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Love Builds Up

Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone supposes that he knows something, he does not yet know the way he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this person has been known[a] by him.

So, concerning the eating of food from idol sacrifices, we know that an idol is not anything real in the world and that there is no God but one. Indeed, even if there are so-called “gods,” whether in the heavens or on earth (as in fact there are many “gods” and many “lords”), nevertheless for us there is one God—the Father, from whom all things exist and we exist for him—and one Lord—Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist and we exist through him.

However, that knowledge is not in everyone. Instead some, who are still affected by their former habit with the idol, eat the food as something sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

Food will not bring us closer to God. We do not lack anything if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do. And be careful that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, a person who has knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of this man, weak as he is, be emboldened to eat food from an idol sacrifice? 11 You see, the weak person is being destroyed by your knowledge—the brother for whose sake Christ died! 12 And when you sin in this way against your brothers and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I do not cause my brother to sin.

What Paul Does With His Rights and Freedom

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus, our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet at least I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who examine me. Do we not have a right to eat and to drink? Do we not have a right to take along a wife who is a believer, as the rest of the apostles do, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?[b] Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who have no right to be spared from manual labor? What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat some of its fruit? Or who takes care of a flock and does not drink milk from the flock? Am I saying this just from a human point of view? Doesn’t the law also say this? Yes, it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out grain.”[c] Is God really concerned about oxen, 10 or does he say this entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in hope of getting a share. 11 If we sowed spiritual seed for your good, is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12 If others have some right to make this claim on you, don’t we even more? But we did not use this right. Instead, we endure everything so as not to cause any hindrance for the gospel of Christ.

13 Do you not know that those who do the work in the temple eat food from the temple, and those who attend to the altar receive a portion from what is on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel are to receive their living from the gospel. 15 But I have used none of these things.

I am not writing this to have it done this way in my case, because it is better for me to die than to let anyone deprive me of my boast. 16 You see, if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast about, because an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I do this as a volunteer, I receive compensation. But if not, I have been entrusted with a responsibility as a steward. 18 What then is my compensation? To present the gospel of Christ[d] free of charge when I preach it, instead of making use of the right I have when I preach the gospel.

19 In fact, although I am free from all, I enslaved myself to all so that I might gain many more. 20 To the Jews, I became like a Jew so that I might gain Jews. To those who are under the law, I became like a person under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might gain those who are under the law. 21 To those who are without the law, I became like a person without the law (though I am not without God’s law but am within the law of Christ) so that I might gain those who are without the law. 22 To the weak, I became weak so that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all people so that I may save at least some. 23 And I do everything for the sake of the gospel so that I may share in it along with others.

Christian Effort and Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that when runners compete in the stadium, they all run, but only one receives the prize? Run like that—to win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable victor’s wreath, but we do it for an imperishable one. 26 That is why there is nothing aimless about the way I run. There is no pummeling of the air in the way I box. 27 Instead I hit my body hard and make it my slave so that, after preaching to others, I myself will not be rejected.

A Lesson From Sacred History: Be Careful Not to Fall

10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and they were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them—and that rock was Christ! Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them. He had them die in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples to warn us not to desire evil things the way they did. Do not become idolaters like some of them—as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to celebrate wildly.”[e] And let us not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell. Let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and so were being destroyed by the serpents. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them grumbled, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 All[f] these things that were happening to them had meaning as examples, and they were written down to warn us, to whom the end of the ages has come.

12 So let him who thinks he stands be careful that he does not fall. 13 No testing has overtaken you except ordinary testing. But God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability, but when he tests you, he will also bring about the outcome that you are able to bear it.

The Table of the Lord and the Table of Demons

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to you as to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I am saying. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion[g] of the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a communion[h] of the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

18 Consider the people of Israel.[i] Those who eat the sacrifices are partners of the altar, aren’t they? 19 So what am I saying? That food from idol sacrifices is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I do say this: What the Gentiles sacrifice, “they sacrifice to demons, and not to God,”[j] and I do not want you to become partners of demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. 22 Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he is?

Live for the Good of Others and for the Glory of God

23 “Everything is permitted”[k]—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permitted”—but not everything builds up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of others. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without asking questions for the sake of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”[l] 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you over and you want to go, eat whatever you are served without asking questions for the sake of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This is from a sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience.[m] 29 I mean the other person’s conscience, not your own. For why is my freedom judged by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I eat the food with thankfulness, why am I criticized for something for which I give thanks?

31 So whether you eat or drink, or do anything else, do everything to the glory of God. 32 Do not give offense to Jews, or Greeks, or God’s church, 33 just as I also try to please all people in all things, by not seeking what is best for me but for the many, so that they may be saved. 11 Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ.

Concerning Head Coverings at Worship

I praise you, brothers,[n] for remembering me in all things and holding firmly to the teachings[o] as I delivered them to you. However, I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and man is woman’s head, and God is Christ’s head. Every man who prays or prophesies with a covering hanging down from his head dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for it is one and the same thing as being a woman with a shaved head. Indeed, if a woman does not wear a head covering, she should cut off her hair too. But if it is shameful for a woman to cut off her hair or shave her head, she should wear a head covering.

