1 Corinthians 8:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that "We all possess knowledge." But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

New Living Translation
Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that "we all have knowledge" about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

English Standard Version
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

Berean Study Bible
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Berean Literal Bible
Now concerning the things sacrificed to idols, we know indeed we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

New American Standard Bible
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.

King James Bible
Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Christian Standard Bible
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that "we all have knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Contemporary English Version
In your letter you asked me about food offered to idols. All of us know something about this subject. But knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others.

Good News Translation
Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols. It is true, of course, that "all of us have knowledge," as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
About food offered to idols: We know that "we all have knowledge." Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.

International Standard Version
Now concerning food offered to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

NET Bible
With regard to food sacrificed to idols, we know that "we all have knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

New Heart English Bible
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But concerning sacrifices, we know that knowledge is in all of us, and knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Now, concerning food offered to false gods: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds them up.

New American Standard 1977
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Now as concerning things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.

King James 2000 Bible
Now concerning things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

American King James Version
Now as touching things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.

American Standard Version
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.

Douay-Rheims Bible
NOW concerning those things that are sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth.

Darby Bible Translation
But concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know, (for we all have knowledge: knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

English Revised Version
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.

Webster's Bible Translation
Now as concerning things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Weymouth New Testament
Now as to things which have been sacrificed to idols. This is a subject which we already understand--because we all have knowledge of it. Knowledge, however, tends to make people conceited; it is love that builds us up.

World English Bible
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Young's Literal Translation
And concerning the things sacrificed to idols, we have known that we all have knowledge: knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up;
Study Bible
Food Sacrificed to Idols
1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The one who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.…
Cross References
Acts 15:20
Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood.

Romans 14:19
So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 15:14
I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, brimming with knowledge, and able to instruct one another.

1 Corinthians 4:6
Brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written. Then you will not take pride in one man over another.

1 Corinthians 8:4
So about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world, and that there is no God but one.

1 Corinthians 8:7
But not everyone has this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that they eat such food as if it were sacrificed to an idol. And since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.

1 Corinthians 8:10
For if someone with a weak conscience sees you who are well informed eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged to eat food sacrificed to idols?

1 Corinthians 10:15
I speak to reasonable people; judge for yourselves what I say.

Treasury of Scripture

Now as touching things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies.


1 Corinthians 8:10 For if any man see you which have knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple…

1 Corinthians 10:19-22,28 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered …

Numbers 25:2 And they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods: and the …

Acts 15:10,19,20,29 Now therefore why tempt you God, to put a yoke on the neck of the …

Acts 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded …

Revelation 2:14,20 But I have a few things against you, because you have there them …

we are.

1 Corinthians 8:2,4,7,11 And if any man think that he knows any thing, he knows nothing yet …

1 Corinthians 1:5 That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance, and …

1 Corinthians 4:10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ; we are …

1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, …

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers, be not children in understanding: however, in malice be …

1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge …

Romans 14:14,22 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing …

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and …


1 Corinthians 4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

1 Corinthians 5:2,6 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that …

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs …

Isaiah 5:21 Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Isaiah 47:10 For you have trusted in your wickedness: you have said, None sees …

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, …

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but …

Romans 14:3,10 Let not him that eats despise him that eats not; and let not him …


1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not …

Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that …


(1) Now as touching things offered unto idols.--A new subject is here introduced, and occupies the whole of this chapter. In Corinth and other cities meat was offered for sale which had been used for sacrificial purposes in the heathen temples, having been sold to the dealers by the priests, who received a large share of the sacrifices for themselves, or by the individuals who offered them, and had more remaining of their own share than they could use themselves. Thus, a Christian might unconsciously eat of meat, either at the house of a friend (see 1Corinthians 10:27) or by purchasing it himself in the public shambles, which had been previously brought in contact by sacrificial usage with an idol. There were some in Corinth who felt no scruple on the subject. An idol was nothing in their opinion. It could neither consecrate nor pollute that which was offered in its temple. Such Christians would, to show how completely and effectively their Christianity had dispelled all their previous heathen superstition, buy meat without caring whence it came, partake of a heathen friend's hospitality, regardless of what use the meat had been put to, and even join in a repast held in the outer court of a heathen temple (1Corinthians 8:10), where the meat would almost certainly be what had been saved after the sacrifice. That St. Paul would have done so himself, so far as his own personal feelings alone were concerned, we can scarcely doubt. To him, therefore, those who acted upon his authority appealed upon this subject.

