1 Corinthians 8-10


Issue: Some were continuing to go to meals in temples held in honor of a god


Issue: The food that had been sacrificed to idols



Paul had addressed these issues in his first letter.

The Corinthians had questioned Paul’s comments about food sacrificed to idols in their      

response letter.


10:1-22         Paul prohibits eating sacrificial food at the pagan temples in the presence of the idol-demon

10:23-11:1    The same food if sold in the market place may be freely eaten with out




Temple Worship of Idols


  1. Involved the cultic meal in most ancient worship
  2. Israel had cultic meals established in their religion:
    1. Dt. 14:22-26    b. Ex. 24:11     c. 1 Sam.9:13  d. 1 Kg.1:25 e. Hos.8:113
  3. These meals could be a state festival or for private celebrations.
  4. Every occasion was celebrated this way. There is record of a birthday party for a one year old daughter that is to be celebrated by this kind of a meal.
  5. There are now 13 known papyrus invitations to these meals that have been found.
  6. They typically read:

“Chaeremon requests your company at the table of the Lord

Sarapis at the Sarapeum tomorrow, the 15th at 9 o’clock.”

  1. Three parts to the meal
    1. The preparation
    2. The sacrifice
    3. The feast
  2. The sacrifice was divided into three portions
    1. The portion burned before the god
    2. The portion eaten by the worshippers
    3. The portion placed on the “table of the god”
  1. It was assumed the god would be present at the meal since it was in their honor.
  2. The meals served two purposes:
    a. Worship and fellowship with the god

            b.     Social fellowship with others.

  1. The Gentile Christians would have grown up this way. This is where their families and friends ate.



Paul forbid the Corinthians participation in the cultic meals in his first letter.

The Corinthians had read it but made exception for it because of these four reasons:


1)    They had knowledge of the truth.

2)    The food you eat or don’t eat does not make you closer to God

3)    They were saved and maintain fellowship with Christ through the Lord’s supper.

4)    Paul’s apostolic position was limited in authority and by his understanding.


This is how they explained their exceptions to Paul’s first letter:

1)   Their knowledge of truth.

a)    Point of agreement between Paul and the Corinthians:

i. 1 Cor. 8:1,4, Monotheism (one God) rules out the reality of idols.

b)   Corinthians Interpretation:

                                                     i.     They “all have knowledge” (8:1) and understand these meals are not to real gods.

c)    Corinthian Application:

                                                     i.     They are not worshipping since they know it is nothing. So they were just eating with friends (probably sharing the gospel, too!?)

d)   Paul’s response:

                                                     i.     8:1-13


2)   Food does not make you closer to God.

a)    Point of agreement:

                                                     i.     1 Cor. 8:8, Food is a matter of indifference to God

b)   Corinthian Interpretation:

                                                     i.     Since food is indifferent to God and idols are nothing, it does not matter when or where we eat.

c)    Corinthians Application:

                                                     i.     Corinthian Christians can eat in the temples is not an issue w/ God

d)   Paul’s response:

                                                     i.     1 Corinthians 10:14-22


3)   They are saved and maintain fellowship through the Lord’s supper.

a)    Point of Agreement:

                                                     i.     We are saved eternally and are members of Christ

1.     10:1-4, example of Israel’s salvation

2.     10:14-17, example of Corinthian’s salvation

b)   Corinthian’s Interpretation:

                                                     i.     We than can not fall and are protected by the Lord Jesus

c)    Corinthian’s Application:

                                                     i.     All we need to do is keep taking communion

d)   Paul’s response:

                                                     i.     All of Chapter 10

                                                      ii.     Summarized in 10:21-22




4)   Paul’s apostolic position was limited in authority and by his understanding

a)    Point of Agreement

                                                     i.     Paul is a believer. . . . . . . . . . 9:1, “free”

                                                      ii.     Paul is an apostle. . . . . . . . . . 9:1, “saw Jesus”

                                                        iii.     Paul’s message saved them. . 9:1, (they themselves are saved)

1.     All three points are seen in 9:2:

a.     “You are. . . .” (iii. Paul’s message saved them.)

b.     “. . .the seal of my apostleship. . .” (ii. Paul is apostle)

c.     “. . .in the Lord.” (i. Paul is a believer.)

b)   Corinthian’s Interpretation

                                                     i.     Paul didn’t accept money while ministering in Corinthian proving he really didn’t think he was as qualified as some others that do receive money. (9:12, 15)

                                                      ii.     Paul himself compromised on the issue of idol food sold in the market place by sometimes eating it and sometimes not eating it. He himself was confused as to what he should do. (9:19-23)

1.     With a Jewish unbeliever, he would not eat (9:20)

2.     With a Gentile unbeliever, he would eat (9:21)

3.     To the immature believer who does not know, he would not eat (9:22)

c)    Corinthians Application:

                                                     i.     We do not need to listen to everything Paul says because obviously he is an apostle with limited authority (money issue) and limited understanding (his inconsistent eating habits)

d)   Paul’s response

                                                     i.     9:3-18

                                                      ii.     9:19:23



Paul is correcting:

1)    Abuse of others in name of “knowledge.” He says “love” of others is driving Christian force.

2)    Their abuse of his apostolic authority. Saying I have the privileges and rights that come with my position. But, just because I chose to give up the rights and privileges do not think I have given up the position or think I am not an apostle.

3)    Misunderstanding of the demonic nature of idol worship and false security in the Lord’s table. The lack of regard for the demonic will callous you to:

a.     The danger of involvement with demonic things

b.     The reality of the Lord’s table. It has power, but not the power to protect you in sin but to judge you of sin.

4)    Eating food purchased in the market place is acceptable, unless it offends some one.