1 Corinthians 8:13
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
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(13) Wherefore.—He states his own solemn determination, arising from the considerations which have just been urged. If a matter of food cause a brother to fall in his Christian course, I will certainly never again eat any kind of flesh, lest I should be the cause of so making him to fall.

It is noticeable that St. Paul in discussing this question makes no reference whatever to the decision of the Council at Jerusalem (see Acts 15:29), that the Christians should abstain from “meats offered to idols, and from things strangled, and from blood.” Probably, the Apostle felt the importance of maintaining his own apostolic authority in a Church where it was questioned by some, and he felt that to base his instruction upon the decision of the Church at Jerusalem might have seemed to imply that he had obtained authority from them, and not directly from the Lord. It was also more in accordance with St. Paul’s usual style of instruction to base the smallest details of conduct upon that highest of all principles—our union as Christians with Christ. An appeal to the letter sent from Jerusalem would have been no step in the ascending argument, which reaches its great climax in the 11th and 12th verses, and which, in 1Corinthians 8:13, the Apostle enunciates as the guide of his own life.

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.Wherefore - As the conclusion of the whole matter.

If meat ... - Paul here proposes his own views and feelings, or tells them how he would act in order to show them how they should act in these circumstances.

Make my brother to offend - Lead him into sin; or shall be the cause of leading him into error and guilt. It does not mean, if the eating of meat should "enrage or irritate" another; but if it is the occasion of his being led into transgression. How this might be done is stated in 1 Corinthians 8:10.

I will eat no flesh ... - My eating meat is a matter of comparative unimportance. I can dispense with it It is of much less importance to me than happiness, a good conscience, and salvation are to my brother. And the law of love therefore to him requires me to deny myself rather than to be the occasion of leading him into sin. This is a noble resolution; and marks a great, disinterested, and magnanimous spirit. It is a spirit that seeks the good of all; that can deny itself; that is supremely anxious for the glory of God and the salvation of man, and that can make personal comfort and gratification subservient to the good of others. It was the principle on which Paul always acted; and is the very spirit of the self-denying Son of God.

While the world standeth - Greek, For ever. The phrase 'I will never eat meat' would express the idea. "Lest I make, etc." Rather than lead him into sin, by my indulging in eating the meat offered in sacrifice to idols.

Remarks On 1 Corinthians 8

This chapter is very important, as it settles some principles in regard to the conduct of Christians; and shows how they should act in reference to things that are indifferent; or which in themselves can be considered as neither right nor wrong; and in reference to those things which may be considered in themselves as "right and lawful," but whose indulgence might injure others. And from the chapter we learn:

1. That Christians, though they are truly converted, yet may have many erroneous views and feelings in reference to many things, 1 Corinthians 8:6. This was true of those converted from ancient paganism, and it is true of those who are now converted from paganism, and of all young converts. Former opinions, and prejudices, and even superstitions, abide long in the mind, and cast a long and withering influence ever the regions of Christian piety. The morning dawn is at first very obscure. The change from night to daybreak is at first scarcely perceptible. And so it may be in conversion. The views which a pagan entertained from his childhood could not at once be removed. The influence of corrupt opinions and feelings, which a sinner has long indulged, may "travel over" in his conversion, and may long endanger his piety and destroy his peace. Corrupt and infidel thoughts, associations of pollution, cannot be destroyed at once; and we are not to expect from a child in the Christian life, the full vigor, and the elevated principle, and the strength to resist temptation, which we expect of the man matured in the service of the Lord Jesus. This should lead us to charity in regard to the imperfections and failings of young converts; to a willingness to aid and counsel them; to carefulness not to lead them into sin; and it should lead us not to expect the same amount of piety, zeal, and purity in converts from degraded pagans, which we expect in Christian lands, and where converts have been trained up under all the advantages of Sunday Schools and Bible classes.