There were others at Corinth, however, who felt some scruples upon the subject. There were heathen converts who had not completely got rid of every vestige of the old superstition, or whose conscience would accuse them of not having wholly given up idolatry if they took any part even in its social aspect: for many social acts, as well as purely religious ceremonies, were in the heathen mind included in acts of worship. And there were Jews, the intensity of whose traditional hatred of idolatry could not allow them to regard as "nothing" that against which Jehovah had uttered His most terrible denunciations, and against which He had preserved their race as a living witness.

To both these sections of the Church the conduct of the more liberal party would prove a serious stumbling-block. The argument used by those who asked St. Paul's advice was evidently that the Christians have knowledge enough to feel that an idol is nothing, and that, therefore. there can be no harm in partaking of what has been offered to "nothing." "We know," says St. Paul, in reply, taking up the words of their own letter, "we know that we all have knowledge: we know that an idol is nothing." The last clause of 1Corinthians 8:1 and 1Corinthians 8:2-3 form a parenthesis; and in 1Corinthians 8:4 the opening words of 1Corinthians 8:1 are repeated, and the line of thought which this parenthesis interrupted is again resumed.

Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.--Those who grounded everything on knowledge are reminded parenthetically that knowledge by itself may have a bad effect, and also (1Corinthians 8:2-3) that there is an element in the consciousness of our knowledge which destroys the truth and purity of that knowledge itself. Knowledge puffs up the man himself. Love builds up the whole Church. The word "edify" has now only a moral significance. Originally it could be applied to moral conduct only figuratively. The substantive "edifice" has retained its original literal meaning. In Spenser "edify" is used in its literal sense; and in Hakluyt's Travels (1553) the "edification" of the castle of Corfu is mentioned. The use made by St. Paul of this figure is of some importance. The word is used only by St. Paul, and once by St. Luke (Acts 9:31), and the idea which it conveys is not so much the improvement of the individual as the building-up of the whole Christian edifice. We have come to speak of an "edifying discourse" if it helps the individual. St. Paul would have spoken of an "edifying work" if it built up the Church. "We are sometimes too apt to treat Christianity as if it were monolithic" (Howson). (See 1Corinthians 12:19; 1Corinthians 14:3; 1Corinthians 14:5; 1Corinthians 14:12; 1Corinthians 14:17; Ephesians 4:12-16; 1Thessalonians 5:11.) It is worth noting that the word used in the original in Hebrews 3:3-4; Hebrews 9:11, is quite different from the word employed, here and elsewhere, by St. Paul.

