Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 8

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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1 Corinthians 8:2 . δέ ] is wanting in A B א , min [1287] several vss [1288] and Fathers. Deleted by Lachm. Rück. and Tisch., as Griesb., too, had recommended. Added for the sake of connection, as was also γάρ (after the first οὔτε ) in 1 Corinthians 8:8 , which is omitted likewise in A B א 17, al [1289]

ΕἸΔΈΝΑΙ ] It is true that A B D E F G א , min [1290] Clem. Nyss. Theodoret, Damasc. have ἐγνωκέναι (recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Rück. and Tisch.); but what goes before it and what follows make it clear that ἘΓΝ . is a gloss. The reading ΕἾΝΑΙ , too, in 39, 91, 109, tells in favour of ΕἸΔΈΝΑΙ .

ΟὐΔΈΠΩ ΟὐΔῈΝ ἜΓΝΩΚΕ ] Lachm. and Rück. have ΟὔΠΩ ἜΓΝΩ , which was recommended by Griesb. in accordance with testimony of very considerable weight, in substance the same as that in favour of ἘΓΝΩΚΈΝΑΙ instead of ΕἸΔΈΝΑΙ . But the peculiarity of the emphatic Recept [1291] does not show the hand of a gloss-writer. What has taken place has rather been the reduction of the original reading to the simple ΟὔΠΩ ἜΓΝΩ , at first, perhaps, by omitting the superfluous ΟὐΔΈΝ , all the more readily that it was preceded by ΟὐΔΈΠΩ , whereupon ἜΓΝΩΚΕ became transformed into ἜΓΝΩ , either from the next word beginning with K, or by the influence of the inf. ΓΝῶΝΑΙ which follows, while ΟὐΔΈΠΩ was displaced, as in many other cases (John 7:39 ; Luke 23:53 ; Acts 8:16 ), by the more familiar ΟὔΠΩ . 1 Corinthians 8:4 . ἝΤΕΡΟς ] is wanting in A B D E F G א * min [1292] , with several vss [1293] and Fathers. Condemned by Mill and Griesb., deleted by Lachm. and Rück. But why should any one have added ἝΤΕΡΟς ? That it should be omitted, on the other hand, was all the more likely, because the word seemed superfluous, and might even appear offensive (“there is no other God but one” might by possibility mean: “ there is but one other God ”). 1 Corinthians 8:7 . τῇ συνειδήσει ] Lachm. and Rück. read Τῇ ΣΥΝΗΘΕΊᾼ , with A B א , some min [1294] Copt. Bashm. Aeth. Syr. p [1295] (on the margin) Damasc. Approved also by Griesb. and Rinck. Τῇ ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΙ , however, as the more difficult reading, should be retained. See also Reiche, Comment. crit. I. p. 200 ff. It was noted on the margin how the συνείδησις τοῦ εἰδώλου arose, namely, by Τῇ ΣΥΝΗΘΕΊᾼ , and then this phrase easily crept into the place of the original Τ . ΣΥΝΕΙΔ .

It is preferable, however, to put ἝΩς ἌΡΤΙ before ΤΟῦ ΕἸΔΏΛΟΥ (Lachm. Rück. Tisch.), with B D E F G א 31, 37, 116, and several vss [1296] and Fathers; in the Recept [1297] we have transposition in the interest of the construction. 1 Corinthians 8:8 . ΠΑΡΊΣΤΗΣΙ ] A B א , min [1298] Copt. Bashm. Clem. Origen (twice), Athan. Cyr. Damasc. have παραστήσει . Recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Rück. and Tisch. Rightly; the presents which follow gave rise to the same tense here. ΣΥΝΊΣΤΗΣΙ , which has but weak support, is a gloss.

There is considerable evidence (especially A B א ) in favour of omitting the ΓΆΡ , and putting the negative clause first in what follows (Lachm. Tisch.). The transcriber would have a mechanical inclination to place the positive half of the statement first. 1 Corinthians 8:9 . There is decisive evidence for reading ἈΣΘΕΝΈΣΙΝ instead of the Recept [1299] ἀσθενοῦσιν . 1 Corinthians 8:11 . καὶ ἀπολεῖται ] In place of καί , A has οὖν after the verb (so Rück.), while B א * 17, Copt. Bashm. Goth. Clem. have γάρ , which is adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. The last of the three readings is the true one; γάρ not being understood, was explained in some cases by καί , in others by οὖν . Instead of ἀπολεῖται , read with Lachm. Rück. and Tisch. ἀπόλλυται , on the authority of A B D* א , several min [1300] Copt. Goth. Clem. Bas. Antioch. Chrys. Theodoret, and Damasc. The future arises from a mechanical alteration of the text after οἰκοδομηθ .

ἀδελφός ] Lachm. Rück. and Tisch. have ὁ ἀδελφός after γνώσει , which has conclusive evidence in its favour. The Recept [1301] originated in a mistaken attempt to help out the construction.

ἐπί ] Lachm. Rück. and Tisch. read ἐν , which is supported by decisive testimony.

[1287] in. codices minusculi , manuscripts in cursive writing. Where these are individually quoted, they are marked by the usual Arabic numerals, as 33, 89.

[1288] ss. vss. = versions.

[1289] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1290] in. codices minusculi , manuscripts in cursive writing. Where these are individually quoted, they are marked by the usual Arabic numerals, as 33, 89.

[1291] ecepta Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).

[1292] in. codices minusculi , manuscripts in cursive writing. Where these are individually quoted, they are marked by the usual Arabic numerals, as 33, 89.

[1293] ss. vss. = versions.

[1294] in. codices minusculi , manuscripts in cursive writing. Where these are individually quoted, they are marked by the usual Arabic numerals, as 33, 89.

