1 Corinthians 10

The Word Made Fresh

1I want you to be aware that our forebearers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized in the cloud and in the sea for Moses. 3They all ate the same spiritual food. 4They all drank the same spiritual drink because it came from the spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was Christ. 5Still, God was not pleased with most of them, and they perished in the wilderness.

6All of this happened as examples for us so that we won’t embrace evil as they did. 7Don’t worship idols, as some of them did. It is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, then rose up to play.” 8We shouldn’t have anything to do with sexual immorality as some of them did – and twenty-three thousand of them fell dead in a single day! 9We must not put the Lord to the test. Some of them did, and they were bitten by snakes. 10And don’t complain as some of them did; they were destroyed by an angel.

11All of these things that happened to them serve as examples, and they were recorded to teach us; us, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you’re standing, be careful not to fall. 13The testing you have experienced is common to everyone. God is faithful. God won’t allow you to be tested beyond your strength. You will always be given a way out so that you can survive.

14So, friends, run from idol worship! 15I say this to sensible people – judge it for yourselves. 16Isn’t the cup we bless a sharing in Christ’s blood? And the bread we break a sharing in Christ’s body? 17Just as there is one loaf, we are one body because we all take from the same loaf. 18Think of the people of Israel – aren’t those who eat the sacrifices partners in serving the altar? 19Am I saying that food sacrificed to idols means anything? Or that the idol itself is anything? 20No, I’m saying that what pagans sacrifice is sacrificed to demons, not to God. I don’t want you to serve demons. 21You can’t drink from the Lord’s cup and from the cup of demons. You can’t eat at the Lord’s table and at the demon’s table. 22Are we trying to make the Lord jealous? Are we stronger than the Lord?

23“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things improve us. 24Don’t always seek an advantage for yourself, but look out for the needs of others. 25Eat whatever is sold in the market without worrying about conscience. 26“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” 27If you are invited to dinner by an unbeliever, and you feel obligated to go, eat whatever is offered and don’t fret over your conscience. 28But if they tell you, “This has been offered as a sacrifice,” don’t eat it for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience – 29I mean his conscience, not yours. Why should your rights be subjected to someone else’s conscience? 30If I eat with thanksgiving, why should I be denounced over what I’m giving thanks for?

31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it for God’s glory. 32Don’t offend Jews or Greeks or God’s church. 33I try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t seek my own advantage. I seek everyone’s advantage so that they might be saved.


1-5: It is apparent that very early in the development of Christianity the Old Testament became an important part of the instruction given to believers whether they were Jewish or Gentile. Paul is here defending his Jewish heritage, claiming that Christ was with them when they came out of Egypt and that their crossing of the Red Sea is tantamount to Christian baptism. It is an interesting position to take, but one which Paul doesn’t seem to dwell on or even to defend elsewhere. However, he notes that in spite of Christ’s presence with them most of them provoked God to anger.

6-13: Paul says that God’s rejection of the sinful Hebrews in the wilderness was an example for his readers, and urges them not to fall into the same idolatry. Verse 7 is a quote from Exodus 32:6. Verse 8 is a reference to the story in Numbers 25 where Phinehas, son of Eleazar, killed an Israelite and his Moabite lover. Numbers 25:9 says 24,000 died in the plague, not 23,000, but after a few thousand who’s counting anyway? Verse 9 references the story in Numbers 21:4-9 when God was said to have sent poisonous snakes into the camp when the people complained against God. Paul alleges again that Christ was present. It’s hard to determine to what he is referring in verse 10; several incidents might fit. His point is that all these things should be examples to the Corinthian Christians, and assures them that God never tests anyone but that there is a way out, and they can endure any temptation.

14-22: Breaking bread and sharing a cup is the Christian way of participating in Christ’s suffering, an act which emphasizes their oneness in Christ. There is no reason to refrain from food sacrificed to idols, since the idols are nothing. However, food and drink from such rituals cannot be thought of as the bread and cup we share with Christ, and should be avoided as such.

23-30: The solution to the “food dedicated to idols” question is simply this, he says: don’t ask too many questions. There’s nothing wrong with eating such food, but if you ask and find out it is from some pagan ritual, then refuse it.

31-33: The point seems to be that if some new believers are somewhat naïve and even superstitious in their view of things, don’t trouble them by acting in ways they will find disturbing.


Follow Jesus. Everything falls into place when you do that.