Verses 1-13. - The relation of lore to knowledge with respect to the question of eating idol offerings. Verse 1. - As touching things offered unto idols. This was doubtless one of the questions on which the Corinthians had asked for advice. We judge from the tone of the questions to which St. Paul here replies that the majority of the Corinthians, being liberal in their views, held that it was a matter of perfect indifference to eat idol offerings; and that, in acting upon this conviction, they contemptuously overrode the convictions of those who could not help thinking that when they did so they committed a sin. The practical decision of the question was one of immense importance. If it were unlawful under any circumstances to eat idol offerings, then the Gentile convert was condemned to a life of Levitism almost as rigorous as that of the Jew. The distinction between clean and unclean meats formed an insuperable barrier between Jews and Gentiles. Wherever they lived, Jews required a butcher of their own, who had been trained in the rules and ceremonies which enabled him to decide and to ensure that all the meat which they ate should be clean (tahor), not unclean (tame). They could touch no meat which was not certified as free from legal blemish or ceremonial pollution by the affixed leaden seal on which was engraved the word "lawful" (kashar). But Gentiles had always been accustomed to buy meat in the markets. Now, much of this meat consisted of remnants of animals slain as sacrifices, after the priests had had their share. So completely was this case, that the word "to sacrifice" had come to mean "to kill" in Hellenistic Greek. Theophrastus, in his 'Moral Sketches,' defines the close-handed man as one who, at his daughter's wedding feast, sells all the victims offered except the sacred parts; and the shameless person as one who, after offering a sacrifice, salts the victim for future use, and goes out to dine with someone else. The market was therefore stocked with meat which had been connected with idol sacrifices. The Christian could never be sure about any meat which he bought if he held it wrong to partake of these offerings. Further than this, he would - especially if he were poor - feel it a great privation to be entirely cut off from the public feasts (sussitia), which perhaps were often his only chance of eating meat at all; and also to be forbidden to take a social meal with any of his Gentile neighbours or relatives. The question was therefore a "burning" one. It involved much of the comfort and brightness of ancient social life (Thucydides, 2:38; Aristotle, 'Eth.,' 7:9, § 5; Cicero, 'Off.,' 2:16; Livy, 8:32, etc.). It will be seen that St. Paul treats it with consummate wisdom and tenderness. His liberality of thought shows itself in this - that he sides with those who took the strong, the broad, the common sense view, that sin is not a mechanical matter, and that sin is not committed where no sin is intended. He neither adopts the ascetic view nor does he taunt the inquirers with the fact that the whole weight of their personal desires and interests would lead them to decide the question in their own favour. On the other hand, he has too deep a sympathy with the weak to permit their scruples to be overruled with a violence which would wound their consciences. While he accepts the right principle of Christian freedom, he carefully guards against its abuse. It might have been supposed that, as a Jew, and one who had been trained as a "Pharisee of Pharisees," St. Paul would have sided with those who forbade any participation in idol offerings. Jewish rabbis referred to passages like Exodus 34:15; Numbers 25:2; Psalm 106:28; Daniel 1:8; Tobit 1:10, 11. Rabbi Ishmael, in 'Avoda Zara,' said that a Jew might not even go to a Gentile funeral, even if he took with him his own meat and his own servants. The law of the drink offering forbids a Jew to drink of a cask if anyone has even touched a goblet drawn from it with the presumed intention of offering little to the gods. Besides this, the Synod of Jerusalem had mentioned the eating of idol offerings as one of the four things which they forbade to Gentile converts, who were only bound by the Noachian precepts (Acts 15:29). But St. Paul judged the matter independently by his own apostolic authority. The decision of the synod had only had a local validity trod was inapplicable to such a community as that of Corinth. St. Paul had to suffer cruel misrepresentation and bitter persecution as the consequence of this breadth of view (Acts 21:21-24); but that would not be likely to make him shrink from saying the truth. This treatment of the subject closely resembles that which he subsequently adopted in Romans 14. We know that we all have knowledge. It is very probable that this is a semi-ironical quotation of the somewhat conceited remark which had occurred in the letter from Corinth. No doubt there was a sense in which it might (theoretically) be regarded as true; but it was St. Paul's duty both to disparage this kind of knowledge and to show that, after all, there were some among them who did not possess it (ver. 7). Knowledge puffeth up. The brief energetic clause, "Knowledge puffeth up; love buildeth up," shows the strong feeling with which the apostle enters on the discussion. There is a wide distance between theoretic knowledge and heavenly wisdom (James 3:13-18). "He who is full is rich; he who is puffed up is empty" (Stanley). "The first person puffed up was the devil" (Beza). Charity edifieth. There is no reason whatever for the rendering of ἀγαπὴ sometimes by "love," sometimes by "charity." The fondness for variation which led King James's translators to do so only obscures the identity of thought which prevails among all the apostles respecting the absolute primacy of love as the chief sphere and test of the Christian life. Edifieth. Helps to build us up as stones in the spiritual temple (ch. 3:9; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:12). "If because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love" (Romans 14:15). Now as touching things offered unto idols,.... This was another of the things the Corinthians wrote to the apostle about, desiring to have his judgment in; it was a controversy that had been before moved, whether it was lawful to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols. This was considered in the council at Jerusalem, Acts 15:28 and it was agreed to, for the peace of the churches, that the Gentiles, among other things, be advised to abstain from them; which, it seems, the church at Corinth knew nothing of, for the controversy was now moved among them: some that were weak in the faith, and had not, at least, clear notions of Gospel liberty, thought it very criminal and sinful to eat them; others that had, or boasted they had, more knowledge, would not only eat them privately at home, having bought them of the Heathen priests, or in the common meat markets, where they were exposed to sale, and at public feasts, to which they were invited by their friends; but would even go into an idol's temple, and sit and eat them there, to the great grief and prejudice of weak Christians; and what they had to plead in their own defence was their knowledge, to which the apostle here replies:

