Bible Question:

Concerning I Corinthians 8 : 1) Is there any idol? and 2) Can we eat food that has been offered to an idol?

Bible Answer:

It would be interesting to know the background behind your question. You have asked two questions, and the answer to both questions is the same – yes!

What kind of idols?

The first question we need to ask is, “What does 1 Corinthians 8 mean by idols?” The book of Revelation provides this answer,

And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. (NASB) Revelation 9:20

In Jesus’ day food was offered to man made idols. Idols were made out of stone, wood, metal and even gems. It is interesting that scripture puts idols, ghosts, spiritists, and mediums together in Isaiah 19:3 (also see Zechariah 13:2). They went together. I believe demons were the power behind these idols. It is hard to believe these people were stupid. These man made idols appeared to have real power.

Can I Eat Idol Meats?

So 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 is dealing with meat offered to man made idols,

Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. (NASB) 1 Corinthians 8:4

Apparently, some Christians who had come out of these pagan religions struggled when they saw their fellow Christians eating food that had been offered to these idols. It appears from verse 1,

Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. (NASB) 1 Corinthians 8:1

This verse is not about having too much Bible knowledge (compare verses 1 and 11). It is about Christians who know the truth and carelessly cause others to struggle. They lack love for others. These Christians knew the idols were not gods. These idols were “still real” to these new believers and to see other Christians eating food offered to idols was a problem. It was like participating in the religious practice (1 Cor. 8:10). The older Christians were arrogant and uncaring. They wanted their steak!

So Paul, the apostle, reminds all the Christians that there is no God but one. He rebukes the other Christians and encourages them to stop eating food at the temple. Why? – not because it is wrong but because they might cause new Christians to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13). So, there is nothing wrong in eating meat offered to idols. They are not gods.

The Principle

The spiritual principle of 1 Corinthians 8 is to not offend another Christian who may struggle with your actions. The Holy Spirit encourages us to avoid offending a fellow Christian even when there is nothing wrong with our actions. There are times however, when we must offend someone – when the issue is dealing with right and wrong, when the issue is sin. We are not to sin in order to please someone. Just imagine sinning to avoid sinning!

Conclusion:

There is another kind of idol scripture mentions,

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. (NASB) Colossians 3:5

Idolatry is really anything that takes your love more than God (Ex. 20:3-6). So what are our idols today? What takes you away from reading God’s Word? praying to God? What is more important than Him? And what kind of “meat” are you eating that causes another to stumble today? “Food” today that causes others to stumble can be any activity that motivates another Christian to spend less time with God or encourages another to sin. How we dress, where we go, what we do, what we say. What are your idols? What kind of “stumbling-food” are you eating?