Monday, 25 August 2014
For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 1 Corinthians 8:10
Continuing with the discourse on “knowledge” in relation to “love” Paul now brings in an example from real life to help the Corinthians (and thus us) to understand more clearly what he has been speaking of. He begins with “for” thus showing that he is referring to a previous thought. This thought is that the knowledge of someone who uses their liberty in Christ may “become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” This verse now explains that thought.
“For if anyone sees you who have knowledge” is speaking of the person who understands that an idol is nothing in the world. Their conscience is free from the superstition that an idol has any effect on anything. If such a person with that knowledge is seen “eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?” In this, the person of the “conscience of him who is weak” is the person who believes that an idol is actually something. It could be a weak believer or a person who is still trying to figure out if Christianity is true and worth following. What will be the result of such an action in their mind?
The answer is that they will then be “emboldened.” The word for emboldened is “oikodomēthēsetai,” and it is used only here in the New Testament. It carries the thought of “building up a house.” In this then is an ironic expression because Paul is intimating that what he is building is actually destructive. Instead of being edified, he is harmed in a right understanding of the truth. Why? Because he may now believe that 1) it is ok to mingle the pure faith with other ideologies (syncretism); and/or 2) he may now believe that an idol is actually something with a force or power rather than “nothing in the world.” Calvin translates this thought “a ruinous upbuilding.”
In order to make this understandable to the readers in Corinth, Paul uses another word which is unique in the New Testament. It is the word translated as “idol’s temple” here in the NKJV which is eidóleio. This was not a word used by the Gentiles. Instead, it was something that those who understood there was only one God used. A Gentile would name a temple based on the idol in the temple, such as “Athenaeum,” the temple of Athens, or “Apolloneum,” the temple of Apollo. To them, the temple was a reflection of the “god” within it. To the Gentiles, it was a reflection of any given idol within it; hence, the term “idoleum” was used to indicate “the temple of an idol.”
Life application: The perception by others of our freedom in Christ is important. Until they have right knowledge of a matter, it is right that we not use our freedom in a manner which could destroy the very building which they are erecting in their knowledge of Christ.
An idol is nothing in all the world, this I know
But others may not understand this yet
If to the temple of an idol I were to go
For a tasty snack or for lunch, I may later regret
What if they misunderstood my going there?
And thought that I worshipped the idol, just like the Lord
They may think that they also can worship anyone, anywhere
And that the Bible isn’t God’s only word
My knowledge may harm them in this way
Though it was not my intent for it to be
And so my actions are important, every where and every day
To reflect devotion to the Lord, yes to the Lord only
Heavenly Father, help me to act responsibly in all ways and at all times in an undivided devotion to the Lord. Keep reminding me that others are watching my life and actions and are making valuable judgments about my heart for Christ. Let me not be a source of their downfall or to their misunderstanding of the freedoms which I possess in Him. In this, I know that you will be glorified and others will be built up. Thank You. Amen.