1 Corinthians 8-10
Meat sacrificed to false gods
8 Now concerning meat that has been sacrificed to a false god: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. 2 If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t yet know as much as they should know. 3 But if someone loves God, then they are known by God.
4 So concerning the actual food involved in these sacrifices to false gods, we know that a false god isn’t anything in this world, and that there is no God except for the one God. 5 Granted, there are so-called “gods,” in heaven and on the earth, as there are many gods and many lords. 6 However, for us believers,
There is one God the Father.
All things come from him, and we belong to him.
And there is one Lord Jesus Christ.
All things exist through him, and we live through him.
7 But not everybody knows this. Some are eating this food as though it really is food sacrificed to a real idol, because they were used to idol worship until now. Their conscience is weak because it has been damaged. 8 Food won’t bring us close to God. We’re not missing out if we don’t eat, and we don’t have any advantage if we do eat. 9 But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak. 10 Suppose someone sees you (the person who has knowledge) eating in an idol’s temple. Won’t the person with a weak conscience be encouraged to eat the meat sacrificed to false gods? 11 The weak brother or sister for whom Christ died is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 You sin against Christ if you sin against your brothers and sisters and hurt their weak consciences this way. 13 This is why, if food causes the downfall of my brother or sister, I won’t eat meat ever again, or else I may cause my brother or sister to fall.
Waiving rights for the gospel
9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you my work in the Lord? 2 If I’m not an apostle to others, at least I am to you! You are the seal that shows I’m an apostle. 3 This is my defense against those who criticize me. 4 Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to travel with a wife who believes like the rest of the apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who don’t have the right to not work for our living? 7 Who joins the army and pays their own way? Who plants a vineyard and doesn’t eat its fruit? Who shepherds a flock and doesn’t drink its milk? 8 I’m not saying these things just based on common sense, am I? Doesn’t the Law itself say these things? 9 In Moses’ Law it’s written: You will not muzzle the ox when it is threshing. Is God worried about oxen, 10 or did he say this entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake because the one who plows and the one who threshes should each do so with the hope of sharing the produce. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it so much to ask to harvest some material things from you?
12 If others have these rights over you, don’t we deserve them all the more? However, we haven’t made use of this right, but we put up with everything so we don’t put any obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get to eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share part of what is sacrificed on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel. 15 But I haven’t taken advantage of this. And I’m not writing this so that it will be done for me. It’s better for me to die than to lose my right to brag about this! 16 If I preach the gospel, I have no reason to brag, since I’m obligated to do it. I’m in trouble if I don’t preach the gospel. 17 If I do this voluntarily, I get rewarded for it. But if I’m forced to do it, then I’ve been charged with a responsibility. 18 What reward do I get? That when I preach, I offer the good news free of charge. That’s why I don’t use the rights to which I’m entitled through the gospel.
19 Although I’m free from all people, I make myself a slave to all people, to recruit more of them. 20 I act like a Jew to the Jews, so I can recruit Jews. I act like I’m under the Law to those under the Law, so I can recruit those who are under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law). 21 I act like I’m outside the Law to those who are outside the Law, so I can recruit those outside the Law (though I’m not outside the law of God but rather under the law of Christ). 22 I act weak to the weak, so I can recruit the weak. I have become all things to all people, so I could save some by all possible means. 23 All the things I do are for the sake of the gospel, so I can be a partner with it.
24 Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. 25 Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies. 26 So now this is how I run—not without a clear goal in sight. I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing. 27 Rather, I’m landing punches on my own body and subduing it like a slave. I do this to be sure that I myself won’t be disqualified after preaching to others.
Warning from the wilderness generation
10 Brothers and sisters, I want you to be sure of the fact that our ancestors were all under the cloud and they all went through the sea. 2 All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 All ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5 However, God was unhappy with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. 6 These things were examples for us, so we won’t crave evil things like they did. 7 Don’t worship false gods like some of them did, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and they got up to play. 8 Let’s not practice sexual immorality, like some of them did, and twenty-three thousand died in one day. 9 Let’s not test Christ, like some of them did, and were killed by the snakes. 10 Let’s not grumble, like some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer. 11 These things happened to them as an example and were written as a warning for us to whom the end of time has come. 12 So those who think they are standing need to watch out or else they may fall. 13 No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.
Avoid false gods to glorify God
14 So then, my dear friends, run away from the worship of false gods! 15 I’m talking to you like you are sensible people. Think about what I’m saying. 16 Isn’t the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn’t the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one loaf of bread, we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf of bread. 18 Look at the people of Israel. Don’t those who eat the sacrifices share from the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That food sacrificed to a false god is anything, or that a false god is anything? 20 No, but this kind of sacrifice is sacrificed to demons and not to God. I don’t want you to be sharing in demons. 21 You can’t drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you can’t participate in the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or should we make the Lord jealous? We aren’t stronger than he is, are we?
23 Everything is permitted, but everything isn’t beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn’t build others up. 24 No one should look out for their own advantage, but they should look out for each other. 25 Eat everything that is sold in the marketplace, without asking questions about it because of your conscience. 26 The earth and all that is in it belong to the Lord. 27 If an unbeliever invites you to eat with them and you want to go, eat whatever is served, without asking questions because of your conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This meat was sacrificed in a temple,” then don’t eat it for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 Now when I say “conscience” I don’t mean yours but the other person’s. Why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I participate with gratitude, why should I be blamed for food I thank God for? 31 So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you should do it all for God’s glory. 32 Don’t offend either Jews or Greeks, or God’s church. 33 This is the same thing that I do. I please everyone in everything I do. I don’t look out for my own advantage, but I look out for many people so that they can be saved.