[1295] yr. p. Philoxenian Syriac.

[1296] ss. vss. = versions.

[1297] ecepta Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).

[1298] in. codices minusculi , manuscripts in cursive writing. Where these are individually quoted, they are marked by the usual Arabic numerals, as 33, 89.

[1299] ecepta Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).

[1300] in. codices minusculi , manuscripts in cursive writing. Where these are individually quoted, they are marked by the usual Arabic numerals, as 33, 89.

[1301] ecepta Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).


To eat flesh offered to idols is a thing morally indifferent for all who understand rightly what an idol is (1 Corinthians 8:1-6 ). Still, for the sake of those who are more weak, we should refrain from so eating, if it is a stumbling-block to them (1 Corinthians 8:7-13 ).

Verse 1

1 Corinthians 8:1 . Δέ ] marks the transition to a new subject, which the queries from Corinth led the apostle to discuss.

περὶ τῶν εἰδωλοθ .] Since this is taken up again in 1 Corinthians 8:4 , it is clear that 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 cannot form an independent series of thoughts (Hofmann), but that 1 Corinthians 8:3 is the close of a logical parenthesis (not a grammatical one, because at what is its true beginning the construction undergoes no interruption). It is not to be made to begin at ὅτι ( for ) πάντες , as is done by Luther, Bos, Er. Schmid, Raphel, Wolf, Bengel, Valckenaer, and others, among whom are Olshausen and Maier; for the fact that ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ stands unconnected with what precedes it, and the sense of ὅτι in 1 Corinthians 8:4 ( that ), are decisive against this. The true commencement is only at ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ (so, with older commentators, Pott, Rückert, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald, Neander; Billroth is undecided on the point), so that the preceding γνῶσιν ἔχομεν has very naturally given occasion to the warnings which begin with ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ .

εἰδωλόθυτα , things offered to idols , κρέα εἰδωλόθυτα , 4Ma 5:1 , are those parts of the animals offered in heathen sacrifices, which remained over after the priests had received their share, and which were either consumed in the temple or at home in connection with sacrificial feasts (Dougt. Anal. I. p. 234 ff.; Hermann, gottesd. Alterth. § xxviii. 22), or else (by poor or miserly persons) sold in the flesh market. Comp on Acts 15:20 . [1303] The Christians might thus easily come to eat such meat, either through being invited to a feast by heathen acquaintances (1 Corinthians 10:27 ), or, again, by buying it in the market (1 Corinthians 10:25 ), and thereby offence would be given to scrupulous consciences; while, on the other hand, those of a freer spirit, and with more of Paul’s own mode of thinking, might be apt to make light of the matter, and withal forget how a Christian ought to spare the weak. To assign the strong and the weak to one or other of the four parties respectively, is, to say the least of it, a very uncertain process, whether we are disposed to find the former in the Christ-party (Olshausen, Jaeger) or in the Apollonians (Räbiger). As regards the weak, see 1 Corinthians 8:7 , and the remark subjoined to it.

οἴδαμεν ] should not be joined directly with περὶ κ . τ . λ [1304] , but the latter clause is to be taken as in 1 Corinthians 7:1 : Now, as respects meat offered to idols, we know that , etc. Hofmann, following Semler, but in the face of all the Versions and Fathers, reads οἶδα μέν ( I know, indeed , that), by which he gains nothing but a μέν solitarium , which would be all the more uncalled for, seeing that the corresponding antithetic clause, where he ought to find ἡ δὲ γνῶσις , follows immediately. There is still less reason here for writing it as two words than in Romans 7:14 , where it is, in point of fact, succeeded by a ΔΈ . The subject of οἴδαμεν consists of all those, besides the apostle himself, of whom the ΓΝῶΣΙΝ ἜΧΟΜΕΝ holds good, that is to say, of Paul and the (as regards this point) more enlightened Christians: I and those like myself in this. Theophylact puts it rightly (comp Chrysostom): ΠΡῸς ΤΟῪς ΤΕΛΕΊΟΥς ΔΙΑΛΈΓΕΤΑΙ , ἈΦΕῚς ΤΟῪς ἈΤΕΛΕΣΤΈΡΟΥς . Since ΟἼΔΑΜΕΝ and ἜΧΟΜΕΝ must have one and the same subject, Rückert is wrong in taking the first indefinitely: it is well known . Olshausen understands it of all Christians , and seeks to remove the contradiction between that and 1 Corinthians 8:7 in this way: he distinguishes γνῶσις and ΓΝῶΣΙς , making the former to be a certain ground of knowledge in general; the latter, the specific knowledge of how the form and the power of idolatry stand related to each other . But the γνῶσις in 1 Corinthians 8:1 , although without the article, has been already defined very exactly as regards its contents by ΠΕΡῚ Τ . ΕἸΔΩΛ ., and still more by 1 Corinthians 8:4 , so that ΓΝῶΣΙς in 1 Corinthians 8:7 can mean nothing else but the γνῶσις under discussion ; consequently the contradiction would remain. De Wette’s exposition is better; he holds that in 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul is speaking quite generally, and, as it were, theoretically (comp also Ewald), while in 1 Corinthians 8:7 he refers specially to the Corinthians. But such a theoretic generality would have needed to be expressed by the first person alone without πάντες , if the ΟὐΚ ἘΝ ΠᾶΣΙΝ in 1 Corinthians 8:7 were to have any logical pertinence; while, on the other hand, if we are to maintain that general meaning in 1 Corinthians 8:1 as is stands, we should have arbitrarily to insert into the ΠΆΝΤΕς there the unexpressed idea, “ properly speaking, all Christians as such ” (Ewald), or to give to the ἔχομεν the sense of “ should have.” [1307] Others, following Er. Schmid (“we at Corinth are all wise enough”), regard the Corinthians as the subject, and take (Nösselt, Opuscula , II. p. 152, Rosenmüller, Pott, Heydenreich, Flatt) the words περὶ … ἔχομεν , and then ὍΤΙ ΟὐΔῈΝ ΕἼΔΩΛΟΝ in 1 Corinthians 8:4 on to 1 Corinthians 8:6 , as quotations from the Corinthian letter, the refutation of which begins with 1 Corinthians 8:7 . But this is unnatural; for in that case Paul would have brought the passage ΓΝῶΣΙς ΦΥΣΙΟῖ Κ . Τ . Λ [1308] , on to 1 Corinthians 8:3 , into his refutation as well. Further, it is contrary to the apostle’s habitual way of writing, for he always marks out the words of an opponent as such by some formula; and lastly, it is quite unnecessary, seeing that the supposed contradiction between 1 Corinthians 8:1 and 1 Corinthians 8:7 vanishes on considering the change of person (from the first in 1 Corinthians 8:1 to the third in 1 Corinthians 8:7 ).