2. Our opinions should be formed, and our treatment of others regulated, not by abstract knowledge, but by love, 1 Corinthians 8:1. A man is usually much more likely to act right who is influenced by charity and love, than one who is guided by simple knowledge, or by self-confidence. One is humble, kind, tender toward the frailties of others, sensible himself of infirmity, and is disposed to do right; the other may be vain, harsh, censorious, unkind, and severe. Knowledge is useful; but for the practical purposes of life, in an erring and fallen world, love is more useful; and while the one often leads astray, the other seldom errs. Whatever knowledge we may have, we should make it a point from which we are never to depart, that our opinions of others, and our treatment of them, should be formed under the influence of love.

3. We should not be self-confident of our wisdom, 1 Corinthians 8:2. Religion produces humility. Mere knowledge may fill the heart with pride and vanity. True knowledge is not inconsistent with humility; but it must be joined with a heart that is right. The people that have been most eminent in knowledge have also been distinguished for humility; but the heart was right; and they saw the folly of depending on mere knowledge.

4. There is but one God, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. This great truth lies at the foundation of all true religion; and yet is so simple that it may be known by all Christians, however humble, and is to be presumed to be known by all. But though simple, it is a great and glorious truth. To keep this before the minds of people was one great purpose of all God's revelations; and to communicate it to people is now the grand object of all missionary enterprises. The world is full of idols and idolaters; but the knowledge of this simple truth would change the moral aspect of the entire globe. To spread this truth should be the great aim and purpose of all true Christians; and when this truth is spread, the idols of the pagan will fall to the dust.

5. Christians acknowledge one and only one Lord, 1 Corinthians 8:6. He rules over them. His laws bind them. He controls them. He has a right to them. He can dispose of them as he pleases. They are not their own; but are bound to live entirely to him, and for the promotion of his cause.

6. It becomes Christians to exercise continual care, lest their conduct, even in things which are in themselves lawful, should be the occasion of leading others into sin, 1 Corinthians 8:9. Christians very often pursue a course of conduct which may not be in itself unlawful, but which may lead others who have not their intelligence, or strength of principle, into error. One man may be safe where another man is in danger. One man may be able to resist temptations which would entirely overcome another. A course of life may, perhaps, be safe for a man of years and of mature judgment, which would he ruinous to a young man. And the grand principle here should be, not to do that, even though it may be lawful itself, which would he the occasion of leading others into sin.

7. We see here the importance and the power of example, 1 Corinthians 8:10-11. Nothing is of more value than a correct Christian example. And this applies particularly to those who are in the more elevated ranks of life, who occupy stations of importance, who are at the head of families, colleges, and schools. The ignorant will be likely to follow the example of the learned; the poor of the rich; those in humble life will imitate the manners of the great. Even in things, therefore, which may not he in themselves unlawful in these circumstances, they should set an example of self-denial, of plainness, of abstinence, for the sake of those beneath them. They should so live that it would be safe and right for all to imitate their example. Christ, though he was rich, yet so lived that all may safely imitate him; though he was honored of God, and exalted to the highest office as the Redeemer of the world, yet he lived so that all in every rank may follow him; though he had all power, and was worshipped by angels, yet so lived that he might teach the most humble and lowly how to live; and so lived that it is safe and proper for all to live as he did. So should every monarch, and prince, and rich man; every noble, and every learned man; every man of honor and office; every master of a family, and every man of age and wisdom, live that all others may learn of them how to live, and that they may safely walk in their footsteps.


13. meat—Old English for "food" in general.

make … to offend—Greek, "is a stumbling-block to."

no flesh—In order to ensure my avoiding flesh offered to idols, I would abstain from all kinds of flesh, in order not to be a stumbling-block to my brother.

If meat make my brother to offend; suppose therefore it were lawful for me to eat flesh offered to idols, yet if I cannot do it but I shall make my brother sin, I will forbear. Others understand it more generally, not of the meat before mentioned, but of all flesh: I will rather live upon bread and herbs; by which expression the apostle doth not suppose, that there can ever be such a case when there shall be any such need, but only declares how much a good Christian should do, to prevent his brother’s sinning against God.

I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend: those expressions, Mark 5:29, of plucking out the right eye, and cutting off the right hand, are much of the same nature; both those phrases and this phrase signify only, that we ought to do any thing, and to deny ourselves in any thing, rather than ourselves to sin, or be wilful occasions to others of sin.

