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Chapter 8

8:1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols [peri de tōn eidōlothutōn]. Plainly the Corinthians had asked also about this problem in their letter to Paul (7:1). This compound adjective [eidōlon], idol, [thutos], verbal adjective from [thuō], to sacrifice) is still found only in the N.T. and ecclesiastical writers, not so far in the papyri. We have seen this problem mentioned in the decision of the Jerusalem Conference (Ac 15:29; 21:25). The connection between idolatry and impurity was very close, especially in Corinth. See both topics connected in Re 2:14, 20. By [eidōlothuta] was meant the portion of the flesh left over after the heathen sacrifices. The heathen called it [hierothuton] (1Co 10:28). This leftover part “was either eaten sacrificially, or taken home for private meals, or sold in the markets” (Robertson and Plummer). What were Christians to do about eating such portions either buying in the market or eating in the home of another or at the feast to the idol? Three questions are thus involved and Paul discusses them all. There was evidently difference of opinion on the subject among the Corinthian Christians. Aspects of the matter come forward not touched on in the Jerusalem Conference to which Paul does not here allude, though he does treat it in Ga 2:1-10. There was the more enlightened group who acted on the basis of their superior knowledge about the non-existence of the gods represented by the idols. Ye know that we all have knowledge [oidamen hoti pantes gnōsin echomen]. This may be a quotation from the letter (Moffatt, Lit. of N.T., p. 112). Since their conversion to Christ, they know the emptiness of idol-worship. Paul admits that all Christians have this knowledge (personal experience, [gnōsis], but this problem cannot be solved by knowledge.

8:2 Puffeth up [phusioi]. From [phusioō] (present indicative active). See on 4:6. Pride may be the result, not edification [oikodomei] which comes from love. Note article [] with both [gnōsis] and [agapē], making the contrast sharper. See on 1Th 5:11 for the verb [oikodomeō], to build up. Love is the solution, not knowledge, in all social problems. That he knoweth anything [egnōkenai ti]. Perfect active infinitive in indirect discourse after [dokei] (condition of first class with [ei]. So “has acquired knowledge” (cf. 3:18), has gone to the bottom of the subject. He knoweth not yet [oupō egnō]. Second aorist active indicative, timeless aorist, summary (punctiliar) statement of his ignorance. As he ought to know [kathōs dei gnōnai]. Second aorist active infinitive, ingressive aorist (come to know). Newton’s remark that he was only gathering pebbles on the shore of the ocean of truth is pertinent. The really learned man knows his ignorance of what lies beyond. Shallow knowledge is like the depth of the mud hole, not of the crystal spring.

8:3 The same is known of him [houtos egnōstai hup’ autou]. Loving God (condition of first class again) is the way to come to know God. It is not certain whether [houtos] refers to the man who loves God or to God who is loved. Both are true. God knows those that are his (2Ti 2:19; Ex 33:12). Those who know God are known of God (Ga 4:9). We love God because he first loved us (1Jo 4:19). But here Paul uses both ideas and both verbs. [Egnōstai] is perfect passive indicative of [ginōskō], an abiding state of recognition by [hup’] God. No one is acquainted with God who does not love him (1Jo 4:8). God sets the seal of his favour on the one who loves him. So much for the principle.

8:4 No idol is anything in the world [ouden eidōlon en kosmōi]. Probably correct translation, though no copula is expressed. On [eidōlon] (from [eidos], old word, see on Ac 7:41; 15:20; 1Th 1:9. The idol was a mere picture or symbol of a god. If the god has no existence, the idol is a non-entity. This Gentile Christians had come to know as Jews and Jewish Christians already knew. No God but one [oudeis theos ei mē heis]. This Christians held as firmly as Jews. The worship of Jesus as God’s Son and the Holy Spirit does not recognize three Gods, but one God in three Persons. It was the worship of Mary the Mother of Jesus that gave Mahomet his cry: “Allah is One.” The cosmos, the ordered universe, can only be ruled by one God (Ro 1:20).

8:5 For though there be [kai gar eiper eisi]. Literally, “ For even if indeed there are” (a concessive clause, condition of first class, assumed to be true for argument’s sake). Called gods [legomenoi theoi]. So-called gods, reputed gods. Paul denied really the existence of these so-called gods and held that those who worshipped idols (non-entities) in reality worshipped demons or evil spirits, agents of Satan (1Co 10:19-21).

8:6 Yet to us there is one God, the Father [all’ hēmin heis theos ho patēr]. B omits [all’] here, but the sense calls for it anyhow in this apodosis, a strong antithesis to the protasis (even if at least, [kai eiper]. Of whom [ex hou]. As the source [ex] of the universe [ta panta] as in Ro 11:36; Col 1:16f.) and also our goal is God [eis auton] as in Ro 11:36 where [di’ autou] is added whereas here [di’ hou] (through whom) and [di’ autou] (through him) point to Jesus Christ as the intermediate agent in creation as in Col 1:15-20; Joh 1:3f. Here Paul calls Jesus Lord [Kurios] and not God [theos], though he does apply that word to him in Ro 9:5; Tit 2:13; Col 2:9; Ac 20:28.

