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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Paul's FIRST letter to the Corinthians

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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 8

In this ‘Framework' we use our usual text PLUS comment style to enable you, as simply as possible, to catch the sense of his writing.


FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 8: Concerning Food Sacrificed to Idols


v.1-3 Beware being a ‘know-all'
v.4-6 Idols are nothing, not God
v.7-13 But be mindful of the weaker person


[Chapter Synopsis: Moving on from teaching about marriage relationships, Paul tackles what for the church in that era was another tricky subject. In the pagan culture food might to used as part of idol worship but then sold for common usage. Some believers felt that such food was thus tainted by idol worship and should not be eaten, others with a stronger conscience felt that such worship was pure superstition and therefore there was nothing wrong with the food that could therefore be taken, cooked, and eaten. Very much a teaching for the first century but it does show us the problems they faced and the overall teaching can apply just as much today to things some part of the church consider ‘forbidden'.]



v.1-3 Beware being a ‘know-all'


v.1 (on the subject of food sacrificed to idols we may think we know it all but such an outlook can exclude love) Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

v.2 (if e think we know it all, we're deceived) Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.

v.3 (it's different knowing God because He knows us, He does know it all) But whoever loves God is known by God.


[Passage Synopsis: Be careful against thinking you know it all, you might be failing to love others.]



v.4-6 Idols are nothing, not God


v.4 (the reality is that an idol is nothing but a piece of shaped wood and not God) So then, 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.”

v.5,6 (pagans may think there are many gods but we know there is only one real God) For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.


[Passage Synopsis: The truth is that an idol is just a piece of wood; there is only one God.]



v.7-13 But be mindful of the weaker person


v.7 (but some, coming from an idol worshipping background find it difficult to grasp that reality) But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.

v.8 (food doesn't draw us to God, but it's just good for eating) But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

v.9 (but there's more to it, there is the weaker brother or sister) Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

v.10 (their conscience may not be as strong as yours and following you may create worry or fear in them) For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, won't that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?

v.11 (… and that could result in bringing them down) So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.

v.12 (so your casual attitude towards their wellbeing may be sin and that means sin against Christ) When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

v.13 (so if I could be such a stumbling block, I just won't eat that food) Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.


[Passage Synopsis: The matter of food offered to idols affected different people in different ways [perhaps like drinking alcohol for some today]. Some weren't bothered by it, some were. Paul maintained it wasn't harmful as such but if it harmed a weaker brother or sister, love and concern for them would suggest we comply with their limitations.]