From this discourse of the apostle it is very plain, that it is the duty of Christians, in any matters where they are by the law of God at liberty whether they will do a thing or not, to take that part which they see will give least occasion of sin unto their brethren, and to avoid that part which, if they will take, they see they shall by taking it give occasion to others to sin, though they be themselves never so well satisfied as to the lawfulness of their action (provided the action be only lawful, not necessary, and what by the law of God they are bound to do, or to avoid). But here two grave questions arise:

1. Whether the command of superiors doth not here alter the case? Admit a thing be in itself by us judged lawful, what by God’s law we may do, or let alone; and our superiors command us to do, or to avoid that thing: we on the other side see, that if we do it, or avoid it, we shall very probably be occasion to make our brethren sin, who doubt of the lawfulness of the thing. The question is: What is to be done in this case? That the law of God commanding love to our brethren equally concerneth high and low, is out of doubt; so that no superior ought more to command any to do what it is evident he cannot do without making his brother to offend, than the inferior ought to do it: but the question is: What is the inferior’s duty, if commanded?

2. A second question is: Suppose that, in such a case, I am commanded to do what I judge I may lawfully do, were it not for making my brother, by my example, to offend, and by the command of men I am obliged to do it, or to ruin myself and family; what is my duty in this case? In both these cases there seems to be a collision of precepts. In the first case the precept of loving our neighbours seems to dash against the many precepts for obeying superiors; in the other case, it seems to dash against the precept for providing for ourselves and families; so as the question is: Which precepts lay here the greatest obligation, where both cannot be obeyed? But we leave these questions to casuists. The determination of what is the will of God in either of them, will require a great many more words than what is fit to encumber annotations with, especially considering that neither of them properly falls into the explication of this text, where it is certain that the Corinthians were at a perfect liberty, and had no superiors that commanded them so to eat, (had the thing been in itself lawful), neither were they under any necessity, either to eat that meat, or to starve themselves or families; they had other flesh besides that to eat. In this case the duty of Christians is plainly determined by the apostle.

Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend,.... This is the conclusion of the whole, which the apostle makes with respect to himself, and proposes for the imitation of others; that since an imprudent use of Christian liberty, in this article of eating things offered to idols, might be attended with such bad consequences, as to lay a stumblingblock in the way of weak Christians, and be a means of emboldening them to do things contrary to their consciences, and so break the peace of their minds, wound their spirits, grieve and afflict their souls, and not only so, but so to do would be to sin against Christ himself; rather than do any of these things, or be accessary to them, he determines, in the strength of divine grace, that

he will eat no flesh while the world standeth; or "for ever": not only he resolves he will not eat flesh offered to idols, but no other flesh, if this was an offence to a weak brother; and he not only concludes to abstain a few days, or months, or years, but as long as he should live in the world: he chose rather to live on herbs, or any other food but this,

lest, says he,

I make my brother to offend: this is truly Christian charity, a proof of brotherly love, and it shows a concern for the peace and welfare of others, when a person foregoes his own right, and drops the use of his liberty, rather than grieve, wound, and offend a brother in Christ.

{9} Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

(9) The conclusion, which Paul conceives in his own person, that he might not seem to exact that of others which he will not be first subject to himself. I had rather (he says) abstain forever from all types of flesh, then give occasion of sin to any of my brethren. And on a smaller scale, in any certain place or time, I would refuse to eat flesh offered to idols, for my brother's sake.

1 Corinthians 8:13. Comp Romans 14:21. The classic ΔΙΌΠΕΡ, for that very reason (because the offence in question is such a heinous one), meets us with certainty in the N. T only here and 1 Corinthians 10:14.

βρῶμα] any kind of food, indefinitely. Instead now of saying in the apodosis: “then I will never more eat of it,” etc., he names the special kind of food (κρέα) presenting itself in application to the subject discussed, by abstaining from which, at any rate, the use of sacrificial flesh and the σκάνδαλον thereby given would be excluded.

Οὐ ΜῊ ΦΆΓΩ] “Accommodat suae personae, ut facilius persuadeat,” Piscator. The expression is not by way of exhortation, but of assurance, “then I will certainly not eat,” etc. Τοῦτο ὡς διδάσκαλος ἄριστος τὸ διʼ ἑαυτοῦ παιδεύειν ἃ λέγει, Chrysostom.

