What About 1 Corinthians 10:27?

Question

Does 1 Corinthians 10:27 teach that Christians should eat anything and everything set before them?


Answer

Let’s first take a quick look at the Bible verse in question: “If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake” (1 Corinthians 10:27).

When Christians are offered hospitality by non-Christians, it is the spirit of Christ to accept such invitations whenever possible. Jesus regularly ate with those who were not His followers. “A certain Pharisee asked [Jesus] to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat” (Luke 11:37). Christianity doesn’t require believers to become loners and withdraw from all social contact with others. (See Romans 12:13; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2.)

Many valuable witnessing opportunities are lost when believers are reluctant to enjoy the hospitality offered by unbelievers. Such occasions can be used by Christians to direct their attention to God and the plan of salvation.


Eat whatever is set before you

But what did the apostle Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 10:27 when he said to “eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake”? This passage needs to be understood in the context of Paul’s topic, which is meat that had been offered to idols. Paul is suggesting that invited guests should lay aside this issue and graciously accept food provided by their hosts and to refrain from asking whether the food being served had been offered to an idol. He also said, “Concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing” (1 Corinthians 8:4).

This does not mean that one should ignore the fitness of food from the standpoint of health, for Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).

Some have suggested that when Jesus sent the apostles out preaching, He gave them instruction that they were to “remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give” (Luke 10:7), meaning they could eat anything under the sun. However, if Jesus sent the Jewish apostles preaching among “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” their hosts obviously knew the difference between clean and unclean food. (Leviticus chapter 11 outlines specific types of clean and unclean meats.)


The Bible's guidelines still stand

However, Jesus’ and Paul’s instructions were not meant to remove the Bible’s guidelines regarding unclean foods. The basic principle being taught is to “give no offense” (1 Corinthians 10:32); in other words, be a witness for Christ to unbelievers, removing all possible stumbling blocks “that they may be saved” (v. 33).

As a vegetarian who follows the Bible’s health counsel, what do I do when invited into a home by a family who doesn’t practice my same diet? I simply let my hosts know in advance that I would love to eat with them, and, while I don’t want to be any trouble for them, I’m a vegetarian. I have found in this day and age, letting people know you have some dietary restrictions is not a barrier to enjoying a pleasant meal together. Even better, because people are often curious, it often opens up conversation allowing me to share my faith in a non-judgmental and winsome way.

—Pastor Doug

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