81Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols.
It is true, of course, that “all of us have knowledge”, as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up. 2Those who think they know something really don't know as they ought to know. 3But the person who loves God is known by him.
4So then, about eating the food offered to idols: we know that an idol stands for something that does not really exist; we know that there is only the one God. 5Even if there are so-called “gods”, whether in heaven or on earth, and even though there are many of these “gods” and “lords”, 6yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.
7But not everyone knows this truth. Some people have been so used to idols that to this day when they eat such food they still think of it as food that belongs to an idol; their conscience is weak, and they feel they are defiled by the food. 8Food, however, will not improve our relations with God; we shall not lose anything if we do not eat, nor shall we gain anything if we do eat.
9Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin. 10Suppose a person whose conscience is weak in this matter sees you, who have so-called “knowledge”, eating in the temple of an idol; will not this encourage him to eat food offered to idols? 11And so this weak person, your brother for whom Christ died, will perish because of your “knowledge”! 12And in this way you will be sinning against Christ by sinning against your Christian brothers and sisters and wounding their weak conscience. 13So then, if food makes my brother or sister sin, I will never eat meat again, so as not to make my brother or sister fall into sin.
91Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven't I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren't you the result of my work for the Lord? 2Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.
3When people criticize me, this is how I defend myself: 4Haven't I the right to be given food and drink for my work? 5Haven't I the right to follow the example of the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter, by taking a Christian wife with me on my travels? 6Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who have to work for our living? 7What soldier ever has to pay his own expenses in the army? What farmer does not eat the grapes from his own vineyard? What shepherd does not use the milk from his own sheep?
8I don't have to limit myself to these everyday examples, because the Law says the same thing. 9
We read in the Law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox when you are using it to thresh corn.” Now, is God concerned about oxen? 10Didn't he really mean us when he said that? Of course that was written for us. The one who ploughs and the one who reaps should do their work in the hope of getting a share of the crop. 11
We have sown spiritual seed among you. Is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have the right to expect this from you, haven't we an even greater right?
But we haven't made use of this right. Instead, we have endured everything in order not to put any obstacle in the way of the Good News about Christ. 13
Surely you know that the men who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple and that those who offer the sacrifices on the altar get a share of the sacrifices. 14
In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel should get their living from it.
15But I haven't made use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this now in order to claim such rights for myself. I would rather die first! Nobody is going to turn my rightful boast into empty words! 16I have no right to boast just because I preach the gospel. After all, I am under orders to do so. And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel! 17If I did my work as a matter of free choice, then I could expect to be paid; but I do it as a matter of duty, because God has entrusted me with this task. 18What pay do I get, then? It is the privilege of preaching the Good News without charging for it, without claiming my rights in my work for the gospel.
19I am a free man, nobody's slave; but I make myself everybody's slave in order to win as many people as possible. 20While working with the Jews, I live like a Jew in order to win them; and even though I myself am not subject to the Law of Moses, I live as though I were when working with those who are, in order to win them. 21In the same way, when working with Gentiles, I live like a Gentile, outside the Jewish Law, in order to win Gentiles. This does not mean that I don't obey God's law; I am really under Christ's law. 22Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.
23All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. 24Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. 25Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. 26That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. 27I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.
I want you to remember, my brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors who followed Moses. They were all under the protection of the cloud, and all passed safely through the Red Sea. 2In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized as followers of Moses. 3
All ate the same spiritual bread 4
and drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them; and that rock was Christ himself. 5
But even then God was not pleased with most of them, and so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert.
Now, all this is an example for us, to warn us not to desire evil things, as they did, 7
nor to worship idols, as some of them did. As the scripture says, “The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy of drinking and sex.” 8
We must not be guilty of sexual immorality, as some of them were — and in one day 23,000 of them fell dead. 9
We must not put the Lord10.9 the Lord; some manuscripts have Christ. to the test, as some of them did — and they were killed by snakes. 10
We must not complain, as some of them did — and they were destroyed by the Angel of Death.
11All these things happened to them as examples for others, and they were written down as a warning for us. For we live at a time when the end is about to come.
12Those who think they are standing firm had better be careful that they do not fall. 13Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.
14So then, my dear friends, keep away from the worship of idols. 15I speak to you as sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16
The cup we use in the Lord's Supper and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ. 17Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.
Consider the people of Israel; those who eat what is offered in sacrifice share in the altar's service to God. 19Do I imply, then, that an idol or the food offered to it really amounts to anything? 20
No! What I am saying is that what is sacrificed on pagan altars is offered to demons, not to God. And I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21You cannot drink from the Lord's cup and also from the cup of demons; you cannot eat at the Lord's table and also at the table of demons. 22
Or do we want to make the Lord jealous? Do we think that we are stronger than he?
“We are allowed to do anything,” so they say. That is true, but not everything is good. “We are allowed to do anything” — but not everything is helpful. 24None of you should be looking to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
25You are free to eat anything sold in the meat market, without asking any questions because of your conscience. 26
For, as the scripture says, “The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord.”
27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you decide to go, eat what is set before you, without asking any questions because of your conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This food was offered to idols,” then do not eat that food, for the sake of the one who told you and for conscience' sake — 29that is, not your own conscience, but the other person's conscience.
“Well, then,” someone asks, “why should my freedom to act be limited by another person's conscience? 30If I thank God for my food, why should anyone criticize me about food for which I give thanks?”
31Well, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for God's glory. 32Live in such a way as to cause no trouble either to Jews or Gentiles or to the church of God. 33Just do as I do; I try to please everyone in all that I do, not thinking of my own good, but of the good of all, so that they might be saved.