γνῶσιν ] have knowledge; of what ? is plain from the context, namely, of the way in which flesh offered to idols should be regarded . The contents of the statement are more fully expressed in 1 Corinthians 8:4 .

[1303] Paul, however, makes no reference to the decree of the apostles either here or elsewhere, which is in keeping with his consciousness of his own direct and independent apostolic dignity. Comp. on Acts loc. cit. , and on Gal., Introd. § 3. Moreover, this very chapter, along with chap. 10, shows plainly that, in virtue of his independent position as an apostle, he had early enough shaken himself clear of all applications of the temporary agreement come to at Jerusalem which might conflict, upon points in themselves indifferent, with the principles elsewhere enunciated by him, although coupling this with a wise forbearance towards those who were weak to the faith.

[1304] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

[1307] So Elwert, Progr., Quaestiones ad philol. sacram. N. T. , Tübing. 1860, p. 17.

[1308] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

Verses 1-3

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 . Now follows the caveat inserted parenthetically with a view to γνῶσιν ἔχομεν .

The article turns the abstract γνῶσις into a noun appellative.

The knowledge (in and by itself, namely) puffeth up (1 Corinthians 4:6 , 1 Corinthians 5:2 ); but the love (to the brethren; comp Romans 14:14-15 ) edifieth (1 Corinthians 10:23 ), furthers the progress of the church (viewed as οἰκοδομὴ Θεοῦ , see 1 Corinthians 3:9 ) towards Christian perfection. It is, indeed, the necessary ἡγεμονικόν to the effectively sympathetic and humble application of the knowledge. Comp chap. 13, especially 1 Corinthians 8:4 . 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 explain the preceding statement, both from the wrong nature of the supposed knowledge and from the preciousness of love to God.

Since the γνῶσις in and by itself, divorced from love, is never a real knowledge, but only such as a man fancies himself to have (1 Corinthians 3:18 ), Paul characterizes here what he before designated by ἡ γνῶσις as a δοκεῖν εἰδέναι τι ; and since the love to the brethren does not essentially differ from the love to God, but is simply its expression in the fellowship of believers, he now characterizes the former as ἀγαπᾶν τὸν Θεόν . One can hardly mistake the impress of deep and pregnant meaning in this whole passage, so like the manner of John, especially in his Epistles.

τί ] anything whatever , any object of the γνῶσις . Pott and Flatt interpret: something wonderful ; but this does not correspond so well with the sententious character of the verse.

οὐδέπω κ . τ . λ [1311] ] he knows nothing at all as yet in such a way as to bring it under the name of knowledge, as that must by moral necessity be constituted from the Christian standpoint. The conceit of knowledge is onesided, superficial, partial, false, unpractical, in its character. In order to the γνῶναι καθὼς δεῖ we must of necessity have love, which regulates the knowledge morally, gives it proper depth, and makes it practically salutary. Comp 1 Corinthians 13:2 . As regards the repetition of the negative (Luke 23:53 ; John 19:41 ; Acts 8:16 ), comp Schömann, a [1314] Is. p. 469; Stallbaum, a [1315] Plat. Crat. p. 398 E). 1 Corinthians 8:3 . ΟὟΤΟς ] with emphasis: he , to the exclusion of the other who prides himself on his knowledge.

ἔγνωσται ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ ] This is rationalized by Billroth in his usual fashion into: “ God recognises Himself in him ;” but it means simply: this man is known by Him . The statement is a pregnant one. Instead of making it logically complete by saying: “it holds good of such a man not merely that he knows in the true sense, but also that he is known of God,” the apostle states simply the latter and greater truth, which of itself implies the former. The ἔγνωσται ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ shows the importance and preciousness of the love spoken of, in accordance with its holiness ; for if God knows a man, that implies a relation between God and him of no indifferent or ineffective kind, but an activity of God, which passes over to the man, so that he as the object of the divine knowledge experiences also the efficacy of the disposition in and with which God knows him, of His love, gracious care, etc. The idea, therefore, is that of the effective divine knowledge, which becomes part of the inner experience of the man, and which is the causa salutis , [1316] so that God in thus knowing the man carries out that saving fellowship with him, which was purposed in His own counsel, Psalms 1:6 ; Galatians 4:9 ; 2 Timothy 2:19 . Comp Hofmann, Schriftbeweis , I. p. 258 ff. See also on 1 Corinthians 13:12 . Other interpreters supply the thought ut suum discipulum (Erasmus) or inter filios (Calvin), and the like. Comp Usteri, Lehrbegriff , p. 283. But that is to insert a meaning not in the text. Others, again, take it as approbatus est (Piscator, Clericus, Gataker, Grotius, Wolf, Mosheim, Semler, Morus, Vater, al [1319] , following Fathers in Suicer, Thes. I. p. 762). But this is as much against linguistic usage (see on Romans 7:15 ) as Augustine’s edoctus est (so, too, Beza, Pareus, Er. Schmid, and others, including Nösselt, Rosenmüller, Heydenreich, Pott, Flatt), so that the passive would correspond to a Hophal. Olshausen’s mysterious fancy is contrary to the whole context, which demands the simple conception of knowing ; he finds in γινώσκειν (as in ידע , see on Matthew 1:25 ) the bridal (?) relation of the soul to God.

