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1 Corinthians 10:20-21 & meaning...


things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I don’t desire that you would have fellowship with demons.

1 Corinthians 10:20


Consider Israel according to the flesh. Don’t those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?

1 Corinthians 10 [19.] What am I saying then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God, and I don’t desire that you would have fellowship with demons. You can’t both drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t both partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are profitable. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own, but each one his neighbor’s good. 

1 Corinthians 10 [25.] Whatever is sold in the butcher shop, eat, asking no question for the sake of conscience, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and its fullness.”[a] But if one of those who don’t believe invites you to a meal, and you are inclined to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for the sake of conscience. 


a. 1 Corinthians 10:26 Psalm 24:1.


Corinthian Challenges: The Corinthian church faced various issues, including divisions, immorality, and confusion about practices such as eating food sacrificed to idols. Paul wrote to address these concerns and guide the believers in living out their faith in a pagan society.

Idolatry and Pagan Practices: In the broader context of chapters 8-10, Paul discusses the issue of eating food offered to idols. While idols themselves are nothing, the act of participating in pagan rituals has deeper spiritual implications.

  • Sacrifice to Demons:

Gentile Sacrifices: Paul asserts that the sacrifices made by Gentiles (non-Jews) are offered to demons rather than to God. This aligns with the biblical understanding that behind idolatry lies demonic influence (Deuteronomy 32:17, Psalm 106:37).

Spiritual Realities: Paul emphasizes the spiritual reality that participating in pagan sacrifices is not neutral but involves engaging with demonic forces.

  • Exclusive Devotion to God:

Communion with Demons: Paul expresses his desire that the Corinthians avoid any form of communion with demons. The word "communion" (Greek: "koinonia") implies a deep sharing or fellowship.

Incompatibility of Allegiances: Paul underscores the incompatibility of participating in both the Lord’s table (communion) and pagan rituals. Drinking the cup of the Lord symbolizes fellowship with Christ and the new covenant, while drinking the cup of demons represents participation in idolatry.

Theological Significance

  • Spiritual Integrity:

Undivided Loyalty: Paul’s message stresses the importance of undivided loyalty to God. Believers are called to exclusive worship and fellowship with God, avoiding any practices that align with demonic forces.

Holiness and Separation: The call to avoid communion with demons aligns with the biblical principle of holiness, which involves being set apart for God and avoiding associations with evil.

  • The Lord’s Table:

Sacramental Participation: Participating in the Lord’s Supper (communion) is a sacred act that signifies our union with Christ and our participation in the benefits of His sacrifice. It is incompatible with any form of idolatry or pagan practice.

Communal Identity: The Lord’s table also reflects the communal identity of the church. Sharing in communion symbolizes our unity as the body of Christ, separate from the pagan world.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Guarding Against Idolatry:

Modern Idolatry: While we may not participate in pagan rituals today, modern idolatry can take many forms, such as materialism, power, or anything that takes precedence over our devotion to God. We must be vigilant in identifying and rejecting these idols.

Exclusive Devotion: Reflect on areas where divided loyalties might exist in your life. Commit to exclusive devotion to God, ensuring that your actions, thoughts, and priorities align with His will.

  • Spiritual Discernment:

Recognizing Spiritual Realities: Be aware of the spiritual realities behind practices and influences in our lives. Cultivate discernment through prayer, Scripture, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to avoid engaging in anything that opposes God.

Fostering Holiness: Strive for holiness by setting yourself apart for God. This involves making choices that reflect your commitment to Him and rejecting anything that compromises your faith.

  • Participation in Communion:

Meaningful Participation: Approach the Lord’s Supper with reverence and understanding of its significance. Recognize it as a moment of deep fellowship with Christ and His body, the church.

Living Out Communion: Let the principles of unity, love, and devotion reflected in communion influence your daily life. Live in a way that honors your commitment to Christ and your identity as part of His body.


Deuteronomy 32:17: "They sacrificed to demons, which were no gods, to gods that they didn’t know, to new gods that came up recently, which your fathers didn’t dread." This Old Testament reference highlights the association between idolatry and demonic forces, reinforcing Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians.

Psalm 106:37: "Yes, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons." The Psalmist reflects on Israel’s history of idolatry, further illustrating the demonic connections behind such practices.

2 Corinthians 6:14-15: "Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever?" Paul’s later writing to the Corinthians underscores the principle of separation from ungodly influences, consistent with his message in 1 Corinthians 10.

Conclusion: 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 calls us to a profound recognition of the spiritual realities behind idolatrous practices and a commitment to exclusive devotion to God. Paul’s warning against communion with demons through pagan sacrifices emphasizes the importance of spiritual integrity and holiness.

As believers, we are called to guard against modern forms of idolatry, cultivate spiritual discernment, and participate meaningfully in the Lord’s Supper. These practices help us live out our commitment to Christ and our identity as His followers, set apart from the influences of the world.

By embracing these principles, we can ensure that our lives reflect our allegiance to God, honoring Him in all we do and avoiding any compromise with ungodly influences. This leads to a deeper fellowship with Christ and a more authentic witness to the world around us.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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