1 Corinthians 8:8
But meat commends us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) But meat . . . .—By showing that the eating is a matter of indifference, the Apostle introduces his reason for yielding to the weakness of another. If the weakness involved a matter of our vital relation to God, then to yield would be wrong. But meat will not (future) affect our relationship to God. The concluding words of this verse are inverted in later MSS., as in the English version, and the better order is: “Neither, if we eat not, do we lose anything in our relation to God; nor, if we eat, do we gain anything in our relation to Him.”

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.But meat commendeth us not to God - This is to be regarded as the view presented by the Corinthian Christians, or by the advocates for partaking of the meat offered in sacrifice to idols. The sense is, "Religion is of a deeper and more spiritual nature than a mere regard to circumstances like these. God looks at the heart. He regards the motives, the thoughts, the moral actions of people. The mere circumstance of eating 'meat,' or abstaining from it, cannot make a man better or worse in the sight of a holy God. The acceptable worship of God is not placed in such things. It is more spiritual; more deep; more important. And therefore, the inference is, "it cannot be a matter of much importance whether a man eats the meat offered in sacrifice to idols, or abstains." To this argument the apostle replies 1 Corinthians 8:9-13, that, although this might be true in itself, yet it might be the occasion of leading others into sin, and it would then become a matter of great importance in the sight of God, and should be in the sight of all true Christians. The word "commendeth" παράστησι parastēsi means properly to introduce to the favor of anyone, as a king or ruler; and here means to recommend to the favor of God. God does not regard this as a matter of importance. He does not make his favor depend on unimportant circumstances like this.

Neither if we eat - If we partake of the meat offered to idols.

Are we the better - Margin, "Have we the more." Greek Do we abound περισσεύομεν perisseuomen; that is, in moral worth or excellence of character; see the note at Revelation 14:17.

Are we the worse - Margin, "Have we the less." Greek, Do we lack or want (ὑστερούμεθα husteroumetha); that is, in moral worth or excellence.

8. Other old manuscripts read, "Neither if we do not eat, are we the better: neither if we eat are we the worse": the language of the eaters who justified their eating thus [Lachmann]. In English Version Paul admits that "meat neither presents [so the Greek for 'commendeth'] us as commended nor as disapproved before God": it does not affect our standing before God (Ro 14:6). The apostle here speaketh in the person either of those teachers amongst them, or those more private persons amongst them, who made no difficulty of eating meat offered to idols; they objected, that meat, or the eating of meat, was not the thing which commended any man to God; they were not the better if they did eat, or the worse if they did not eat. The apostle himself had asserted this, Romans 14:17, that the kingdom of God was not meat or drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. But meat commendeth us not to God,.... These words are said by the apostle, either as expressing the argument of such as had knowledge in favour of themselves, that what they did was a thing indifferent, by which they were made neither better nor worse; nor did they look upon it as meritorious, or expect any favour from God on account of it, and therefore were not to be blamed for using their liberty in the manner they did: or else they are spoken by him as his own sense: and the meaning is, that eating of meat, any sort of meat, and so that which is offered to idols, or abstinence from it, neither one nor the other recommends any to the love and favour of God; , "does not bring near", or give access to God, as the Syriac version renders the phrase; does not ingratiate any into his affectionate regards, or make them acceptable unto him:

for neither if we eat are we the better; or "abound", not in earthly but spiritual things, in the graces of the Spirit, and particularly in the esteem and good will of God, upon which such an action can have no influence:

neither if we eat not are we the worse; or are deficient; meaning not in temporal things, but, as before, in spiritual; true grace and piety are not a whit the less; nor are such persons less in the love and favour of God, which is not to be known and judged of by any such action, or the omission of it.

{5} 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.

(5) An anticipation of an objection: why then will we therefore be deprived of our liberty? Nay, says the apostle, you will lose no part of Christianity although you abstain for your brethren's sake, as also if you receive the food, for it makes you in no way the more holy, for our commendation before God consists not in foods. But to use our liberty with offence of our brethren is an abuse of liberty, the true use of which is completely contrary, that is, to use it in such a way that we have consideration of our weak brethren.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 8:8 f. This is not an objection urged by the Corinthians in defence of their eating meat offered to idols, which is then followed, in 1 Corinthians 8:9, by the apostle’s reply (Calvin, Pareus, Mosheim, Zachariae, Pott, Heydenreich, Billroth); for here, too, we have no formula to mark that an objection is being adduced, and those who ate the sacrificial flesh would in their interest have required to write: οὔτε ἐὰν μὴ φάγωμεν, περισσεύομεν, οὔτε ἐὰν φάγωμεν, ὑστερούμεθα. No, Paul is now going on (the advance being indicated by δέ) to show what regard should be paid to those weaker brethren: “Now, food is not the determining element in the Christian’s relation to God; to abstain from it does no harm, and to partake of it gives no advantage (see the critical remarks). Therefore (1 Corinthians 8:9) ye ought not to make yourselves a cause of stumbling to the weak through your liberty to eat sacrificial flesh.” If food were not a thing indifferent,—if abstinence from it brought loss, and partaking of it blessing with God,—then it would be our duty not thus to adapt ourselves to the weak.

