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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 8

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Verse 1

1Co 8:1

1 Corinthians 8:1

Now concerning things sacrificed to idols:—Here Paul in­troduces eating meats offered to idols, and the treatment of idolaters. The style of introducing the subject indicates that the Corinthians had asked him questions concerning what was right in regard to these matters. The Christians at Corinth and throughout the Gentile countries had been reared in idolatry, and revered and worshiped idols. Idols were worshiped by sacrificing animals to them. [When an animal was offered in sacrifice to an idol, or to a false god represented by an idol, only a small part, such as the legs wrapped in fat, or the intes­tines, was consumed by the fire on the altar. The remainder was eaten by the sacrificer and his friends, or those who were invited to the sacrificial feast, which took place either in the temple or in the adjoining grove, and to these feasts Christians were invited (verse 10); or the remainder of the flesh, after what was burnt in honor of the idol, as their perquisite by the priests, would be sold by them in the markets, and the heathen would partake of it as meat of peculiar sanctity.]

It became a question at once: How shall Christians regard and treat these idols and meats offered to them? In the consultation, held by the apostles at Jerusalem, in reference to the circumcising of the Gentiles, they wrote to the Gentile Christians to “abstain from things sacrificed to idols.” (Acts 15:29). When they were first converted to Christ, it seems that they were commanded to abstain from meats offered to them, because while they were yet fresh from the worship of idols, and their consciences were tender in regard to them, the eating of meats offered would tend to revive their reverence for them, and lead them back into idolatry. So they were commanded to abstain from it. As they grew stronger in Christ, and came to know that an idol was nothing, they might eat without their conscience being defiled by eating. The question arose: Shall those who can eat without defiling their consciences be prohibited in its use?

[At this day we can scarcely realize how closely this ques­tion affected the whole life of the early Christians. For not only was the worship of the Gentiles sacrificial, but this wor­ship was not confined to the temple precincts, but extended it­self to their social gatherings, and even domestic meals.]

We know that we all have knowledge.—All Christians had knowledge that there is but one God, and that idols are noth­ing.

Knowledge puffeth up,—Knowledge, without the love of God, puffeth up with pride, makes one conceited, self-suffi­cient, and disregardful of the rights of others. [As a matter of fact, too well known to be denied, men of keen insight into moral and spiritual truths are sometimes prone to despise the less enlightened that stumble among scruples that constantly come before them. The knowledge that is not guarded by hu­mility and love does harm both to its possessor and to other Christians. It puffs up its possessor with scorn, and it alien­ates and embitters the less enlightened. Knowledge which does not take into consideration the difficulties and scruples of brethren in Christ cannot be admired or commended, for though in itself a good thing and capable of being used for the advancement of the cause of Christ, divorced from love can do good neither to him who possesses it nor to the cause of Christ. It is too often the case that possessors of such knowl­edge glory in themselves as the men of deep spiritual insight and valiant soldiers of the cross. It is not by knowledge alone that the church can solidly grow. Such knowledge does sometimes produce an appearance of growth, a puffed up, and unhealthy, mushroom growth.]

but love edifieth.—Love to God makes one strong in faith and Christian character, helpful to others, and leads him to look to the good of others, even at the sacrifice of his own rights. This shows that learning without religion, the only basis of love, is not helpful to the world.

