1 Corinthians 8 NASB

1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. 4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that [b]there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.8 But food will not [c]commend us to God; we are neither [d]the worse if we do not eat, nor [e]the better if we do eat.

In the above text Paul clearly states that partaking of things sacrificed to idols does not affect those that have knowledge & Christian liberty,but In the following text he seems to have changed his tone & put some prohibition.

1 Corinthians 10 NASB

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons

In one instance Paul seems to be agreeable to partaking of things offered to idols but at the same time prohibiting the partaking of the same.

So how can these texts be reconciled if ever they need any reconciliation?

  • Also: "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." (1 Co 8:9–13, ESV)
    – Perry Webb
    May 14, 2018 at 9:00
  • @PerryWebb,Relative to a weak brother yes it might become a stumbling block,,but what about the knowledgeable & wise christian how can these texts be interpreted May 14, 2018 at 9:30
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    I believe the short story is that in 1 Cor 8 the issue is eating food sold in the market (at home or as a guest) that had previously been slaughtered during a Roman festival vs 1 Cor 10 where the believer is instructed not to partake of the festival itself.
    – Ruminator
    May 14, 2018 at 10:57
  • 1
    It is clear that Paul makes a difference between deliberate involvement in an idolatrous, sacrificial ritual and the issue of eating (or not eating) what may (or may not) have been offered at that sacrifice.
    – Nigel J
    May 14, 2018 at 11:44
  • A Christian, who is expected to regularly partake of the Lord's table, cannot participate at pagan orgiastic banquettes.
    – Lucian
    May 19, 2018 at 21:20

3 Answers 3


If we keep reading in 1 Corinthians 10 we see that there is no contradiction. Paul is stating that we are free to eat whatever is put before us, unless there is an issue of conscience, ie the conscience of the weaker brother.

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

Here is a key premise: Paul is saying that the Jews which are eating OT sacrifices without faith in Christ (ie, after the flesh – by works not faith) they themselves are partakers of the OT sacrifice system. That is, they are still under the Old Covenant and still partakers of attempting to attain righteousness via the Old Covenant of animal sacrifices. In effect, they give evidence they have not yet move from death to life, OT to NT.

He then applies this same principal to the Gentiles.

19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

So, here Paul then applies the same principal to Gentiles. He says that the Gentiles who are still weak in faith offer sacrifice to idols are still in effect partakers of idolatry. Even thought the mature believer understands that idols are nothing, the Gentile still does and if the mature believe partakes in eating meat sacrificed to idols (when everyone understands what is happening – see below) then the mature believe becomes a partaker in the idolatry due to the conscience of the weaker brother. Keep reading.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.

Paul says that to the mature believer, all things are lawful but not all things edify; this is that case with eating meat sacrificed to idols when both parties understand the significance. Keep reading.

25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? 30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

So here Paul lays out the premise. He says that if you go to a dinner and they set before you meat sacrificed to idols and no one says anything about it, then you are free to eat, since we all know that there is no other god but the Lord.

However, Paul says, if they tell you that this meat is sacrificed to idols (making sure you understand the significance) then you must refrain because of conscience sake, ie the conscience of your weaker brother. For if you would eat, then in-effect, you are sanctioning the practice and affirming that the weaker brother’s idolatry is correct. This would in effect make Christ a party to the idolatry hence the reference to fellowship with devils in V20-21.


Ruminator wrote wrote in May 18 that this refers to meat sold at the meat market. I understand that this would be Gordon Fee's position. My question with this is 1Cor 8:10 which speaks of eating in the temple. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated as I'm preaching Ch 8 this Sunday and trying to get my head around! Many thanks

  • Nice to have you on the site, Ice. It certainly is the case that comments on here can give rise to more questions, and you have raised one (with a time-limit involved!) However, that would have been more suitable as a comment given that you have not actually answered the Q. This forum is not actually for helping preachers produce sermons. But I sincerely hope you managed to get clarity on chapter 8, in time!
    – Anne
    Mar 15, 2019 at 17:40

In referernce to chapter 8, A believer is not defiled by what goes into the mouth but what comes out of the mouth. In reference to Chapter 10, A believer is responsible for not being a stumbling block. So the two chapters are not referring to the same thing regarding your question.

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