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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
1 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verse 1

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Though to those knowing that an idol has no existence, the question of eating idol-meats (referred to in the letter of the Corinthians, cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1) might seem unimportant, it is not so with some; and their infirmities should be respected. The portions of victims not offered on the altars belonged partly to the priests, partly to the offerers; and were eaten at feasts in the temples and in private houses, and were often sold in the markets; so that Christians were constantly tempted to receive them, which was forbidden (Numbers 25:2; Psalms 106:28). The apostles forbade it in their decree (Acts 15:1-41; Acts 21:1-40; Acts 25:1-27); but Paul here rests his precepts rather on his own independent apostolic authority.

We know that we all have knowledge. The Corinthians had referred to their "knowledge" (namely, of the indifference of meats, as in themselves having no sanctity or pollution). He replies, 'We are aware that we all have (speaking generally, dud so far as Christian theory goes: for in 1 Corinthians 8:7 he speaks of some who practically have not) this knowledge.'

Knowledge puffeth up - when without "love." Here a parenthesis begins: the main subject is resumed in the same words 1 Corinthians 8:4. "As concerning (touching) the eating," etc. 'Puffing up' pleases self. 'Edifying' benefits one's neighbour. Knowledge says, All things are lawful for me: Love adds, But all things do not edify (1 Corinthians 10:23; Romans 14:15).

Edifieth - builds up the spiritual temple (1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19).


Verse 2

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

And. Greek, 'But;' so 'Aleph (') Delta G f g; but A B, Vulgate, omit it. The absence of the connecting particle gives an emphatic sententiousness suitable to the subject. The first step to knowledge is to know our ignorance. Without love there is only the appearance [ dokei (Greek #1380)] of knowledge.

That he knoweth , [ eidenai (Greek #1492)]. So Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f read [ egnookenai (Greek #1097)] hath personal experimental acquaintance, not merely knowledge of a fact, which the Greek of the Received Text, and of "we know," or are aware, (1 Corinthians 8:1) means.

As he ought to know - experimentally, in the way of "love."


Verse 3

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Love God - the source of love to our neighbour (1 John 4:11-12; 1 John 4:20; 1 John 5:2).

The same - literally, this man; he who loves, not he who 'thinks that he knows,' without "charity" or love (1 Corinthians 8:1-2).

Is known of him is known with approval; is acknowledged by God as His (Psalms 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19 : contrast Matt Is known of him - is known with approval; is acknowledged by God as His (Psalms 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19 : contrast Matthew 7:23). Or, 'is known of God, so that he knows God' (the antithesis and 1 Corinthians 8:2 require this sense). To love is to know God: he who thus knows God has been first known by God (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12; Galatians 4:9).


Verse 4

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

As concerning ... - resuming 1 Corinthians 8:1, "As touching," ...

Idol is nothing - has no true being in nature. This does not contradict 1 Corinthians 10:20; for here it is the GODS believed to be represented by the idols, which are denied to have any existence; not the devils which really under the idols delude the worshippers.

None other God. So 'Aleph (') C. But A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit [ heteros (Greek #2087)] "other." Compare the first commandment.


Verse 5

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

'For even supposing (which is not really the case) there exist gods so called (2 Thessalonians 2:4), whether in heaven (as the sun, moon, etc., Deuteronomy 4:19) or in earth (as deified kings, etc.), as there be (a recognized fact, Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 135:5; Psalms 136:2) gods many and lords many.' Angels and human rulers are termed gods, as exercising a divinely-delegated power (cf. Exodus 22:9 with Exodus 22:28; Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6; John 10:34-35). Pagan "gods" are only supposed gods: yet real powers of evil suggest them, and gain ascendancy over man through them.


Verse 6

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

To us - believers. Of whom - from whom, as the First Cause and Source. Creation is His exclusive prerogative.

We in him - rather, 'we for Him,' or 'unto [ eis (Greek #1519)] Him.' God the FATHER is the end for whose glory believers live. In Colossians 1:16 all things are said to be created "by" Christ, and also "for Him" (CHRIST). So entirely are the Father and Son one (cf. Romans 11:36; Hebrews 2:10). The Holy Spirit, who brings all to their Source, is implied in "for Him."

One Lord - contrasted with the "lords many" of pagandom (1 Corinthians 8:5). Their notions of Godhead were vague: Lordship is perfectly realized only in God-Christ (1 Corinthians 15:24-25).

