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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 8

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

FIRST CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 8:

INTRODUCTION AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN

I. INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER EIGHT:

This chapter begins a whole section (:1) dealing with Christian liberty and especially in the realm of meats sacrificed to idols. "This whole discussion on Christian liberty (its reality, its dangers, its perversion and its limits) centers around meats sacrificed to idols. Paul will illustrate the right use of this liberty with reference to himself in chapter 9." (McGuiggan p. 122)

For First Century Christians, especially those living in a Greek city, this was a big issue. "Idolatrous practices were related to almost every family and social and political custom of the times. Meats which had been sacrificed in the temple were used at all social festivities; they were exposed for sale in the regular markets and were placed upon the table before invited guests and might appear in one"s own home." (Erdman p. 87)

"The pagan temple rituals, many state occasions, festivals of various kinds of societies, the lives of families and of individuals, all involved sacrifices to the gods and the participation of larger or smaller circles in the feasts connected with these rituals. The desire to participate in such feasts as well as the obligation of family connections or of friendship raised the question as to how far a Christian might go in this regard." (Lenski p. 333)

"Sacrifice to the gods was an integral part of ancient life. It might be of two kinds, private or public. In neither case was the whole animal consumed upon the altar..In private sacrifice the animal, so to speak, was divided into three parts. First, a token part was burned on the altar. Second, the priests received as their right portion...Third, the worshipper himself received the rest of the meat. With the meat he gave a banquet. This was specially the case at times like weddings. Sometimes these feasts were in the house of the host; sometimes they were even in the temple of the god to whom the sacrifice had been made. We have, for instance, a papyrus invitation to dinner which runs like this: "Antonius, son of Ptolemaeus, invites you to dine with him at the table of our Lord Serapis." Serapis was the god to whom he had sacrificed. The problem which confronted the Christian was, "Could he take part in such a feast at all?"...If he could not, then quite obviously he was going to cut himself off almost entirely from all social occasions.

In public sacrifice, that is sacrifice offered by the state, and such sacrifices were very common, after the requisite symbolic amount of the meat had been burned, and after the priests had received their share, the rest of the meat fell to the magistrates and others. What they did not need they sold to the shops and the markets; and therefore, even when meat was bought in the shops, it might well have been already offered to some idol and to some heathen god. From that point of view a man never knew when he might be eating meat that had formed part of a sacrifice to an idol." [Note: _ Barclay p. 80]

Bruce reminds us, that since the animals offered in sacrifice were usually of the best quality, such meat sold very quickly in the market. In addition, "For the most part the Gentiles who had become believers in Corinth had probably attended such meals all their lives; this was the basic "restaurant" in antiquity, and every kind of occasion was celebrated in this fashion." (Fee p. 361)

Several questions needed to be answered: (1) Could a Christian even buy such meat, or what if he/she inadvertently purchased some. To this question Paul responds, "buy and don"t ask questions", i.e. relax and don"t worry about it. () (2) Could a Christian eat such meat in the home of an unbeliever? Paul"s answer is yes and no-10:27-28 (3) Could a Christian attend a banquet at an idol"s temple? And this is the question that seems to unlock the key to this whole section and especially the relation of these chapters to the decree made in Acts 15:20; Acts 15:28-29 "that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols.."

A. One View of This Section:

The "meat" under consideration in chapters 8 and 10 is "market-place" meat. In the name of "knowledge" and "freedom" some of the Corinthians are advocating eating such food.

B. Another View of This Section:

The phrase "things sacrificed to idols" in Chapter ,4,7,10 does not refer primarily to marketplace food, but to eating of sacrificial food at the cultic meals in the pagan temples. "In this view all of 8:1-10:22 takes up this issue against the Corinthian position that they have the "right" to continue this practice. As with going to the prostitutes (6:12-20), it is forbidden both on theological (10:14-22) and ethical (8:1-13) grounds. Then, in 10:23-11:1 he concludes with the matter of idol food sold in the market and eaten in private homes." (Fee pp. 359-360)

This view seems to have the following supportive evidence:

1. The only specific mention of their particular "eating" in Chapter 8, is "dining in an idol"s temple" ().

2. Chapter seems to be a clear condemnation of participation in such temple feasts.

3. Chapter seems to have a better connection with 10:14-22, then 10:25-33.

4. It would seem to better explain the specific eating under consideration in the decree given in Acts 15:29. If this view is correct, then that decree was forbidding the eating things sacrificed to idols in an idol"s temple. Paul then later clarifies, that such meat in different circumstances (10:25ff) could be eaten.

