Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/1 Corinthians/Chapter 8

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to: navigation, search
1 Corinthians 8:1-21 (New International Version)
Food Sacrificed To Idols

1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge.[a] Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God.

4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

7But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.


Explanation[edit]

Paraphrase[edit]

1 Introduces the matter of food sacrificed to idols: everyone possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up people; it makes people arrogant, it makes their ego bigger. Not everyone possesses love and love builds up oneself and others. 2 Someone who thinks they know something actually does not know anything because they do not have the knowledge of what they should know. What they should know is God but they are blinded by the knowledge of this world. 3 A man who loves God is known by God. God is love and recognizes those who love him.

4 Introduces the matter of eating food sacrificed to idols: An idol has no meaning in the world but on the other hand, there is only one God. 5 There could be so-called gods because there are many “gods” and many “lords”, they could be in heaven or they could be on earth. There are many “gods” and many “lords” for non-Christians. 6 But for Christians there is only one God, who is the Father, and he creates all things and we live for God. There is only one Lord for Christians, he is Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ we are able to live. We live through Christ, because he died on the cross for the sins of the world. People find spiritual life in Christ.

7 Not everyone knows that there is only one God and that through Jesus Christ we are able to live. There are people who eat food sacrificed to idols and that is all that they can think about is that it was sacrificed to idols, so their conscious is weakened more, and are impure. 8 Food does not bring us closer to God nor does it push us further away from God; we are no worse if we don’t eat food that is sacrificed to idols, and we are no better if we do eat food sacrificed to idols.

9 Be careful when you eat food sacrificed to idols so that when you eat this is not a stumbling block to others who are weak. A Christian’s practices should not make another fall in their faith. 10 If anyone, who has a weak conscious, sees you eating food sacrificed to idols in the idol’s temple and knows that you have the knowledge that there is only one God; he is encouraged by your doing to eat the same food. 11 This weak young brother in Christ is now destroyed by your knowledge. 12 Therefore when you sin against your brother in this way and weaken their conscious more, you sin against Christ. 13 If eating sacrificed food to idols causes your brother to sin, then do not eat that food anymore.

1 Corinthians 8 Detailed Content Outline[edit]

Schaub's 1Cor 8 outline 1.jpg

    • Schaub's 1Cor 8 outline 2.jpg

Key Words[edit]

1 Corinthians 8 (New International Version)

Food Sacrificed to Idols

1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge.[a] Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God.

4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

7But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

1 Corinthians 8 (The Message)

Freedom with Responsibility

1-3The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.

4-6Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there's nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don't add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It's true.

7In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It's just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn't everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn't that insensitive. We need to be sensitive to the fact that we're not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating "idol meat," and are sure that there's something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn't going to change overnight.

8-9But fortunately God doesn't grade us on our diet. We're neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can't stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.

10For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn't there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.

11-13Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn't you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn't really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn't worth it at the cost of even one of these "weak ones." So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there's any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.

1 Corinthians 8 (New King James Version)

Be Sensitive to Conscience

1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for 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 through whom we live.

7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Key Words:

Commended: The Message – verses 8-9; praise as worthy of confidence, notice

Command: NKJ – verse 8; to direct with specific authority, to be in charge; have authority.

Conscience: NIV – verses 7, 10; NKJ – verses 7, 10, 11; the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action. The knowledge derived from reflection on one’s past deeds (Harpercollins). This term occurs 30 times in the New Testament (Harpercollins). Paul apparently uses it in the sense of one’s knowledge or awareness of the nature of one’s own thoughts, motives, and actions; In reference to 1 Corinthians, Paul responds that conscience alone is an inadequate guide for Christian ethics (Harpercollins).

Defiled: NIV – verse 7; NKJ – verse 7; to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint; debase

Edifies: NKJ – verse 1;

Exercise: NIV – verse 9; bodily or mental exertion, something done or performed as a means of practice or training

Existence: The Message – verses 4-6; the state or fact of existing

Freedom: NIV – verse 9; The Message – verses 8-9, 10; exemption from external control, interference, regulation, the power to determine action without restraint

Humble: The Message – verses 1-3; not proud or arrogant; modest; courteously respectful. In the biblical word a value that directs persons to stay within their inherited social status, specifically by not presuming on others and avoiding even the appearance of lording over another (Harpercollins).

Idol(s): NIV – verses 1, 4, 7, 10; The Message – verses 1-3, 4-6; NKJ – verses 1, 4, 7, 10; an image of a deity other than God, an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed. An image or statue of a deity fashioned to be an object of worship (Harpercollins).