[1311] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

[1314] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1315] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1316] Comp. Constit. ap. v. 16. 3 : μὴ γιγνώσκοντες Θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κηρύγματος πιστεύσαντες ἔγνωτε αὐτόν , μᾶλλον δὲ ἐγνώσθητε ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ διὰ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ σωτῆρος κ . λυτρωτοῦ τῶν ἐλπιζόντων ἐπʼ αὐτόν .

[1319] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

Verse 4

1 Corinthians 8:4 . Οὖν ] igitur , takes up again the interrupted statement (1 Corinthians 8:1 ); comp 1 Corinthians 11:20 , and see on Mark 3:31 , and Baeumlein, Partik. p. 177.

τῆς βρώσ . τ . εἰδ .] more precise definition of the indefinite ΤῶΝ ΕἸΔΩΛΟΘ ., 1 Corinthians 8:1 . There is no reason any more than formerly for writing ΟἼΔΑΜΕΝ here as ΟἾΔΑ ΜΈΝ with Hofmann.

ὍΤΙ ΟὐΔῈΝ ΕἸΔΩΛ . ἘΝ ΚΌΣΜῼ ] that there is not an idol in the world . Paul’s meaning here is not: what the heathen adore as gods is something absolutely without existence (see, on the contrary, 1 Corinthians 8:5 ; 1 Corinthians 10:20 ); but: no heathen god exists as the being which the heathen supposes him to be; and so there is no adequate reality, corresponding to the heathen conception of a god Jupiter, Apollo, etc. Most of the old interpreters, with the Vulgate, Luther, and Beza (also more recently, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Heydenreich), took οὐδέν to mean nihil : “that an idol is a nonentity.” Comp Jeremiah 10:3 ; Isaiah 41:24 , al [1322] , Addit. to Esther 4:8 ; Sanhedr. f. 63. 2 : “Noverant utique Israelitae, idolum nihil esse .” Comp also Joseph. Antt. viii. 13. 6. But this must be held incorrect, seeing that ἐν τ . κόσμῳ does not harmonize with it, and because of the parallel expression ΟὐΔΕῚς ΘΕΌς .

ΚΑῚ ὍΤΙ ΟὐΔΕῚς Κ . Τ . Λ [1324] ] and that there is no other God but one . The εἰ μή refers simply to οὐδεὶς Θεός , not to ἕτερος . see on Galatians 1:19 .

[1322] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1324] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

Verse 5

1 Corinthians 8:5 . For ( γάρ ) even ( καί ) if really ( εἴπερ , see Hartung, Partikell . I. p. 343; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 202) there exist so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth . Heathenism conceived heaven and earth to be filled with beings whom they called gods (Jupiter, Apollo, and so forth; gods of the woods and the rivers, etc.). Paul does not admit the existence of such gods, [1325] but merely supposes it, and that with καὶ εἴπερ . i.e. even in the case that, if there be in reality, if after all , whereby of course “in incerto relinquitur, utrum jure an injuria sumatur” (Hermann, a [1326] Viger. p. 834), this, however, not being implied in εἴπερ by itself, but by the connection in which it stands here. Comp Romans 8:9 ; Romans 8:17 , etc.; and see Baeumlein, l.c. The supposed case the reality of which is still left to stand on its own footing is then established, so far as its possibility is concerned, by ὥσπερ κ . τ . λ [1328] : as there are, indeed, gods many and lords many . What is conceded here is the premiss from which that possibility may be drawn as a consequence. If there exist, that is to say, a multitude of superhuman beings, who come under the category of θεοί (in the wider sense) and ΚΎΡΙΟΙ , then we must admit that it is possible that those whom the heathen call gods

Jupiter, Apollo, and so on have an actual existence. [1329] The θεοὶ πολλοί and ΚΎΡΙΟΙ ΠΟΛΛΟΊ are, as the connection necessarily leads us to understand, not human rulers, deified kings, and the like, but the superhuman powers (angels), of whom it is said in Deuteronomy 10:17 : ὁ γὰρ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῶν , οὗτος Θεὸς τῶν θεῶν καὶ Κύριος τῶν κυρίων . Comp Psalms 136:2-3 . Most commentators take ΕἸΣΊ as said e gentilium persuasione (so Pott, Flatt, Heydenreich, de Wette, Ewald, Neander, Maier), which would give as the sense of the whole: “ if there be in reality so-called gods among the heathen, as, indeed, they speak of many gods and lords ” (de Wette). But this explanation runs counter to the fact that εἰσί is put first with emphasis; and the e gentilium persuasione is neither expressed nor hinted at in the text, but is a pure insertion of the commentators, and that with the less warrant, seeing that it is the emphatic ἡμῖν in the apodosis that first introduces a contrast with others. This applies, too, against the arbitrary distinction made by Billroth, who maintains that only the first ΕἸΣΊ denotes real existence (the ΛΕΓΌΜ . ΘΕΟΊ being demons , x. 20), while with the second we should supply: in the view of the heathen . Rückert takes both the first and second εἰσί in the right sense, but makes ΕἼΠΕΡ mean, contrary to the rules of the language, although it must be conceded that (which is not its meaning even in such passages as those given by Kühner, II. § 824, note 2), and supposes that the apostle conceived the angels and demons to be the realities answering to the λεγόμ . θεοί . [1331]

As regards καὶ εἰ , etiam, tum, si , which marks the contents of the conditional clause as uncertain , comp on Mark 14:29 ; and see Hermann, a [1333] Viger. p. 832; Stallbaum, a [1334] Plat. Apol. p. 32 A. It is here the “ etiamsi de re in cogitatione posita,” Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 884. Examples of καὶ γὰρ εἰ , for even if , may be seen in Hartung, Partikell . I. p. 141.

