The First to the Corinthians 8:1-13

8  Now concerning food offered to idols:+ We know we all have knowledge.+ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.+  If anyone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know it as he should know it.  But if anyone loves God, this one is known by him.  Now concerning the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing+ in the world* and that there is no God but one.+  For even though there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth,+ just as there are many “gods” and many “lords,”  there is actually to us one God,+ the Father,+ from whom all things are and we for him;+ and there is one Lord,+ Jesus Christ, through whom all things are+ and we through him.  However, not all have this knowledge.+ But some, because of their former association with the idol, eat food as something sacrificed to an idol,+ and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.+  But food will not bring us nearer to God;+ we are no worse off if we do not eat, nor better off if we eat.+  But keep watching that your right to choose does not somehow become a stumbling block to those who are weak.+ 10  For if anyone should see you who have knowledge having a meal in an idol temple, will not the conscience of that one who is weak be emboldened to the point of eating food offered to idols? 11  So by your knowledge the man who is weak is being ruined, your brother for whose sake Christ died.+ 12  When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience,+ you are sinning against Christ. 13  That is why if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat at all, so that I will not make my brother stumble.+

Footnotes

Or “nothing at all.”

Study Notes

concerning the eating of food offered to idols: The Greek expression rendered “food offered to idols” in this verse also occurs at Ac 15:29, where it is rendered “things sacrificed to idols.” However, the Greek term is broad and may include meat of a sacrifice actually used in a religious ceremony and meat that was left over from such a sacrifice. Here, Paul is referring to leftover meat that was sold to the public in a market. (1Co 10:25) In 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 and Romans 14, Paul was not granting Christians permission to share in acts of idolatry or in any feast honoring an idol. Rather, Paul was inspired to make allowance for simply eating, as an ordinary meal, meat that had been sold to the general public. Such meat from an idol temple was not unclean or defiled simply because of its origin.​—See study notes on 1Co 8:1; 10:25.

Eat whatever is sold in a meat market: “A meat market” (Greek, maʹkel·lon) sold not only meat and fish but other foods as well. Temples sometimes sold excess meat to merchants who might sell it in their stores. Meat sold at a market no longer had any “sacred” significance and was just as good as any other meat. Christians did not need to view meat that originated from a temple as bad in itself or as contaminated. They could simply buy it if it had been suitably drained of blood.​—See study notes on 1Co 8:1, 4.

Now concerning food offered to idols: In the first century C.E., Greeks and Romans offered animal sacrifices to idols. Parts of the animal were placed on the altar. A portion went to the priests and a portion went to the worshippers for a meal or a feast. However, leftovers of the meat were often sold in the “meat market.” (1Co 10:25) The Corinthian Christians had written to Paul, asking whether it was acceptable to eat such meat. (1Co 7:1a) Inspired by holy spirit, Paul helped them understand that to mature Christians, “an idol is nothing.” (1Co 8:4) Still, he advised Christians against going to an idol temple to eat meat. Eating at the pagan temple could give the wrong impression to spiritually weak observers, who might conclude that the Christian was worshipping the idol. Some of those weaker Christians might be stumbled or even be influenced to the point of eating meat during idolatrous religious ceremonies. (1Co 5:9, 10; 8:9, 10) That would be in direct violation of the governing body’s decree found at Ac 15:28, 29.​—See study notes on 1Co 8:4; 10:25.

Now concerning food offered to idols: In the first century C.E., Greeks and Romans offered animal sacrifices to idols. Parts of the animal were placed on the altar. A portion went to the priests and a portion went to the worshippers for a meal or a feast. However, leftovers of the meat were often sold in the “meat market.” (1Co 10:25) The Corinthian Christians had written to Paul, asking whether it was acceptable to eat such meat. (1Co 7:1a) Inspired by holy spirit, Paul helped them understand that to mature Christians, “an idol is nothing.” (1Co 8:4) Still, he advised Christians against going to an idol temple to eat meat. Eating at the pagan temple could give the wrong impression to spiritually weak observers, who might conclude that the Christian was worshipping the idol. Some of those weaker Christians might be stumbled or even be influenced to the point of eating meat during idolatrous religious ceremonies. (1Co 5:9, 10; 8:9, 10) That would be in direct violation of the governing body’s decree found at Ac 15:28, 29.​—See study notes on 1Co 8:4; 10:25.