By whom - as mediating agent of the Physical and Spiritual Creations (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2).

We by him - as all things are "of" the Father as their Source, so they (we believers especially) are restored to Him by the new creation (Colossians 1:20; Revelation 21:5). As all things are by Christ by creation, so they (we especially) are restored by Him by the new creation.


Verse 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.

Howbeit. Though to us who "have knowledge" (1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6) all meats are indifferent, yet 'this knowledge is not in all.' Paul admitted to the Corinthians that "we all have knowledge" (1 Corinthians 8:1) - i:e., so far as theory goes; but practically some have it defectively.

With conscience - the persuasion that idols are real existences. So C Delta G f g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B read suneetheia (Greek #4914). Some Gentile Christians, from old association of ideas (or else misdirected conscience), when they ate such meats, had a feeling as if the idol were something real (1 Corinthians 8:4), and had changed the meats by the consecration into something either holy or polluted.

Unto this hour - after having embraced Christianity; an implied censure, that they are not further advanced by this time in Christian "knowledge."

Their conscience being weak is defiled - by eating it 'as a thing offered to idols.' If they ate it unconscious that it had been offered to idols, there would be no defilement of conscience. But conscious of what it was, and not having such knowledge as others boasted of-namely, that an idol is nothing, and can therefore neither pollute nor sanctify meats, they by eating them sin against conscience (cf. Romans 14:15-23). On the ground of Christian expediency, to avoid a stumblingblock to "weak" brethren, the Jerusalem decree forbade partaking of such meats, (though indifferent in themselves, Acts 15:1-41.) Hence, he vindicates it against the asserters of an inexpedient liberty.


Verse 8

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

Commendeth. So G f g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B [parasteese], 'shall, present,' as before a prince. C Delta have 'presents.' A B read 'Neither if we do not eat, are we the better: neither if we eat, are we the worse:' the eaters thus justifying their eating. 'Aleph (') Delta G f g, Vulgate, read as the English version, wherein Paul admits that 'meat neither presents us as commended nor as disapproved before God:' it does not affect our religious status (Romans 14:6; Romans 14:17), but urges that they lose nothing by not eating; and at the same time, by thus limiting their liberty, they save the conscience of weak brethren. The "but" (1 Corinthians 8:9) confirms A B reading.


Verse 9

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

This liberty of yours - your watchword. The indifference of meats, which I concede, is just why ye should "take heed" not to tempt weak brethren to act against conscience (which constitutes sin, Romans 14:22-23).


Verse 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;

If any man - being weak.

Which hast knowledge. The very knowledge thou pridest thyself on (1 Corinthians 8:1) will lead him after thy example to do that against his conscience which thou doest without scruple of conscience-namely, to eat meats offered to idols.

Conscience of him which is weak - `seeing that he is weak.'

Emboldened - literally, built up. You ought to build up your brother in good; but by your example your building up is the emboldening him to violate conscience.


Verse 11

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

Shall ... perish. So G g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B C Delta f read 'is being destroyed.' A single act, seemingly unimportant, may produce everlasting consequences (Romans 14:23).

For whom, [ di' (G1223) hon (G3739)] Christ died - implying how precious He counted even the weakest; for whose sake we too ought to be willing to die (1 John 3:16). Yet professing Christians tempted brethren to their damnation sooner than forego meats for their salvation. It is not true that if Christ died even for those who perish, He would have died in vain for many. More is involved in redemption than man's salvation: the character of God, at once just and loving, is vindicated even in the lost; for they might have been saved: so even in their case Christ has not died in vain. God's providential mercies are not in vain, though many abuse them. Even the condemned shall manifest God's love, in that they too had the offer of God's mercy. The bitterest ingredient in their cup shall be, they might have been saved, but would not: Christ died to redeem even them (2 Peter 2:1).


Verse 12

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

Wound their weak conscience - literally, 'smile their conscience, being (as yet) weak.' It aggravates the cruelty that it is committed on the weak, as if one struck an invalid.

Against Christ. Such is the sympathy between Christ and His members (Matthew 25:40; Acts 9:4-5).


Verse 13

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Meat - old English for 'food' in general.

Make ... to offend - Greek, 'is a stumblingblock to.'

No flesh. To ensure my avoiding flesh offered to idols, I would abstain from all flesh, lest I should be a stumblingblock to my brother.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-8.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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