[1325] We know from 1 Corinthians 10:20 that he did not allow that the gods as such existed at all, but held those beings regarded as gods to be demons . Comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 279.

[1326] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1328] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

[1329] The meaning of the verse, therefore, freely rendered, would be: For even if we suppose that the gods of the heathen mythology have a real existence, which is no such absurd supposition, seeing that there is not merely One God and One Lord (in the wider sense of these words), but gods many and lords many : still for us Christians, etc., ver. 6. Hofmann agrees substantially with our exposition of the passage. See also his Schriftbew. I. p. 348.

[1331] There is no ground whatever for bringing in the demons here from 1 Corinthians 10:20 (this in opposition to Olshausen and others). The second part of the verse, which makes no further mention of λεγομένοις θεοῖς , should have sufficed of itself to prevent this; still more the correlation in which the many gods and lords stand to the εἷς Θεός and εἷς Κύριος in ver. 6.

[1333] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1334] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

Verses 5-6

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 . Confirmatory elucidation of the preceding statement ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον … εἰ μὴ εἶς .

Verse 6

1 Corinthians 8:6 . Apodosis: yet have we Christians but one God, the Father , etc. Therefore: οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον κ . τ . λ [1335] The ἘΣΤΊΝ to be supplied after ἩΜῖΝ is the simple verb substantive.

ἈΛΛʼ ] as in 1 Corinthians 4:15 .

ΘΕῸς ΠΑΤΉΡ ] might be taken together here as forming one conception , like Κύριος ὁ Θεός (Fritzsche, a [1336] Matt. p. 168); it agrees better, however, with the ΕἿς ΚΎΡΙΟς . Χ . which follows, to understand ΠΑΤΉΡ as in apposition to ΘΕΌς and defining it more precisely. By ΠΑΤΉΡ , and the relative definitions of it which follow, the ΕἿς ΘΕΌς has its specific character assigned to it, and that in such a way as to make the reader feel, from the relation of the One God to the world, and from his own relation to Him, how the Christian, despite that plurality of gods, comes to rest in the thought of the unity of God, and how idols are with him put out of account altogether. Comp Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 348.

ὁ πατήρ ] in the Christian sense, according to the idea of the υἱοθεσία of Christians. Romans 8:15 ; Galatians 3:26 .

ἘΞ ΟὟ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ] as to primary origin. see on Romans 11:36 .

ΚΑῚ ἩΜΕῖς ΕἸς ΑὐΤΌΝ ] i.e. and we Christians are destined to serve His purposes : He is our End. Here again, after the καί , we have the deviation from the relative construction, common with the apostle from his preference for direct address. Comp on 1 Corinthians 7:13 . Bernhardy, p. 304. It is arbitrary to take ΕἸς in such a narrow sense as is given to it by Piscator, Grotius, Rosenmüller, al [1339] : for God’s honour ; but positively incorrect to take it for ἘΝ , with Beza, Calvin, and others; or for ἘΞ , with Schulz, Heydenreich, and Pott. Billroth interprets it in Hegelian fashion: “that man should be towards God, should return into Him as his First Cause, not remain for himself .” This has only a seeming likeness to Augustine’s “Fecisti me ad te, et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te,” Conf. i. 1. Olshausen, following older expositors (Calovius, Estius, al [1340] ), finds the Trinity here also (comp on Romans 11:36 ), which is obviously wrong, were it only for this reason, that we have neither one subject alone named in this passage (as at least in Rom. loc. cit. ), nor three, but two. [1342] He holds, with Billroth (comp also Neander), that the ΕἸς refers to the agency of the Holy Spirit in bringing all back to its primary origin. [1344]

διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα ] does not apply to the new moral creation (Grotius, Stolz, Pott), and consequently cannot include all that is involved in redemption and atonement (Baur, neut. Theol. p. 193), which is clearly against the sense of the preceding τὰ πάντα ; but it means that Jesus Christ, in His pre-mundane existence, as the Son of God (not as the Ideal Man or the like), as πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (in John’s phrase, as Λόγος ), was He through whom [1345] God brought about the creation of the world. see on Colossians 1:15 ff. Comp John 1:3 . Usteri, Lehrbegriff , p. 315 ff.; Räbiger, Christol. Paul. p. 29 ff.; Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. § 85; Lechler, p. 51 f.; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 318. Philo calls the λόγος the ὄργανον , διʼ οὗ κατεσκευάσθη ( ὁ κόσμος ). See de Cherub. I. p. 162. In Romans 11:36 , διʼ οὗ is said of God, and the reference is therefore of a different kind than here.

καὶ ἡμεῖς διʼ αὐτοῦ ] is not to be referred to the physical creation (Rückert); for the idea thus elicited would not only be tame and obvious of itself, but also out of keeping with what has previously been stated of God , the second clause in which, κ . ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν , adds a different, namely, an ethical relation. The reference here is to the new creation of believers (Ephesians 2:10 ; 2 Corinthians 5:17 ; Galatians 6:15 ); this is effected by God through Christ , who, as in the physical creation, is the causa medians . Just as we Christians have but one God, the true Creator, whose designs: we serve; so, too, we have but one Lord, the true Mediator , to whom all things owe their being, and we our Christian existence, that which we are as Christians . This “ one God and one Lord ” shuts out the whole heathen gods as such, so far as the Christian consciousness is concerned.

