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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 8

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Food offered to idols. The temple of an idol (1 Corinthians 8:10) was a meeting-place for feasting. Constant sacrifices on the idol’s altars provided a source of meat. Much of the meat sold in markets and found on the dinner-tables of ordinary citizens, came from the idol’s temple. And unless you were told, you could not know the source of the meat (1 Corinthians 10:25-29). But, can a Christian eat such meat without sinning? In theory, Paul is for freedom, based on the TRUTH that there is only the one God. In practice, he is for severely restricting the use of meat sacrificed to idols, because of the weak brother who did not understand. [Holy water may have grown out of an attempt to make clean meat sacrificed to an idol; the idea being that the holy water would remove the ritual impurity of the idol from the meat.] “All of us have knowledge.” He says this in irony. Compare 1 Corinthians 8:7. The Corinthians were proud of their knowledge. Puffs a man up with pride. When they boast about their knowledge, it leads them to despise others (compare Romans 14:3-4). But love builds up. Love is the mortar which holds the “living stones” together to build God’s temple (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Verse 2


Who thinks he knows. Loveless knowledge is destructive. See notes on Revelation 2:4-5. True knowledge always makes you humble and loving.

Verse 3


But the man who loves God. Love means to act toward God as he has already acted toward you. Is known. Paul substitutes this for the “has come to know” which we might expect. Compare 2 Timothy 2:19.

Verse 4


We know that an idol. “Most of we Christians know that an idol has no reality or power. There is only one God. There can be no other. (See note on Romans 16:27.)

Verse 5


Even if there are. The pagan world worshiped many false gods and goddesses.

Verse 6


Yet there is for us. This affirms what 1 Corinthians 8:4 said negatively. “We Christians acknowledge only one God the Father and only one Lord, Jesus Christ. This contrasts with the many gods and lords of paganism.” Compare 1 Timothy 2:5; Colossians 1:15-17.

Verse 7


But not everyone knows this truth. The weak brother believed the idol was just as real as God Himself! For this man to eat the meat which had been sacrificed to an idol, he would feel he was participating in the idol’s sacrifice and feel defiled.

Verse 8


Food, however. The false teacher must have said: “Since the gospel allows us to eat this meat which has been sacrificed to idols, and since eating it does not make us either better or worse, it is part of our Christian liberty to eat it if we please.”

Verse 9


Be careful, however. The false teacher might have said: “You have taught us that God will not judge us by these trivial things that have no reality, such as idols. Eating or not eating, then does not change our relationship to God.” Paul says: “Yes, this is true, but be careful of the results of your action.” [What Paul permits here, must modify the Jerusalem decision in Acts 15:29.] If a weak brother eats it thinking he is doing wrong by eating it, he sins (Romans 14:23).

Verse 10


Suppose a man. “Your example may have great influence over a weak brother, and encourage him to do something which he believes to be wrong.”

Verse 11


And so this weak man. Because he sins in eating (Romans 14:23), he may perish; or he might be led back into idolatry.

Verse 12


And in this way. Each Christian is a proxy of Christ. See note on Acts 9:4. If you sin against your brother, you sin against Christ!

Verse 13


So then. The rule of love prevents creating a fuss over things which are not important and only matters of opinion. If food is the problem, Paul will give up meat altogether, rather than be the cause of his brother sinning! See what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-corinthians-8.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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