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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

1 Corinthians 8

Verses 1-13

Idolatry and Things Offered unto Idols: Sanctification of the Spirit to Learn how to Walk with a Pure Conscience In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, using it as an opportunity to each on being led by the spirit by walking with a good conscience, which is voice of our spirit. The word “conscience” ( συνείδησις ) is used 9 times in this passage of Scripture. Paul opens ( 1Co 8:7 ; 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 8:12) and closes (1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 10:27-46.10.29) this passage with this word. This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…” Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when confronted with such invitations. The guiding principle that Paul teaches in this passage is for the believer to be led by his conscience so that he does not offence his brother. Therefore, Paul’s concluding statement on how to deal with this issue is, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Eating meat offered to idols 1 Corinthians 8:1-46.8.13

2. A Positive Example: Paul’s carefulness not to offend 1 Corinthians 9:1-46.9.27

3. Negative Example: The idolatry of Israel in the wilderness 1 Corinthians 10:1-46.10.14

4. A Personal Example: The Lord’s Table vs. Pagan Worship 1 Corinthians 10:15-46.10.22

5. Conclusion 1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1

The Conscience, the Voice of the Human Spirit In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul deals with the issue of idolatry. Keep in mind the underlying theme of this epistle, which is practical ways in which the believer is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through them. Thus, Paul uses the word “conscience” nine times in this section of the epistle. This is because the voice of our human spirit is our conscience. In contrast, the voice of our mind is human reason, and the voice of our body is our physical senses that we call feelings. Thus, Paul is teaching the Corinthians to be led by the Holy Spirit on this issue by being led by their conscience.

1 Corinthians 8:7, “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”

1 Corinthians 8:10, “For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;”

1 Corinthians 8:12, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience , ye sin against Christ.”

1 Corinthians 10:25, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:”

1 Corinthians 10:27, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.”

1 Corinthians 10:28, “But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:”

1 Corinthians 10:29, “ Conscience , I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience ?”

The First Council of Jerusalem In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, which was an important part of this Greco-Roman culture with their temple worship. This type of heathen worship consisted of fornication and feasting upon foods that had been offered up to Greek and Roman idols.

However, the issue of meats and their association with heathen idols had long been a problem with the Jews. Wherever they had settled throughout the Empire, they established their own butcheries in order to provide for themselves “clean” meats. This issue of meats and idolatry was a part of the first confrontations of the early Church. In the first Church council in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15:1-44.15.35, the leaders chose to send instructions to the Gentile churches on four topics. Acts 15:20 reads, “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”

Much of the meats offered in the markets were the residue of what had been sacrificed to idols. If these believers ate such meats, were they partaking of such worship? Or, if they were invited into a non-believer’s home and offered meats, should they abstain, or eat it so as not to offense the host? But if they ate it, would it not offend the weaker brothers in the church who were just coming out of such an idolatrous lifestyle and could easily fall back into it under similar conditions? All of these issues needed to be addressed. Thus, it was an important topic for Paul to deal with in the church of Corinth as well as in all the churches.

This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…” (1 Corinthians 10:27) Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when attending such invitations. The key point that Paul tries to emphasize in this passage is, “Do not offend other believers.” The key words which are often repeated are “idols” and “offence”. Paul’s concluding statement on how to deal with this issue is, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Verses 1-13

Idolatry and Things Offered unto Idols: Sanctification of the Spirit to Learn how to Walk with a Pure Conscience In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, using it as an opportunity to each on being led by the spirit by walking with a good conscience, which is voice of our spirit. The word “conscience” ( συνείδησις ) is used 9 times in this passage of Scripture. Paul opens ( 1Co 8:7 ; 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 8:12) and closes (1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 10:27-46.10.29) this passage with this word. This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…” Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when confronted with such invitations. The guiding principle that Paul teaches in this passage is for the believer to be led by his conscience so that he does not offence his brother. Therefore, Paul’s concluding statement on how to deal with this issue is, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Eating meat offered to idols 1 Corinthians 8:1-46.8.13

2. A Positive Example: Paul’s carefulness not to offend 1 Corinthians 9:1-46.9.27

3. Negative Example: The idolatry of Israel in the wilderness 1 Corinthians 10:1-46.10.14

4. A Personal Example: The Lord’s Table vs. Pagan Worship 1 Corinthians 10:15-46.10.22

5. Conclusion 1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1

The Conscience, the Voice of the Human Spirit In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul deals with the issue of idolatry. Keep in mind the underlying theme of this epistle, which is practical ways in which the believer is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through them. Thus, Paul uses the word “conscience” nine times in this section of the epistle. This is because the voice of our human spirit is our conscience. In contrast, the voice of our mind is human reason, and the voice of our body is our physical senses that we call feelings. Thus, Paul is teaching the Corinthians to be led by the Holy Spirit on this issue by being led by their conscience.

