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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 Corinthians 8

 

 

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Verse 1

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

Ver. 1. Now as touching things] Another case that they had propounded to him in their letter, 1 Corinthians 7:1.

We know] So all pretend. Sed nummos habuerunt Athenienses ad numerandum, et scientiam ad sciendum.

That we all have knowledge] But that is not sufficient, unless we have love too. There be many things concur to the making up of a good work, a lawful action.

Knowledge puffeth up] A metaphor from a pair of bellows, blown up and filled with wind. The French fitly call fools Fols, a follibus, qui nihil continent nisi aerem, from bellows which contains nothing unless filled with air. Such are all proud fools.

Knowledge puffeth up] Swelling us above measure, unless humility, laid on as a weight, keep us down, and charity regulate our knowledge for the good of others. Knowledge without love is as rain in the middle region. But how foolish were they of whom Austin maketh mention, that neglected the means of knowledge, because knowledge puffeth up, and so would be ignorant, that they might be humble, and lack knowledge, that they might lack pride. This was to be like Democritus, who plucked out his eyes, to avoid the danger of uncleanness. Or that silly friar, to whom Sir Thomas Moore wrote this distich;

" Tu bene cavisti, ne te ulla occidere possit

Littera: nam nota est littera nulla tibi."

Thou takest good care the letter kill thee not:

Thy skill is such, thou knowest not B from Bot.


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. If any man think] This is one thing I know, that I know nothing, said Socrates. Neither know I this yet, that I know nothing, saith another. Though I know myself ignorant of many things (saith a third), yet I dare boldly profess with Origen, Ignorantiam meam non ignore, I am not ignorant that I am ignorant. The greatest part of our knowledge is but the least part of our ignorance. And yet how apt are we to think we know all that is knowable: as in Alcibiades’ army all would be leaders, none learners. Epicurus said, that he was the first man that ever discovered truth, and yet in many things he was more blind than a beetle. (Aug. de Civ. Dei, 16.) Aratus the astrologer vaunted, that he had counted the stars and written of them all. Hoc ego primus vidi, I first saw this, said Zabarel. And Laurentius Valla boasted, that there was no logic worthy to be read but this, which therefore he called, Logicam Laurentinam. Joseph Scaliger is for his human learning called by one Daemonium et miraculum hominis naturae, a matchless man. But surely it had been happy for him to have been ignorant of this one thing, that he knew so much. He might, by his skill in languages, have much advanced the literary republic, had he not so much admired himself, and more seriously affected to seem witty than ponderous. Wine is good, when it goes to the heart to cheer it; but when it fumes all up into the head, it maketh it giddy: so doth knowledge. Nestorius the heretic bragged that he alone understood the Scriptures; and that, till his time, all the world was benighted. He afterwards fell into horrid blasphemy, and died in banishment.


Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. But if any man love God] And his neighbour for God’s sake; his friends in God, his foes for God.

The same is known of him] That is, knows him savingly, Galatians 4:9, is taught of God, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, who only gives true wisdom, James 1:5.


Verse 4

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.

Ver. 4. Is nothing in the world] A mere fiction it is, that the idol representeth a brat of man’s brain. We may well say of it, as one doth of Scaliger’s doctrine De emendatione temporum, Concerning the correction of times, that it is in a manner wholly fictitious, and founded upon the confines of nothing. Nothing the idol is, in respect of the divinity ascribed unto it, as the foIlowing words show. Or nothing, that is, of no virtue or value. "Shall I bow down to yonder jackanapes?" {a} said that martyr (Julius Palmer), pointing to the rood (crucifix) in Paul’s.

None other God but one] This the wiser heathen also acknowledged, and for opposing the multitude of gods Socrates suffered. Cicero in his books of the Nature of the Gods, takes pains to show the vanity of heathen deities. And after all, wisheth that he were as well able to find out the true God as to discover the false.

{a} Applied contemptuously to a crucifix. Obs. OED


Verse 5

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

Ver. 5. That are called gods] Hesiod reckons up 30,000 of them that were in his time, τρις γαρ μυριοι εισιν επι χθονι πουλυβοτειρη αθανατοι. What an army may we think there were of them in later ages!

As there be gods many] The serpent’s grammar first taught Deum pluraliter declinare, " Ye shall be as gods," Genesis 3:5, saith Damianus.

And lords many] Demi gods, heroes, whose images were worshipped. Ninus was the first that made an image for his father Belus, and all that came to see it were pardoned for all their offences; whence in time that image came to be worshipped. But they did a very ill office that first brought in images, saith Varro (as Calvin citeth his words), "for they increased error and took away fear." And Plutarch saith, It is sacrilege to worship by images.


Verse 6

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.

Ver. 6. But to us there is but one God] Be the gods of the heathen good fellows (saith one), the true God is a jealous God, and will not share his glory with another.

Of whom are all things, and we for him] So that God is the first cause and the last end of all: which two are the properties of the chief good.


Verse 7

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.

Ver. 7. Unto this hour] Though they have been better taught and clearly convinced, yet they stiffly retain, at least, some tincture of their old odd superstitious conceits. No man’s speech, whether he be learned or unlearned (saith Cicero), shall ever persuade me from that opinion which I have taken up from mine ancestors concerning the worship of the immortal gods. (De Nat. Deor. iii.)

Their conscience being weak] That is, not rightly informed of the true nature of things indifferent.

Is defiled] By doing what they doubt of.


Verse 8

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.

Ver. 8. But meat commendeth us not] This is another objection: meat is indifferent. The apostle answers,


Verse 9

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

Ver. 9. True, it is indifferent, so it prove not a stumblingblock to the unresolved. For in such a case thou must suspend thy liberty, and forbear to exercise it.


Verse 10

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;

Ver. 10. Be emboldened] This is, Proficere in peius, aedificare in gehennam, To make in more evil, is to build in hell, as Tertullian hath it. While men look upon parti-coloured objects they bring forth spotted fruits, as Laban’s sheep did.


Verse 11

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

Ver. 11. Thy weak brother perish] Revolt to paganism, or at least pollute his conscience with mortal sin, which shall be set upon thy score? And hast thou not sins enough of thine own to answer for?


Verse 12

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

Ver. 12. And wound their weak consciences] Gr. τυπτοντες, beat upon it to make it sound heavily, as a shaulm (shawm). {a} Sin is as a stroke upon the heart, 2 Samuel 24:10.

Ye sin against Christ] Who holds himself highly concerned in the misusages of his servants. It is an idle misprision to sever the sense of an injury done to any of the members, from the head. Joab had slain Abner and Amasa. David appropriates it; "Thou knowest" (saith he to Solomon) "what Joab did to me." The arraignment of mean malefactors runs in the style of wrong to the king’s crown and dignity. So here.

{a} A mediaeval musical instrument of the oboe class, having a double reed enclosed in a globular mouthpiece. ŒD


Verse 13

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.

Ver. 13. While the world standeth] We must stand unchangeably resolved, neither to give offence carelessly, nor to take offence causelessly.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-8.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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