1 Corinthians 10:32

Nothing is more characteristic of Paul's mind than the way in which, upon every suggestion, he ascends to great principles. He begins with what it seems must be a homely and practical and almost trivial discussion concerning idol feasts. But now and again, before he quits the subject, he rises to some sublime truth and principle. What could be a grander precept in itself, what could be worthier of acceptance by all rational beings, not to say all sincere Christians, than the command of the text? - "Do all to the glory of God."


1. What is the glory of God? It is the bringing into prominence of his attributes, the working out of his purposes, and this especially by intelligent and voluntary beings. It is the gratitude which all owe, the obedience to which all me summoned, which show forth God's glory.

2. How can men do aught to God's glory? Not surely by the mere invocation of God's Name, so common and customary among Jews and Mohammedans. But they may fall in with his purposes, reverence his laws, recommend his service, utter his praise.


1. It is so minute and searching that it extends to the most ordinary and trivial acts of life. Even eating and drinking are included; probably they are mentioned here upon the suggestion of meals partaken in common with idolaters. "Epictetus, on being asked how any one could eat so as to please God, answered, 'By eating justly, temperately, and thankfully.'" If a heathen moralist could take so noble a view of religion, shall Christians sever their daily life and its manifold occupations from the high aims and sacred motives of their lofty vocation in Christ?

2. It is so vast that nothing escapes it. It is universal in its operation, "embracing all things." No interest in life is so wide, no relationship so sacred, no occupation so honourable, as not to come under this principle, which can give dignity and sweetness to all the functions of human life.


1. It delivers him who adopts it from miserable and debasing self seeking. How many there are who do all things to the glory of self! And what a degrading and deteriorating influence does such an aim exercise over the character of those who adopt it! On the other hand, to live for God is to rise at a bound above the murky atmosphere of earth into the serenest air of heaven itself.

2. It conduces to the well being of society. When all men seek their own, society is afflicted with discord and is threatened with dissolution. When all seek their Maker's honour, this common aim and endeavour tend to sympathy, harmony, cooperation.

3. It is an aim in life just and satisfying to the mind - the right aim and motive, and the only one of which we shall never repent and never feel ashamed.

4. It is a stable and eternal aim. With this design and hope the angels serve and wait and praise in heaven. And the glorified saints who have finished their course on earth, when translated to the presence of God, may change place and occupation, but the end and aim of their being remains the same, for it is capable of no improvement, of no elevation. - T.

Give none offence... Jews... Gentiles... the Church of God.
I. THE ESSENTIAL OFFENCE, OF THE CROSS MUST NOT BE EVADED. The doctrine of a crucified Christ with its correspending duty of crucified affections will ever provoke the hostility of "the carnal mind." Offence is inevitable where disaffection rules. "Love or hatred" is the sole alternative. Our mission is, "Christ and Him crucified" — not Christ and Him Judaised, or philosophised, or adumbrated in a myth, or held in reserve, or the Shibboleth of a faction. Far from St. Paul was the least suppression of the faith in deference to the fashion of the world or the fury of his adversaries. If "to the Jew he became as a Jew, it was to gain the Jew," etc. His evangelical theology coupled with his chivalrous life of toil present the safest comment upon the mingled courtesy, charity, and policy of his injunction — "Give none offence, neither to the Jews," etc.

II. WHAT ARE THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL AFFRONTS THAT MUST BE AVOIDED? The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church present the three types of those several relations of the world to religion, and whose spiritual interests may be gratuitously obstructed by ministrational offensiveness.

1. Ritualism.(1) This was "the rock of offence on which Zion stumbled" and lost her standing.(a) The Jew gloried in his descent from Abraham; but St. Paul did not ridicule the pretension, but, pointing it in its right direction to the faith of Christ, courteously conceded "then are ye Abraham's seed," etc.(b) The Jew rested in the law. Paul "bare them record, they had a zeal for God," etc., because "the law was their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ."(c) The Jew stood upon his circumcision. Was it asked, "What profit was there of circumcision?" The reply was, "Much every way," except indeed in their own way, but in such a way as they would be more disposed to listen to as "the more, excellent way."(2) Apply this apostolic gauge to our own modes of dealing with modern Jews.(a) Take the English Jew; his national and hereditary dislike of Christianity is not likely to be propitiated by our too general indifference to the means of his conversion, which strikes him as irresistibly at variance with our evangelical premises.(b) Take the spirit of ritualism as embodied in Romanism. To unchurch Rome — the communion of a Borromeo, Fenelon, and Pascal — is not the spirit which acknowledged their prototypes, "who are Israelites."The civil concession of her antiquity pleads the conciliatory parallel, "whose are the Fathers." The graceful recognition of her early evangelising labours finds a gentler precedent in the admission, "of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came," than in the loose ignoring of all old better times. Neither is it an obstacle, but rather ancillary to our argument to let her share the honour of having had "committed unto her the oracles of God." Rome must be vanquished by her own instruments. The Christianity in her Vulgate will yet displace the Popery in her creeds.