οὐ παραστήσει] it will not (in any case which may arise; future) present us to God; non exhibebit nos Deo, i.e. it will not affect the position of our moral character in the judgment of God, either for the worse or for the better. We have thus a description of an adiaphoron in its relation to God. Comp Bengel, Osiander, Hofmann. Most interpreters take the word in the sense of commendabit, or, keeping by the Rec[1353] ΠΑΡΊΣΤΗΣΙ, commendat, as if it were συνιστήσει or ΣΥΝΊΣΤΗΣΙ. This is untenable according to the rules of the language; and it is illogical besides, for both the cases which follow οὔτεοὔτε are included under the collective conception, Οὐ ΠΑΡΑΣΤ. Τ. ΘΕῷ.[1354]

ὑστερούμ.] do we come short, do we lack anything in our relation to God. The opposite of this (comp Php 4:12) is περισσ.: we have an overflowing abundance, something more than mere sufficiency in our relation to God; τουτέστιν εὐδοκιμοῦμεν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ ὡς ἀγαθόν τι ποιήσαντες καὶ μέγα, Chrysostom.

βλέπετε δέ] The δέ, now then, introduces what is their positive duty, as contrasted with the foregoing negative state of the case.

πρόσκομμα] stumbling, i.e. occasion to act contrary to conscience. Comp Romans 14:13.

[1353] ec. Textus receptus, or lectio recepta (Elzevir).

[1354] This holds also against the modification which Valckenaer, Rückert, and de Wette have made upon the ordinary view: “does not bring us near to God, does not put us into a position to appear before Him.” Comp. Theophylact: οὐκ οἰκειοῖ ἡμᾶς τῷ Θεῷ.1 Corinthians 8:8. βρῶμα δέ κ.τ.λ.: “But food will not present us to God,” non exhibebit nos Deo (Mr[1259]): that on the ground of which the verdict turns may be said to “present” one to the judge. To “commend” is συν-, not παρίστημι (see parls.); for the fut. (see txtl. note), cf. Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 4:14, Colossians 1:28.—βρώματα do not enter into our permanent being (1 Corinthians 6:13; see note); they will not be the criteria of the approaching Judgment.—The alternative οὔτε clauses negative the two opposite ways in which “food” might have been supposed to “present us to God”: “neither if we do not eat, are we the worse off (ὑστερούμεθα: see note on 1 Corinthians 1:7); nor if we eat, are we the better off (περισσεύομεν: do we abound, exceed others)”. The latter predicate is appropriate to the “strong,” who deemed themselves in a superior position, on a higher ground of faith.

[1259] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).8. But meat commendeth us not to God] Rather, presenteth us. Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:14; Colossians 1:22; Colossians 1:28. The same word is used in Romans 14:10 (where it is translated stand, literally, be presented). Cf. ch. 1 Corinthians 6:13. It is not Christ’s creature, doomed to perish, but Christ Himself that shall present us to God. The use of meats, like that of all outward things (cf. Colossians 2:22) is a matter of absolute insignificance in itself. They are of no real advantage to us, if we use them; to abstain for the sake of abstaining is a matter of equal indifference in God’s sight. The only question of real importance is, what effect will our conduct have on others?Verse 8. - But meat commendeth us not to God; rather, will not recommend us. God would think none the better of them for eating idol sacrifices, even though they asserted thereby a freedom which was the reward of clear insight. This verse will serve to show why "fasting" is nowhere rigidly enjoined on Christians. If fasting is a help to our spiritual life, then we should practise it, but with the distinct apprehension of the truth that God will think none the better of us merely because we eat less, but only if the fasting be a successful means of making us more pure and more loving. If the Bible had been in the hands of the people during the Middle Ages, this verse would have rendered impossible the idle superstition that to eat meat in Lent was one of the deadliest sins, or that there was any merit whatever in the Lenten fast except as a means of self improvement and self mastery. This verse says expressly, "We lose nothing by not eating; we gain nothing by eating." Commendeth - not (οὐ παραστήσει)

Lit., present. Rev., more correctly, will not commend. See on shewed himself, Acts 1:3.

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