1 Corinthians 8 – 2019-11-21
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1 CORINTHIANS 8 – COMMENTARY
“There was some controversy among the Corinthian Christians whether it was permissible to eat meat from animals used in pagan sacrifices. We might expect Paul to give a simple and clear-cut answer to this problem, for elsewhere in the New Testament there is a flat prohibition against eating such idol meat [Acts 15:28-29]… Paul does not render a simple judgment; instead he launches into a long and complex argument.”
“A full understanding of the principles and applications of chapter 8 must await the completion of Paul’s argument in chapters 9-10. By then it will be clear that an evangelistic principle of behaving in ways most likely to lead to other’s salvation is foundational to all that Paul says in these three chapters. But substantial initial progress can be made here. Three timeless principles dominate this chapter: what is safe for one Christian may not be for another; true discernment always requires love as well as knowledge; and believers have no right to demand certain freedoms if they in turn prove detrimental to those around them… 1 Corinthians 8 speaks to the gray areas of Christian living.”
v.1 “Rather than taking sides in the dispute, Paul seizes the occasion to challenge those with ‘knowledge’ to reconsider their actions on the basis of very different standards. He provisionally accepts the slogan that all have knowledge (v.1; but see v.7); nevertheless, he immediately suggests that knowledge is defective if it fails to build up the community in love. Knowledge ‘puffs up.’ […] Here in 8:1 the cause of this prideful puffing up is stated explicitly for the first time: gnosis can lead to arrogance.”
v.3 “The initiative in salvation comes from God, not from us. It is God who loves first, God who elects us and delivers us from the power of sin and death. Therefore what counts is not so much our knowledge of God as God’s knowledge of us. That is the syntax of salvation. The dominance of this syntax in Paul’s thought is shown in Galatians 4:9, when he commits an error of theological grammar and stops to correct himself in mid-sentence: ‘Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God.’ Anyone who understands that the logic of the gospel depends on God’s initiative will not become puffed up by the possession of knowledge.”
v.8 “The matter is indifferent. So, Paul thinks it is all right but not better if some, with clear moral consciousness, eat meat offered to idols; and it is all right, yes, even necessary, if others, with what he calls ‘weak conscience or consciousness,’ abstain.”
v.9-13 “The ‘weak conscience’ was not a poorly developed sense of morality or propriety, as modern use of the expression might often imply, but rather the over-scrupulous restrictions they placed on believers’ freedom in Christ. Their inner thoughts unnecessarily accused them and led to feelings of guilt or defilement.”
“[…]Christians should not behave in ways that lead each other into sin. Verse 9 provides the thesis statement for the paragraph. ‘Stumbling block’ and that which ‘causes [one] to fall into sin’ (v.13) are synonyms and help to explain each other. ‘The exercise of your freedom’ reads more literally ‘your authority’ or ‘your right.’ In short, verse 9 urges Christians not to demand their rights in ways that cause fellow Christians to sin.”
v.12 “Verse 12b gives the third reason for abstinence: to avoid sinning against Christ. As in Matthew 10:42 and 25:40, treatment of fellow Christians equals treatment of their Lord[…] When there is good reason to believe that exercising one’s freedom in amoral areas will actually lead a fellow Christian into sin, restraint is always right.”
v.13 “Paul concludes the chapter by encouraging each of the auditors to model his care, his love for others. But ingredient to the chapter is also a call to the stronger-in-faith believers to take their obligations as models more seriously. Modern believers should be more self-conscious about setting a good example in each and every decision and choice and action. Even if it had no effect on others, it would surely enrich our own faithful response to God. And who knows what use God might make of it in the eyes of someone who observes us?”
“How can we live up to the expectations of every weak conscience? We can’t. But Paul wants us to be sensitive to others. He was frustrated with his Corinthian opponents who trampled on the consciences of the weak. He wants us to be sympathetic to those whose faith might be hindered or destroyed by our freewheeling behavior.”
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 134.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 163-164.
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 137.
 Richard B. Hays, “1 Corinthians,” Interpretation (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1997) 138.
 Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 899.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 162-163.
 Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 163.
 Paul J. Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. X (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002) 902.
 Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 1640.
1 Corinthians 8:1-8 (ESV)
1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
4 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.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 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.
7 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. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
God [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]
Apply and obey [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]