2. Rationalism.(1) There can be no antagonism between reason and faith. Christianity and science are both from the same Author, and it robs Him of part of His glory to take either away. Deal with such particles of truth as exist in rationalistic or socialistic writings, as Paul did with the inscription on the Athenian altar, or the maxims of a Menander or Aratus. He "disputed daily in the school of one Tyrannus," but "gave no offence to the Gentiles."(2) But the text includes the unconverted, and there is a risk of gratuitously offending the mere worldling by the style, as well as matter of preaching. Do not blacken poor human nature darker than she is. Look upon the young keeper of the commandments as Jesus "looked and loved him."(3) The Church of God. The really enlightened children of God are susceptible of offence from an incautious ministry. There is such a contingency as "making my weak brother to offend" in various shapes. We may scandalise, damage, or discourage a fellow-Christian by the class of amusements in which ourselves or families fraternise with the world, or by the inconsiderate denouncement of all recreation; by showing respect of persons in the way of sparing the follies of the rich, and bearing hard upon the vices of the poor, or contrasting the assiduity of pastoral attention to the former, with a comparative neglect of the latter; by careless. partial, imperfect or indistinct statements of truth; by an obvious disparity between our public preaching and personal conversation; by any inattention to the commoner charities, morals, and civilities of life, as if Christianity contained no such precepts as "use hospitality," "be courteous," "render unto all their dues."

(J. B. Owen, M.A.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE GREAT OBJECT AT WHICH THE APOSTLE AIMED — the profit, the salvation, of many. The term "profit" may apply, in general, to anything which improves either the man or his condition. So "wisdom is profitable," etc. (Ecclesiastes 10:10); and Paul profited in Jewish learning, etc. (Galatians 1:14). But as happiness is man's summum bonum, his highest good, whatever promotes this evidently deserves to be so characterised. In this view salvation appears to be eminently profitable.

1. Deliverance from the shackles of superstition — of a superstition erroneous in sentiment — extravagant in its hopes, fears, etc. — painful in its services.

2. Deliverance from the guilt of sin, and from that danger which always, and from those fearful anticipations which frequently, attend it.

3. Deliverance from the slavery of sin (Romans 6:12-14).

4. It is an abiding profit.


1. Observe his disinterestedness. "Not seeking mine own profit." How different from the man who, when any subject is proposed to him, immediately inquires, "What shall I gain by it?"

2. Mark the apostle's benevolence. Aiming at "the profit of many."

3. Consider the apostle's labours. "Seeking the profit of many"; in devising plans to promote their prosperity (2 Corinthians 11:28).

4. Consider also the sacrifices he made.

(Sketches of Sermons.)


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.)

1. The apostle did not shrink from giving offence where the honour of his Master or the rights of His gospel were to be maintained, where sin was to be rebuked, and hypocrisy unmasked. The public opinion of those times doubtless regarded him as an extreme man (1 Corinthians 4:3, 4). Wherever he went he roused the fiercest passions of the Jews. It was from no inability to perceive the "offence of the Cross," that he made it the theme of his ministry. Even to the Church he gave offence where duty required — to Barnabas, to Peter, to the Jewish Christians in general.

2. How singular, then, sound such words as those of the text. "He give no offence!" might be the comment of some of his opponents, "why, it is not possible that any man should give more." These words, however, prove that Paul had no love for antagonism. Truth must be served first, but where it did not call he would not grieve either Jew or Gentile or fellow-Christian. He is speaking here of things not necessary to salvation.


1. With many it may be very feeble and restricted, but to none has it been wholly denied. To some have been given two, and to a few even five talents, but there is not one who can say that he has no talent at all. One of the mightiest forces thus lies within the reach of all. An innocent babe, all insensible of the power which it wields, will sometimes almost transform the spirit of a father.

