1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Paul exhort the Corinthians to do in verse 14 (printed below?)

Therefore, my beloved brothers, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14)

When the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, flee from idolatry,” there is the indication that some of these Christian people were actually participating in some form of idolatrous practice. This was not merely a hypothetical situation or a warning of potential sin and danger, this was a real problem facing the Corinthian church.

2. How could it be that these professing Christians were engaged in the worship of pagan idols? Consider 1 Corinthians 8:4,10 (printed below)

Now concerning the eating of food that has been offered to idols: We know that a worldly idol is nothing, and that there is no God except one… (10) If someone sees you—one who possesses knowledge—sitting in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, being weak, become emboldened to eat what has been offered to idols? (1 Corinthians 8:4,10)

Some of these Corinthian Christians recognized the legitimacy of eating meat that had been offered to idols—as Paul confirmed in 1 Corinthians 8:4. But they were dangerously overstepping a spiritual boundary and going beyond what was acceptable. They were going beyond the point of merely eating meat that had previously been offered to idols; they were apparently participating in the idolatrous worship of their pagan neighbors (note 1 Corinthians 8:10).

3. What does Paul say about the idols of the world? See 1 Corinthians 10:19 (printed below)

Now then, what do I mean? Am I saying that meat offered to idols has any special significance? Or that an idol is anything? (1 Corinthians 10:19)

Before coming to his main point, Paul first makes several qualifying remarks to avoid misunderstanding (verse 19). “Am I saying that an idol is anything? No!” The apostle is reasserting the fact that no pagan idol is any god at all; there is only one true God, the God of the Bible, He alone is the true object of reverence and worship.

4. What does the apostle tell us about the power that resides behind the idols? See 1 Corinthians 10:20 (printed below)

No! But what I am telling you is that the sacrifices of the Gentiles are being offered to demons, not to God; and I do not want you to have communion with demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20)

Now in verse 20 Paul comes to the point of his concern. Although the idol is no god and represents no actual deity to be worshiped as God; nevertheless, there is a very real spiritual presence behind the idol and involved in idolatrous worship: the presence of demons. Note how the Word of God defines pagan worship and religion: such religious practices have a very real spiritual dimension and reality, but that spiritual dimension is the presence and activity of demons, not that of the living God.

5. What further reason does the apostle offer as to why we must avoid engaging in idolatrous practices? See 1 Corinthians 10:21-22 (printed below)

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and also of the table of demons. (22) Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:21-22)

Writing to these Corinthian Christians who were thoughtlessly engaging in the pagan religious ceremonies of their neighbors, the apostle Paul asks, “Are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (verse 22) We must abstain from every form of idolatry, because the Lord is a jealous God. The first of the Ten Commandments declares, “I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (3) You shall have no other gods beside me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)