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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Conscience, I say, not thine own. I know that you may have no scruples on the subject. I do not mean, that with you this need be a matter of conscience. I do not put it on that ground, as if an idol were anything, or as if it were in itself wrong, or as if the quality of the meat so offered had been changed; but I put it on the ground of not wounding the feelings of those who are scrupulous, or of leading them into sin.

For why is my liberty, etc. There is much difficulty in this clause; for as it now stands, it seems to be entirely contradictory to what the apostle had been saying: He had been urging them to have respect to other men's consciences, and in some sense to give up their liberty to their opinions and feelings. Macknight and some others understand it as an objection: "Perhaps you will say, But why is my liberty to be ruled by another man's conscience?" Doddridge supposes that this and 1 Co 10:30 come in as a kind of parenthesis, to prevent their extending his former caution beyond what he designed. "I speak only of acts obvious to human observation; for as to what immediately lies between God and my own soul, why is my liberty to be judged, arraigned, condemned at the bar of another man's conscience?" But it is probable that this is not an objection. The sense may be thus expressed: "I am free; I have liberty to partake of that food, if I please; there is no law against it, and it is not morally wrong: but if I do, when it is pointed out to me as having been sacrificed to idols, my liberty—the right which I exercise—will be misconstrued, misjudged, condemned (for so the word krinetai seems to be used here) by others. The weak and scrupulous believer will censure, judge, condemn me as regardless of what is proper, and as disposed to fall in with the customs of idolaters; and will suppose that I cannot have a good conscience. Under these circumstances, why should I act so as to expose myself to this censure and condemnation? It is better for me to abstain, and not to use this liberty in the case, but to deny myself for the sake of others."

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