2. Few things are more marvellous than the way in which such influence propagates itself. Take, e.g., the simple Christian man whose sympathy was excited on behalf of the ignorant and godless children in the city of Gloucester. He little knew how his Christian thought would fructify. So the Christian woman who invited her young apprentice to the evening service in the Tabernacle was unconsciously setting in motion a train of influence, the full results of which are not yet fully developed. That evening sermon was to lead John Williams to the foot of the Cross.

3. Nor is it only that a man may exercise such influence, it is certain that he must do so. It is not that no man ought to live to himself, but that, as a matter of fact, no man can live to himself. Be not deceived, if you are not a blessing you will be a curse to the world. A purely negative existence, even if desirable, is not possible to any of us.


1. It may be regarded under two aspects, the direct and the indirect power which we exert. The Christian must strive to serve his Master in both. He must not only engage in Christian labours, but he must breathe a Christian temper. The power of earnest words and generous deeds will be neutralised by the inconsistency which awakens doubts as to his sincerity, or the offensive bearing which, in exciting prejudice against himself, creates a new obstacle to the success of the message which he bears. It is to this that the apostle chiefly alludes. The offence of the Cross was not to be removed by silence as to Christ crucified; but whatever his message might be, he sought that he himself should not be a stumbling-block.

2. Some men make it their boast that they take no heed to the opinions of others. They have the approval of their own conscience. What can it matter to them though they are condemned by the unanimous voice of their brethren? A doubt of their own infallibility never appears to occur to them, nor a desire to spare the feelings and respect the convictions of others to influence their modes of speech or action. Of course it is better to be unpopular than untrue; but even if regard to the highest principle require a man sometimes to oppose himself to those whom he most respects, there is a way of acting by which he may avoid provoking that unpleasant irritation which is sure to defeat the very purpose he seeks to achieve. Keep back nothing which fidelity to God requires you to utter; but let there be the courtesy which pays a due respect to the opinions it is compelled to oppose, and the readiness to make everything subordinate to the one great work of promoting the gospel. It is pitiable to mark the way in which some men, by little defects of character, mar the effect of labours inspired by the purest motive and apparently fitted to secure the richest fruit. They are like a gardener who, having sown his seeds, no sooner sees them breaking the ground than he begins to trample them down.

3. "Not seeking mine own profit," etc. Such, too, is our principle, but may we not learn something even from those who seek the inferior end? If men can stoop to secure an earthly prize — if they deem no labour too hard, no rebuff too humiliating, no arts too mean which are necessary to ensure success — what effort should not Christians put forth, and what sacrifice should they not make in order to win a power which they may use for the profit of many?

(J. G. Rogers, B.A.)


1. Give none offence.

2. Please all men.

3. Sacrifice self.

II. THE OBJECT — that they may be saved.

III. THE INCENTIVE — the example of Christ and His apostles (1 Corinthians 11:1).

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Even as I please all men in all things

1. The case of Timothy (Acts 16:3).

2. Paul at Athens.

3. Paul at Corinth.

4. His address to Agrippa.

5. His words in reference to meats and drinks.



(1)Christian truth and principle must at all rates be maintained.

(2)Christian moderation and suavity must be exhibited.

(H. W. Beecher.)


1. On the plea of becoming all things to all men, Christians are tempted into sinful conformity with the habits and amusements of the world.

2. On the same plea the Church of Rome adopted heathen rites, until the distinction between Paganism and Christianity was little more than nominal. Heathen temples were called churches; Pagan gods were baptized as saints, and honoured as before.

II. THE APOSTLE SO ACTED AS TO PRESERVE THE CHURCH FROM EVERY TAINT OF EITHER PAGANISM OR JUDAISM. The rules which guided the apostles may be easily deduced from the conduct and epistles of Paul.

1. They accommodated themselves to Jewish or Gentile usages only in matters of indifference.

2. They abstained from all accommodation even in things indifferent, under circumstances which gave to those things a religious import. They allowed sacrifices to be eaten; but eating within a temple was forbidden.

3. They conceded when the concession was not demanded as a matter of necessity; but refused when it was so regarded. Paul said circumcision was nothing and uncircumcision was nothing; yet he resisted the circumcision of Titus when it was demanded by the Judaisers.

4. The object of their concessions was not to gain mere nominal converts, nor to do away with the offence of the Cross (Galatians 4:11), but to save men. No concession therefore, whether to the manners of the world or to the prejudices of the ignorant, can plead the sanction of apostolic example, which has not that object honestly in view.

5. It is included in the above particulars that Paul, in becoming all things to all men, never compromised any truth or sanctioned any error.

(C. Hodge, D.D.).

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