Online Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; 26 for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." 27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness." 29 "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? 31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (NKJV)
In this passage Paul continues to caution the Corinthian Christians not to be a stumbling block to unbelievers. This passage marks the conclusion of this message of which Paul wrote in chapters 8-10 of 1 Corinthians.
Paul summarizes the previous three chapters by writing “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (v. 23). Christians must limit their freedoms to those actions that glorify God.
These actions should be tempered. Christians cannot be selfish in their actions. They must always consider the “well-being” of others (v. 24).
Paul illustrates this teaching by citing an example that he has cited frequently during the last three chapters. The example has to do with dietary restrictions for Christians, specifically the eating of meat.
The example is very familiar to the Corinthians as the Greeks in Corinth frequently offered up their meats to Greek gods. The Corinthian Christians knew not to eat meat that had been offered up to idols.
Paul instructs them not to ask if meat has been offered up to idols, so as not to offend those to whom they are attempting to lead to Christ (vv. 25,27). After all, the Lord has given all things on earth for the use of mankind (v. 26, 28c).
However, if the Christian is told that the meat has been offered up to idols he is not to partake of that meat (v. 28a). Eating of this meat would cause the Christian to worship idols, which is a sin.
Christians are not to join in with those who are participating in sin because, among other things, it would compromise their witness to unbelievers (v. 28b). Christians must restrict their “liberty”, so as not to affect negatively the “conscience” of unbelievers (v. 29).
The Greek word translated “conscience” in this passage is the word suneidesis, which means the perception of morality. Christians must not join in with immorality. If they do so, their witness to unbelievers will be compromised.
Christians are to give thanks to the Lord for their food, so their food cannot have been previously offered up to idols (v. 30). This would be a contradiction. It would be immoral for the Christian to partake of food that they knew had been offered up to idols.
The bottom line is that Christians should glorify God in all they say or do (v. 31). However, in so doing Christians should attempt to not offend unbelievers, “either to the Jews or to the Greeks”, the gentiles (v. 32a).
This may not always be possible. Christianity itself is offensive to many people. Even so, we should not go out of our way to offend unbelievers. The emphasis should be on bringing them to Christ.
Offending unbelievers would also offend “the church of God” who is trying to witness to them (v. 32b). It just makes their job harder.
Paul concludes this subject by speaking of himself as an example to follow. He writes that he seeks to “please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (v.33).
We glorify God when we lead others to Christ. Each time we do Heaven rejoices.