Verses 1-3

1Co 8:1-3

THINGS SACRIFICED TO IDOLS

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, Things which had been a sacrificial offering to what the heathen considered deities but what Paul here calls idols. Paul goes to another question the Corinthians had asked him. While we do not have the question, it may have been something to the effect, "On what occasions may meats sacrificed to idols be eaten and on what occasions is it prohibited?" Or maybe, "In view of the apostolic injunction, ’abstain from things offered to idols’ (Acts 15:29), is it sinful to eat meats which have been so offered if one has no knowledge of it (1 Corinthians 8:4-7) or if it is purchased in the open market (1 Corinthians 10:25) or if eaten at a feast or in the home of a friend (1 Corinthians 10:27)?" The question was certainly a vital one for them, even though it has little relevance for us today (except for the principles involved)_ There were public festivals in which the eating of meats which had served as sacrifice to idols was a part. And besides this, the parts left over from the sacrifice (which was the greater part), when not fully eaten by the worshippers, made its way into homes and to the market. It was therefore imperative for them to know whether the meat was polluted per se by having been used as a sacrifice. It was not. Thus the apostolic injunction prohibited the eating of things sacrificed to idols only when the eating honored the idol or recognized it as an object worthy of worship, which, when so recognized, Paul also prohibits (1 Corinthians 10:28). The meat per se does not carry with it the pollution of idols_ we know that we all have knowledge. - We are aware that all have come to this knowledge. Every Christian has learned that an idol is nothing (v. 4) that it has no power, offers no blessings, and deserves no honor. It seems that the Corinthians may have been saying, "An idol is nothing - that we all know. Thus it can be no harm for one with this knowledge to eat to it. Since it is nothing it can mean nothing to eat a sacrificial offering to it." But if so, they were wrong (when eaten in the sense prohibited by the apostolic injunction). This may explain the next clause, which is admittedly a difficult transition of thought. Knowledge puffeth up,--Makes one arrogant, self-conceited, full of airs, as a balloon. Such knowledge puts one in danger of over-inflating his ego and causes him to trust in his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). He becomes a know-it-all (one of the hardest persons in the world to endure). While a Christian should have knowledge (knowledge of God and His will), it should humble him rather than puff him up (1 Corinthians 4:7). but charity edifieth. That love builds up. Love which humbles (the love of God in one’s heart that makes him concerned with the welfare of his brethren) is more vital than a knowledge which puffs up (knowledge that exalts itself to such a high plane that it can ridicule the ignorance of others and eat sacrificed things at the expense of their conscience) (1 Corinthians 10:28-31).

1 Corinthians 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth anything, - If any is presumptuous enough to think he has (probably from his own resources and understanding) already acquired all the knowledge he needs (a full and complete knowledge), if he thinks he continues to know enough and has no need to learn more, on anything (the context puts this in the setting of things pertaining to sacrifices offered to idols). he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. - He still has something to learn (Beck). His knowledge (probably because of its source) is deficient. It seems that some of the Corinthians thought that because of their knowledge that an idol is nothing, they could eat meats sacrificed to idols without doing harm to their faith in Christ, and probably even if it violated the conscience of a weak brother (v. 9). Paul’s answer is both yes and no. Yes, they could eat such meats providing it was served in a home or bought in the market (thus not associated with idol worship and did not lead others astray). No, if the meat was being eaten in honor or recognition (worship) of idols. The meat per se was not polluted by having been offered. The wrong or right then would have to be determined on the grounds of the purpose for or the circumstances under which it was eaten.

1 Corinthians 8:3 But if any man love God, If his affection for God is permeated with the wisdom that is from above (James 3:17). A love for God, a reverent respect for creative powers - that is a recognition of the Creatorlcreature relationship is the foundation of all proper and useful learning (Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 10:27; Proverbs 14:26; Proverbs 15:33). the same -The one who loves God. Is known of him. - Is known by him (ASV). God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). This is more than just knowing God. I was in the state of Georgia in a meeting during the time Jimmy Carter was President. While visiting in the home of a family who were members of the church, the teenage son proudly showed me his scrapbook. One of his most prized possessions was a handwritten note from the President, thanking him for some service rendered. Now millions of teenagers knew Jimmy Carter (at least at a distance), but here was one known by him. This gave him a distinction that only a few enjoyed. But it should be far more meaningful for us, if we love God, to know that God knows us - knows our hearts, our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

Verse 2

1Co 8:2

1 Corinthians 8:2

If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he know­eth not yet as he ought to know;—One confident in his own wisdom or knowledge to guide him knows nothing in a loving, helpful way. He does not know anything in its relation to other truths, to man, and to God. The Holy Spirit says: “For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wis­dom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:21). This knowledge helps a man and leads him to look to the good of others, as well as his own good. Knowledge that stops short of this is selfish, and selfishness brings leanness and poverty of spirit.

Verse 3

1Co 8:3

1 Corinthians 8:3

but if any man loveth God, the same is known by him.— To love God is to so honor and serve him as to seek his will that we may do it. If one properly esteems God as the great source and center of all things, honors him, and acts from a sense of duty to him, he is known and approved by God, for “the Lord knoweth them that are his.” (2 Timothy 2:19). Jesus said: “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from my­self.” (John 7:17). The man who loves God is the one who rightly solves the question about meat offered to idols, for nothing is viewed by him that does not take into considera­tion the will of God and the good of his fellow men.