Of course, someone might respond, "but doesn"t Paul label eating meat in an idol"s temple, a liberty?" () Yet the liberty of that passage seems to be referring back to verse 8, i.e. the liberty of eating or not eating. After reading verses 8:10-13, I"m not sure if Paul leaves any door open for eating in an idol"s temple. Specific windows of opportunity are given for eating "marketplace" meat (10:25-27), and yet none are spelled out for eating that same meat in the idol"s temple. Someone might respond, "Well it is inferred, that if someone (who is weak) isn"t watching you, then you can eat." (8:10) Yet my question would be, "How do you know when someone is or isn"t watching you?" Notice what verse 10 doesn"t say: "If a weak brother is sitting beside or across the table from you", "If a weak brother approaches you." "If a weak brother says, hey that meat is sacrificed to idols." The text simply says, "If someone sees you." Nothing is said, concerning whether you saw them or not! Therefore, since you could never guarantee that a weak brother would never see you eating there, verses 8:10-13 appear to be Paul"s first argument against attending such feasts at all for any Christian.

II. THE OUTLINE OF THIS SECTION: :1:

I. Their Argument-: Attendance at the idol"s temple wasn"t wrong for them, seeing that they "knew" the truth about idols, i.e. they were just eating with their friends and not worshipping non-existent gods.

II. Paul"s Response-: The true basis of Christian ethics.

III. Who They Had Forgotten About-: The abuse and damage that is done when Christians recklessly push for their rights.

IV. Paul Defends His Authority-: Did Paul have the right to tell them such things?

V. Paul"s Own Example of Giving Up His Rights-: A rebuke and response to those on the "rights" bandwagon.

VI. Paul Even Must Buffet Himself-: A stern warning: Did they think that they didn"t need to exercise self-control? Even in the realm of "personal liberties"?

VII. Their False Security-: A response to those that would think that their "knowledge" and "privileges" as Christians would protect them from any "contamination" (at the idol"s temple?).

IX. Can"t Eat At Both Tables-: For idolatry involves the worship of demons, in reality.

X. Concerning The Realm of Lawful Eating-: A final word about eating marketplace meat. They can buy and eat at will (10:25), with the one exception that they should abstain if in a pagan home someone points out its temple origins.

III. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER EIGHT:


Verse 1

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.

"Now concerning"-signals that Paul is picking up yet another item from their letter ().

"sacrificed to idols"-"the portion of the flesh left over after the heathen sacrifices." (Robertson p. 137)

We should note that when truth is on the line, Paul doesn"t even come close to accommodating the views of the world. The pagans would of called such, "sacrifices to a divinity". Paul says, "no, they are sacrifices to idols".

"We know that we all have knowledge"-"Of course we all have knowledge, as you say." (NEB)

Points to Note:

1. In this first verse Paul might to quoting a phrase they used in their letter to him.

"his first concern is with the incorrect ethical basis of their argument. The problem is primarily attitudinal. They think Christian conduct is predicated on..knowledge..and that knowledge gives them ..rights/freedom to act as they will in the matter. Paul has another view: The content of their knowledge is only partially correct, but more importantly, knowledge is not the ground of Christian behaviour, love is." (Fee p. 363)

"The Corinthians, it seems, had made a statement in their letter to Paul to the effect that they were all duly informed in regard to idols and idol meats." (Lenski p. 334)

In fact, they might have given Paul their own conclusion. They may have settled this issue in their own minds and their argument appears to have run something like, "Since idols are nonentities, and since food is a matter of indifference to God, it matters not not only what we eat but where we eat it as well. So how can Paul forbid their going to the temples?" (Fee p. 362)

In the minds of some of them, they already had it figured out. Paul"s responds, "Wait a minute".

