Food Offered to Idols
8 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
1 Corinthians 8 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”1 Corinthians 8:9
Knowledge brings actions but those should be based on love. This is what Paul is making a point of concerning the food sacrificed to idols and if it was okay or not for the Corinthian church to eat such meat.
Peeling back the culture of ancient times, Corinth was a pagan city filled with temples and idol worship. Meat was sacrificed to these gods and divided into 3 different portions. One of these was burnt before the god as a sacrifice, another portion was given to the worshiper themselves and the final third was given to the priest. If he did not want to eat this he sold it to a restaurant or meat market. This meat was usually at a cut-rate to the general public.
It was seemingly a dilemma for the Believers in Corinth as on some levels it saved money in the pocketbook but also if invited to someone’s home, you never knew for sure where that meat came from. So, was it sinful to eat the meat offered to a false god? It’s an interesting cultural issue that really transcends time. Although our issue does not deal with the eating of meat, it certainly does address issues of today that people have convictions about things they feel is absolutely wrong to partake in and others feel there is freedom.
Skipping initially the answer to this question, Paul sets the stage with the issue of knowledge and love. Both of these have an effect on our choices. Simply put, our knowledge and carried out decisions as to what we do should on some instances go beyond what we believe to be right or wrong but how it affects other Believers, specifically weaker ones or new ones to the faith.
The Corinthian Believers knew that idols were nothing and so consequently eating the meat meant nothing. But this was becoming a stumbling block for other Believers who felt it was wrong. In essence, Paul challenges the more mature Believer to consider how their freedom and true knowledge of this affected others. Paul takes it back to our love needing to be evident in decisions and not letting our own freedom of things today cause someone else to fall down.
We each have our convictions. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and presses these in upon us. The reality is what I feel is okay and another believes may be different on a few topics. Paul’s admonition is to keep in mind and base our actions on love of other Believers rather than knowledge.
1 Corinthians 8 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Knowledge can be like a puffer fish. It puffs us up into a state where our thorny exterior rips the flesh of others.
Using food as an example, Paul illustrates that Christians who put an emphasis on knowledge within their relationships risk creating a stumbling block to fellow believers.
Food, however, will not improve our relation with God; we shall not lose anything if we do not eat, nor shall we gain anything if we do eat. 9 Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin.1 Corinthians 8:8-9 GNB
Early in my walk with Jesus, I held a Bible study at my house with a few guys in college. At the time, there were three guys coming regularly, and we dug deep into Scripture. Some days we would look into the interpretation of passages and other days a passage would start a conversation about life. It was authentic and raw and I saw a great deal of life change happening through it.
One afternoon, we dug into a controversial passage and sparked a theological debate over Arminianism and Calvinism. It’s the age-old debate over the relationship between God’s sovereignty and our own free will. The debate started to get heated as one of the college students continued to challenge my belief. We argued ourselves into a shouting match. He started crying. To my shame, I had failed Paul’s instruction here in 1 Cor 8. Worse than that, I had shamed Jesus by placing knowledge above love.
And so this weak person, your brother for whom Christ died, will perish because of your “knowledge”! 12 And in this way you will be sinning against Christ by sinning against other Christians and wounding their weak conscience.1 Corinthians 8:11-12 GNB
This happens all the time, right? It’s especially true of social media… the dumpster of presumptuous knowledge. What’s really embarrassing for me is the effect that this argument had on my Christian character. I had not only caused one to stumble, but I had damaged my witness with these two other guys. Thankfully, we apologized and are still friends today, but Paul’s warning here is very relevant.
Spiritual knowledge was given in order to love and serve others – not shame them. We must be careful not to cause others to stumble in our pursuit of knowledge!
“Many persons cover a spirit of envy and uncharitableness with the name of godly zeal and tender concern for the salvation of others; they find fault with all; their spirit is a spirit of universal censoriousness; none can please them; and every one suffers by them. These destroy more souls by tithing mint and cummin, than others do by neglecting the weightier matters of the law. Such persons have what is termed, and very properly too, sour godliness.”Adam Clarke