The Book of 1 Corinthians Bible Study Chapter 10 Part 3

Let’s read 1 Cor 10:23-33
v23: All things are lawful for me: Should we take this at face value? That would then mean that murder, adultery etc would become lawful for us – which it obviously does not. So then, is there a cultural and contextual framework for understanding what Paul means here? When Paul says ‘all things’ it is limited to the context – what he’s speaking about. He is not advocating for adultery, murder, stealing, blasphemy. The context of these verses up to this point have been around idolatry. For example: If fruit is offered up to an idol and then sold in the marketplace it is lawful for us to buy it and eat it. It will cause no harm to us. The apple didn’t undergo any physical changes (an idol has no power) when it was offered up to the idol. So what Paul is saying here is that in regard to things tied to idolatry (the piece of fruit offered up, the elephant paperweight, the dragon carved vase etc) all is permissible – they hold no power over the lives of believers.
·      Helpful: Beneficial. We need to only take things into our lives that profit or edify us spiritually – for our own sakes and for our testimony’s sake. Paul always put himself in subjection to the spiritual condition of others – he didn’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone in what he said, in what he ate, in what he did etc
v24: This verse is simply another way to express loving our neighbours as we love ourselves. Even if something is perfectly lawful for us, if it is not going to be of benefit to others and in fact might potentially cause them harm, then we are better off not doing it – not for our sake, but for the sake of others. 
v25: The illustration that Paul gives in this verse is again set within the context of food/meat sacrificed to idols. Paul is not speaking here about all the foods that have been forbidden in the Word of G-d. We cannot, therefore, apply this verse to those foods. This verse is talking very specifically about meat sacrificed to idols which, after sacrifice, made its way into the marketplace. These meats should be of no concern to us as an idol has no power or authority.  
·      For conscience sake: A conscience can be of great benefit to us but sometimes it can be incorrect. People can have personal convictions (shaped by upbringing etc) which are incorrect. It is not our conscience that needs to guide us, but we need to be guided by truth (which is sometimes in conflict with our conscience).  We must never let a personal conviction overshadow the Word of G-d.
v26: Paul is quoting from Psalm 24:1. Some people will take this verse out of context and say that everything belongs to G-d so they can do whatever they want. This is not good logic. When we come across a passage of Scripture that is quoting another Scripture, we need to read the original verse in its context. When an OT verse is quoted in the NT the writer assumes/expects us to know what that verse means in context. Within the context of Ps 24: This Psalm is speaking about G-d who is Sovereign. He is over everything. Only those who have clean hands, pure hearts etc can approach Him for the purpose of worship. This psalm ends with the King of glory coming in – this is a reference to the coming of Messiah – He is coming to establish His Kingdom.  This is a righteous Kingdom. We do not do whatever we want to do when we become believers. We should want to be people that have clean hands (ie not do evil deeds) and pure hearts. 
v27: We have been given the theory so now, in this verse, Paul begins to teach us (believers) how to practically apply this knowledge. 
·      Those who do not believe: Unbelievers. 
·      Eat whatever is set before you: Again, this is within the context of food that has potentially been sacrificed to idols (this is not talking about pork, shellfish etc so these foods should not be dragged into this context). A believer can eat this food without feeling guilty. We don’t need to ask if it was sacrificed to idols as there is no need to make idolatry the issue. 
v28: Anyone: Referring to the unbeliever who invites you to dinner. 
·      Says…’this was offered to idols’: If the unbeliever tells us the meat was offered to an idol then we are not to eat of the meat – even though it has no power and is harmless for us. 
·      Do not eat it: This is a command. 
·      For the sake of the one who told you: We do not want to give the unbeliever the impression that by eating this meat we are participating in idol worship. This cut of meat was often more expensive than other cuts of meat because of its sacrificial/religious status. The unbeliever could have bought it as he sees it as the best there is to offer – its status has been elevated in his eyes. By eating it we would, in a sense, be agreeing with his perception of this meat. This meat is no better or worse than other cuts of meat which haven’t been sacrificed. 
·      For conscience sake: The unbeliever proclaimed that it was used for idolatrous practices. He places greater value on this meat because it was sacrificed to idols. We don’t eat it for the sake of our conscience (our consciences remain clear) but for the sake of the unbeliever’s conscience. 
v29: This verse teaches us a very important principle. As believers, we need to be aware of other people’s points of view and we might need to behave differently in light of them. We must never be a stumbling block to others and must love them as we love ourselves – we need to look out for the best interests of others. We don’t use our freedom to destroy others. 
·      Why is my liberty judged by another mans conscience: We are living to please G-d. He has commanded us to love others. In doing so there may be times when we have to choose to lay aside or limit our (Biblically appropriate) freedom/rights for the sake of someone else’s conscience.
v30: This is a strangely worded verse in the NKJV. G-d has taught us what is permissible. When we give thanks for the food He has given to us we can do so joyfully, based upon the liberty, grace and knowledge that He has entrusted us with. 
·      Evil spoken of: Why should this grace that we have received be restricted or spoken evil of because of the conscience/position of someone else?
v31: Do all to the glory of G-d: Although what we want to do is permissible Biblically it might not be the best thing to do under the circumstances. If we just go ahead and do it because we are free, with no thought to the other person and their views, then we are potentially going to do more harm than good – yes, we have utilised our freedom, but we have not brought glory to G-d. Our actions should never be based on our freedom, but their deciding factor should always be to bring glory to G-d. We need to always aim to be a blessing to others and not a hinderance to them in any way.  
v32: We never want to be a stumbling block to anyone (Law observant Jews, pagan Gentiles or fellow believers). We must NEVER use our liberty to destroy someone spiritually or to ruin our testimony. We should rather deny ourselves than be a spiritual negative influence on someone else. 
v33: Paul used whatever means he could to be pleasing not only to G-d but also to others – not in any way being a hinderance to their salvation. This did not mean that he gave them everything they wanted or said whatever they wanted him to say etc. Pleasing them meant having a positive impact in their lives. 
·      Not seeking my own profit: He did not make decisions based on what was best or most profitable for himself. Our own good should never be the motivating factor for our behaviour. Paul’s freedom allowed him to subject himself to the conscience of others – for their good and not for his own.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top