Verse 4

1Co 8:4

1 Corinthians 8:4

Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world,—All Christians know that an idol is nothing, and that there are no such gods. Hence the things sacrificed to idols are as though they had never been sacrificed.

and that there is no God but one.—This is the foundation truth of the Christian life. Without it no one can live the Christian life or form a godlike character that suffers to help others.

Verses 4-6

1Co 8:4-6

THE FOLLY OF IDOLATRY

1 Corinthians 8:4-6

1 Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, See note on v. 1. we know that anidol is nothing in the world, - We all know that no idol has any real existence (Goodspeed). It is a non-entity, having no power, no life, no being beyond the dead material from which it is made. That is, there is no deity in all the universe that is represented by the image. The image is there but the god it represents is nothing but the imagination of man. Thus the image represents nothing, a lie (Jeremiah 10:14). Idolatry is the folly of follies. Or as Isaiah says, "is profitable for nothing" (Isaiah 44:10). He goes on to ridicule it by saying a smith fashions the images with a hammer and a carpenter with rule, line, plane, and compass makes them after the figure of a man. He cuts down a cedar, cypress, or oak and burns part of it to warm himself and to cook his meals and uses the remainder to make a god, before whom he bows in worship and prays for deliverance (Isaiah 44:12-17). This adoration is rendered to nothing but the stock of a tree (Isaiah 44:19), and thus turns the glory that belongs to God to a corruptible image (Romans 1:22-25). He who worships (or recognizes) idols must abandon both revelation and reason. and that there is none other God but one. And that there is no God but one (NASV). That one God is the creator God, the one who made heaven and earth and all things therein (Acts 17:24) the maker of the material from which the idols are made! God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 44:8) and He will not share His glory with another (much less a non-entity): for everything else that is was made by His hands. It is the creature, and the creature can never equal the Creator.

8:5 For though there be that are called gods,--For even if there are so-called gods (NASV). The best way to understand this is as a concession (though not true, as seen from v. 4) for argument’s sake. Thus, even if there are gods so-called. whether in heaven or in earth, - Whether the so-called god dwells in heaven (as the major deities, such as Jupiter and Mercury) or on earth (as the lesser deities of land, sea, forest). However the distinction might be between the image (which was present, on earth) and the deity it was supposed to represent (which dwelled in heaven or elsewhere). (as there be gods many, and lords many,) - Indeed, there were many from the heathen perspective, but Paul concedes this, not because it is true, but to make the point that even if it were true, for Christians there is only one God and one Lord (v. 6).

1 Corinthians 8:6 But to us Yet for us (NIV). Christians, those who had renounced idols and were following the risen Christ. To them - there is but one God,--The divine source of all things. Even if there were many gods and many lords (which in reality there were not, but he had granted this for argument’s sake in v. 5), to Christians there is only one. He is the living God who made heaven and earth and all things therein. the Father, - Jehovah, the true deity from which all things come. of whom are all things, - Who is the source of all things (Williams). All things, both visible and invisible, both in heaven and in earth (Genesis 1:1), have their origin in Him. and we in him; - And we exist for Him (NASV). We were made for Him, for His glory and possession, and one Lord Jesus Christ, - The virgin-born Son of God (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25), our Lord (Acts 2:36) and Savior (Judges 1:21). While Paul granted for the sake of argument that there were lords many (products of man’s imagination and erroneously served by him), there is only one true Lord to whom Christians owe allegiance. He is Lord (on His part) by right of both creation and redemption; He is Lord (on our part) by submission and obedience. by whom are all things, ­ Through whom everything was made (Williams). He was the active agent in creation (Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3). and we by him. - And through whom we exist (RSV). It is through Him that we have both our being and our redemption (cf. Romans 11:36).