For a man ought not to wear a head covering, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is man’s glory. For man is not from woman, but woman from man, and man was not created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head,[p] because of the angels.

11 Nevertheless, in the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man comes through woman, and all things are from God.

13 Judge for yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Doesn’t the nature of things itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is disgraceful for him, 15 whereas if a woman has long hair, it is glorious for her? For her long hair has been given to her as a covering. 16 But if anyone is inclined to be contentious—we have no such custom, and neither do God’s churches.

A Sinful Practice at the Lord’s Supper Needs to Be Eliminated

17 Now in giving you this next command, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For in the first place, I hear that when you come together in an assembly, there are divisions among you. And to some extent I believe it, 19 for there also have to be factions among you so that those who are approved may become evident among you. 20 So when you come together in the same place, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat. 21 For when you eat, each one goes ahead and takes his own supper, and so one person goes hungry while another is drunk. 22 What, don’t you have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise God’s church and humiliate those who have nothing? What am I to say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said,[q] “This is my body, which is[r] for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after the meal, he also took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new testament[s] in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the Lord’s body and blood. 28 Instead, let a person examine himself and after doing so, let him eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For if anyone eats and drinks in an unworthy way[t] because he does not recognize[u] the Lord’s[v] body, he eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 Because of this, many among you are weak and sick, and quite a few have fallen asleep.[w] 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not be undergoing judgment. 32 However, when we undergo judgment, we are being disciplined by the Lord so that we may not be condemned with the world.

33 Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.[x] 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home so that your coming together may not result in judgment. The rest of my instructions I will give when I come.

All the Gifts of the Spirit Are Beneficial

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were deceived and somehow led away to mute idols. Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by God’s Spirit says, “A curse be upon Jesus,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of ministries, and yet the same Lord. There are various kinds of activity, but the same God, who produces all of them in everyone.

Each person is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one person a message of wisdom is given by the Spirit; to another, a message of knowledge, as the same Spirit provides it; by the same Spirit, faith is given to someone else; and to another, the same[y] Spirit gives healing gifts. 10 Another is given powers to do miracles; another, the gift of prophecy; another, the evaluating of spirits; someone else, different kinds of tongues;[z] and another, the interpretation of tongues. 11 One and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them to each one individually as he desires.

The Diversity of the Gifts Enhances the Unity of the Body of Christ

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by[aa] one Spirit we all were baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free people, and we were all caused to drink one Spirit. 14 Furthermore, the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not on that account cease to be part of the body. 16 If the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not on that account cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has arranged the members in the body, each and every one of them, as he desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But as it is, there are many members, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need for you,” or again the head to the feet, “I have no need for you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are much more necessary. 23 As for the parts of the body we consider less honorable, these we provide with more honor. We treat our unpresentable parts with more modesty, 24 whereas our presentable parts have no such need. But God put the body together in a way that gave more honor to the parts that lack it. 25 He did it so that there might not be any division in the body, but that the members might all have the same concern for one another. 26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 You are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it. 28 And God appointed in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then miracles, healing gifts, helpful acts, leadership abilities, kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? 30 Do all have healing gifts? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly seek the greater gifts. And now, I am going to show you a more excellent way.


  1. 1 Corinthians 8:3 Or chosen. The Greek word sometimes refers to divine election.
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:5 Cephas is the Aramaic name for Peter. Both Cephas and Peter mean rock.
  3. 1 Corinthians 9:9 Deuteronomy 25:4
  4. 1 Corinthians 9:18 Some witnesses to the text omit of Christ.
  5. 1 Corinthians 10:7 Exodus 32:6
  6. 1 Corinthians 10:11 A few witnesses to the text omit All.
  7. 1 Corinthians 10:16 Or joint partaking
  8. 1 Corinthians 10:16 Or joint partaking
  9. 1 Corinthians 10:18 Or Israel according to the flesh
  10. 1 Corinthians 10:20 Deuteronomy 32:17
  11. 1 Corinthians 10:23 Some witnesses to the text add for me.
  12. 1 Corinthians 10:26 Psalm 24:1
  13. 1 Corinthians 10:28 Some witnesses to the text add For the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.
  14. 1 Corinthians 11:2 Some witnesses to the text omit brothers.
  15. 1 Corinthians 11:2 Or traditions
  16. 1 Corinthians 11:10 Literally ought to have authority upon the head
  17. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Some witnesses to the text add “Take, eat.
  18. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Some witnesses to the text add broken.
  19. 1 Corinthians 11:25 As in last will and testament. See Galatians 3:15.
  20. 1 Corinthians 11:29 A few witnesses to the text omit in an unworthy way.
  21. 1 Corinthians 11:29 Or discern
  22. 1 Corinthians 11:29 Some witnesses to the text omit Lord’s.
  23. 1 Corinthians 11:30 Or have died
  24. 1 Corinthians 11:33 Or receive one another courteously
  25. 1 Corinthians 12:9 Some witnesses to the text read one.
  26. 1 Corinthians 12:10 Or languages, also in 12:28 and 12:30 and throughout chapters 13 and 14
  27. 1 Corinthians 12:13 Or in