[1335] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

[1336] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1339] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1340] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1342] Hence we find, in some of the later codd. and Fathers, additional clauses respecting the Spirit, namely, καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα ἅγιον , ἐν ᾧ τὰ πάντα κ . ἡμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ , and: καὶ ἕν πνεῦμα ἅγ . διʼ οὗ πάντα . But so early an expositor as Chrysostom remarks expressly that the Spirit is not mentioned here.

[1344] In order to bring out the “ all ” (Romans 11:36 ), Olshausen affirms: “Insomuch as the church is destined to receive all men into it, and insomuch as it exerts a reflex restorative influence even upon the κτίσις (Romans 8:19 ff.), those who believe are equivalent to things as a whole.” An instance to be taken as a warning of exegetical subjectivity in the interest of dogmatic preconception.

[1345] Not ἐξ οὗ , which holds only of the Father, although εἰς ὅν could be said of the Son also (comp. Colossians 1:16 ).

Verse 7

1 Corinthians 8:7 . “We know that there is no idol, etc.; however, this γνῶσις that we speak of ( ἡ ) is not in all; but doubtless (the δέ as in 1 Corinthians 7:37 , and very often so 1 Corinthians 8:9 after a negative clause) there are many who,” etc.

τῇ συνειδήσει ἕως ἄρτι τοῦ εἰδώλου ] in virtue of their conscience till now regarding the idol , i.e. through this, that their moral consciousness is still burdened with the conception of an actual existence of the heathen gods as such. The opposite of the συνείδησις τοῦ εἰδώλου is: οἴδαμεν , ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ , 1 Corinthians 8:4 . Because those who are weak in the faith have not risen to this conviction, but still remain under the belief that the idols really exist, therefore they eat the meat offered to idols as meat offered to idols, i.e. their conception in eating it is, not that it is the same as other meat, and consequently to be partaken of without scruple and without receiving any idolatrous defilement, but that it is really meat consecrated to an idol which is assumed to exist, and hence that to eat of it is sinful.

συνείδησις [1347] ] means simply conscience (neither judicium , as many maintain, nor obscure conception , as Schulz would have it; Billroth’s rendering is better, though still inexact: “conviction that there are εἴδωλα ;” so also Reiche, Maier), and ΤΟῦ ΕἸΔΏΛΟΥ is the object of the moral consciousness, the article indicating the idol in a generic way. As to the gen. with συνείδ ., comp Hebrews 10:2 ; 1 Peter 2:19 ; so also frequently in Greek writers. The context shows what the relation is as regards meaning (here it is that which is inherent in the consciousness as its contents).

ἝΩς ἌΡΤΙ ] marks off the time more sharply than “always as yet” (Hofmann), which would be ἜΤΙ ; it means, “ up to this very hour ” ( 1Co 4:13 , 1 Corinthians 15:6 , and in all other passages). Taking the usual order of the words, it would most naturally attach itself to ἐσθίουσι ; but since the place which on critical grounds must be assigned to it is before ΕἸΔΏΛΟΥ (see the critical remarks), it must be joined to Τῇ ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΙ . We might have expected Τῇ ἝΩς ἌΡΤΙ ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΙ ΤΟῦ ΕἸΔΏΛΟΥ or Τῇ ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΙ ΤΟῦ ΕἸΔΏΛΟΥ Τῇ ἝΩς ἌΡΤΙ ; even in Greek authors, however, one finds adverbial attributives used in this loose adjectival way without any connecting article; and Paul himself in other places employs this mode of expression (see on 1Co 12:28 ; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ; Philippians 1:26 ; Galatians 1:13 ).

It is an artificial construction, and without sufficient ground, to supply a second ΣΥΝΕΙΔΉΣΕΙ (without the article) after Τῇ ΣΥΝΕΙΔ ., and connect ἝΩς ἌΡΤΙ ΤΟῦ ΕἸΔΏΛΟΥ with this.

ἈΣΘΕΝῊς ΟὖΣΑ ] because it is weak ; for were it strong, it would no longer have suffered itself to be morally bound by the conception of idols, and hence would not have been defiled (made conscious of guilt) by eating, because in that case the eating would be ἐκ πίστεως (Romans 14:23 ). ΜΟΛΎΝΕΙΝ (comp 2 Corinthians 7:1 ), of ethical defilement; also in Sir 21:28 ; Porphyr. de Abstin. i. 42; Synesius, Ephesians 5:0 . Comp Titus 1:15 : ΜΙΑΊΝΕΙΝ . Observe there the two sides of the conscience: it was weak to begin with , and afterwards it is defiled as well.

[1347] See generally, besides von Zezschwitz ( Profangräcit . pp. 52 ff., 75), Köhler, Schriftgemässe Lehre vom Gew. , 1864; Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 133 ff.; Lindes, de vi et ratione συνειδήσεως ex. N. T. , Lund, 1866; R. Hofmann, Lehre vom Gew. , Leipz. 1866.


