Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Apostle by Chapter | 1 Corinthians Chapter 8

By Sam Nobles

The question of eating meat offered to idols is taken up here in chapter 8, and it presents itself as a real problem to those who had recently converted to Christ from paganism. “Perhaps they would be invited to a social event at a temple where a great feast would be spread with meat previously offered to idols. Or perhaps they would go to the market to buy meat and find that the butcher was selling meat that had been offered to idols. This would not affect the quality of the meat, of course, but should a Christian buy it?”i  In another situation, a believer might be asked to attend a dinner in someone’s home and be served food that had been offered up to some idol. If the Christian knew this was reality, should he or she eat that food? These are the questions that Paul addresses in this chapter.

Knowledge is Curbed by Conscience
Offering meat to an idol doesn’t change how that meat tastes; therefore, Paul beings this part of his letter by stating the obvious – knowledge is not a sufficient guide in matters such as these. Love must have a part in one considering not only what is good for himself, but for others as well. This act of eating meat sacrificed to idols affects more people than just the one eating.

Conscience is Reinforced by Knowledge
Paul goes on to explain that an idol is not a real god with power, knowledge, and love. Later on, he acknowledges that behind these idols there are demons (1 Corinthians 10:20-21). However, not all Christians, especially new converts, understand this concept nor do they understand the liberty which they have in Jesus. Most of the Corinthian converts came from backgrounds of idolatry and feel they are committing idolatry when they eat meat that has been offered to an idol. “They think that the idol is a reality and therefore their conscience, being weak, is defiled”ii

Knowledge is Balanced by Love
Food in itself is not a matter of great value to God; therefore, not eating certain foods does not give a person more or less favor with God. Even though there is nothing to gain by eating these foods, there might be a lot for one to lose if doing so causes another Christian to stumble. This is where love must come in. A Christian has freedom to eat anything, even if it has been offered in sacrifice to idols.
[1] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition, ed. Arthur L. Farstad, 2nd ed. edition (Thomas Nelson, 2016).
[1] Ibid.

Scripture to Claim:

“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:13 ESV)

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