Verse 5

1Co 8:5

1 Corinthians 8:5

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth;—The heathen made the distinction of the superior gods who ruled in the heavens, and the inferior ones that dwelt upon earth, presiding over seas, rivers, fountains, forests, and local places.

as there are gods many, and lords many;—In the minds of the heathen there were many of each of these classes. [The heathen mythology, especially in its Greek development, may be regarded as the religious expression of national ideals and civilization. The Greek conception of every conception of the independence of every unit in nature and society was embod­ied in the mythology. Every city had its guardian deity; every spring was haunted; every crop of corn was under the protection of a goddess; every movement of the elements and every human action might assume a sacred character and be­come, the one a prayer, the other the answer.]

Verse 6

1Co 8:6

1 Corinthians 8:6

yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things,—In contrast with these false gods, to the Christian, there is one true and living God, the Originator, Creator, and Founder of the universe; hence possessed of all the wisdom, power, and authority that dwell in the universe.

and we unto him;—This is given as an evidence of his near­ness to man, “for in him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). From him all blessings come; by his strength and power we live and are upheld by him daily.

and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things,— The “all things” in this clause must be co-extensive with the “all things” in the preceding one—that is, the universe. The universe was created through Jesus Christ. The energy of the one God was exercised through the Word, who “became flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). Of him it is said: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.” (John 1:1-3). The following passages teach the same thing: “Through whom also he made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:2). “For in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible,... all things have been created through him, and unto him.” (Colossians 1:16).

and we through him.—Jesus Christ performs the same act of creating in the spiritual world that he did in the material. In this God, the Father, originated and provided the great scheme of redemption. Jesus Christ came into the world. Through his mission; his teaching in precept and example; his suffering, death, burial, his struggle in the grave with the powers of death, and hell (in the grave the battle for man’s redemption was fought and the victory won); his resurrection and his ascent to his Father, he created the material for the new spiritual kingdom. The apostles and their fellow disci­ples constituted this nucleus for the new creation. Christ completed his work and left them with the command: “Tarry ye in the city [Jerusalem], until ye be clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49). No step could be taken in the procreation of disciples or in the establishment and develop­ment of the kingdom of which they constituted the beginning until the Spirit should come to guide them into all the truth.

[The divinity of Christ can no more be denied because the Father is here called the one God, than the dominion of the Father can be denied because the Son is called the one Lord. By this mode of expression it is intimated that Father and Son are one God and one Lord in the unity of the godhead. (Acts 17:29; Colossians 2:9).]

[It is consideration of these great truths that makes idola­try ridiculous, and the eating of food sacrificed to idols a mat­ter of indifference. Such was the conclusion of the Corin­thians, and such, but for the weaker brethren, would have been Paul’s conclusion.]

Verse 7

1Co 8:7

1 Corinthians 8:7

Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge:—While all men should know that there is but one true and living God, even all Christians did not possess the knowledge that enabled them to be independent of these idols.

but some, being used until now to the idol, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol;—Some who had been converted to Christ had a lingering reverence for the idols they had long wor­shiped, [and therefore they regarded the meat as offered to some kind of reality.]

and their conscience being weak is defiled.—While one com­pletely free from reverence for an idol might eat of things sac­rificed to it without any feeling of reverence for it, others could not eat of them without having their reverence aroused for the idol, and, their conscience being so weak as to rever­ence the idol, would be defiled.

Verses 7-8

1Co 8:7-8

EATING WITH A WEAK CONSCIENCE

1 Corinthians 8:7-8

1 Corinthians 8:7 Howbeit --However (NASV). there is not in every man that knowledge: The knowledge that there is but one God and one Lord and that idols have no real existence - that they are nothing (v. 4). It seems that some of the pagan converts still had a superstitious fear of idols, even though they acknowledged that to Christians there was but one God. That fear was a hangover from the past (just as some Christians today have superstitious fears of black cats, the number 13, and scores of other things). for some Not all by any means. These were exceptions to the general rule stated in v. 1. with conscience; of the idol - Through being long accustomed to idols (Goodspeed). Because of long practice, they had been unable to completely rid themselves of their past association with and fear of idols. This problem can be illustrated by a fear of a nephew of mine. Before he became a Christian he had a great fear of ghosts. I taught him that his fear was unfounded. He made good progress in Christian growth, but one day a year or so after he became a Chris­ tian, he expressed fear again of ghosts. I said to him, "There are no such things as ghosts in the sense that you fear them." He replied, "I know that, but I am afraid of them anyway." unto this hour - Unto the present or until now. eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; Eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol (NASV). In their own minds they saw it as a sacrifice recognizing the idol as a god (who in reality did not exist). and their conscience being weak ­Not being enlightened with a full knowledge. is defiled. Corrupted or violated. They see the meat as being sacrificed to idols, they believe that it is wrong to eat such, but they eat it anyway. They thus violate their conscience. He who does a thing believing it is wrong, though the thing itself may not be wrong per se, is condemned (Romans 14:23).