2. I suspect that even the weak knew that only one God existed, but as yet were unable to make the practical application ().

"Knowledge puffeth up"-"makes arrogant" (NASV); "breeds conceit" (TCNT) Note the contrast-- "puffed up" and "edifieth", "The contrast is striking between puffing up and building up--a bubble and a building." (Vincent p. 226)

Points to Note:

1. Paul is not ridiculing "knowledge"-"Paul will never despise accurate teaching, he will never think knowledge to be unimportant. He will never exalt intellectual ignorance. But Paul will make it clear that a man with knowledge may be loveless and/or puffed up...We will learn that nothing in the disciple"s life is to be judged merely by knowledge." (McGuiggan p. 121)

2. Paul"s very purpose in writing is to "inform" (; 12:1; 15:1). Incorrect knowledge is just as bad as "mere" knowledge. (Romans 10:1-2)

3. Since love does not rejoice in unrighteousness () but rejoices with the truth. Love will always embrace the correct or biblical viewpoint. But at the same time, Paul points out that one can hold the correct view, and yet be completely wrong in their motives. (13:2 "And if I have...all knowledge..but do not have love, I am nothing.)

4. Knowledge isn"t everything. "It is good in itself, but one must know how to use it, with what to combine it, or he will still go wrong." (Lenski p. 334)

At this juncture, Erdman makes a good point, that we need to meditate upon: "one who determines to act solely in accordance with what is theoretically allowable has not yet learned the Christian way of life." (p. 89)

Right here there must be a word of warning to those who try to "walk the line". Christians that insist that they are within their "rights" in a certain practice. We need to examine such subjects as smoking, social drinking, gambling, questionable apparel-movies, music..in light of the principle that Paul lays down here.

5. Even biblical knowledge can puff up, if love isn"t present.

"but love edifieth"-3618. oikodomeo {oy-kod-om-eh"-o}; from the same as 3619; to be a house-builder, i.e. construct or (figuratively) confirm: -(be in) build(-er, -ing, up), edify, embolden.

-"love builds up character" (TCNT) "Not only is love "not puffed up" (), but quite the opposite, it "builds up"." (Fee pp. 366-367)

In our day and age of "rights/pro-choice", Fee makes a good point: "Rights/freedom is not the final goal of Christian ethics, but what is "beneficial" and "constructive" is ()..the aim of Christian ethics is not Stoic self-sufficiency..rather..its aim is the benefit and advantage of a brother or sister." (pp. 366,367)

"The Corinthians were a knowledgeable group. There was a lot of "light and liberty" but it was light without warmth and liberty without love...For all its knowledge, for all its gifts, for all the brilliance of its intellect..what shape was it really in? Was all this the sign of bustling heath or active disease?" (McGuiggan p. 122)

Possibly some in Corinth were arguing that if you forced a person to eat against their will, or crammed knowledge into their head, that such would "spiritually build them up". "Hit them over the head with it, make them "get used to it", force them to do it enough and then they won"t have a problem with it." In fact, this is the way that the world often handles those with "conscience problems". "Hey, grow up, give up your idealism, this is the way that we do business, and if you do it enough, your conscience won"t bother you any longer just as mine doesn"t."

God couldn"t disagree more! No, forcing someone to violate their conscience isn"t the way that you correctly or lovingly solve the problem.


Verse 2

1 Corinthians 8:2 If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know;

"thinketh"-"supposes" (NASV) "Its good to know, but then there is an attitude toward your knowing. There is a healthy and an unhealthy way of thinking that you know." (McGuiggan p. 123)

"knoweth"-lit., "has come to know" (Vincent p. 226) "The perfect tense..implies that they consider themselves to have arrived as far as knowledge is concerned..the one who thinks he is "in the know".." (Fee p. 367)

Note:

Paul isn"t saying that we can"t know or know anything for sure, or even that we can"t know any biblical subject with absolute certainty (; Ephesians 4:4-6; Ephesians 5:5 "For this you know with certainty.."). Rather, he is talking about a knowledge that lacks love, a knowledge is this nothing more than arrogance.

