1 Corinthians chapter 8

The consciences of some Christians has not yet been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. They feel false guilt about eating food that was sacrificed to idols. [UPDATED]

 


 

EATING FOOD SACRIFIED TO IDOLS

 

VERSE 1. Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Now concerning. This is a transition. It introduces a new topic.

Knowledge puffs up. That is, “knowledge inflates with pride” (NAB translation).

 

VERSE 2. But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know.

knows anything. Probably, “knows anything about God.”

 

VERSE 3. But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him.

known by him.  Eternal life is knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. Do you know them? Do you have a love-relationship with them? Read more »

 

VERSE 4. Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one.

the eating of things sacrificed to idols. In those days, this was a very important issue. Many people worshipped statues of deities by placing food in front of the statue.

The food was an offering to that deity. Afterwards, people would eat the “leftovers.” That is, the portion of the food that the deity did not eat.

In most cases, this would not affect Christians. But what if the “leftover” food was being served at a restaurant? Could a Christian eat that food? Or would eating it mean that the Christian is participating in idolatry?

no idol is anything. That is, “No idol actually exists.” The little statue does not represent any spiritual entity. The statue is a counterfeit.

there is no other God but one. The LORD is one. He is God alone. He is the one God and Father of all. Beside him there is no other God. There is none like him. Read more »

 

VERSE 5. For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”;

many “gods” and many “lords.” People have devised all sorts of deities. But they do not actually exist.

 

VERSE 6. yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him.

one God, the Father. The LORD is one. He is God alone. He is the one God and Father of all. Beside him there is no other God. There is none like him. Read more »

through whom are all things. The Lord Jesus Christ created the universe.

 

VERSE 7. However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

their conscience. The conscience of this Christians is still unenlightened by the Holy Spirit. They are under the illusion that pagan sacrifices have some kind of potency.

being weak. When they eat meat sacrificed to an idol, a Christian with a weak conscience will wrongly feel convicted of sin.

In truth, what the person did was permissible. Rather, the problem is that their conscience is miscalibrated. We also see that in verse 12 below.

 

VERSE 8. But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better.

neither. Eating food sacrificed to idols does not damage a Christian in any way.

Many Christians have lists of what they feel is permissible, and what they feel is not. These lists are not necessarily based on the Bible or any other Divine Revelation. They do not reflect the freedom God has given the believer.

Rather, they reflect the needs and biases and preferences of the individual. Or the Christian subculture.

 

VERSE 9. But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak.

this liberty of yours. For the Christian, all things are permissible.

1 Corinthians 6:12. “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are expedient. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be brought under the power of anything.

a stumbling block to the weak. Paul does not want any Christian believer to cause other Christian believers to fall into sin.

For that reason, some people say all Christians should never drink alcohol. They say that if Christians drink alcohol, they will set a bad example for recovering alcoholics.

Of course, there are many shortcomings in that example:

  • Jesus Christ drank alcohol. Was he wrong?
  • The apostles drank alcohol. Were they wrong?
  • In almost every nation but the U.S., most Christians drink alcohol. Are they all wrong?
  • Prohibition never worked.
  • One individual’s personal addiction should not constrain the legitimate freedoms of other people.

The biggest shortcoming of all is that Paul is not talking about alcohol. He never forbade alcohol. Rather, Paul is talking about meat.

If we were to take Paul seriously, we would need to become vegetarians!

 

VERSE 10. For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol’s temple, won’t his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols?

sitting in an idol’s temple. In those days, many temples had a dining area where meat left over from the sacrifice was eaten at a communal meal.

 

VERSE 11. And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

 

VERSE 12. Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

wounding their conscience. As we saw in verse 7 above, when they eat meat sacrificed to an idol, a Christian with a weak conscience will wrongly feel convicted of sin

 

VERSE 13. Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forever more, that I don’t cause my brother to stumble.

causes my brother to stumble. Many Christians use this expression to mean they will not exercise their legitimate freedoms, because they might tempt someone into trouble.

no meat forever more. If Christians were truly concerned about not leading other people into sin, they would become vegetarians.

 


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1 CORINTHIANS

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