Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 10:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

What say I then? - A Jewish phrase for, I conclude; and this is his conclusion: that although an idol is nothing, has neither power nor influence, nor are things offered to idols any thing the worse for being thus offered; yet, as the things sacrificed by the Gentiles are sacrificed to demons and not to God, those who partake of them have fellowship with demons: those who profess Christianity cannot have fellowship both with Christ and the devil.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

What say I then? - This is in the present tense; τί οὖν φημι ti oun phēmiwhat do I say? What is my meaning? What follows from this? Do I mean to say that an idol is anything; that it has a real existence? Does my reasoning lead to that conclusion; and am I to be understood as affirming that an idol is of itself of any consequence? It must be recollected that the Corinthian Christians are introduced by Paul 1 Corinthians 8:4 as saying that they knew that an idol was nothing in the world. Paul did not directly contradict that; but his reasoning had led him to the necessity of calling the propriety of their attending on the feasts of idols in question; and he introduces the matter now by asking these questions, thus leading the mind to it rather than directly affirming it at once. “Am I in this reasoning to be understood as affirming that an idol is anything, or that the meat there offered differs from other meat? No; you know, says Paul, that this is not my meaning. I admit that an idol in itself is nothing; but I do not admit, therefore, that it is right for you to attend in their temples; for though the “idol” itself - the block of wood or stone - is nothing, yet the offerings are really made to devils; and I would not have you engage in such a service;” 1 Corinthians 10:20-21.

That the idol is anything? - That the block of wood or stone is a real living object of worship, to be dreaded or loved? See the note at 1 Corinthians 8:4.

Or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? - Or that the meat which is offered “differs” from that which is not offered; that the mere act of offering it changes its qualities? I do not admit or suppose this.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Did not the joining in the Lord's supper show a profession of faith in Christ crucified, and of adoring gratitude to him for his salvation ? Christians, by this ordinance, and the faith therein professed, were united as the grains of wheat in one loaf of bread, or as the members in the human body, seeing they were all united to Christ, and had fellowship with him and one another. This is confirmed from the Jewish worship and customs in sacrifice. The apostle applies this to feasting with idolaters. Eating food as part of a heathen sacrifice, was worshipping the idol to whom it was made, and having fellowship or communion with it; just as he who eats the Lord's supper, is accounted to partake in the Christian sacrifice, or as they who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of what was offered on their altar. It was denying Christianity; for communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could never be had at once. If Christians venture into places, and join in sacrifices to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, they will provoke God.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 191

At Jerusalem the delegates from Antioch met the brethren of the various churches, who had gathered for a general meeting, and to them they related the success that had attended their ministry among the Gentiles. They then gave a clear outline of the confusion that had resulted because certain converted Pharisees had gone to Antioch declaring that, in order to be saved, the Gentile converts must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. AA 191.1

This question was warmly discussed in the assembly. Intimately connected with the question of circumcision were several others demanding careful study. One was the problem as to what attitude should be taken toward the use of meats offered to idols. Many of the Gentile converts were living among ignorant and superstitious people who made frequent sacrifices and offerings to idols. The priests of this heathen worship carried on an extensive merchandise with the offerings brought to them, and the Jews feared that the Gentile converts would bring Christianity into disrepute by purchasing that which had been offered to idols, thereby sanctioning, in some measure, idolatrous customs. AA 191.2

Again, the Gentiles were accustomed to eat the flesh of animals that had been strangled, while the Jews had been divinely instructed that when beasts were killed for food, particular care was to be taken that the blood should flow from the body; otherwise the meat would not be regarded as wholesome. God had given these injunctions to the Jews for the purpose of preserving their health. The Jews regarded it as sinful to use blood as an article of diet. They held that the blood was the life, and that the shedding of blood was in consequence of sin. AA 191.3

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