"He who thinks that "knowing" ends with gaining the correct view and doesn"t understand that knowing is a means to an end (i.e. serving God and the ignorant), he doesn"t know as he ought.."It is not what to know, but how to know, which includes all real knowledge."" (McGuiggan pp. 123-124)

"as he ought to know"-"he has not yet reached that knowledge which he ought to have reached." (TCNT) "He hasn"t learned that gaining knowledge isn"t the purpose of life; it"s one of the elements essential to living life for God and people." (McGuiggan p. 124)


Verse 3

1 Corinthians 8:3 but if any man loveth God, the same is known by him.

"if any man loveth God"-"present tense verb; hence, "if any man keeps on loving God."" (Willis p. 265)

Points to Note:

1. This implies that one can have "knowledge", even correct knowledge of God and His will and yet "not love God." The Pharisees knew a lot of truth and yet many of them lacked a love for God. (Matthew 23:3/John 5:42)

2. I must not only "know the truth", I must "love the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:10), and loving the God that such truth so often reflects.

3. Loving God of course involving keeping the commandments of God. (John 14:15; John 14:21; John 14:23; 1 John 5:3) Therefore, Paul infers that it is possible for Christians to "know the truth" and yet fail to obey or properly apply it.

"the same is known by him"

"Although we might have expected the sentence to read, "If any man love God, the same knows God," we read that the person is known of God. This is a greater blessing than the other reading would have been. In a king"s mansion, every person knows the king; however, the king does not know every servant. To say that a servant is known by the king is to say something greater than to say the servant knows the king." (Willis p. 265)

"known"-in the sense of "accepted by" (Matthew 7:23; Galatians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:19) "No one is acquainted with God who does not love him" (1 John 4:8). God sets the seal of his favour on the one who loves him." (Robertson p. 138)

***"What is the value of our knowing, even our knowledge of God in contrast with idols, if in the end God does not know us as his own?" (Lenski p. 337)***

Having laid down this principle--that love is the final arbiter (not the world"s definition of love, but love of God) and not "mere" knowledge..Paul now proceeds with the problem at hand.


Verse 4

1 Corinthians 8:4 Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is {anything} in the world, and that there is no God but one.

"we know"-with absolute confidence and certainty. Yes, absolute truth does exist!

"no idol is anything in the world"-Idols or images did exist and at times in great number (Acts 17:16). Paul is saying that every idol was simply the image of a non-existent god, and hence an image representing nothing.

And this truth still holds true! If all the "gods" of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece and Rome..were false, then so are all the "gods" of India, Africa, the South Pacific and North America.

"there is no God but one"- Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 4:4-6.

"The two propositions together form a strong affirmation of monotheism over against every form of polytheism (worship of many gods) or henotheism (the acceptance of many gods). Not only is there only one God, but there is a correlative denial that idols have any reality at all." (Fee p. 370)

"one"-note: "One" doesn"t always mean "one person or one individual". If "two" can be found in a "one" (1 Corinthians 6:16); then three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) can also be included in a "one". (John 10:30 "I and the Father are one"), that"s at least two persons who are included in the designation of "God".


Verse 5

1 Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many;

"that are called gods"-"if there are so-called gods" (NASV); "It is true that men have supposed that there are so-called "gods" " (Nor)

"in heaven or on earth"-"The pagan"s filled the whole earth with deities; the earth, heavens, sun, moon, stars, mountains, forest, rivers, etc..were each represented by a deity." (Willis p. 267)


Verse 6

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.