The ἕως ἄρτι , which points back to their state before conversion, puts it beyond question that the weak brethren are not to be conceived of as Jewish-Christians , but as Gentiles , whose conscience was still burdened with the belief, brought with them from the heathen period of their lives, that the idol was a divine reality. They must have supposed the idols to be subordinate divine being (not demons , as Neander thought, which, according to 1 Corinthians 10:20 , would have been the correct conception), from whose worship they had been brought to that of the one Supreme God; so that they could not look upon the consumption of sacrificial flesh as a mere harmless eating of meat, but had their conscience always hampered with the thought that by so eating they were brought into contact with those idol-deities. Theophylact puts it rightly (comp Chrysostom): ἮΣΑΝ ΓᾺΡ ΠΟΛΛΟῚ ἘΞ ΕἸΔΩΛΟΛΑΤΡΊΑς Τῇ ΠΊΣΤΕΙ ΠΡΟΣΕΛΘΌΝΤΕς ΟἻ ἝΩς ἌΡΤΙ , ΤΟΥΤΈΣΤΙ ΚΑῚ ΜΕΤᾺ ΤῸ ΠΙΣΤΕῦΣΑΙ , ΤᾺ ΕἸΔΩΛΌΘΥΤΑ ἘΣΘΊΟΥΣΙΝ Ὠς ΕἸΔΩΛΌΘΥΤΑ . Theodoret says: ΟὐΧ ΒΡῶΣΙς ΜΟΛΎΝΕΙ , ἉΛΛᾺ ΣΥΝΕΊΔΗΣΙς ΤῊΝ ΤΕΛΕΊΑΝ Οὐ ΔΕΞΑΜΈΝΗ ΓΥῶΣΙΝ , ἜΤΙ ΔῈ Τῇ ΠΛΆΝῌ ΤῶΝ ΕἸΔΏΛΩΝ ΚΑΤΕΧΟΜΈΝΗ . This in opposition to the common view, that the weak brethren are to be sought among the Petrine party . Schenkel even goes the length of explaining the name of that party from the abstinence of the members from sacrificial flesh; therein they held strictly, he thinks, to the Apostolic Council, whose decree had been arrived at specially through the influence of Peter (?). The correct view, that the weak brethren were Gentile -Christians, is advocated also by Hofmann, and finds expression in Lachmann’s reading of συνηθείᾳ .

Verse 8

1 Corinthians 8:8 f. This is not an objection urged by the Corinthians in defence of their eating meat offered to idols, which is then followed, in 1 Corinthians 8:9 , by the apostle’s reply (Calvin, Pareus, Mosheim, Zachariae, Pott, Heydenreich, Billroth); for here, too, we have no formula to mark that an objection is being adduced, and those who ate the sacrificial flesh would in their interest have required to write: οὔτε ἐὰν μὴ φάγωμεν , περισσεύομεν , οὔτε ἐὰν φάγωμεν , ὑστερούμεθα . No, Paul is now going on (the advance being indicated by δέ ) to show what regard should be paid to those weaker brethren: “ Now, food is not the determining element in the Christian’s relation to God; to abstain from it does no harm, and to partake of it gives no advantage (see the critical remarks). Therefore (1 Corinthians 8:9 ) ye ought not to make yourselves a cause of stumbling to the weak through your liberty to eat sacrificial flesh .” If food were not a thing indifferent, if abstinence from it brought loss, and partaking of it blessing with God, then it would be our duty not thus to adapt ourselves to the weak.

οὐ παραστήσει ] it will not (in any case which may arise; future ) present us to God; non exhibebit nos Deo , i.e. it will not affect the position of our moral character in the judgment of God , either for the worse or for the better. We have thus a description of an adiaphoron in its relation to God. Comp Bengel, Osiander, Hofmann. Most interpreters take the word in the sense of commendabit , or, keeping by the Rec [1353] ΠΑΡΊΣΤΗΣΙ , commendat , as if it were συνιστήσει or ΣΥΝΊΣΤΗΣΙ . This is untenable according to the rules of the language; and it is illogical besides, for both the cases which follow οὔτε … οὔτε are included under the collective conception, Οὐ ΠΑΡΑΣΤ . Τ . ΘΕῷ . [1354]

ὑστερούμ .] do we come short , do we lack anything in our relation to God. The opposite of this (comp Philippians 4:12 ) is περισσ .: we have an overflowing abundance , something more than mere sufficiency in our relation to God; τουτέστιν εὐδοκιμοῦμεν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ ὡς ἀγαθόν τι ποιήσαντες καὶ μέγα , Chrysostom.

βλέπετε δέ ] The δέ , now then , introduces what is their positive duty , as contrasted with the foregoing negative state of the case.

πρόσκομμα ] stumbling, i.e. occasion to act contrary to conscience. Comp Romans 14:13 .

[1353] ec. Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).

[1354] This holds also against the modification which Valckenaer, Rückert, and de Wette have made upon the ordinary view: “does not bring us near to God, does not put us into a position to appear before Him.” Comp. Theophylact: οὐκ οἰκειοῖ ἡμᾶς τῷ Θεῷ .

Verse 10

1 Corinthians 8:10 . Τίς ] any such weak brother, namely.

τὸν ἔχοντα γνῶσιν ] quippe qui cognitionem habes , in significant apposition to σέ . It is just this, which the weaker believer knows respecting the stronger, that leads him astray.

ἐν εἰδωλείῳ κατατκείμενον ] Their liberal-mindedness went, it seems, so far that they even reclined at table in idol-temples with those who held the sacrificial feasts there. The absolute prohibition of this abuse of liberty (which follows afterwards in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 ) would not have come in suitably here, where the connection of itself naturally led the apostle simply to point out in the way of warning the bearing of such conduct upon the weak.

Instances of the use of εἰδωλεῖον which does not occur in profane writers from the LXX. and the Apocrypha, may be seen in Schleusner, Thes. II. p. 246. See also Eustath. a [1357] Od. vi. p. 263. 17. In the Fragm. Soph. 152 (Dind.), the true reading is ἑδώλια .