Knowledge: NIV – verses 1, 10; The Message – verses 7; NKJ – verses 1, 7, 10, 11; acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension. New Testament terminology uses Old Testament terminology; experience, emotion, and personal relationship along with intellectual understanding (Harpercollins).

Liberty: NKJ – verse 9; freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions. Is not merely freedom from past masters; it is also freedom for new obedience to God so complete that Paul can paradoxically speak of new bondage replacing the old, bondage to righteousness and God, which has as its consequence life, not death (Harpercollins).

Love: NIV – verses 1, 3; NKJ – verses 1, 4; a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; affectionate concern for the well-being of others. Paul’s perspective on love is that it is linked also with faith and hope; and is the primary term describing the result of faith both for the believer and community in Christ (Harpercollins).

Proud: The Message – verses 1-3; feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself; having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority

Reprimanded: The Message – verses 8-9; a severe reproof or rebuke

Sacrificed: NIV – verses 1, 4; the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage. Sacrifices were brought as gifts to God (Harpercollins). There were different types of offerings to show signs of worship: burnt offering, peace offering, sin offering

Vulnerable: The Message – verses 8-9; capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; open to moral attack, criticism, temptation

Definitions from dictionary.com and Harpercollins Bible Dictionary

Word Study: Because of different words used in different versions and/or translations of the Bible, the meaning of verses could be altered drastically or slightly. The meaning of the verse is to be as close to the original text as possible and to have the original meaning if possible.


Observations[edit]

1) What kind of knowledge does everyone possess?

2) If it is worldly knowledge that people possesses, then knowledge makes someone arrogant and makes them proud.

3) If it is heavenly knowledge that people possess, then this knowledge is love and it builds up other people.

4) When we love God, then we are known by God but love doesn’t stop there; people who love God show love to other people so that they model God.

5) The “we” mentioned in verse 4 is referring to the Corinthian Christians.

6) Why does Paul follow verse 4 in verse 5 with “For even if there are so-called gods…”? Is it because there were many gods in Corinth and he is just referring back to them to make a point?

7) Is God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ one?

8) Since God created all things including humans, we are supposed to live for Him; but we have a choice to live for him or not to live for him, a choice to live in love or to live in pride. 9) Not everyone knows that God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ is the one true God, and that is why there are idols.

10) What are some reasons that some believers have a weak conscience? a. The Commandments: have no other gods before me. b. The fear of loosing faith in God. c. These weak conscience people could know they have a weak conscience and so they have the fear of slipping into temptation. d. The food is sacrificed to idols so they don’t understand that eating or not eating this food doesn’t make you closer or further away from God.

11) How is eating sacrificed food a freedom?

12) This isn’t just applying to food. This applies to all aspects of life. Christians need to build one another up not tear each other down; so if doing something that could tempt a fellow Christian to sin, do not do what ever it is around that person or don’t just do it period because you never know who is watching.

13) Will he really be destroyed or is Paul talking about the person’s faith being weakened?

14) So as Christians we need to be careful in how we use the knowledge of our freedom in Christ Jesus to build fellow Christians up instead of destroying their faith.

15) Our goal is to help people find life in God not find sin.


Background Information[edit]

Historical Context[edit]

1 Corinthians is a private letter written by Paul to the Corithians Church. Paul’s writing in this letter was informal (Garland, 19). It was written from Ephesus probably before the Pentecost in 54 A.D. or 55 A.D. The purpose of 1 Corinthians was to be a substitute for his absence which encouraged them to change their behavior to one that glorifies God but it was also written as a warning (Garrand, 13-14). 1 Corinthians chapter 8 is the start of the dispute of food sacrificed to idols; this topic continues to chapter 11 verse 1. The problem was not just of eating food sacrificed to idols but was that this problem could lead to idolatry. Garland’s Structure to 1 Corinthians 8:

The dispute of food sacrificed to idols A. Introduction to the issue of idol food (8:1-6) B. Refutation of their practice because of its danger to fellow Christians (8:7-13)

The city of Corinth was heavily influenced by the Roman cultural values (Garland, 3). Corinth was a materialistic society, “the value which others place on one’s goods and achievements” (Garland, 4). The church in Corinth did not have a temple of any sort, instead they met in private homes at night, and partook of the body and blood of Jesus Christ (Garland, 10). This materialistic society had an effect on the attitude of the Christian church; wealthy members of the church started to compete for followers, and the ones who held worship in their households had a lot influence on fellow members (Garland, 6). The church of Corinth didn’t seem to be alienated socially and this could be because the church was still living by the secular culture. “The problem was not that the church was in Corinth but that too much of Corinth was in the church” (Garland, 6).