"yet to us there is one God"-"And what a marvellous truth this is. How freeing such a truth is. Thank God for the death of superstition." (McGuiggan p. 124)

"the Father"-"Not just some omnipotent Unknown. Not some abstraction (such as Tillich"s "ground of being") or some impersonal principle." (McGuiggan p. 124)

"of whom are all things"-"from whom" (NASV); "As the source of the universe (Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16)" (Robertson p. 139)

"all"-"denoting ultimate source..ALL, the universe, all that actually exists, that is called into being by his word." (Lenski p. 340)

"This of course, was contrary to polytheistic belief which posited a different god for the origin of each thing." (Willis p. 267)

"In contrast to the many gods, themselves often subject to the whims of the cosmos, the Christian God stands apart from all things as their source. Nothing lies outside the jurisdiction of the God with whom we have to do and who invites us to be related to him as child to father." (Fee p. 375)

"and we unto him"-the goal and aim of the Christian"s existence, is to live for Him. (2 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) "The goal of our living." (Wms)

"and one Lord, Jesus Christ"-(Ephesians 4:5-6)

"In the same breath that he can assert that there is only one God, he equally asserts that the designation "Lord", which in the OT belongs to the one God, is the proper designation of the divine Son. One should note especially that Paul feels no tension between the affirmation of monotheism and the clear distinction between the two persons of Father and Jesus Christ." (Fee p. 375)

"It is mankind"s eternal benefit that it wasn"t Napoleon or Genghis Khan or Hitler who triumphed over death and become Lord. Think of a world dominated by one such as Stalin...It must be to the relief of all the stars in the skies, all the galaxies of the universe and of every square foot of space that Jesus is Lord. Whatever happens, no one anywhere will be able to say he/she didn"t get a fair shake." (McGuiggan p. 125)

"through whom are all things"- John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-3. Jesus is as much of a Creator as the Father is!

"we through him"-"through whom we live" (Gspd)

Here we see the true basis of Christian ethics and conduct. It is grounded in the fact that : (1) We owe our very existence to God. (2) We also owe our spiritual lives to him. (3) He is the ultimate goal of all existence.

APPLICATION TIME:


Verse 7

1 Corinthians 8:7 Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge: but some, being used until now to the idol, eat as {of} a thing sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

"that knowledge"-To me the best way to harmonize this verse with Paul"s assertion in "We all have knowledge"; is that all Christians intellectually believed verses 4-6, and yet all Christians hadn"t been able to emotionally accept them.

"that even though all may believe at the theoretical level than an idol is no god, not all share this "knowledge" at the ..emotional level." (Fee p. 379)

"The Corinthians were like the superstitious among Christians today who shun the number 13, read their astrology charts, etc..while disclaiming belief in any supernatural power other than Jehovah." (Willis p. 269)

"being used until now to the idol"-a convert from paganism, one that used to habitually engage in idolatry and idol feasts. One who was "brought up" in idol worship. "It is the force of habit that still "grips" them when they eat such meat." (Robertson p. 139)

"eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol"-"Although they would admit the existence of only one God, they still ate the food offered to idols as an act of worship. Too, they considered anyone else who ate food sacrificed to idols to be doing the same thing." (Willis p. 269)

"They still feel that eating such meat in some way connects a person with the idol.." (Lenski p. 342)

"their conscience being weak"-"is one that is not fully clear as to whether an act is right or wrong." (Lenski p. 342)

"is defiled"-3435. moluno {mol-oo"-no}; probably from 3189; to soil (figuratively): -defile. This happens when they violate their conscience and choose to do what they believe is wrong. (Romans 14:23)

We should note that this verse infers that someone was "encouraging" them to eat and to eat against the convictions of conscience.."they must have been urged to eat else they wouldn"t have done it." (McGuiggan p. 125)


Verse 8

1 Corinthians 8:8 But food will not commend us to God: neither, if we eat not, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better.

"commend"-"change our place in God"s sight" (Con); "God"s approval of us is not based on the food we take." (Bas)

"are we the worse...are we the better"-"The one who abstains is not disadvantaged; and the one who eats is not advantaged." (Fee p. 383)

Points to Note:

1. The Corinthians, both the strong and the weak might have been under the impression that being able to eat with a clear conscience constituted a superior spiritual standing with God.

2. Paul stresses, the ground at the foot of the cross is level. In matters like this in the realm of of moral neutrality, neither group has a spiritual advantage over the other in God"s sight.

