1 Corinthians 8:13


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. 1 Corinthians 8:13

This is the last verse of the chapter which has dealt with “things offered to idols.” However, right at the introduction of the thought, Paul divided that major subject into two over-arching issues. The first was knowledge and the second was love. He then explained how the two do not always work harmoniously together and that love is the preferred avenue to follow when knowledge in a weaker brother is lacking.

The exercise of knowledge without love can lead to sin and so the words of chapter 8 have been given to help the one with knowledge concerning a matter in order to consider it in a way which promotes love first and foremost. The issue of “things offered to idols” was the main area of discussion because it came response to a question submitted to him by those in Corinth. However, the concept rings true in whatever situation one may face, be it any liberty we have but which is not understood by the weaker brother.

To sum up his thoughts, he begins with “therefore.” In this then we can see his final conclusion on this subject. It is an issue he also treated in Romans 14:19-22. Those verses perfectly compliment his thoughts in this chapter. He will also again speak on this subject in his words to the Corinthians. For this portion of the letter however, his conclusion is that “if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat.”

The eating of meat no matter how tasty and delicious, and even if what he proposes to eat is actually acceptable, is not worth causing another to fall into sin because of what he knows to be right. Love towards the weaker brother is more important than what is consumed at mealtime. And this isn’t just for one meal, but – as the Greek reads – “to the age.” It is a term which means “forever.” Paul would gladly give up on his liberties for all his days instead of causing his brother stumble.

If stumbling is an offense, and if he is the cause of the stumbling, then he is actually causing the offense. This is a lesson for each of us as we consider our actions before our weaker brothers. Whatever gain we think we might have from an action, if it causes another to stumble, then it is not worth it.

Life application: The old saying “little eyes are watching” isn’t just true with children who see the example of their elders. It is also true of those who are “little” in the faith. Let’s endeavor with all of our heart to keep our actions in line with this precept in order to keep those less informed from stumbling.

Lord, as I come before You in prayer, I know that I have erred in so many ways since my last prayers to You. My life is a constant stream of hoping to please You and yet continuously falling short of that goal. My words, actions, and interactions with others show me how desperately I need Jesus. Thank You for providing the wondrous salvation that could come in no other way. Thank You for my Lord, His work, His cross, and His resurrection. In that, I know that my erring ways are covered, forgiven, and cast away. Amen.


1 Corinthians 8:12


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:12

This verse begins with “but” which is set in contrast to what he just said. The preceding verse asked, “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” The answer is actually stated by Paul in an interesting way. No, they won’t “perish” in the sense of a loss of salvation as follows below:

“When you sin against the brethren” implies that we have caused an offense to occur. This person is weaker in their knowledge and thus more prone to falling or failing than another may be. Their lack of knowledge may cause them to act against their conscience in a matter that they are unsure of. Paul shows in Romans that any action which isn’t in faith is sin –

“But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

Therefore, to act in a manner contrary to conscience (which means that faith is lacking in action) is to act in sin. The conscience is wounded because there is a lack of proper understanding and this has led to an action which was taken which was not in faith. What is immensely important in this is that “when you sin against the brethren” in this way “you sin against Christ.” The person is “in” Christ, having been saved by Him and having been brought into the family of God.

John Chrysostom asks, “What can be more ruthless than a man who strikes one who is sick?” What is needed is the healing power of right doctrine, not an arrogant display of knowledge about freedoms in Christ which are not clearly understood by the weaker brother. To sin against another believer (in this or any way) is to actually sin against Christ. In this case, it was because of an exercise of knowledge instead of a demonstration of love. What is needed is to instruct in right knowledge (which is certainly loving) and then to act together as faithful believers in Christ and in adherence to His words.

Understanding this verse confirms that the previous verse was not speaking of a loss of salvation. Paul had asked “shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” His answer is implicitly “No.” The reason is because if we sin against Christ when we sin against the brother, it implies that the brother is “in Christ.” If he is “in Christ” then he is safely in that position. The offense affects both the weaker brother and Christ. In essence, it would be no less possible for that weaker brother to lose their salvation than it would for it to happen to Christ.

Life application: When we are saved, we move from Adam to Christ. We are once and forever united to Him and are positionally “in Christ.” Therefore, when we sin against another believer, the offense is also against Christ. This is a sobering thought for us to consider and to remember. Let us act charitably towards those who are the redeemed of the Lord as we conduct our affairs.

Heavenly Father, to be “in Christ” is the sweetest place to be. We are covered by the most precious Sacrifice. We are granted and given the most beautiful Garment. We are seated in the most sacred place. We have the greatest Defender and the most marvelous Mediator. We are secure in the mightiest hand and uplifted by the Giver of all grace. There is no end to the glory of what Jesus has done for us. To be in Christ is the sweetest place of all. Thank You for this honor.  Hallelujah and Amen!




1 Corinthians 8:11


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 1 Corinthians 8:11

This is speaking of those with a weak conscience who may be motivated to act in a manner contrary to their conscience by eating “those things offered to idols.” If this happens, Paul says that “because of your knowledge” it will inevitably cause an offense to occur. This is written as a question – “…shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” However, some scholars argue that it is emphatic even if a question. Many translations actually cite is as an affirmative statement, such as the ESV – “And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.”

