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1 Corinthians 8





1 Corinthians 8 begins with Paul addressing the Corinthian church’s second question. In chapters 8-10, Paul discusses the matter and question of food offered to other idols. This seems like a foreign concept to the modern-day reader, but for a person living in Corinth during this time, this was a serious issue.

In Corinth, pagan temples would perform live animal sacrifices. Similar to Jewish custom, they would save some meat for their priests, and the rest would be used for public sale. So the freshest, best meat in town would be found next to these pagan temples performing idol worship. This lead to Christians question, “If a Christian eats meat offered to idols, is that person then participating in the worship of that idol?”

Christians within the Corinthian church began to argue over this topic, some saying that it was sinful, while others argued that it wasn’t. This created a division within the church, that Paul needed to address in his letter. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul begins this chapter by saying, “we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. 2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. 3 But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.”

Paul gives a somewhat political answer here, by avoiding giving an exact answer to the question. But he gives the readers of this letter a valuable lesson when it comes to living within the body of Christ when he says, “Knowledge makes us feel important, but it is love that strengthens the church”. Other versions say, “knowledge puffs up, while love builds up”.

Paul continues with this teaching saying that, “anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much”. We’ve all met someone like this. Whether it was a classmate in school, maybe a coworker at your job, or even a friend of yours. The ironic thing about this type of person is that even though they may come across as knowing everything or all the answers, they often are the very ones naïve or unaware.

We must be careful as Christians that we don’t fall into this trap ourselves. For too long, churches have been known for what they know rather than the love they show. In John 13, after Jesus has washed the disciples feet, he says, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. Notice Jesus doesn’t say that you will be known as my disciple for how much knowledge you possess, but by your love for one another.

After this, Paul explains that we don’t gain or lose God’s approval by what we eat. But he gives this warning in 1 Corinthians 8:9, “you must be careful that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble”. It’s from this verse that we find our first lesson from this chapter: our freedom can become a stumbling block for a weaker Christian.

When Paul uses the term weaker conscience, he’s referring to those who did not fully grasp the idea that the gods represented by idols weren’t real, so it wouldn’t be a sin to eat that meat. But notice that Paul doesn’t focus so much on convincing those with a weaker conscience to gain an understanding. Rather, he challenges those with a correct understanding not to be puffed up about their freedom by forcing their belief onto others. We have to be careful as modern-day believers not to exercise our knowledge of Christ as power over someone still learning and growing in their faith.

The second lesson from this chapter is: we must always view other believers as someone for whom Christ died. This chapter concludes with verses 11-13 saying, “So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. 12 And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. 13 So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.”

If we’re not careful with our freedom and understanding of Christ, we quickly can become a stumbling block to those young in the faith. We must make sure that our freedom and understanding always points others back to the love that Christ has for them. When we view others in light of the sacrifice that Christ made for them, it changes our response and how we treat them. Today, I want to challenge you to not let your freedom be a stumbling block to others, and to always view other believers as someone for whom Christ died.

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1 opmerking

17 jul. 2023

I love the take away lessons from this passage. First, that our freedom & understanding always point others

back to the love of Christ & not a stumbling block for others. Second always view other believers as someone for whom Christ died. Again thank you for increasing my understanding.

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