1 Corinthians 8:9
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
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(9) But take heed.—On this very account, because the matter is one which is indifferent, because there is no right or wrong in it, you must look elsewhere for your guide as to how you ought to act. In things which are not indifferent, right or wrong is the sole test of action. In things indifferent you must look for some other guide, and you must regulate your conduct by the effect it may have on others. Your liberty, which arises from the bare fact of the indifferent nature of the thing, may become a stumbling-block to others, may be the cause of their taking a false step in the Christian course.

1 Corinthians 8:9-13. But take heed lest this liberty of yours — To eat indifferently of such meats; become a stumbling-block — An occasion of doing what they judge unlawful; to them that are weak — Uninformed in the truth, or unsettled as to their knowledge of it. For if any man see thee — Whom he believes to have more knowledge than himself, and who really hast this knowledge, that an idol is nothing; sit at meat in the idol’s temple — To an entertainment there; shall not the conscience of him that is weak — Scrupulous; be imboldened — Encouraged by thy example; to eat those things which are offered to idols — Though with a doubting, or perhaps condemning conscience. And through thy knowledge — Thy abuse and unseasonable discovery of thy knowledge; shall the weak brother perish — Be drawn into sin, which is the way to destruction; for whom Christ died — And for whom thou wilt not lose a meal’s meat: so far art thou from laying down thy life for him! We see Christ died even for them that perish. Observe this, reader. But when ye sin so — Act so uncharitably and contrary to your duty; against the brethren — Who, as well as you, are the children and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; and wound their weak conscience — Their ill-informed and scrupulous consciences, leading them into guilt, and hazarding their salvation; ye sin against Christ — Whose members they are, and who had such regard for their souls, that he died in ignominy and torture to redeem them, and hath done all that example or precept could do, to make his followers enter into such humane and compassionate views. Wherefore — For a conclusion, I lay down this general rule, that all things indifferent in their own nature are to be forborne, when the use of them would be a cause of scandal, or an occasion of falling to others, of turning them out of the right way, or hindering them therein; yea, though such things may have a great deal of apparent expediency in them. So that if meat — Of what sort soever it be; make my brother to offend — Lead him into sin, and cause him to contract guilt, and wound his conscience — I will eat no flesh while the world standeth — But live entirely on vegetables; lest I make my brother to offend — That I may not scandalize and insnare him in evil, if there be no other way of avoiding it. Of such importance do I esteem the preservation of one endangered soul: and in this, and other things of a similar nature, I pray that God may incline you to use the like self-denial for your own sakes, and for the peace and honour of the Christian Church. But who will follow this example? What preacher or private Christian will abstain from any thing and every thing, lawful in itself, when it offends a weak brother?

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 take heed - This is the reply of Paul to the argument of the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 8:8. "Though all that you say should be admitted to be true, as it must be; though a man is neither morally better nor worse for partaking of meat or abstaining from it; yet the grand principle to be observed is, so to act as not to injure your brethren. Though you may be no better or worse for eating or not eating, yet if your conduct shall injure others, and lead them into sin, that is a sufficient guide to determine you what to do in the case. You should abstain entirely. It is of far more importance that your brother should not be led into sin, than it is that you should partake of meat which you acknowledge 1 Corinthians 8:8 is in itself of no importance."

Lest by any means - μή πως mē pōs. You should be careful that by no conduct of yours your brother be led into sin. This is a general principle that is to regulate Christian conduct in all matters that are in themselves indifferent.

This liberty of yours - This which you claim as a right; this power which you have, and the exercise of which is in itself lawful. The "liberty" or power ἐξουσία exousia here referred to was that of partaking of the meat that was offered in sacrifice to idols; 1 Corinthians 8:8. A man may have a right abstractly to do a thing, but it may not be prudent or wise to exercise it.

Become a stumbling-block - An occasion of sin; see the note at Matthew 5:29; also see the note at Romans 14:13. See that it be not the occasion of leading others to sin, and to abandon their Christian profession; 1 Corinthians 8:10.