In other words, it is an predictable occurrence where one action follows another. In the weaker brother our actions will cause inevitable harm. However, what should be considered is what it means when he writes “perish.” There is no doubt that he is speaking of someone who is already a believer. The term “brother” is used and this indicates someone already in the faith. Further, the fact that Paul is referring to a weak conscience implies a believer as well. There is a conscience concerning Christ, but it is not a developed one.

So does the word “perish” imply a loss of salvation? The answer is, “No.” There are several thoughts to support this notion. The first is that though he speaks as if something is leaning toward an occurrence, it doesn’t mean the thing will actually occur (meaning a loss of salvation).

Secondly, though it says (as the ESV translates it “this weak person is destroyed”), is this referring to the whole individual or to the faith of the individual? Is the person’s faith being used as representative of the person? This is the case because elsewhere a believer is noted as having “forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9). It is also confirmed by Paul’s coming words on the issue.

Thirdly, just because one thing typically will follow another, it is in no way conclusive that such a thing will inevitably follow, but that it is the normal, natural, and likely result of such a thing. Considering that a person is sealed with the Holy Spirit, that which is natural can (and will) be negated by the greater spiritual act which previously occurred.

It is sure that nowhere else does Paul ever indicate that a believer could lose their salvation. And the contrary is true. The sealing of the Holy Spirit upon belief (Ephesians 1:13, 14) is a “guarantee.” The one who has placed their faith in Christ, weak though it may be, is saved by His work. He truly is a brother “for whom Christ died.” If Christ died for this person, then Christ also lives for that person. He will ensure a good end results. The next verse will absolutely confirm this.

An excellent connecting verse to this one is found in Romans. Our actions, especially towards our fellow brothers, should be seen in a positive and edifying light. Here is how he states this –

“Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:16, 17

Life application: Jesus died for all. Those who receive this gracious offer become children of God and are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Is it worth destroying the faith of such a person over our actions, particularly what foods we are willing to eat? We generally eat three times a day and the meal is forgotten as soon as it is done. Let us not consider such a temporary thing as worth harming the faith of another believer!

Precious Lord Jesus, You fulfilled the law on my behalf. You paid the penalty for my sins, and You went to the cross in order to do that. But You also did that for all people. Those who have received this gracious offer are now God’s children and fellow believers. Would it be right for my actions to destroy the faith of one of them? If You died for them, then I should be working to edify them, not tear them down. And so help me with this Lord. Help me to rightly instruct them and to be a good example of mixing knowledge with love. I know that with this, You will be pleased. Amen.


1 Corinthians 8:10


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.



1 Corinthians 8:9


Sunday, 24 August 2014

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 1 Corinthians 8:9

Paul has been speaking of “knowledge” concerning the issue of “things offered to idols.” He has clearly shown that eating something offered to an idol makes no difference at all and that the food is not defiled, because the idol is “nothing in the world.” This is an inescapable truth when clearly reasoned out. However, his words today begin with “but.” There is a contrasting thought which must be presented. When he began this chapter, he issued a parenthetical statement which introduced two thoughts. The first was “knowledge” and the second was “love.” He will now begin to address that second issue. Yes, we may have knowledge concerning our “liberty” in the matter, but is that the end of the issue? The answer is, “No.” His understanding of the weakness of some leads him to state his contrasting thought. “But beware” tells us that this is a serious matter. The word translated as “beware” indicates to “look” into a matter or to “discern.” If we have knowledge, we should mix that knowledge with discernment. And the reason is “lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”

His use of the word “weak” is tied to “knowledge.” In other words, where your knowledge is strong and sound, others may be wavering, unsure, or misinformed. If your knowledge isn’t mixed with discernment, what will be the result in them? It will become a “stumbling block.” A stumbling block is something that trips one up. It is usually an unseen obstacle, such as an imperceptible raise in the level of one block on a path. It is just enough to cause harm, but not big enough to be noticed. At other times, a stumbling block may be perceptible, but the person may have their attention diverted to other things. Either way, the result is a fall.

Paul’s coming explanation of this will move from the subject of knowledge in a person to that of love for another person. This then is a verse which transitions to that thought.

Life application: We are given rights (liberties) in Christ that are very clear and precise. However, they often require knowledge through study in order to be properly grasped. As study is something most people don’t really cherish, have time for, or for whatever other reason, it is up to those who have studied to not use their knowledge to harm those without the knowledge, but rather to instruct them in right doctrine of what they already understand. As Paul noted, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” Let us impart knowledge and do so in a loving manner.

Lord God, Your word is certainly a treasure and a delight, but oftentimes people disagree on a particular point or precept. If I am certain of my position, help me not to be arrogant in my defense of it, but rather to impart that knowledge in love. With all certainty, arguing will only cause greater divisions and insurmountable walls will result. And so help us to amiably work towards the one truth which You intend for us to see. Be with us and guide us as we search to rightly divide Your word. Amen.