we know that we all have knowledge; said either affirmatively and seriously; and the meaning is, that the apostles and other Christians knew, and were conscious to themselves of their light and knowledge, and were assured, and might affirm with confidence, that they all, or the most part, only some few excepted, see 1 Corinthians 8:7 had the same knowledge of Christian liberty as they had; knew that an idol was nothing, and that eating meats offered to them could not defile, or do them any hurt; for they were very sensible there was nothing common or unclean of itself, and yet did not think fit to make use of their knowledge to the grieving and wounding of their fellow Christians: or else this is said ironically, we are wise folks; you particularly are men of knowledge, and wisdom will die with you; you know that you know; you are very knowing in your own conceits, and very positive as to your knowledge. It was the saying of Socrates, that that this one thing he knew, that he knew nothing; but men wise in their own opinions know everything:

knowledge puffeth up; not true knowledge; not that which comes from above, which is gentle and easy to be entreated; not sanctified knowledge, or that which has the grace of God going along with it; that makes men humble, and will not suffer them to be puffed up one against another; but a mere show of knowledge, knowledge in conceit, mere notional and speculative knowledge, that which is destitute of charity or love:

but charity edifieth; that is, a man that has knowledge, joined with love to God, and his fellow Christians, will seek for that which makes for the edification of others; and without this all his knowledge will be of no avail, and he himself be nothing. CHAPTER 8

1Co 8:1-13. On Partaking of Meats Offered to Idols.

1. Though to those knowing that an idol has no existence, the question of eating meats offered to idols (referred to in the letter of the Corinthians, compare 1Co 7:1) might seem unimportant, it is not so with some, and the infirmities of such should be respected. The portions of the victims not offered on the altars belonged partly to the priests, partly to the offerers; and were eaten at feasts in the temples and in private houses and were often sold in the markets; so that Christians were constantly exposed to the temptation of receiving them, which was forbidden (Nu 25:2; Ps 106:28). The apostles forbade it in their decree issued from Jerusalem (Ac 15:1-29; 21:25); but Paul does not allude here to that decree, as he rests his precepts rather on his own independent apostolic authority.

we know that we all have knowledge—The Corinthians doubtless had referred to their "knowledge" (namely, of the indifference of meats, as in themselves having no sanctity or pollution). Paul replies, "We are aware that we all have [speaking generally, and so far as Christian theory goes; for in 1Co 8:7 he speaks of some who practically have not] this knowledge."

Knowledge puffeth up—when without "love." Here a parenthesis begins; and the main subject is resumed in the same words, 1Co 8:4. "As concerning [touching] therefore the eating," etc. "Puffing up" is to please self. "Edifying" is to please one's neighbor; Knowledge only says, All things are lawful for me; Love adds, But all things do not edify [Bengel], (1Co 10:23; Ro 14:15).

edifieth—tends to build up the spiritual temple (1Co 3:9; 6:19).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.
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