| Back to Home Page | Back to Book Index |


1 Corinthians Chapter Eight


1 Corinthians 8

After this the apostle answers the question respecting meats offered to idols, which gives occasion to a few words on the value of knowledge. Simply as knowledge, it is worth nothing. If we look at it as knowledge that we possess, it does but puffs us up; it is something in me, my knowledge. True christian knowledge unfolded something in God. By means of that which is revealed, God, better known, became greater to the soul. It was in Him the thing known, and not a knowledge in me by which I made myself greater. He who loves God is known of Him. As to the question itself, love decided it. Since such a question had arisen, it was evident that all consciences were not brought into full light by spiritual intelligence. Now undoubtedly the idol was nothing: there was but one God, the Father; and one Lord, Jesus Christ. But if he who was strong sat at meat in the idol's temple, another who had not full light would be encouraged to do the same, and his conscience would be unfaithful and defiled. Thus I lead into sin,and, as far as depends on me, I ruin a brother for whom Christ died. I sin against Christ Himself in so doing. Thus, if meat causes a brother to stumble, let me altogether abstain from it rather than be a snare to him. Here the apostle treats the question as arising among the brethren, so as that which regards the conscience of each, choosing to maintain in all its force that in fact an idol was nothing but a piece of wood or stone. It was important to set the question on this ground. The prophets had done so before. But this was not all that there was to say. There was the working of Satan and of wicked spirits to explain, and this he does further on.

We may remark in passing the expression, "To us there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ." The apostle does not here treat the abstract question of the Lord's divinity, but the connection of men with that which was above them in certain relationships. Pagans had many gods, and many lords, intermediate beings. Not so Christians. For them is the Father abiding in the absoluteness of the divinity, and Christ who, become man, has taken the place and the relationship of Lord towards us. The position, and not the nature, is the subject. It is the same thing in chapter 12:2-6, where the contrast is with the multitude of spirits whom the Pagans knew, and the number of gods and lords. Nevertheless every one was not, in fact, thus delivered from the influence of false gods on his imagination. They were still perhaps, in spite of himself, something to him. He had conscience of the idol, and if he ate that which had been offered to it, it was not to him simply that which God had given for food. The idea of the existence of a real and powerful being had a place in his heart, and thus his conscience was defiled. Now they were not better in God's sight for having eaten, and by eating they had put a stumbling block in their brother's way, and, so far as the act of those who had full light was concerned, had ruined him by defiling his conscience and estranging him from God in unfaithfulness. This was sinning against Christ, who had died for that precious soul. If God intervened to shield him from the result of this unfaithfulness, that in nowise diminished the sin of him who led the weak one to act against his conscience. In itself that which separates us from God ruins us in that which regards our responsibility. Thus he who has the love of Christ in his heart would rather never eat meat than do that which would make a brother unfaithful, and tend to ruin a soul which Christ has redeemed.

── John DarbySynopsis of 1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 8

Chapter Contents

The danger of having a high conceit of knowledge. (1-6) The mischief of offending weak brethren. (7-13)

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:1-6

(Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-6)

There is no proof of ignorance more common than conceit of knowledge. Much may be known, when nothing is known to good purpose. And those who think they know any thing, and grow vain thereon, are the least likely to make good use of their knowledge. Satan hurts some as much by tempting them to be proud of mental powers, as others, by alluring to sensuality. Knowledge which puffs up the possessor, and renders him confident, is as dangerous as self-righteous pride, though what he knows may be right. Without holy affections all human knowledge is worthless. The heathens had gods of higher and lower degree; gods many, and lords many; so called, but not such in truth. Christians know better. One God made all, and has power over all. The one God, even the Father, signifies the Godhead as the sole object of all religious worship; and the Lord Jesus Christ denotes the person of Emmanuel, God manifest in the flesh, One with the Father, and with us; the appointed Mediator, and Lord of all; through whom we come to the Father, and through whom the Father sends all blessings to us, by the influence and working of the Holy Spirit. While we refuse all worship to the many who are called gods and lords, and to saints and angels, let us try whether we really come to God by faith in Christ.

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

(Read 1 Corinthians 8:7-13)

Eating one kind of food, and abstaining from another, have nothing in them to recommend a person to God. But the apostle cautions against putting a stumbling-block in the way of the weak; lest they be made bold to eat what was offered to the idol, not as common food, but as a sacrifice, and thereby be guilty of idolatry. He who has the Spirit of Christ in him, will love those whom Christ loved so as to die for them. Injuries done to Christians, are done to Christ; but most of all, the entangling them in guilt: wounding their consciences, is wounding him. We should be very tender of doing any thing that may occasion stumbling to others, though it may be innocent in itself. And if we must not endanger other men's souls, how much should we take care not to destroy our own! Let Christians beware of approaching the brink of evil, or the appearance of it, though many do this in public matters, for which perhaps they plead plausibly. Men cannot thus sin against their brethren, without offending Christ, and endangering their own souls.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 8

Verse 1

[1] Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Now concerning the next question you proposed.

All of us have knowledge — A gentle reproof of their self-conceit. Knowledge without love always puffeth up. Love alone edifies - Builds us up in holiness.

Verse 2

[2] And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

If any man think he knoweth any thing — Aright, unless so far he is taught by God.

He knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know — Seeing there is no true knowledge without divine love.

Verse 3

[3] But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

He is known — That is, approved, by him. Psalms 1:6.

