Online Bible Commentary
Fellowship with Demons
1 Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. 18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul begins this passage with the word “therefore” which is a reference to the previous passage (v. 14a). Paul ended the previous passage with: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
So since God will “make the way of escape” from temptation we Christians should take that way. The temptation Paul is writing of in this passage is idolatry, and the way of escape is simply to flee, to run away from temptation (v. 14b).
When tempted to sin we should not take the time to study the temptation or try to decide how far we can go without sinning. Instead we should immediately flee the temptation. The longer we study the situation, the more likely we will partake of it.
The idolatry that Paul is addressing in this passage was the Corinthian practice of holding feasts in idol temples where meat was served that had been offered up to idols. He then asks the Corinthian believers to use their wisdom in order to understand the examples that he is about to present (v. 15).
The first example that Paul presents is that of the Lord’s Supper (vv. 16-17). The Lord’s Supper signifies our fellowship with Christ as individual Christians and, also, as the corporate body of Christ, the church. The wine and the bread that are consumed during this sacrament represent our worship offered up to God.
The second example is that of the Israelites’ idol worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights receiving the Ten Commandments and other regulations from God (v. 18a). The Israelites made a graven image out of gold which they used to worship God; “And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" 5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord" (Ex 32:4-5).
The worship of the graven image was a sin, breaking the Second Commandment; "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Ex. 20:4). The phrase “anything that is in Heaven” would include God Himself.
The food and drink that were consumed by the Israelites were offered up to an idol (v. 18b). This was a sin, even though they were offered up to an idol of God. It is important to remember that anything put before God, or in place of God, is an idol.
Next, Paul makes it clear that any food offered up to idols, or the idols themselves, are “anything”, of no value (vv. 19-20a). The food is just food and the idols are just statues. They have no significance.
These two examples serve to show us that when we participate in idol worship, we are in fellowship with others who participate in idol worship, just as we are in fellowship with Christ when partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Paul calls this fellowship with those who worship idols “fellowship with demons” (v. 20b).
The word fellowship means to have shared interests, not just to be present in a certain place. So, we cannot be in fellowship with the Lord and be in fellowship with demons at the same time (v. 21). The two do not have shared interests.
Being in fellowship with demons means that we are not in fellowship with Christ. Jesus said: “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Mt. 12:30)
God is a jealous God. We should not “provoke the Lord to jealousy” by being in fellowship with idol worshipers, or anyone involved in sinful lifestyles (v. 22a). We are not “stronger” than God (v. 22b).
Christians are called to be lights to the world. We are to mix with non-Christians in order to influence them for Christ. In doing so, we must be very careful to not fellowship with those who participate in sinful life styles. We do not want to provoke the Lord to jealousy by being in “fellowship with demons.”