1 Corinthians 8:7, “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”

1 Corinthians 8:10, “For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;”

1 Corinthians 8:12, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience , ye sin against Christ.”

1 Corinthians 10:25, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:”

1 Corinthians 10:27, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.”

1 Corinthians 10:28, “But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:”

1 Corinthians 10:29, “ Conscience , I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience ?”

The First Council of Jerusalem In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, which was an important part of this Greco-Roman culture with their temple worship. This type of heathen worship consisted of fornication and feasting upon foods that had been offered up to Greek and Roman idols.

However, the issue of meats and their association with heathen idols had long been a problem with the Jews. Wherever they had settled throughout the Empire, they established their own butcheries in order to provide for themselves “clean” meats. This issue of meats and idolatry was a part of the first confrontations of the early Church. In the first Church council in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15:1-44.15.35, the leaders chose to send instructions to the Gentile churches on four topics. Acts 15:20 reads, “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”

Much of the meats offered in the markets were the residue of what had been sacrificed to idols. If these believers ate such meats, were they partaking of such worship? Or, if they were invited into a non-believer’s home and offered meats, should they abstain, or eat it so as not to offense the host? But if they ate it, would it not offend the weaker brothers in the church who were just coming out of such an idolatrous lifestyle and could easily fall back into it under similar conditions? All of these issues needed to be addressed. Thus, it was an important topic for Paul to deal with in the church of Corinth as well as in all the churches.

This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…” (1 Corinthians 10:27) Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when attending such invitations. The key point that Paul tries to emphasize in this passage is, “Do not offend other believers.” The key words which are often repeated are “idols” and “offence”. Paul’s concluding statement on how to deal with this issue is, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Verses 1-13

Idolatry and Things Offered unto Idols: Sanctification of the Spirit to Learn how to Walk with a Pure Conscience In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, using it as an opportunity to each on being led by the spirit by walking with a good conscience, which is voice of our spirit. The word “conscience” ( συνείδησις ) is used 9 times in this passage of Scripture. Paul opens ( 1Co 8:7 ; 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 8:12) and closes (1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 10:27-46.10.29) this passage with this word. This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…” Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when confronted with such invitations. The guiding principle that Paul teaches in this passage is for the believer to be led by his conscience so that he does not offence his brother. Therefore, Paul’s concluding statement on how to deal with this issue is, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Eating meat offered to idols 1 Corinthians 8:1-46.8.13

2. A Positive Example: Paul’s carefulness not to offend 1 Corinthians 9:1-46.9.27

3. Negative Example: The idolatry of Israel in the wilderness 1 Corinthians 10:1-46.10.14

4. A Personal Example: The Lord’s Table vs. Pagan Worship 1 Corinthians 10:15-46.10.22

5. Conclusion 1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1

The Conscience, the Voice of the Human Spirit In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul deals with the issue of idolatry. Keep in mind the underlying theme of this epistle, which is practical ways in which the believer is to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through them. Thus, Paul uses the word “conscience” nine times in this section of the epistle. This is because the voice of our human spirit is our conscience. In contrast, the voice of our mind is human reason, and the voice of our body is our physical senses that we call feelings. Thus, Paul is teaching the Corinthians to be led by the Holy Spirit on this issue by being led by their conscience.

1 Corinthians 8:7, “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”

1 Corinthians 8:10, “For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;”

1 Corinthians 8:12, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience , ye sin against Christ.”

1 Corinthians 10:25, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:”

1 Corinthians 10:27, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.”

1 Corinthians 10:28, “But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:”

1 Corinthians 10:29, “ Conscience , I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience ?”

The First Council of Jerusalem In 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul dedicates his longest discussion in this epistle to the topic of idolatry and things offered unto idols, which was an important part of this Greco-Roman culture with their temple worship. This type of heathen worship consisted of fornication and feasting upon foods that had been offered up to Greek and Roman idols.

However, the issue of meats and their association with heathen idols had long been a problem with the Jews. Wherever they had settled throughout the Empire, they established their own butcheries in order to provide for themselves “clean” meats. This issue of meats and idolatry was a part of the first confrontations of the early Church. In the first Church council in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15:1-44.15.35, the leaders chose to send instructions to the Gentile churches on four topics. Acts 15:20 reads, “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”

Much of the meats offered in the markets were the residue of what had been sacrificed to idols. If these believers ate such meats, were they partaking of such worship? Or, if they were invited into a non-believer’s home and offered meats, should they abstain, or eat it so as not to offense the host? But if they ate it, would it not offend the weaker brothers in the church who were just coming out of such an idolatrous lifestyle and could easily fall back into it under similar conditions? All of these issues needed to be addressed. Thus, it was an important topic for Paul to deal with in the church of Corinth as well as in all the churches.

This church was living in the midst of such heathen practices, and like many of us today, they were invited to attend certain functions that involved idolatry and foods offered unto idols. This is why Paul says, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go…” (1 Corinthians 10:27) Thus, these believers needed some guidelines to go by when attending such invitations. The key point that Paul tries to emphasize in this passage is, “Do not offend other believers.” The key words which are often repeated are “idols” and “offence”. Paul’s concluding statement on how to deal with this issue is, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-corinthians-8.html. 2013.