3. This statement should remove all "boasting" with the Corinthians in this matter.

4. Many religious groups that follow self-imposed "food laws" need to read this passage. Yes Paul was Jewish, but to Paul "kosher" food neither helped you nor hindered you. (Romans 14:17)

Paul now starts to apply the principle that he introduced in verses 1-3. Paul has discussed the "knowledge" part, now it is time to apply the "love" part.

Having said that the "decisive point" does not lie in the food, he moves on to what is the decisive point.


Verse 9

1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak.

"But"-Yes food may be morally neutral, and food is a "liberty", but you can push this "right" in the face of a brother, and spiritually kill him with it.

"take heed"-a warning to the "Knowledgeable". Present tense, we must always take heed.

"this liberty"-

Points to Note:

1. "Liberty,freedom, rights"-is an area in the life of a Christian that must be carefully guarded. Yes, self-control must be exercised in this realm too (). In fact, one could make the case that Paul"s buffeting of his body is in the realm of "personal liberties" (9:24-27); i.e. Paul is saying that He could be rejected if he "abused" his rights.

2. "For the Corinthians "knowledge"..means "rights" to act in "freedom". Thus for them freedom became the highest good, since it led to the exaltation of the individual. For Paul the opposite prevails: "Love" means the "free giving up" of one"s rights for the sake of others (cf. ).." (Fee p. 385)

3. Love doesn"t insist upon it"s rights ( "seeketh not its own.."

"stumblingblock"-"is something that lies in a path, against which an unwary foot may strike and cause a person to stumble or to fall; metaphorically, anything that may cause a person to sin and to suffer injury to his soul." (Lenski p. 344)

Jesus had some stern words to say about "stumblingblocks" (Matthew 18:7-9)

We should note that a "stumblingblock" isn"t something that "offends" you, rather is it something that leads you into sin, something that would encourage or move you to violate your conscience.

The next verse seems to explain "how" this liberty of theirs was being abused.


Verse 10

1 Corinthians 8:10 For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol"s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols?

"For"-a case in point.

"a man"-"someone" (NASV); in the context the Christian with an idolatrous past ().

"see thee"-note again, nothing is said about this brother eating with the "knowledgeable" brother, or sitting next to him, or even being invited by him. Rather, another Christian simply see"s you.

"who hast knowledge"-rather than being a compliment, this might be a jab at some of the Corinthians. "the Corinthian pretension of superior enlightenment, shown in to be faulty in Christian theory, now discloses its practical mischief....is represented as a sort of bravado--a thing done to show his "knowledge", his complete freedom from superstition about the idol." (Ex. Gr. N.T. p. 843)

"in an idol"s temple"-at this point Paul doesn"t discuss whether it is right for the "knowledgeable" Christian to be in such a place, obviously the "knowledgeable" one considered it a "right". In this verse Paul is focusing in on the damage that is done to the weak brother"s spiritual condition, which will lead into the truth that the strong brother is in the wrong ().

"be emboldened"-"strengthened" (NASV).

Lenski has a good comment at this point:

"will his conscience be edified?" This has an ironical sound...It seems that the strong and the boastful members of the Corinthian congregation justified their inconsiderate action toward their weaker brethren by saying that they wished "to build up" these brethren and make them strong. Paul asks: "Is this the way in which you build them up?" (p. 345)

The Corinthians might of been trying to justify their abuse of liberty by saying, "Well when they see us eating, they will know that nothing is wrong with it, they will be encouraged to do the same, we are only trying to help our brethren."

Paul responds, the only thing that you are "encouraging" these brethren to do, is violate their conscience! Your not leading them to spiritual maturity, your leading them to hell!

Modern Application:

There must be an application in these verses for Christians who boldly assert their right to smoke, drink, gamble, listen to filth or watch movies drenched in immorality and profanity. And not only that, but they invite new converts (people who are trying to escape from such influences) to join them in such activities..brethren, the last place we need to take a new convert to, is an R-rated movie!

