Food sacrificed to idols

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Food sacrificed to idols

Postby Jericho on Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:13 pm

In the Book of Acts, James says we should avoid food sacrificed to idols:

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.

Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. (Acts 15:19-20)


However, in 1 Corinthians Paul seems to make it a matter of personal conviction:

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.

But whoever loves God is known by God.

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),
(1Co 8:1-5)


So which is it? Is it okay to eat food thats been sacrifice to idols or not? And would this apply to Muslim Halal food?
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Re: Food sacrificed to idols

Postby Abiding in His Word on Wed May 02, 2018 5:18 pm

Good observation, Jericho. One of those issues that at first appear to be contradictory, but perhaps there is a logical explanation. So I'll attempt to clarify what I think is not a discrepancy at all but merely Paul's efforts to answer questions that have surfaced from time to time during the transition from Jewish OT laws to the gentile converts in the NT.

The verses in Acts are directed to Jewish converts who are insisting on new converts among the gentiles comply with the Law of Moses:

Act 15:5  But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses." 

Paul has the difficult job of trying to appease the Jews during the transition while at the same time not burdening the gentile converts with laws that even the Jews found burdensome to keep.

Act 15:10  "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 

His compromise? is to promote the gospel of grace which differs from the heathen practices of immorality involved with idol worship and blood superstitions:

John Gill's Commentary:

...a practice among the Heathens, who fancied that blood was the food of the demons, to whom they sacrificed; and therefore when they sacrificed to them, they took the blood of the beast and put it into a vessel, and sat down by it, and round about it, and ate the flesh; imagining that whilst they ate the flesh, the demons eat the blood, and by this means friendship and familiarity were contracted between them; so that they hoped to receive some advantage from them, and be informed of things to come


The Corinthians evidently were experiencing a number of problems and often sent letters to Paul in an effort to resolve them.(1 Cor. 7:1; 1 Cor. 8:1)

Paul appeals to their understanding of salvation by grace (as opposed to earning by obeying OT laws), and explains that idols are nothing (have no inherent power) therefore food sacrificed to them is worthless in it's benefit as some believe. However, they are encouraged to consider those who are weak in the faith in exercising their freedoms so as not to cause the weak ones to stumble. When those new converts become more mature in their faith, the practices would be viewed differently, but until then, consider their lack of maturity and abstain.

In other words, always consider the context, those being taught, and how the words would be understood by those to whom they are spoken.

That's how I understand what at first glance appears to be a contradiction.

And would this apply to Muslim Halal food?


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Re: Food sacrificed to idols

Postby Jericho on Thu May 03, 2018 9:10 am

Thanks for commenting Abiding. I'm not sure I completely understand everything your trying to convey, but it has given me food for thought. Thank you.
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Re: Food sacrificed to idols

Postby Abiding in His Word on Thu May 03, 2018 10:23 am

Let me see if I can condense the two instances:

Acts 15:19-20 Paul is appeasing (imho) the Jewish converts who are insisting on circumcision by diverting the attention away from that (burdensome practice) to those currently practiced by the gentiles. (idolatry, immorality/fornication)

1 Cor. 8:1-5 Some in the church of Corinth have expressed concern about new gentile converts who are continuing the practice of sacrifices to idols and warns them against that practice since it has demons as the focus rather than God. (1 Cor. 10:20) But to those converts who have knowledge of truth, if they wish to partake of the food they have the freedom to do so unless it will cause a new convert whose faith is still weak to stumble.

In other words, two different groups of people objecting to various practices during a time of transition and conversions.

That's the best I can do..... :mrgreen:

Perhaps someone else may see it differently and is more adept at explaining it better.

I do have an interesting book entitled, "Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible" by John Haley, printed in 1992 by Whitaker House. He wrote it in response to those who doubted the Bible's infallibility by referencing so-called contradiction in the Bible. I did not refer to this book as I had forgotten about it until this a.m., but in glancing at the contents, Haley lists some of the reasons for alleged discrepancies i.e. 1) different dates 2) different authors 3) peculiarities of idioms 4) diverse meanings of the same word, etc.
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Re: Food sacrificed to idols

Postby Abiding in His Word on Thu May 03, 2018 10:46 am

Just wanted to add....I have referenced the book very few times as the format leaves me confused because it is broken down, not by books of the Bible, but rather by:

Origin of the Discrepancies
Design of the Discrepancies
Results of the Discrepancies
Doctrinal Discrepancies
Ethical Discrepancies
Historical Discrepancies

Not very easy to navigate....
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Re: Food sacrificed to idols

Postby extravagantchristian on Thu May 03, 2018 3:11 pm

It's not that the sacrificed food is bad, it's not. The problem is that eating it could either violate the conscience of the person eating it or violate the conscience of unbelievers around them.

It's like if you had an unbeliever friend who offered you a bunch of money for your birthday, but then they told you they got it from selling drugs.

It would violate their conscience if you accepted the money, because it would seem like you were condoning the drug selling.

But what if they offered you the money, but didn't tell you where it came from? Then it would be ok to take it because they know that you don't know, so you're not condoning anything by accepting it.

That's why it says:
1 Corinthians 10:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;
27 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. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” 29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?


You wouldn't want your unbeliever friend to say, "johnny the christian knows i sold drugs and he's fine with it because he took the drug money, so therefore it must be ok to sell drugs" Even though the money it's self is not bad. Same thing with food sacrificed to idols.

Maybe Paul told them to tell new believers to obstain from foods sacrificed to idols because they were new in the faith and wouldn't immediately understand the differences. And also to keep the message short and simple, like better to be on the safe side and just avoid it all together. And you notice he adds "it is my judgment" so it's his opinion, not a direct command from God.
Matthew 1:22
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