1 Corinthians 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: - It will not recommend or bring us nearer to Him, that is, it does not affect our standing with Him. Food is not the basis upon which one is accepted or rejected by God - it is not the means by which one’s standing with Him is determined (Romans 14:17). for neither, if we eat, are we the hetter; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. We lose nothing by not eating and gain nothing by eating (Beck). Neither the eating of meat nor the lack of it makes one more or less spiritual. Food is for the benefit of the body (1 Corinthians 6:13), not for one’s spiritual growth. Thus eating meat (food) is immaterial as far as our relationship with God is concerned neither eating nor not eating brings us into favor or disfavor with Him. The eating of meat is therefore an indifferent matter (for a lengthy discussion of the principle pertaining to indifferent matters, see Romans 14). While I think I have here given the sense of the verse., it may be that Paul said this for the benefit of the weak brother who may have thought he was compelled to eat the meat (in violation of his conscience) in order to be socially accepted and because to refuse on the grounds of a weak conscience might limit the liberty of the strong. At any rate, his point is that one is not worse for not eating nor is he better for eating. Eating or not eating are not services rendered to God; hence, they do not affect one’s relationship with Him.

Verse 8

1Co 8:8

1 Corinthians 8:8

But food will not commend us to God: neither, if we eat not, are we the worse;—The flesh offered in sacrifice to idols was eaten as food by the people. Some ate it as worship to idols; others, having knowledge of these things, ate it as food. God was willing for them to eat it if they could do so without leading others to sin. The danger was that those not fully taught, seeing others eat it as food, would be encouraged to eat it as worship, and so be defiled.

nor, if we eat, are we the better.—Eating meat is not service to God, and eating or failing to eat would not commend them to God. So far as their relation to God was concerned, eating would not affect their spiritual interests. [By showing that the eating is a matter of indifference, Paul introduces his rea­son for yielding to the weakness of another. If the weakness involved a matter of our vital relation to God, then to yield would be wrong.]

Verse 9

1Co 8:9

1 Corinthians 8:9

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak,—While the eating and the not eating did not affect the one having knowledge, there was danger that, in exercising the liberty to eat, the example might lead a weak brother to eat the flesh as worship to an idol. So the liberty to eat would become the cause of his being led into idolatry and ruin. No Christian can put a stumbling block in his brother’s way and be guiltless.

Verses 9-13

1Co 8:9-13

LIBERTY AND THE WEAK BROTHER

1 Corinthians 8:9-13

1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed Be careful (NIV). While one’s relationship to God is not affected (v. 8) by eating or not eating meat, his relationship with his brethren may be. One must live in such a way as to edify, not destroy, other children of God. Or as John Donne put it, "No man is an island, entire of itself."--lest by any means this liberty of your’s That this right of yours (Goodspeed). The liberty to eat meat which had been offered to idols (when the eating did not honor or recognize the false deity involved). In Christ, Christians have liberty from the law (Galatians 5:1-4), from human righteousness (Romans 10:1-4), but especially from sin (Romans 6:7). But here Paul has in mind liberty in indifferent matters (as in Romans 14). But even in that we must recognize that liberty is always from sin, never liberty to sin. No one should be guilty of trying to justify indulgence in wrongdoing or a departure from Scriptural authority with the cry of liberty. Where there is liberty (in the sense here used) there is a choice, but there is never a choice with a Christian when right and wrong are involved. When a choice is involved (in indifferent matters) it may be more pru­ dent to forego than to practice. become a stumbling-block - A means of hindrance or a cause to sin. The Christian had a right to eat meats offered to idols, but if his eating it led a weak brother to sin, to violate his conscience (that is to eat with a superstitious regard for idols, knowing that such was wrong, v. 7), he should, out of love and respect for him, refrain from eating. His brother’s soul should mean more to him that the eating of meat (v. 13). to them that are weak. - Those who, for a lack of knowledge, have scruples about eating.