8:7 Howbeit in all men there is not that knowledge [all’ ouk en pasin hē gnōsis]. The knowledge [hē gnōsis] of which Paul is speaking. Knowledge has to overcome inheritance and environment, prejudice, fear, and many other hindrances. Being used until now to the idol [tēi sunētheiƒi heōs arti tou eidōlou]. Old word [sunētheia] from [sunēthēs] [sun, ēthos], accustomed to, like Latin consuetudo, intimacy. In N.T. only here and Joh 18:39; 1Co 11:16. It is the force of habit that still grips them when they eat such meat. They eat it “as an idol sacrifice” [hōs eidōlothuton], though they no longer believe in idols. The idol-taint clings in their minds to this meat. Being weak [asthenēs ousa]. “It is defiled, not by the partaking of polluted food, for food cannot pollute (Mr 7:18f.; Lu 11:41), but by the doing of something which the unenlightened conscience does not allow” (Robertson and Plummer). For this great word [suneidēsis] (conscientia, knowing together, conscience) see on Ac 23:1. It is important in Paul’s Epistles, Peter’s First Epistle, and Hebrews. Even if unenlightened, one must act according to his conscience, a sensitive gauge to one’s spiritual condition. Knowledge breaks down as a guide with the weak or unenlightened conscience. For [asthenēs], weak (lack of strength) see on Mt 26:41. Defiled [molunetai]. Old word [molunō], to stain, pollute, rare in N.T. (1Ti 3:9; Re 3:4).

8:8 Will not commend [ou parastēsei]. Future active indicative of [paristēmi], old word to present as in Ac 1:3; Lu 2:22; Col 1:28. Food [brōma] will not give us an entree to God for commendation or condemnation, whether meat-eaters or vegetarians. Are we the worse [husteroumetha]. Are we left behind, do we fall short. Both conditions are of the third class [ean mē, ean] undetermined. Are we the better [perisseuometha]. Do we overflow, do we have excess of credit. Paul here disposes of the pride of knowledge (the enlightened ones) and the pride of prejudice (the unenlightened). Each was disposed to look down upon the other, the one in scorn of the other’s ignorance, the other in horror of the other’s heresy and daring.

8:9 Take heed [blepete]. A warning to the enlightened. Lest by any means [mē pōs]. Common construction after verbs of caution or fearing, [mē pōs] with aorist subjunctive [genētai]. This liberty of yours [hē exousia humōn hautē]. [Exousia], from [exestin], means a grant, allowance, authority, power, privilege, right, liberty. It shades off easily. It becomes a battle cry, personal liberty does, to those who wish to indulge their own whims and appetites regardless of the effect upon others. A stumbling-block to the weak [proskomma tois asthenesin]. Late word from [proskoptō], to cut against, to stumble against. So an obstacle for the foot to strike. In Ro 14:13 Paul uses [skandalon] as parallel with [proskomma]. We do not live alone. This principle applies to all social relations in matters of law, of health, of morals. Noblesse oblige. The enlightened must consider the welfare of the unenlightened, else he does not have love.

8:10 If a man see thee which hast knowledge sitting at meat in an idol’s temple [ean gar tis idēi [se] ton echonta gnōsin en eidōleiōi katakeimenon]. Condition of third class, a possible case. Paul draws the picture of the enlightened brother exercising his “liberty” by eating in the idol’s temple. Later he will discuss the peril to the man’s own soul in this phase of the matter (10:14-22), but here he considers only the effect of such conduct on the unenlightened or weak brother. This bravado at a sacrificial banquet is in itself idolatrous as Paul will show. But our weak brother will be emboldened [oikodomēthēsetai], future passive indicative, will be built up) to go on and do what he still believes to be wrong, to eat things sacrificed to idols [eis to ta eidōlothuta esthiein]. Alas, how often that has happened. Defiance is flung in the face of the unenlightened brother instead of loving consideration.

8:11 Through thy knowledge [en tēi sēi gnōsei]. Literally, in thy knowledge. Surely a poor use to put one’s superior knowledge. Perisheth [apollutai]. Present middle indicative of the common verb [apollumi], to destroy. Ruin follows in the wake of such daredevil knowledge. For whose sake Christ died [di’ hon Christos apethanen]. Just as much as for the enlightened brother with his selfish pride. The accusative [hon] with [di’] gives the reason, not the agent as with the genitive in 8:6 [di’ hou]. The appeal to the death [apethanen], second aorist active indicative of [apothnēskō] of Christ is the central fact that clinches Paul’s argument.

8:12 Wounding their conscience [tuptontes autōn tēn suneidēsin]. Old verb [tuptō], to smite with fist, staff, whip. The conscience is sensitive to a blow like that, a slap in the face. Ye sin against Christ [eis Christon hamartanete]. That fact they were overlooking. Jesus had said to Saul that he was persecuting him when he persecuted his disciples (Ac 9:5). One may wonder if Paul knew the words of Jesus in Mt 25:40, “ye did it unto me.”

8:13 Meat [brōma]. Food it should be, not flesh [krea]. Maketh my brother to stumble [skandalizei ton adelphon mou]. Late verb (LXX and N.T.) to set a trap-stick (Mt 5:29) or stumbling-block like [proskomma] in verse 9 (cf. Ro 14:13, 21). Small boys sometimes set snares for other boys, not merely for animals to see them caught. I will eat no flesh for evermore [ou mē phagō krea eis ton aiōna]. The strong double negative [ou mē] with the second aorist subjunctive. Here Paul has flesh [krea] with direct reference to the flesh offered to idols. Old word, but in N.T. only here and Ro 14:21. This is Paul’s principle of love (verse 2) applied to the matter of eating meats offered to idols. Paul had rather be a vegetarian than to lead his weak brother to do what he considered sin. There are many questions of casuistry today that can only be handled wisely by Paul’s ideal of love.

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