1 Corinthians 10:20 Commentaries: No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
1 Corinthians 10:20
But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) But I say.—Better, No; but that the things which they sacrifice they sacrifice to devils, and not to God.

The word “devils” means evil spirits. The heathen world is regarded by the Christian Church as under the dominion of the Evil Spirit and his emissaries (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12), and in reminding the Corinthians that in Israel an eater of the sacrificial meat became a partaker with the altar of God, the Apostle meant to warn them that they would, if they partook of sacrificial meats offered on an altar of devils, become a sharer with that altar and the beings to whom the altar appertained.

10:15-22 Did not the joining in the Lord's supper show a profession of faith in Christ crucified, and of adoring gratitude to him for his salvation ? Christians, by this ordinance, and the faith therein professed, were united as the grains of wheat in one loaf of bread, or as the members in the human body, seeing they were all united to Christ, and had fellowship with him and one another. This is confirmed from the Jewish worship and customs in sacrifice. The apostle applies this to feasting with idolaters. Eating food as part of a heathen sacrifice, was worshipping the idol to whom it was made, and having fellowship or communion with it; just as he who eats the Lord's supper, is accounted to partake in the Christian sacrifice, or as they who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of what was offered on their altar. It was denying Christianity; for communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could never be had at once. If Christians venture into places, and join in sacrifices to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, they will provoke God.But - The negative here is omitted, but is understood. The ellipsis of a negative after an interrogative sentence is common in the Classical writers as well as in the Scriptures. Bloomfield. The sense is, "No; I do not say this, but I say that there are reasons why you should not partake of those sacrifices; and one of those reasons is, that they have been really offered to devils."

They sacrifice to devils - (δαιμονίοις daimoniois, "demons"). The pagans used the word demon either in a good or a bad sense. They applied it commonly to spirits that were supposed to be inferior to the supreme God; genii; attending spirits; or, as they called them, divinities, or gods. A part were in their view good, and a part evil. Socrates supposed that such a demon or genius attended him, who suggested good thoughts to him, and who was his protector. As these beings were good and well disposed, it was not supposed to be necessary to offer any sacrifices in order to appease them. But a large portion of those genii were supposed to be evil and wicked, and hence, the necessity of attempting to appease their wrath by sacrifices and bloody offerings. It was therefore true, as the apostle says, that the sacrifices of the pagan were made, usually at least, to devils or to evil spirits.

Many of these spirits were supposed to be the souls of departed people, who were entitled to worship after death, having been enrolled among the gods. The word "demons," among the Jews, was employed only to designate evil beings. It is not implied in their writings to good angels or to blessed spirits, but to evil angels, to idols, to false gods. Thus, in the Septuagint the word is used to translate אלילים Elilim, "idols" Psalm 95:5; Isaiah 65:10; and שׁד shēd, Shaid, as in Deuteronomy 32:17, in a passage which Paul has here almost literally used, "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God." No where in the Septuagint is it used in a good sense. In the New Testament the word is uniformly used also to denote "evil spirits," and those usually which had taken possession of people in the time of the Saviour; Matthew 7:22; Matthew 9:33-34; Matthew 10:8; Matthew 11:18; Mark 1:34, Mark 1:39, et al. See also Campbell on the Gospels, Pre. Dissertation vi. part 1, Section 14-16. The precise force of the original is not, however, conveyed by our translation. It is not true that the pagans sacrificed to "devils," in the common and popular sense of that word, meaning thereby the apostate angel and the spirits under his direction; for the pagans were as ignorant of their existence as they were of the true God; and it is not true that they designed to worship such beings. But it is true:

(1) That they did not worship the supreme and the true God. They were not acquainted with his existence; and they did not profess to adore him.

(2) they worshipped "demons;" beings that they regarded as inferior to the true God; created spirits, or the spirits of people that had been enrolled among the number of the gods.

(3) it was true that many of these beings were supposed to be malign and evil in their nature, and that their worship was designed to deprecate their wrath. So that, although an idol was nothing in itself, the gold or wood of which it was made was inanimate, and incapable of aiding or injuring them; and although there were no real beings such as the pagans supposed - no genii or inferior gods; yet they "designed" to offer sacrifice to such beings, and to deprecate their wrath. To join them in this, therefore, would be to express the belief that there were such beings, and that they ought to be worshipped, and that their wrath should be deprecated.

I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils - I would not that you should have communion with demons. I would not have you express a belief of their existence; or join in worship to them; or partake of the spirit by which they are supposed to be actuated - a spirit that would be promoted by attendance on their worship. I would not have you, therefore, join in a mode of worship where such beings are acknowledged. You are solemnly dedicated to Christ; and the homage due to him should not be divided with homage offered to devils, or to imaginary beings.