Some Christians are infected with the same wrong thinking that some in Corinth were caught up in. The ironic thing is some people in the world are desperately trying to break away from it, and then they run into Christians who are trying to walk as close to the line of sin/worldliness as possible. Who needs to convert who?

The Church at the end of the 20th century seems to be filled with members who are desperately trying to "prove" to the world that they aren"t any different from the society that surrounds them and that basically they can do everything that everybody else can. This isn"t the Christianity that a world lost in sin needs to see.

In fact, if you listen to the conversations that some Christians have with their non-Christian friends, family, co-workers or neighbors, it seems that often the Christian is trying to prove that he/she knows just as much about "worldly things" as anyone else does, "Hey, I"m not a prude or anything".


Verse 11

1 Corinthians 8:11 For through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

"through thy knowledge"-"ruined by your "enlightened mind"" (Mof) Led to ruin by knowledge that makes one arrogant (); pushes for "rights", even if they led a brother into sin. "Boy, that"s a good use of bible knowledge!"

"perisheth"-(Romans 14:15). A Christian can fall away and end up lost. No once saved, always saved here. Same word that Jesus used in Matthew 10:28. "eternal loss, not simply some internal "falling apart"" (Fee p. 387)

"for whose sake Christ died"-"but the person is no longer merely "someone with a weak conscience"; he is "the brother for whom Christ died."....A Christian life is at stake..all for the sake of their freedom informed by their knowledge.." (Fee p. 387)

The soul of a brother is too high a price to pay for such "rights". When "choice" results in the death of another, it was the wrong choice!

Modern Application:

If Paul preached this strong against the abuse of "liberty" and actions that led others to violate their consciences, what would Paul have said about an action, proclaimed "liberty" that actually "kills" someone, i.e. like abortion?


Verse 12

1 Corinthians 8:12 And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ.

"And thus"-"in this manner.. connecting the sin against the brother with the conduct previously described." (Willis p. 273)

"sinning against the brethren"-"in such case, not only the weak brother sins by yielding, but the strong who tempted him." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 844) "Such lack of consideration and charity towards fellow-Christians amounts to sin.." (F.F. Bruce p. 82)

"wounding"-"to smite with fist, staff, whip. The conscience is sensitive to a blow like that, a slap in the face." (Robertson p. 141)

"The action of the strong was considered such an assault..it refers to the actual damage done to the weak conscience." (Willis p. 273)

"when it is weak"-You knowingly pushed a brother to violate his conscience. Now, how can you justify that? Striking a man when he is already down.

"ye sin against Christ"-again emphasizing the biblical principle that sins committed against Christians, are taken personally by God. (Matthew 25:40; Matthew 25:45; Acts 9:4-5; Mark 9:37; Mark 9:41; Luke 10:16; John 13:20)


Verse 13

1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore, that I cause not my brother to stumble.

"Wherefore"-"And here is the conclusion of a really brilliant scholar!" (McGuiggan p. 126)

"if"-in the event. Always ready to forego his "rights" if the situation demanded it.

"my brother"-one that placed the spiritual welfare of his brother, above his own "rights".

-"We who are strong in knowledge must be equally strong in love." (Lenski p. 349)

IV. CONCLUDING REMARKS:

In his commentary Fee has some good closing observations:

"(1) The issue is not that of "offending" someone in the church. It has to do with conduct that another would "emulate"--indeed, in this case apparently is being urged to emulate--to his or her own hurt.

(3) What would seem to be an illegitimate use of the principle, even in the broader terms of v. 13, is for those who feel "offended" to try to force all others to conform to their own idiosyncrasies of behavior. Paul makes it quite clear in Romans 14:1-23 that on matters of indifference people within any given community should learn to live together in harmony, with no group demanding their own behavior of the others.

(4) The real concern of the passage needs a regular hearing in the church. Personal behavior is dictated not by knowledge, freedom, or law, (I would add merely or only) but by love for those within the community of faith. Everything one does that affects relationships within the body of Christ should have care for brothers and sisters as its primary motivation." (Fee p. 392)

 


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Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-8.html. 1999-2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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