Verse 4

[4] As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

We know that an idol is nothing — A mere nominal god, having no divinity, virtue, or power.

Verse 5

[5] For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

For though there be that are called gods — By the heathens both celestial, (as they style them,) terrestrial, and infernal deities.

Verse 6

[6] But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Yet to us — Christians.

There is but one God — This is exclusive, not of the One Lord, as if he were an inferior deity; but only of the idols to which the One God is opposed.

From whom are all things — By creation, providence, and grace.

And we for him — The end of all we are, have, and do.

And one Lord — Equally the object of divine worship.

By whom are all things — Created, sustained, and governed.

And we by him — Have access to the Father, and all spiritual blessings.

Verse 7

[7] Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

Some eat, with consciousness of the idol — That is, fancying it is something, and that it makes the meat unlawful to be eaten.

And their conscience, being weak — Not rightly informed.

Is defiled — contracts guilt by doing it.

Verse 8

[8] But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

But meat commendeth us not to God — Neither by eating, nor by refraining from it. Eating and not eating are in themselves things merely indifferent.

Verse 10

[10] For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

For if any one see thee who hast knowledge — Whom he believes to have more knowledge than himself, and who really hast this knowledge, that an idol is nothing-sitting down to an entertainment in an idol temple. The heathens frequently made entertainments in their temples, on what hath been sacrificed to their idols.

Will not the conscience of him that is weak — Scrupulous.

Be encouraged — By thy example.

To eat — Though with a doubting conscience.

Verse 11

[11] And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? — And for whom thou wilt not lose a meal's meat, so far from dying for him! We see, Christ died even for them that perish.

Verse 12

[12] But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

Ye sin against Christ — Whose members they are.

Verse 13

[13] Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

If meat — Of any kind. Who will follow this example? What preacher or private Christian will abstain from any thing lawful in itself, when it offends a weak brother?

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 Corinthians


Chapter 8. Food Sacrificed to Idols

No Worse If We Do Not Eat
No Better If We Eat

I. Love Builds Up

  1. With Love
  2. Not With Knowledge
  3. Love God Undistractedly

II. Idols are Not Real God

  1. Know the Idols
  2. God Creates All Things
  3. Eat on Account of Knowledge

III. Sympathize with the Weak

  1. The Weak conscience
  2. To Compromise for Brothers
  3. Refrain from Eating out of Love
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Eight General Review
1) To see the relationship between knowledge and love
2) To understand how we might misuse the liberty we have in Christ
3) To realize the responsibility we have to our brethren who may be
   weak or lacking in knowledge
In this chapter and the two to follow, Paul addresses the matter of 
Christians eating things that had been sacrificed to idols.  Though in 
the tenth chapter he will conclude with specific warnings concerning 
this issue (10:18-33), he begins by arguing on the basis of the 
supremacy of love over knowledge (1-3).  While concurring that some 
might have correct knowledge about God and idols, he points out that 
all might not, and it would be very easy by an abuse of "liberty" to 
cause those with weak consciences to stumble (4-10).  Such would be a 
serious offense, even against Christ, prompting Paul to say how far he 
would go to avoid causing a brother to stumble (11-13).
      1. Knowledge puffs up, while love edifies (1)
      2. Knowledge can lead one to think he knows more than he really
         does (2)
      3. While he who loves God is known by Him (3)
      1. Knowledge concurs that an idol is nothing, and that there is
         only one God and one Lord (4-6a)
      2. For Christians that means the Father, and Jesus Christ (6b)
      1. Some eat things that were offered to idols with consciousness
         of the idol (7a)
      2. In so doing, they defile their weak consciences (7b)
      1. Food or the lack of it does not effect our relationship with
         God (8)
      2. But if we are not careful, our liberty concerning food can
         become a stumblingblock to others (9)
      1. Through improper exercise of knowledge and liberty, our 
         example might encourage others to violate their weak
         conscience (10)
      2. Through improper exercise of knowledge and liberty, we may
         cause others to perish, which is a sin against Christ! (11-12)
      1. If food makes his brother to stumble, he will never again eat
         meat (13a)
      2. Lest he make his brother stumble (13b)
1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Knowledge, Love, And Eating Things Offered To Idols (1-7)
   - Applying Love Toward Those Whose Consciences Are Weak (8-13)
2) What is the danger of knowledge? (1)
   - It can lead to being "puffed up" or arrogant
3) What is the power of love? (1)
   - It can build another person up
4) What attribute is important in regards to knowledge? (2)
   - Humility
5) How can one abuse their liberty in Christ? (9-11)
   - By allowing their example to encourage others whose consciences
     are weak to do that which would violate their consciences (even in
     matters that are lawful in of themselves)
6) What happens if we sin against our brothers? (12)
   - We sin against Christ!
7) How far should we be willing to go out of consideration for our
   brethren who are weak in faith? (13)
   - Even if it means to restrict what liberty we might have in Christ!


--《Executable Outlines


Food Sacrificed to Idols

No Worse If We Do Not Eat

No Better If We Eat


I.  Love Builds Up

1.    With Love

2.    Not With Knowledge

3.    Love God Undistractedly

II.Idols Are Not Real God

1.    Know the Idols

2.    God Creates All Things

3.    Eat on Account of Knowledge

III.       Sympathize with the Weak

1.    The Weak Conscience

2.    To Compromise for Brothers

3.    Refrain from Eating out of Love

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament