a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Food Offered to Idols


Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3but anyone who loves God is known by him.

4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8“Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.


4. Concerning, therefore, the eating of those things He now returns to the statement with which he had set out, and speaks more plainly in reference to the pretext made use of by the Corinthians. For as the whole of the evil took its rise from this root — that they were pleased with themselves, and despised others, he condemns, in general, that contemptuous knowledge which is not seasoned with love. Now, however, he explains particularly, what is the kind of knowledge on which they valued themselves — that an idol is an empty figment of the human brain, and must therefore be reckoned as nothing; and accordingly, that the consecration, that is gone through in name of the idol, is a foolish imagination, and of no importance, and that a Christian man, therefore, is not polluted, who, without reverence for the idol, eats of things offered to idols. This is the sum of the excuse, and it is not set aside by Paul as false, (for it contains excellent doctrine,) but because they abused it, in opposition to love

As to the words, Erasmus reads thus — “An idol has no existence.” I prefer the rendering of the old translation — An idol is nothing. For the argument is this — that an idol is nothing, inasmuch as there is but one God; for it follows admirably — “If there is no other God besides our God, then an idol is an empty dream, and mere vanity.” When he says — and there is none other God but one, I understand the conjunction and as meaning because. For the reason why an idol is nothing is, that it must be estimated according to the thing that it represents. Now it is appointed for the purpose of representing God: nay more, for the purpose of representing false gods, inasmuch as there is but one God, who is invisible and incomprehensible. The reason, too, must be carefully observed — An idol is nothing because there is no God but one; for he is the invisible God, and cannot be represented by a visible sign, so as to be worshipped through means of it. Whether, therefore, idols are erected to represent the true God, or false gods, it is in all cases a perverse contrivance. Hence Habakkuk calls idols teachers of lies, (Habakkuk 2:18,) because they deal falsely in pretending to give a figure or image of God, and deceive men under a false title. Hence οὐδεν (nothing) refers not to essence, but to quality — for an idol is made of some substance — either silver, or wood, or stone; but as God does not choose to be represented in this way, it is vanity and nothing as to meaning and use.

VIEWNAME is study