1 Corinthians 8:10 For if any man --Anyone with a weak conscience (v. 9). see thee which hast knowledge A person of enlightened mind (Moffett). The knowledge that an idol is nothing and that there is but one God and one Lord (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). sit at meat in the idol’s temple, - Eating in the banqueting hall of the house of idols. The weak does not have the full knowledge to distinguish between eating meats offered to idols (with no regard whatsoever for the idol) and in eating meat in worship to the idols. They are called weak because they have not been enlightened enough to make this distinction. Thus when they eat meat offered to idols (and consequently when they see the strong eating meat in the halls of idols they assume the same is true of them) they are worshipping (or recognizing) the idol. And they had knowledge enough to know that this was wrong (Acts 15:28-29). In short, when the weak sees the strong eating in the idol’s temple, he will assume that the strong is eating it in recognition of the idol (because he is eating it in the idol’s temple). This would not be the case but the weak brother would not have the knowledge to judge otherwise. Paul is here concerned with what the action of the strong might do to the weak, but in such instances the strong is not without danger, as will be seen in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat - He will be built up or encouraged to eat in recognition (at least to some degree, v. 7) of idols and contrary to his conscience. those things which are offered to idols; The weak are led to eat in violation of their conscience. The action of the strong (in doing what he may have the liberty to do) may lead the weak to follow his example and do that which will destroy him. For this reason (and others) no Christian should ever indulge in anything that might cause onlookers to conclude that he is engaged in sin.

1 Corinthians 8:11 And through thy knowledge - The truth about both God and idols (1 Corinthians 8:4-6) that enabled them to eat meats (even in the banqueting hall of the idol’s house) sacrificed to idols without recognizing idols as an object of veneration. They were eating meat as meat and not as an act of worship (or service) to the gods. The former was permissible (under certain conditions); the latter was prohibited. This distinction was made by those with knowledge (it was not made by the weak) then and it must be made by us in numerous things now, such as washing hands, pots, and pans (Mark 7:1-7), the observing of holidays, such as the sabbath with the early Jewish Christians and Christmas among us (Galatians 4:10-11), and circumcision. The early Jewish Christians obviously continued to keep the sabbath, which was permissible just so long as they attached no religious significance to it (Romans 14:5-6). One may be circumcised today for health or other reasons, but when it is done as a religious exercise it is an abandonment of the Christian system (Galatians 5:3-4). Strong Christians can make this distinction; weak Christians cannot always do so. shall the weak brother perish, - He is destroyed spiritually. He is led by the example of the one with knowledge (certainly a sorry use of superior knowledge) to eat meats offered to idols. But since the weak cannot make the distinction be­ tween eating and worshipping, he is thus led to eat as a religious service (worship) to idols. In this he sins. And sin produces death (Romans 6:23). Thus by the knowledge of the strong the weak is led to the destruction of his soul’s salvation. Those who believe and teach, contrary to truth, that it is impossible for a child of God to so sin as to be lost have a headache with this v. Paul’s thoughts are: Christ died to save the weak. But when the strong influences the weak to violate his conscience he sins and thus destroys the very thing for which Christ died - the effects of the death of Christ are no longer his and as a result his right standing with God is destroyed. Thus the weak may be lost (perish) because of a bad example of the strong. for whom Christ died? - Christ died for the weak as well as the strong. The strong therefore should never act in such a way as to lead the weak to annul the death of Christ in their behalf.

1 Corinthians 8:12 --But when ye sin so against the brethren, -When by your example (of eating meats sacrificed to idols in the idol’s temple) you lead brethren with a weak conscience to eat contrary to what they believe is right and thus cause them to sin, you sin against them. Rather than using your knowledge to help guide and save them through loving concern, you will be using it to destroy them. and wound their weak conscience, - When you lead them to violate their conscience - to eat when they believe it is wrong to eat (Romans 14:23) - you give their conscience a beating. ye sin against Christ. - Christ died to save them from sin (v. 11). But you, by your example, are leading them to invalidate the death of Christ in their behalf. In doing so, you sin against them. But this is not the full extent of the sin: any sin against a brother is also a sin against Christ (Matthew 25:40; Acts 9:5).