ΕἸς Τ. ΑἸῶΝΑ] to all eternity, nevermore; hyperbolical mode of expressing the most thorough readiness. Comp as regards the idea, Romans 14:21.

ἽΝΑ ΜῊ Κ.Τ.Λ[1370]] For this is what I should bring about, if he holds the flesh which I eat to be sacrificial flesh (1 Corinthians 8:9). Observe the emphatic repetition of the words, and the different order in which σκανδαλ. and τ. ἀδελφ. μ. are placed.

That the maxim here enunciated cannot be an universal rule in adiaphoris, has been pointed out already by Erasmus. Comp Galatians 2:5 with 1 Corinthians 9:19 ff. and Acts 16:3. It does not hold, when the truth of the gospel comes to be at stake. Comp Galatians 2:14.

[1370] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 8:13 sums up the debate in the language of personal conviction: “Wherefore verily”—for this last reason above all—“if (a matter of) food (βρῶμα, indef.) is stumbling my brother, I will eat no flesh-meats for evermore, that I may not stumble my brother”.—κρέα (pl[1269] of κρέας) signifies the kinds of βρῶμα in question, including probably beside the idolothyta other animal foods which might scandalise men of narrow views, such as the vegetarians of Romans 14:13-21 (see notes ad loc[1270]).—Four times in 1 Corinthians 8:11-13 P. repeats the word ἀδελφός, seeking to elicit the love which was needed to control Cor[1271] knowledge (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:2 f.). For “σκανδαλίζω, to put a σκάνδαλον (cl[1272] σκανδάληθρον, trap-stick = πρόσκομμα, 9) in another’s way,” cf. Romans 14:21 and parls. The strong negation οὐ μή (“no fear lest”: see Wr[1273], p. 634 ff.) is further heightened by εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, “to eternity”. The rendering “while the world standeth” is based on the use of αἰῶν (perpetuity) in such passages as 1 Corinthians 1:20, where the context narrows its meaning; in this phrase the noun has its full sense, but used rhetorically.

[1269] plural.

[1270] ad locum, on this passage.

[1271] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1272] classical.

[1273] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

13. I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend] “This abridgment of their liberty is a duty more especially incumbent on all who are possessed of influence.” Robertson. And Estius remarks how St Paul in his ardour for the conversion of souls, was ready not only to abstain from meats offered to idols, but from meat altogether, rather than be a stumbling-block in another’s way. Cf. St Matthew 18:6; St Mark 9:42; St Luke 17:1-2.

1 Corinthians 8:13. Κρέα, flesh) In order to avoid with the greater certainty flesh sacrificed to an idol, I would abstain from all kinds of flesh.—σκανδαλίσω, I should make to offend) The person is changed: he just now said, if meat offend.

Verse 13. - Make my brother to offend. "Make to offend" is, in the original, the verb "scandalize." The word for "meat" means any kind of food. Flesh. The particular subject of discussion here. "I will," says St, Paul, "abstain from flesh altogether rather than by eating it lead a weaker brother into sin." While the world standeth. The same expression is elsewhere rendered "forever." Literally it means to the aeon. St. Paul is often led into these impetuous expressions of the depth of his feelings. The reader will find the whole question argued in s similar spirit in Romans 14:19-22. Lest; namely, in the case supposed. In reality there was no need for taking so severe a pledge of abstinence.

1 Corinthians 8:13Make to offend (σκανδαλίζει)

See on Matthew 5:29. Rev., maketh to stumble.

Meat - flesh (βρῶμα - κρέα)

The former food in general, the latter the special food which causes stumbling. Dr. South draws the distinction between a tender and a weak conscience. "Tenderness, applied to the conscience, properly imports quickness and exactness of sense, which is the perfection of this faculty .... Though the eye is naturally the most tender and delicate part of the body, yet is it not therefore called weak, so long as the sight is quick and strong.... A weak conscience is opposed to a strong; which very strength, we shew, consisted in the tenderness or quickness of its discerning or perceptive power" (Sermon 29, "A True State and Account of the Plea of a Tender Conscience").

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