To them that are weak - To those professing Christians who are not fully informed or instructed in regard to the true nature of idolatry, and who still may have a superstitious regard for the gods whom their fathers worshipped.

9. this liberty of yours—the watchword for lax Corinthians. The very indifference of meats, which I concede, is the reason why ye should "take heed" not to tempt weak brethren to act against their conscience (which constitutes sin, Ro 14:22, 23). The word exousia is here well translated liberty, though it also signifieth right, and seems in either sense rather to signify a supposed than a real liberty or right; for we shall see in the next verse, that the apostle is here speaking of their eating in the idol’s temple, which, 1 Corinthians 10:21, he determineth to be a having a communion with devils, and therefore could not be lawful; the apostle therefore seemeth here only to suppose (as they pretended) that in their eating simply in the idol’s temple they did not sin, because by eating men are not made the worse; yet, as we shall see afterwards, he declareth their action was not free from guilt, as it was a violation of that brotherly love which they were obliged to show to their neighbour.

But take heed lest by any means,.... This is either a reply to the instance of such as argued in favour of eating things offered to idols; or a limitation and explanation of the apostle's own concession, that it made a man, with respect to the favour of God, neither better nor worse: yet care should be taken, lest

this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak; he owns they had a liberty, or a right, or power, as the word may be rendered, of eating, or not eating, as they pleased; but then they ought to be cautious, lest they should be the means of offending, or causing to offend, such who were weak in the faith, and had not that knowledge of Christian liberty they had: not the use of their power and liberty is here denied, but the abuse of it is guarded against; for though the action itself was indifferent, yet as it might be used, it might be sinful, being attended with very bad consequences, such as hereafter mentioned.

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9. “Beware, however, lest this right of yours”—sc. to eat the idolothyta, for which many of the Cor[1261] are contending, and probably in the Church Letter (1 Corinthians 8:1). For ἐξουσία in this use, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:4 ff., 1 Corinthians 9:12, also ἔξεστιν in 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 10:23. The Jerus. Council (Acts 15:29), to whose decree P. was a party, had not denied in principle the lawfulness of using idolothyta; it forbade such use to the mixed Judæo-Gentile Churches within a certain area, in deference to Jewish feeling. Paul comes in effect to the same conclusion, though he advises instead of commanding. The πρόσκομμα is an obstacle thrown in the way of “the weak,” over which they may stumble into a moral fall, not having the strength either to overcome their scruples or to disregard an example contrary to their conscience.

[1261] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

9. this liberty of yours] Rather, right. Under ordinary circumstances we have a right to act upon our rational convictions. But this right has its limits, see ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12, and note. We are bound to respect the scruples of the conscientious, though perhaps unenlightened man. In this particular case there are those who conscientiously regard an idol as having a real existence, and anything offered in sacrifice to it as its property, and therefore as unfit to be partaken of by Christians. The perceptions of such persons may be far from clear, but their motives are pure and worthy of respect We may be wiser than they, but we must be careful that we do not by our wisdom betray them into sin.

become a stumblingblock to them that are weak] “What reality is there in your religion if you look at men struggling in darkness, and are content to congratulate yourselves that you are m the light?… Slaves—idolaters—superstitious—alas! is that all that we have to say?” Robertson.

1 Corinthians 8:9. Ἡ ἐξουσία, lawful power [liberty]) a word frequently used for power and liberty in this discussion, 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 9:4, etc.: comp. 1 Corinthians 6:12.—ὑμῶν, of yours) which you so eagerly uphold, 1 Corinthians 8:11.

Verse 9. - Lest this liberty of yours become a stumbling block; rather, this power or right of yours. To lead any one to do that which he thinks to be wrong is to place a stone of stumbling in his way, even if we do not think the act to be wrong. For we make men worse if by our example we teach them to act in contradiction of their conscience. "Let your motto be forbearance, not privilege, and your watchword charity, not knowledge. Never flaunt your knowledge, seldom use your privilege" (Evans). 1 Corinthians 8:9Stumbling-block (προσκόμμα)

See on Romans 14:13.

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