1 Cor. 1:21). We’re supposed to demolish demonic strongholds, not endorse them.


1 Corinthians 10:19

What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

An idol is a thing of stone and wood that can’t see, hear or breathe (see entry for 1 Cor. 8:4). But behind these idols and temples are demonic powers (see next verse).


1 Corinthians 10:20

No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.

Idol festivals are a form of devil worship. What does a child of the Most High have in common with low-life demons? (2 Cor. 6:15–18)?

God’s plan is for the church to be a beacon in a dark world, but how can we shine if we’re hiding in the dark? Since we are children of the light, we should not act as though we belong to the darkness (1 Th. 5:5).


1 Corinthians 10:21

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

What fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement has the temple of God with idols (2 Cor. 6:16)? Grace is not a license to sin and sup with demons. Grace is the power of God to say no to superstition and bondage.


1 Corinthians 10:25

Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake;

(a) The meat market. The idol temples of first-century Greece routinely sold the animals that had been offered as sacrifices. Was it okay for a Christian to eat such meat? Paul addressed this question in 1 Cor. 8, but he returns to it briefly here.

(b) Without asking questions for conscience’ sake. Since you wouldn’t buy meat if it troubled your conscience, he is talking about the conscience of others. Say you throw a dinner party and one of your guests asks about the origin of the meat. “Was this meat offered to idols?” For you, this is a non-issue, but for them it’s a biggie. In this instance, ignorance is the best policy. Conversely, when you go out to eat, perhaps at the house of an unbeliever, you would be wise to avoid asking questions too (1 Cor. 10:27).


1 Corinthians 10:26

FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.

The meat from the market may have been offered to idols, but everything belongs to the Lord. Whatever you eat, give thanks to the Lord who owns the earth and all the meat on it (1 Cor. 10:30).


The Grace Commentary is a reader-funded website. Got something to say about the commentary? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links or give feedback on this specific page, please use the comment form below.

Leave a Reply