The major religious influence in Corinth was the imperial cult, and because of how the society worked, it was hard for the Corinthians to not be involved in other religious practices (Garland). Social gatherings normally always had a religious event taking place, and members of the church could have received invitations to banquets at a temple (Garland, 348; Conzelmann, 147). Garland calls Corinth a religious melting pot. A problem that occurred in Corinth with religious was that the Roman officials didn’t police private associations but they were upset when a religious action disturbed the peace and security of Corinth (Garland, 9).

Literary Context[edit]

1 Corinthians chapter 8 deals with the dispute of food sacrificed to idols. It discusses whether or not “strong” conscience Christians should eat or be involved with food sacrificed to idols because their actions are going to influence the “weak” conscience Christians. The strong conscience Christians were leading the weak conscience Christians into sin because the weak did not understand that God is the only opinion that matters. Eating or not eating food sacrificed to idols does not make a person better or less important in the eyes of God; this is what the weak did not understand. They ate idol food but were not yet fully convinced that this was permissible (Garland, 351). Paul strongly objected to the strong eating sacrificed idol food when there was a situation in which the weak could stumble, so he instructed the strong to restrict their freedom because of their bonds with their fellow Christians who are weak (Garland, 351). Not eating food sacrificed to idols to help the weak out is a way of showing love that is the knowledge talked about right at the beginning of Chapter 8 ( Conzelmann, 138).

In talking about knowledge, Paul mentions that all have knowledge; and that “all” is referring to the strong and the weak to show that there is an equal standing (Conzelmann, 140). Next he says that not all have knowledge (Conzelmann, 140). There is a difference between worldly knowledge and heavenly knowledge and some of worldly knowledge while others have heavenly knowledge and vice versa. The Corinthians’ knowledge is not sufficient even in the realm of objective statement; the formal knowledge of the fact that there is one God is not yet insight into the truth about the powers of the world (Conzelmann, 143).

In discussion of the “weak” and the “strong”, this is just referring to the state of a person’s conscience. The situation of the “weakness” of some people’s consciences creates a problem that neither the weak nor the strong can ignore (Conzelmann, 147). The strong cannot ignore the problem because their freedom could cause the weak to stumble in sin and the weak cannot ignore it because they need their consciences to grow stronger. The “weak” does not represent a position in society or class, it just simply means that a person has a weak conscience (Conzelmann, 147).

Implications[edit]

Reception[edit]

The original audience was the people in the church of Corinth. It was mainly written to the Christians with strong consciences because they were the ones who had an impact on the weak conscience Christians in the church. It still applies to strong conscience Christians in the same way.

Influence[edit]

The problem then was that Corinthian Christians were engaging in eating of food sacrificed to idols and this was controversial in that time. Eating of this food was viewed as idolatry and pagan sacrifices permeated all levels of Greek and Roman society (Gaebelein). But eating idol sacrificed food was hard to avoid because meat offered at pagan alters were divided up between the priest, offerer, and the sacrifice; but if the priest did not use his portion the meat ended up in the public market (Gaebelein).

Verses one through three talk about knowledge and love, everyone has knowledge but not everyone has love. Paul insists that what really matters is love, which builds up the community (Hays). Verses four through six discuss the meaning of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Idols have no meaning and whether you eat sacrificed food or not does not bring you closer to God or further away from God. Verses seven through thirteen deal with freedom to be exercised with care. Not everyone has the knowledge talked about in verses one through three so Christians need to be careful how, where, and when they exercise their freedom because they may lead people to sin. Gaebelein sums it up: “Speaking to the “strong” brother in verse twelve, Paul is saying, ‘If you cause the weak brothers to stumble into sin, you yourselves are sinning in a twofold way: (1) against your brothers and (2) against Christ in that you are wounding the conscience of those who belong to Christ.’” The knowledge Paul now speaks of is the perceptive knowledge regarding an idol and the existence and position of the “so-called gods” (Gaebelein).

Works Cited[edit]

Achtemeier, Paul J. Harpercollins Bible Dictionary. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1996.

Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979.

Garland, David E. 1 Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

Hays, Richard B. Interpretation A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville: John Knot Press, 1997.

Thiselton, Anthony C. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000.