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.
Darby Bible Translation
But concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know, (for we all have knowledge: knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
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;
1 Corinthians 8:1 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Now as touching - In regard to; in answer to your inquiry whether it is right or not to partake of those things.
Things offered unto idols - Sacrifices unto idols. Meat that had been offered in sacrifice, and then either exposed to sale in the market, or served up at the feasts held in honor of idols, at their temples, or at the houses of their devotees. The priests, who were entitled to a part of the meat that was offered in sacrifice, would expose it to sale in the market; and it was a custom with the Gentiles to make feasts in honor of the idol gods on the meat that was offered in sacrifice; see 1 Corinthians 8:10, of this chapter, and 1 Corinthians 10:20-21. Some Christians would hold that there could be no harm in partaking of this meat any more than any other meat, since an idol was nothing; and others would have many scruples in regard to it, since it would seem to countenance idol worship. The request made of Paul was, that he should settle some "general principle" which they might all safely follow.
We know - We admit; we cannot dispute; it is so plain a case that no one can be ignorant on this point. Probably these are the words of the Corinthians, and perhaps they were contained in the letter which was sent to Paul. They would affirm that they were not ignorant in regard to the nature of idols; they were well assured that they were nothing at all; and hence, they seemed to infer that it might be right and proper to partake of this food anywhere and everywhere, even in the idol temples themselves; see 1 Corinthians 8:10. To this Paul replies in the course of the chapter, and particularly in 1 Corinthians 8:7.
That we all have knowledge - That is, on this subject; we are acquainted with the true nature of idols, and of idol worship; we all esteem an idol to be nothing, and cannot be in danger of being led into idolatry, or into any improper views in regard to this subject by participating of the food and feasts connected with idol worship This is the statement and argument of the Corinthians. To this Paul makes two answers:
(1) In a "parenthesis" in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3, to wit, that it was not safe to rely on mere knowledge in such a case, since the effect of mere knowledge was often to puff people up and to make them proud, but that they ought to act rather from "charity," or love; and,
(2) That though the mass of them might have this knowledge, yet that all did not possess it, and they might be injured, 1 Corinthians 8:7.
Having stated this argument of the Corinthians, that all had knowledge, in 1 Corinthians 8:1, Paul then in a parenthesis states the usual effect of knowledge, and shows that it is not a safe guide, 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. In 1 Corinthians 8:4, he "resumes" the statement (commenced in 1 Corinthians 8:1) of the Corinthians, but which, in a mode quite frequent in his writings, he had broken off by his parenthesis on the subject of knowledge; and in 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, he states the argument more at length; concedes that there was to them but one God, and that the majority of them must know that; but states in 1 Corinthians 8:7, that all had not this knowledge, and that those who had knowledge ought to act so as not to injure those who had not.
Knowledge puffeth up - This is the beginning of the parenthesis. It is the reply of Paul to the statement of the Corinthians, that all had knowledge. The sense is, "Admitting that you all have knowledge; that you know what is the nature of an idol, and of idol worship; yet mere knowledge in this case is not a safe guide; its effect may be to puff up, to fill with pride and self-sufficiency, and to lead you astray. charity or love, as well as knowledge, should be allowed to come in as a guide in such cases, and will be a safer guide than mere knowledge." There had been some remarkable proofs of the impropriety of relying on mere knowledge as a guide in religious matters among the Corinthians, and it was well for Paul to remind them of it. These pretenders to uncommon wisdom had given rise to their factions, disputes, and parties, (see 1 Corinthians 1; 2; 3); and Paul now reminds them that it was not safe to rely on such a guide. And it is no more safe now than it was then. Mere knowledge, or science, when the heart is not right, fills with pride; swells a man with vain self-confidence and reliance in his own powers, and very often leads him entirely astray. Knowledge combined with right feelings, with pure principles, with a heart filled with love to God and human beings, may be trusted: but not mere intellectual attainments; mere abstract science; the mere cultivation of the intellect. Unless the heart is cultivated with that, the effect of knowledge is to make a man a pedant; and to fill him with vain ideas of his own importance; and thus to lead him into error and to sin.
But charity edifieth - Love (ἡ ἀγάπη hē agapē); so the word means; and so it would be well to translate it. Our word "charity" we now apply almost exclusively to alms-giving, or to the favorable opinion which we entertain of others when they seem to be in error or fault. The word in the Scripture means simply "love." See the notes on 1 Corinthians 13. The sense here is, "Knowledge is not a safe guide, and should not be trusted. love to each other and to God, true Christian affection, will be a safer guide than mere knowledge, Your conclusion on this question should not be formed from mere abstract knowledge; but you should ask what love to others - to the peace, purity, happiness, and salvation of your brethren - would demand. If love to them would prompt to this course, and permit you to partake of this food, it should be done; if not, if it would injure them, whatever mere knowledge would dictate, it should not be done." The doctrine is, that love to God and to each other is a better guide in determining what to do than mere knowledge. And it is so. It will prompt us to seek the welfare of others, and to avoid what would injure them. It will make us tender, affectionate, and kind; and will better tell us what to do, and how to do it in the best way, than all the abstract knowledge that is conceivable. The man who is influenced by love, ever pure and ever glowing, is not in much danger of going astray, or of doing injury to the cause of God. The man who relies on his knowledge is heady, high-minded, obstinate, contentious, vexatious, perverse, opinionated; and most of the difficulties in the church arise from such people. Love makes no difficulty, but heals and allays all; mere knowledge heals or allays none, but is often the occasion of most bitter strife and contention. Paul was wise in recommending that the question should be settled by love; and it would be wise if all Christians would follow his instructions.
LibraryThe Law of Christian Conscience.
Preached January 25, 1852. THE LAW OF CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE. "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 denied. 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. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast …
Frederick W. Robertson—Sermons Preached at Brighton
The Manifestation of Holy Love.
"Boast not Thyself of To-Morrow, for Thou Knowest not what a Day May Bring Forth. "
The Unity of God
but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
1 Corinthians 4:6
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.
1 Corinthians 8:4
Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.
1 Corinthians 8:7
However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
1 Corinthians 8:10
For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?
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