Short chapter which speaks to our liberty and the weakness of conscience of others.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Paul acknowledges that the Corinthian Christians knew idols weren’t real and that food offered to them wasn’t affected in any way. But he reminds them that knowledge isn’t always the primary goal. It can cause pride while love edifies others. Besides, no one knows everything.
7 “…for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol…”
Some of the new Christians who came out of idol worship, don’t know any differently than before they were Christians. They may still think that eating food offered to idols in some way imparts power to the consumer.
10 “…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”
The weaker brother may match the action of those with knowledge, even though he still thinks that eating is wrong. He would be encouraged to go against what He believes is right.
11 “…shall the weak brother perish…”
Commentary wasn’t much help here. If we’re talking about fellow Christians, then perish can’t refer to dying without Christ. Eating meat offered to idols, even if it violates your conscience, won’t undo anyone’s salvation. Perish could refer to proper growth as a Christian. Doing things against one’s conscience could hinder that growth and prevent someone from reaching their potential in Christ. Also, not to read anything into this that isn’t there, but the thought comes to mind, those who aren’t Christian won’t see the difference. Christians eating will look just like idol worshippers. They may miss out on the news of Christ as they wouldn’t see any gain to being a Christian.
13 “…if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat…”
Paul’s point. Concern for a brother in Christ, and for others as well, is more important that exercising our freedom as Christians. It’s impossible to live and not offend someone, but love and concern for others should be our guiding principle.
1 Corinthians 9:4 “Do we have no right to eat and drink?”
Paul continues to explain how we don’t use our freedom as a stumbling block to others. He lists his own freedom and authority as an apostle and how he hasn’t used it to his advantage as an example.
3-18 Paul gives many examples of how his authority as an apostle and his calling as a teacher for Christ would give him freedom to partake materially from the churches. But he chooses not to in order to make sure he does nothing to hinder the gospel.
18 “What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.”
23 “…this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you”
24 “…Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”
Paul was totally committed to what God had called him to do. All of his activity was geared toward spreading the gospel and teaching others about Christ. We don’t have to be called to be apostles as Paul was, but we can be just as devoted to Christ and the gospel. We need to keep the prize before us and work each day to reach it.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.