Idol worship was a major expression of religious behavior in Corinth. There were several pagan temples in the city and they were very popular. Sacrifice to idols was central to the pagan worship.
In today’s reading, Paul was writing to the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Corinth and addressing a dilemma that some of them were facing. The Corinthians knew that as they participated in the Lord’s Supper, they were joining themselves in fellowship and unity with Christ. They questioned what they should do with food sacrificed to idols. Much of the food that was sold in the market had been sacrificed to idols as part of pagan worship. If they purchased this food and ate it, weren’t they in some sense supporting and participating in the worship of the idol?
Paul gives them very sensible direction. Although the idols were mere wood or stone and the sacrifices were meaningless, the Corinthian Christians should refrain from eating food sacrificed to idols. They should live their lives in such a way that their actions and behavior are beneficial and constructive to others.
The freedom that we have in Christ must be expressed in submission and servanthood. This message is just as pertinent to us today as it was to the Corinthians. The “idols” we face are not the pagan idols the Corinthians faced, but the challenge before us is the same, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (I Corinthians 10:24)