1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, - Therefore (NASV) or for the reason given in 1 Corinthians 8:9-12. if meat make my brother to offend, - To stumble, fall, or sin. The weak stumbles or falls into sin because he yields to the temptation to follow the exam­ ple of the strong by eating sacrificed meats contrary to his conscience (1 Corinthians 8:10-11). The eating of meat is not wrong per se, but the weak could not make the distinction between eating as a social or nutritional act and as an act of worship (or recognition) of the idol to which it had been sacrificed. There was a distinction but his iack of knowledge prevented him from seeing and practicing it. I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, - I will never, no never, eat meat again (Williams). Paul’s concern for his brethren was so great, his attitude so right, that he would rather give up meat (or anything else in this category) for the whole of his life (not just on a single occasion) than to see a weak brother perish. This should be the attitude of every Christian, both then and now. lest I make my brother to offend. Lest a weak brother be led into sin and thus destroyed by the exercise of liberty. This established a great principle, namely, that a strong Christian should do nothing (in the sphere of liberty) that would lead his weaker brethren to fall into sin. The principle has as wide an application in the modern world as it did in the ancient.

Verse 10

1Co 8:10

1 Corinthians 8:10

For if a man see thee who hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idols temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols?—Those who have not freed themselves from conscience of the idol, who cannot eat of the meat sacrificed to it, without worshiping it, seeing one who has knowledge sitting at meat in the idol’s temple, would suppose that the strong brother was worship­ing the idol, and be led by the example to eat in worship to the idol. [The fact of his example being avowedly advanced in the knowledge of the faith would make his example the more dangerous, because more effective.]

Verse 11

1Co 8:11

1 Corinthians 8:11

For through thy knowledge he that is weak perisheth, the brother for whose sake Christ died.—Through their knowledge that they might eat the flesh offered to an idol the weak brother perisheth. This shows that a thing not a sin in itself becomes sin when so done as to lead the weak ones into sin. We are held accountable for leading others into that which, in their ignorance and weakness, will prove their ruin.

Speaking more fully on this same subject, Paul says: “If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast, and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if any man say unto you, This hath been offered in sacrifice, eat not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience’ sake: conscience, I say, not thine own, but the other’s; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God: even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:27-33). We are to do nothing that will lead others into sin; we are to do noth­ing that will defile the conscience of others; we are not to as­sert our rights when to do so will injure others; and we must deny ourselves things that would please us, to profit and save others. This is an important principle, far-reaching in its re­sults, and embodies the essential principle of the Christian re­ligion.

Verse 12

1Co 8:12

1 Corinthians 8:12

And thus, sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ.—To sin against the weakest of the brethren in Christ, and wound the weakest conscience by drawing it into sin, is to sin against Christ, for he said: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus here personifies himself in the poorest of his brethren in want, so that what is done to them is done to him. Here Paul tells us that he who causes that brother to stumble sins against Christ.

Verse 13

1Co 8:13

1 Corinthians 8:13

Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh for evermore,—Paul’s own welfare for the good of his brethren was such that he would forego many privileges and lay aside many liberties to save them from temptation to do wrong.

that I cause not my brother to stumble.—-To cause a brother to sin is a fearful wrong to the brother and a sin against Christ. So in this our conscience is ruled by the con­science of the weak brother. In all the relations of life we should act on this principle and seek the good of others as we seek our own good. This is to love others as we do ourselves. This should be our aim in all that we do and say. Paul says: “It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do any­thing whereby thy brother stumbleth.” (Romans 14:21). “Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1). This is the true spirit of Christ, ruling the life of a Christian.

When we sin against a weak brother, we sin against Christ who died for him. Christ denied himself all the honors and all the enjoyments of the Father’s throne and his glories in order to help and bless man. If we are God’s children, we are to drink into the same spirit, so as to make us forego pleasures, honors, privileges, and enjoyments in order to help and benefit the weak brethren. The weaker they are, the more they are entitled to consideration and help at our hands. Jesus Christ is our perfect example.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-corinthians-8.html.
 
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