20. I would not that ye … have fellowship with devils—by partaking of idol feasts (1Co 8:10). The heathens might not intentionally offer sacrifices to devils, (such a thing can hardly be supposed of men), but actually they offered sacrifices to devils; for they were devils, that is, evil angels, which deluded the poor heathen, and gave answers from the images and statues which they worshipped, believing the true God to be in them: which answers they accounted for oracles. Besides, the apostle saith, they sacrificed to devils, because in God’s esteem it was so, though not in their intention; God judgeth of men’s acts of worship and homage pretendedly done unto him, not according to their intention, but according to the truth and reality of the thing: now, really the heathen in their sacrifices paid a homage to devils, though such a thing was far from their intention; and this deserves the consideration, both of the papists, who worship images, and also of those protestants (if any such be) who would excuse the papists in their idolatries from their intentions. The nature of idolatry doth not lie in men’s intending to worship the creature instead of the Creator, (there were hardly every any such idolaters in the world), but in their actual doing of the thing; and except they can find a direct rule in holy writ ordering the adoration of the Creator in the creature, or before the creature, it is much to be feared, that in the last day God will judge their homage performed to the creature, not to him. Now, saith the apostle, you had need take heed that, by this action, you prove not yourselves to have fellowship with devils, instead of Christ and the true and living God. But I say,.... This is my sense and meaning,

that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto devils, and not to God; reference is had to Deuteronomy 32:17 for what the Gentiles sacrificed, though they did not sacrifice intentionally to the idols of gold, silver, wood, and stone, but to God in them, as they pretended; yet inasmuch as in such worship and sacrifices they were directed, instigated, influenced, and assisted by devils, who took up their residence in these idols, and gave forth their oracles from them, they sacrificed to them; and which some have done, as in India and China, professedly and openly, and all other idolaters, eventually, virtually, and covertly:

and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils; as all wicked men have, in the commission of any lust, sin, or immorality; and as all idolaters have in their superstitious practices, and idolatrous worship; and if grace prevent not, will have to all eternity in everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; wherefore the apostle would have the Corinthians flee from idolatry, and all appearance of it, and abstain from eating things offered to idols, of which they could not eat without having fellowship with devils; this he says, to deter them from such practices, which must be very horrible and shocking, and bespeaks in him great care of them, and affection for them.

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have {r} fellowship with devils.

(r) Have anything to do with the demons, or enter into that society which is begun in the demon's name.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. they sacrifice to devils, and not to God] Third reason. The worship of idols is a worship of devils. The words here used are found in Deuteronomy 32:17, and similar ones are found in the Septuagint version of Psalm 96:5; cf. Psalm 106:37. The point of the argument is shewn in the last words of this sentence, ‘and not to God’. As they were not sacrificed to God, they were sacrificed to His enemies, the ‘evil spirits,’ ‘dæmons,’ not ‘devils’ properly, for this word is confined to the ‘prince of this world’ (St John 12:31), ‘which is the Devil, and Satan’[134] (Revelation 20:2). Such beings as these are no mere conceptions of the fancy, but have a real and active existence. Their power over humanity when Christ came was great indeed. Not only was their master the Prince of this world (see above and cf. St Luke 4:6), but the fact of demoniacal possession was a proof at once of their existence and influence upon man.

[134] See note on St Matthew 4:24 in Mr Carr’s Commentary in this series.

fellowship] Translated communion in 1 Corinthians 10:16. See note on ch. 1 Corinthians 1:9.1 Corinthians 10:20. Ἀλλʼ, but) viz. I say.—δαιμονίοις, to demons) rather than to idols.—κοινωνοὺς, the associates) Those who were present at the sacrifices of the Gentiles, which serve as an invitation to demons, opened the window to demons, to make an assault upon themselves.—Θεῷ, to God) in whose communion you ought to be: Deuteronomy 32:17,—ἔθυσαν δαιμονίοις, καὶ οὐ Θεῷ, They sacrificed to devils and not to God; comp. Bar 4:7.Verse 20. - But. The word rejects the former hypothesis. "[No I do not admit that], but what I say is that," etc. They sacrifice to devils, and not to God. The word "demons" should be used, not" devils" (Deuteronomy 32:17). The argument is that, though the idol is nothing - a mere stock or stone - it is yet the material symbol of a demon (see Psalm 96:5; Psalm 106:37; Baruch 4:7). So Milton -

"And devils to adore for deities;
Then were they known to men by various names,
And various idols through the heathen world,...
The chief were those who, from the pit of hell,
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
Their seats long after next the seat of God,
Their altars by his altar, gods adored
Among the nations round."


(Paradise Lost,' 1.) St. Paul uses a word which, while it would not be needlessly offensive to Gentiles, conveyed his meaning. The Greeks themselves called their deities daimonia, and St. Paul adopts the word; but to Jewish ears it meant, not "deities" or "demigods," but "demons." Devils (δαιμονίοις)

See on Mark 1:34. Used here, as always in the New Testament, of diabolic spirits. Δαιμόνιον the neuter of the adjective δαιμόνιος divine, occurs in Paul's writings only here and 1 Timothy 4:1. It is used in the Septuagint, Deuteronomy 32:17, to translate the Hebrew word which seems, originally, to have meant a supernatural being inferior to the gods proper, applied among the Assyrians to the bulldeities which guarded the entrances to temples and palaces. Among the Israelites it came to signify all gods but the God of Israel. Compare Isaiah 65:11, where Gad (good fortune, probably the star-God Jupiter) is rendered in the Septuagint τῷ δαιμονίῳ the demon. See Rev, O.T. Also Psalm 96:5 (Sept. 95), where elilim things of nought, A.V. idols, is rendered by δαιμόνια demons.

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