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1 Corinthians 8

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Things Offered Unto An Idol First Corinthians Eight

Paul knew that some brethren in Corinth had knowledge. Knowledge used the right way is a good thing. The Corinthians were so full of pride that they did not properly use knowledge; especially concerning the eating of meats sacrificed to idols. These brethren had allowed themselves to become worldly. Often the worldlier one becomes the prouder he seems to be. Paul said their knowledge had puffed them up. ( 1Co_8:1 ) Charity or love builds up the body of Christ. Pride puffs up and destroys the body.

Love will always consider what is fitting and proper, not only what lawfully may be done; as in the situation concerning eating things sacrificed to idols. If a man has knowledge but no love in his heart he is still useless in spreading the Gospel! If we want to be accepted by God we must lovingly obey! This love must manifest itself in the way we deal with our weak brethren. If we love as we should we will not want to be a stumbling block.

Today we understand that an idol is nothing at all. It is just a piece of wood, rock or metal. Idols are nothing in the world, since there is only one God! Christians are not only in Christ but they are likewise in the one true God. ( 1Co_8:6 ) The reason Paul gave emphasis to not eating meat offered to idols was that it might cause some weak brother to believe that an idol was really something, instead of nothing. Eating meat offered to idols would not commend you to God nor would it make you a worse person. However, we must be very careful concerning our example least we destroy one for whom Christ died.

Verses 1-3

Knowledge puffs up 1Co_8:1-3 : In their letter to Paul the Corinthian brethren had asked him about meat that had been offered to idols. Paul said this was a subject that everyone had some knowledge about. The problem with that is that knowledge makes us proud of ourselves and puffs us up with pride. In contrast with how knowledge puffs up love edifies and makes us helpful to others. To edify means to build up or strengthen, especially in morals or religion.

Corinth was a city where many sacrifices were made to idols. The flesh of the animals was not burned. It was just used in ceremonies and then sold in the market for meat. The question that arose was whether it was right for Christians to eat this meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Some Christians said that it did not matter because an idol was nothing anyway. Sadly those that had this knowledge often became puffed up. This became a discouragement to the weaker brethren. Those that knew the truth about idols should have been much more loving in their attitudes and actions. They did not know the love of God, for had they have know it there would have been a much greater impact on their daily living.

Verses 4-6

An idol is nothing 1Co_8:4-6 : Paul and the knowledgeable brethren understood that none of the idols were alive. They could say nothing and do nothing. These heathen idols have no divinity in them. They were just a stick of wood or a piece of rock. Paul taught and believed that there is but one true and living God. ( 1Co_8:4 ) For though there be many that are called gods and lords; none of them really are gods or lords.

The amazing truth is set forth that we have only one God. He created everything, and we must live for Him. We have but one Lord and that is Jesus Christ. Everything was made by Him, and it is by Him that life was given to us. This is true of both physical life and spiritual life. He is the one Mediator between God and men.

Verses 7-10

Causing a brother to stumble 1Co_8:7-10 : Some brethren at Corinth had not gained enough spiritual knowledge to know that an idol is nothing at all. They had turned to the Lord but they still had some respect for the gods they had previously worshipped. So when they or others ate meat offered to idols they were bothered by their weak conscience. Paul does not say that eating idol meat was unlawfulness. It would be within the realm of Christian freedom. However, the misuse of this freedom might destroy a weaker Christian. If he eats the meat he feels guilty and thinks he has in some way again become idolatrous in worship. We do well to remember that one must have a clear con-science in order to please God.

Paul said certain food did not make a Christian either closer to or farther away from God. He said, "for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse." ( 1Co_8:8 ) Eating idol food or refraining from doing so has nothing in either action to commend a person to God. One brother that has good understanding is not bothered at all by eating in an idol's temple. It is just like going into a restaurant to eat. But suppose a person with a weak conscience sees him and decides to eat food that has been offered to idols. By eating his conscience is encouraged to do something that he feels connects him to idol worship. The actions of the stronger Christian carried the weak brother back to idol worship.

Verses 11-13

I will eat no flesh 1Co_8:11-13 : We must deny ourselves even concerning what is lawful rather than to cause a weak brother for whom Christ died to stumble. What happened is this; the weak brother saw the brother with knowledge eating in the idol's temple. This encouraged him that the action might be right and so he ate. But now he feels guilty. He is in danger of perishing because he has defiled his conscience. Hear the words of 1Jn_3:20-21 , "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God."

If you lead a follower of Christ into sin by the misuse of your spiritual freedom, then you are guilty of sinning against the Lord. Injuries done to our fellow Christians are injuries done to Christ. ( Mat_25:40-45 ) This is especially true concerning babes in Christ or weak Christians. Paul was so serious in not wanting to cause a brother to sin that he said, "if I hurt one of the Lord's followers by what I eat, I will never eat meat as long as I live." The meat that he referred to was the meat that had been offered in sacrifice to idols. Paul would willingly deny himself any particular food rather than to lay a stumbling block in a weak brother's way. The stumbling block would be the occasion for a brother to sin by following his example, without a clear understanding of right or wrong.

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". 2014.