Summary: The Corinthians were divided over the question of whether it was permissible to eat meat that had been previously offered to an idol. Paul agreed with those who thought it was permissible, since idols were nothing as far as having any real power.
Christian Freedom and the Weak Brother - Part 1 (series: Lessons on 1 Corinthians)
January 10, 2013
Lessons on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Lesson 7.2: Christian Freedom and the Weak Brother
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8.7-13
1 Cor 8.7-13 (KJV)
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 is defiled.
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.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
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;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
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.
The Corinthians were divided over the question of whether it was permissible to eat meat that had been previously offered to an idol. Paul agreed with those who thought it was permissible, since idols were nothing as far as having any real power. However, he urged the more mature believers to avoid offending those whose conscience was bothered by the practice. They should relate to those weaker believers on the basis of love, not on the basis of their superior knowledge—“Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don't get into an argument over differences of opinion” (Romans 14:1; GW). The bottom line was that they were to be a help, rather than a hindrance, to these less mature Christians.
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.
Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge:
Moffatt’s New Testament version has rendered the verse thus: “But remember, it is not everyone who has this 'knowledge.' Some who have hitherto been accustomed to idols eat the food as food which has been really offered to an idol, and so their weaker conscience is contaminated” (1 Cor 8:7; MOFF). The great mass of the heathen world did regard the dumb idols as the proper objects of worship, and supposed that they were inhabited by invisible spirits. Barnes declared that "Although the more intelligent heathen put no confidence in them, yet the effect of the great masses was the same as if they had had a real existence." But here the apostle is not speaking about Heathens, who know little or nothing of the one true God, and of the one Lord Jesus; he is speaking of most Christians, who understood these things, but there were still some who did not. They knew that an idol was nothing, since they knew that an idol was not God, and had no true deity in it, and that it was not a true representation of God, since no one had ever seen God; nevertheless, they imagined that it had an influence upon food that was offered to it, which defiled it, and rendered it unclean, so that it should not be eaten. And since there were such uninformed persons that were so ignorant and weak, it became necessary for those who had more knowledge to take care not to lay stumbling blocks in their way; that is, not to eat meat which might have been offered to idols.
This is said in reference to what was said in 1 Corinthians 8.4: “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.” Though they were converts to Christianity, they were not entirely cured of their heathen opinions and superstitious feelings, since they retained a certain respect for the idols they had worshipped before. Note, “Weak Christians may be ignorant, or they may be confused in their understanding of even the simple truths of Christianity.” Paul was aware that there were those that had turned from heathenism to Christianity among the Corinthians, who seemed to have retained a respect for their idols that lead them to believe that the idol did have an effect on the sacrifice. When they had an opportunity to eat meat offered to an idol they ate it, in order to testify to their abhorrence of idolatry; but because their conscience was weak, it was defiled-They felt guilty; that they were made foul, dirty, or unclean; polluted; tainted; debased.