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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 8

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

Chapters I to 4 have given God's answer to worldly wisdom; chapters 5 to 7 have dealt with questions concerning the flesh: now chapter 8 turns to the matter of Satanic influence, and this is further discussed in chapter 10 and the beginning of chapter 12. The Corinthians were too little aware of the subtlety of all three of these evil influences, the world, the flesh, and the Devil. But they had evidently questioned Paul as to the eating of things sacrificed to idols. All Christians had knowledge that the idol was really nothing. But mere knowledge alone would puff one up with the pride of knowing. Love, on the other hand, would edify, or build up. If one prides himself on knowing anything, let him remember that he actually knows nothing as he ought to know it. For if we know anything rightly, there will be no pride in the fact of knowing, but concern to act in loving consistency with that knowledge, a desire to both understand, and to act more rightly. And in loving God, one is known of God: how much more precious is this than emphasizing our own knowledge.

To apply this principle therefore, it is clear that an idol is nothing in the world: there is only one God. True, there are those "called gods," whether by man, or even in the Scriptures, where the elders of Israel were called this, simply as being God's representatives on earth (Psalms 82:6; John 10:34-35); but never in the latter case as giving them any place of worship. If there were "gods many, and lords many," these were simply as lightless asteroids in comparison with the sun. To us there is one God, the Father, originator of all things, and we are the fruit of His own work. This is the revelation of Christianity, in contrast to the ignorance of idolatry. The Spirit of God is not mentioned because the subject is not the dynamic power behind the scenes, but the manifested supremacy of God the Father, and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But every man does not have this clear, proper knowledge: some think of an idol as having some spiritual significance or evil power in itself; and if eating anything offered to an idol, would think of it as such, their conscience therefore being affected; even though in actual fact this did not change the food, and before God he was neither better or worse if fie ate.

But if one had liberty to eat meat offered to idols, without any conscientious scruples, he must still be careful not to stumble those whose conscience is weak. True knowledge is considerate, not overbearing. If the one who had knowledge would sit at meat in the idol's temple, this might embolden others to do the same thing, at a time when their own conscience spoke against it. This principle may be applied to various circumstances in which we may be found today. A weak Christian may see another go to a place that his own conscience forbids him to go; but because the stronger Christian has gone, then he does also. The stronger has therefore encouraged the other to ignore his conscience. And it is asked, ''Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?'' Not that God would allow any believer to perish, but my heartless treatment of him is virtually having no concern as to whether he would even perish. But Christ died for him!

Such lack of care for my brother's conscience is sin, and not only against my brethren, but against Christ. Let us seriously consider this.

The apostle then takes the firm stand that if his eating meat would cause his brother to stumble, he would utterly refrain from it. Of course, if another were to demand of Paul that he must not eat meat because of the other's conscience, this is totally different: he could not submit to any such legality. But a genuinely weak conscience must be considered. How good if one can willingly forego his own liberty for the sake of others! This is a proper use of knowledge.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-corinthians-8.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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