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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
1 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verse 1-2

EATING MEATS OFFERED TO IDOLS

1. But concerning things offered to idols we know that we all have knowledge.

2. Knowledge puffeth up, but Divine love buildeth up.” Knowledge is a gift of the Spirit, though of infinite value, not necessary to salvation, while this Divine agapee is the nature of God (1 John 4), the Divine essence imparted to the human spirit in regeneration, the veritable saving element in the gracious economy. This verse shows the necessary precedence of the graces before the gifts. Knowledge is a most invaluable gift if preceded and accompanied by Divine love; but without it not only unprofitable to the recipient, but very dangerous, inducing spiritual pride, which normally comes before a fall. A man with knowledge without love (and there are many such) is inflated like a bladder, and without substance; while Divine love builds you up like a solid and impregnable wall. “If any one seems to know anything, he does not yet know it as it behooveth him to know.” It is a constantly humiliating fact, which should ever keep us low down in the dust, that, let us know ever so much, the full amount of what we know, as compared to what we do not know, is but a drop contrastively with the ocean.


Verse 4

4. Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that the idol is nothing in the world; and that there is no God but one.” It is a matter of fact that the great and mighty gods of Greece, Rome, Egypt and India, so celebrated in history, immortalized in poetry and worshipped by countless millions, after all never existed. They were mere creatures of human imagination.


Verse 5

5. For if indeed there are those denominated gods, whether in Heaven or upon earth,” i. e., all these idols are denominated gods, many fabled to live in Heaven and myriads dwelling on the earth. “As there are gods many and lords many.” These fabulous unreal divinities are the many gods, and the men on the earth in the different nations, honored with the epithet “lord,” are the “lords many” here mentioned.


Verse 6

6. But there is unto us one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we in Him.” Here Paul clears up the problem and simplifies the whole matter, though so many idols are called gods, yet it is but a freak of human fancy, Jehovah being the only God in the universe; and though men in all ages and nations have been called “lords,” yet Jesus Christ the God-man is the only Lord in all the boundless universe.


Verse 7

7. But there is not knowledge in all: but some with a conscience of the idol even unto this day eat as if it were offered to the idol, and their conscience being weak is polluted.” We are bound to keep a clear conscience under all circumstances, though an enlightened conscience may many a time subject us to great inconvenience and expense. Whenever you violate your conscience you fall under condemnation at the tribunal of your own heart.


Verse 8-9

8, 9. Here Paul certifies that it makes no difference whatever whether they eat the meat offered to idols or not. As there is no Jupiter, it does not hurt the beef because the ox was sacrificed to Jupiter; neither does it hurt the mutton because the sheep was sacrificed to Apollo, from the simple fact that there is no Apollo; neither is the turkey the worse because offered as a sacrifice to Diana, as there is no Diana. Hence the meat question, which was much agitated in the Corinthian church, many of whom were too poor to have their own animals, is reduced to a very simple solution. It does not affect the meat an iota to offer it to the idol. “See that this liberty of yours be not a stumbling block to the weak.


Verse 10

10. For if any one may see thee having knowledge, sitting in the idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him being weak be encouraged to eat the things offered to idols?


Verse 11

11. For he who is weak is destroyed by thy knowledge, the brother for whom Christ died.


Verse 12

12. You thus sinning against the brethren, and wounding their weak conscience, sin against Christ.


Verse 13

13. Therefore, if meat stumbleth my brother, I never eat any more meat, in order that I may not stumble my brother.” This develops an entirely different phase of the matter. While there is no sin whatever in eating the meat offered to idols, yet if you think it sinful, you must abstain, because in that case your conscience will condemn you, and you will be guilty before God, as we must keep a “conscience void of offense toward God and man.” Again, if your conscience is clear, and others see you eating in the idol temple and think you are in a sense worshipping the idols by eating the meat offered to them, their faith will be weakened by your example, so they will probably lose their souls. In that case you must not eat it. Paul says positively that in “sinning against the brethren and wounding their weak consciences, you sin against Christ.” The great preacher who said, “If Paul were now living on the earth, he would use tobacco,” made a great mistake. Here he says he would positively give up the privilege of eating meat forever, if it caused anyone to stumble. Why would they stumble? Because they thought he did wrong. I dare not do anything condemned by the saints of God. Good Lord, help us to keep clear of the blood of souls. If your conscience condemns you for working on Saturday, go ahead and keep it holy to the Lord. But do not forget that you must keep Sunday also, responsive to the conscience of Christendom. When you, claiming to be a Christian, do that which the consciences of millions of God’s sincere people believe to be a violation of God’s commandment, look out! You will have a terrible ordeal in the Judgment Day. These deliverances are invaluable to the Christian world. We will find plenty to do with those things which are clear and indubitable. God help us to take the safe side in all doubtful cases, i. e., the self-denial side, as a rule regarding the doubt as imperative as a positive negation. This Scripture forever knocks out all church frolics, festivals and fandangoes of every kind, as thousands of God’s most humble, sincere and Christ-like people veritably believe them to be out of harmony with the Word and spirit of the Master.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-corinthians-8.html.

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