Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

1 Corinthians 8

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Verse 1

1Co 8:1. Corinth was a Greek city and the sacrificing to idols was common. The flesh of the beasts was not burned, but only put through some routine, then sold in the market for meat. The question arose as to whether it was right for Christians to eat that meat. Some of the brethren understood that it did not make any difference, since the idols were dead objects and meant nothing. Those having this knowledge were being puffed up over their supposed superiority and were discouraging the weaker ones. Paul wanted them who were the better informed to show charity (love on behalf of the brethren) and- thus edify or build up the less informed disciples.

Verse 2

1Co 8:2. These better informed brethren were correct theoretically, yet their boasted knowledge had caused them to be ignorant of what was more important, namely, the proper attitude toward the others.

Verse 3

1Co 8:3. The greatest knowledge a man can have is shown by his love for God (and his weaker children). Such an attitude shows that the man knows God, which proves that he has the kind of knowledge that is really great. It may well be worded, "If any man loves God, such a man knows the same God."

Verse 4

1Co 8:4-5. Various objects in nature were worshiped as gods, which is why Paul uses the phrase gods many and lords many. But the apostle agrees with the "knowing ones" that these gods were nothing.

Verse 6

1Co 8:6. Repeating the idea just set forth, the apostle adds some truths about the God who created all these things which the heathen were ignorantly worshiping.

Verse 7

1Co 8:7. Not every man (even among the disciples) had been clearly informed on the subject of meats that had been used in the idolatrous service. For the meaning of conscience, see the notes at Act 24:16 in volume 1 of the New Testament Commentary. When these uninformed brethren were induced to eat this meat, they had a "guilty feeling" because they could not see anything in the act except a form of idolatrous worship. Such an attitude would make them really guilty, because one must have a clear conscience in order to please God.

Verse 8

1Co 8:8. This is the same as verses 1, 4, 5.

Verse 9

1Co 8:9. The better informed brethren should not use their privilege in such a manner as to cause the weaker ones to go against their conscience.

Verse 10

1Co 8:10. See thee is a key to the subject, which will be referred to at verse 13. Idol's temple. After the religious exercises were over, a temporal meal was served and a visitor could sit down and eat in much the same fashion he would today in a restaurant. There was nothing wrong about it in itself; but if one of these weaker brethren should see it, he would be emboldened (encouraged) to eat also. He would reason, "If that brother may eat of that meat, I will also."

Verse 11

1Co 8:11. But as soon as he had done that, he would have that "guilty feeling" which defiled his conscience. He would perish; be in danger of condemnation for defiling his conscience, and it would be through the example of the stronger brother who had no conscientious objections to the meat.

Verse 12

1Co 8:12. Anything that is done toward the disciples of Christ, whether good or bad, is counted as being done unto Him. (See Mat 25:40 Mat 25:45.)

Verse 13

1Co 8:13. Make my brother to offend means to cause him to stumble or do wrong. I will eat no flesh; that is, in his presence (1Co 8:10). If a Christian believes it is right to eat this meat he may do so, but he must exercise that faith or privilege "to himself" (Rom 14:22).
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.