The Duty of an Inoffensive Conduct
1 Corinthians 10:32-33
Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:…


1. What are we to understand by the word "offence." This word is taken in two senses. In the sacred writings it generally signifies a stumbling-block, or whatever is the occasion of another's fall. But the word "offence," in the common acceptation of it, is taken to signify an occasion of anger, grief, or resentment. Whoever finds these passions stirring in his mind, is said to be offended; and whatever be the incentive or cause of them, is called the offence. In this latter sense we sometimes find the word used in Scripture, as well as in the former (Psalm 119:165; Matthew 17:27). It is this latter sense in which I intend to improve the words of the text, and consider them as a precept, to follow after things that make for peace, and to keep our conscience void of offence towards all men.

2. With what restrictions this precept must reasonably be taken.

(1) When peace with men stands in competition with our duty to God, we should not be afraid of giving them offence.

(2) Not only the honour of God, but the rights of conscience must be maintained as sacred in opposition to all that would invade them, however that opposition may offend them.

(3) Nor are the perverse and unreasonable humours of men to be always submitted to for fear of giving offence. The truth ought to be sometimes boldly asserted, strongly proved, and closely urged; and the vanity and ignorance of the conceited humorist mortified and exposed.

(4) It is lawful sometimes to give offence to others for the sake of their good. That is, when that good we are able to do them cannot be done without it. This especially takes place in case of reproof.

(5) Nor should we be afraid of giving a private offence when it is necessary to the public good. Otherwise magistrates would not be faithful to their trust, nor could penal laws be executed.

(6) We should not be too scrupulous of giving offence in justifying an injured character, or in vindicating the honour and reputation of an absent person, when aspersed by the petulance of an unbridled or malicious tongue.

(7) When the honour, interest, and credit of religion are manifestly concerned, they ought not to be meanly prostituted for the sake of peace.

3. The proper latitude and extent of it in a few particulars wherein men are most apt to forget it.

(1) We should take care we do not give a needless offence to others in matter of opinion.

(2) In like manner we should take care how we give just offence to weak Christians in matters of practice.

(3) We should take care not to give offence in our discourse or conversation with others.

(4) We should take care to give no just offence in our way of commerce or dealings with men. Either by exaction and oppression, or by rigorous and exorbitant claims, beyond the rules of equity and mercy, where there is but small ability to answer them.

(5) We should take care not to give offence to others by our tempers. In some tempers there are many things very offensive, which tend very much to disturb the peace of society and dissolve the bonds of Christian love and friendship.

(a) A vain and ostentatious temper — when a man appears to centre all his views in himself, and to be so full of secret pride and self-applause that it is continually running over his lips.

(b) A rigid, censorious, and detracting spirit, which often proceeds from the same original as the other, viz., secret pride and excessive self-love.

(c) A passionate and revengeful temper is a very offensive one.

(d) An arbitrary, over-bearing, and imperious temper, which tyrannises over ingenuous modesty, and thinks to carry all before it by mere dint of noise and confidence.

(e) A mercenary and selfish temper, which shows a little, contracted heart, wrapped up in itself, and shut fast to all the world beside; whereas the heart of a good man is open and generous, and longs to diffuse joy and gladness all around it.

(6) We should take care to give no offence to others by the abuse of those talents which we enjoy more than they.

(7) We should take care how we give offence in any of those several relations in life wherein Providence hath placed us.


1. The first is from the example of our great Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Which is not only our greatest motive to it, but at the same time will be our best direction in the practice of it. He was not ashamed to maintain the cause of God and truth at the expense of His own peace and fame; nor afraid to oppose and reprove the proud priests and bigoted Pharisees, though He knew He should give them offence and incur their hatred by so doing. Here He showed the courage of a lion; in other cases all the meekness of a lamb.

2. He who makes no conscience of offending men, will make no conscience of offending God. Nay, herein he actually does offend Him. A just occasion of offence given to them is a real offence offered to Him, because it is a wilful violation of His laws, which in the most express manner have forbidden it.

(J. Mason, A.M.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

WEB: Give no occasions for stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the assembly of God;

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