Eat whatever is sold in a meat market: “A meat market” (Greek, maʹkel·lon) sold not only meat and fish but other foods as well. Temples sometimes sold excess meat to merchants who might sell it in their stores. Meat sold at a market no longer had any “sacred” significance and was just as good as any other meat. Christians did not need to view meat that originated from a temple as bad in itself or as contaminated. They could simply buy it if it had been suitably drained of blood.​—See study notes on 1Co 8:1, 4.

concerning the eating of food offered to idols: The Greek expression rendered “food offered to idols” in this verse also occurs at Ac 15:29, where it is rendered “things sacrificed to idols.” However, the Greek term is broad and may include meat of a sacrifice actually used in a religious ceremony and meat that was left over from such a sacrifice. Here, Paul is referring to leftover meat that was sold to the public in a market. (1Co 10:25) In 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 and Romans 14, Paul was not granting Christians permission to share in acts of idolatry or in any feast honoring an idol. Rather, Paul was inspired to make allowance for simply eating, as an ordinary meal, meat that had been sold to the general public. Such meat from an idol temple was not unclean or defiled simply because of its origin.​—See study notes on 1Co 8:1; 10:25.

many “gods”: The Christian Greek Scriptures use the same Greek term for God, the·osʹ (in singular, plural, masculine, and feminine), whether referring to pagan gods and goddesses or to the true God. (Ac 7:40; 14:11; 19:27, 37; Php 3:19) However, Jehovah is the almighty God, “one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him.” (1Co 8:6) Jehovah distinguishes himself from false gods by revealing his personal name. He rightfully requires exclusive devotion.​—Ex 20:4, 5.

Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: Or “Jehovah is our God; Jehovah is one,” or “Jehovah is our God; there is one Jehovah.” In the Hebrew text of De 6:4, quoted here, the word for “one” can imply being unique, the one and only. Jehovah is the only true God; no false gods can compare to him. (2Sa 7:22; Ps 96:5; Isa 2:18-20) In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites that their worship of Jehovah must be exclusive. They were not to follow the peoples around them, who worshipped various gods and goddesses. Some of those false gods were viewed as ruling over certain parts of nature. Others were separate forms of a particular deity. The Hebrew word for “one” also suggests unity and oneness of purpose and activity. Jehovah God is not divided or unpredictable. Rather, he is always faithful, consistent, loyal, and true. The discussion recorded at Mr 12:28-34 is referred to in all three of the synoptic Gospels, but only Mark includes the introductory part: “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” The commandment to love God follows this statement about Jehovah being one, indicating that his worshippers’ love for him must also be undivided.

one God: This expression echoes several statements in the Hebrew Scriptures regarding Jehovah’s uniqueness and his being the only true God. For example, at De 6:4, Moses states: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah”; at De 32:39, Moses recites Jehovah’s words: “There are no gods apart from me.”​—Isa 43:10, 11; 44:6; 45:6; see study note on Mr 12:29.

conscience: The Greek word sy·neiʹde·sis is drawn from the words syn (with) and eiʹde·sis (knowledge). Thus, the Greek term literally means “coknowledge” or “knowledge with oneself.” Here Paul explains that even a human who knows nothing about God’s laws has a conscience, that is, a capacity for looking at himself and rendering judgment about his own behavior. However, only a conscience that is trained by God’s Word and that is sensitive to God’s will can correctly judge matters. The Scriptures show that not all consciences operate properly. A person can have a conscience that is weak (1Co 8:12), one that is seared (1Ti 4:2), or one that is defiled (Tit 1:15). Regarding the operation of his conscience, Paul says: “My conscience bears witness with me in holy spirit.” (Ro 9:1) Paul’s goal was to “maintain a clear conscience before God and men.”​—Ac 24:16.

conscience: See study note on Ro 2:15.

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