οἰκοδομηθήσεται ] is neither a vox media (Clericus, Elsner, Wolf, al [1358] ), nor does it mean impelletur (Castalio, Kypke, Hermann, Stolz, al [1359] ) or confirmabitur (Syr [1360] , Grotius, Zachariae, Schulz, Billroth), but as always in the N. T.: will be built up, advanced in a Christian frame of mind, so as to eat ( εἰς τὸ ἐσθ ). To be brought to eat sacrificial flesh while one is weak ( ἀσθων . ὄντος , opposite of γνῶσιν ἔχειν ), is, as Calvin rightly expresses it, a ruinosa aedificatio , seeing that the foundation which it ought to have, the πίστις , is wanting. We have here, therefore, an ironically significant antiphrasis ; without the ἀσθ . ὄντος it might be a case of a real οἰκοδομεῖσθαι ; things being as they are, however, it can be so only in appearance , and, in reality, it is the very opposite . [1361] Egregie aedificabitur ! The hypothesis (Storr, Opusc. II. p. 275 f.; Rosenmüller, Flatt, comp Neander), that Paul borrows the word from the letter of the Corinthians to him (in which they had said that by partaking of sacrificial flesh people edify the weak), and gives it back to them in an antiphrastic way, cannot be established, and is unnecessary.

[1357] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1358] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1359] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1360] yr. Peschito Syriac

[1361] Wetstein compares with this the passage in Nedarim , f. 40. 1 : “Si dixerint tibi juniores aedifica, et seniores demolire, audi seniores et non audi juniores, quia aedificatio juniorum est demolitio, et demolitio seniorum est aedificatio.”

Verse 11

1 Corinthians 8:11 . Ἀπόλλυται (“terrificum verbum,” Clarius) γάρ unfolds the meaning of the antiphrastic element of the preceding οἰκοδ ., the γάρ introducing the answer (Hartung, I. p. 477; Klotz, a [1363] Devar. p. 240; Baeumlein, Part. p. 72), in which the apostle’s irony loses itself in the deep earnestness which underlies it: he is in truth utterly ruined , etc.

ἀπόλλυται is meant here, as in Romans 14:15 , of destruction κατʼ ἐξοχήν , the eternal ἀπώλεια to which a man becomes liable when he falls from the life of faith into that of sin through violation of his conscience. see on Romans 14:15 . Billroth, indeed, holds the γάρ here to be quite inexplicable, unless we take ἀπόλλ . simply in the sense of is led astray (but see the critical remarks); while Rückert declares the γάρ utterly useless. Nevertheless, ἀπόλλυται κ . τ . λ [1364] makes it clear and unmistakeable how the case stands with the preceding ΟἸΚΟΔΟΜΗΘ ., so that ΓΆΡ is logically correct.

ἘΝ Τῇ Σῇ ΓΝΏΣΕΙ ] belongs to ἈΠΟΛΛ .: by means of thy knowledge , so that it, through the use thou hast made of it, has occasioned this destruction. Ἐπί (see the critical remarks) would be: upon thy knowledge, so that it was the ground of what took place.

ὁ ἀδελφ . διʼ ὃν Χ . ἀπ .] a weighty twofold motive for not bringing about such a result. Comp Romans 14:15 . The ΔΙʼ ὋΝ Χ . ἈΠ . is frustrated by the ἀπολλ .! Comp 1 Corinthians 8:12 . Bengel says well in reference to ΔΙʼ ὍΝ : “ut doceamur, quid nos fratrum causa debeamus.” Respecting διά , comp Romans 4:25 .

[1363] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1364] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

Verse 12

1 Corinthians 8:12 . Οὕτω ] When ye sin against the brethren in this way , as described in 1 Corinthians 8:10-11 .

καί ] and especially .

τύπτοντες ] in substance the same thing as μολύνοντες in 1 Corinthians 8:7 , only expressed by a different metaphor, which makes the cruelty of the procedure more apparent. What befits a weak conscience is forbearance , not that it should morally receive blows , should be smitten through offence done to it as with a wounding weapon (Hom. Il. xix. 125; Herod, iii. 64; Xen. Cyr. v. 4. 5; Proverbs 26:22 ), so that now, instead of being but a weak , it becomes a bad conscience.

αὐτῶν ] put first because correlative to the εἰς Χριστόν which follows; in the latter is finally concentrated the whole heinousness of the offence.

Verse 13

1 Corinthians 8:13 . Comp Romans 14:21 . The classic ΔΙΌΠΕΡ , for that very reason (because the offence in question is such a heinous one), meets us with certainty in the N. T only here and 1 Corinthians 10:14 .

βρῶμα ] any kind of food , indefinitely. Instead now of saying in the apodosis: “then I will never more eat of it,” etc., he names the special kind of food ( κρέα ) presenting itself in application to the subject discussed, by abstaining from which, at any rate, the use of sacrificial flesh and the σκάνδαλον thereby given would be excluded.

Οὐ ΜῊ ΦΆΓΩ ] “Accommodat suae personae , ut facilius persuadeat,” Piscator. The expression is not by way of exhortation, but of assurance, “then I will certainly not eat ,” etc. Τοῦτο ὡς διδάσκαλος ἄριστος τὸ διʼ ἑαυτοῦ παιδεύειν ἃ λέγει , Chrysostom.

ΕἸς Τ . ΑἸῶΝΑ ] to all eternity, nevermore ; hyperbolical mode of expressing the most thorough readiness. Comp as regards the idea, Romans 14:21 .

ἽΝΑ ΜῊ Κ . Τ . Λ [1370] ] For this is what I should bring about, if he holds the flesh which I eat to be sacrificial flesh (1 Corinthians 8:9 ). Observe the emphatic repetition of the words, and the different order in which σκανδαλ . and τ . ἀδελφ . μ . are placed.

That the maxim here enunciated cannot be an universal rule in adiaphoris , has been pointed out already by Erasmus. Comp Galatians 2:5 with 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff. and Acts 16:3 . It does not hold, when the truth of the gospel comes to be at stake. Comp Galatians 2:14 .

[1370] . τ . λ . καὶ τὰ λοιπά .

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.