1 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 8
1. Now about food sacrificed to idols: we know that, as you say, “We all have knowledge.” Yes, that is so, but “knowledge” puffs a person up with pride; whereas love builds up.
About food sacrificed to idols. The question raised in this chapter is whether a believer is free to eat meat which he knows or suspects may have been part of an offering in a pagan temple. This apparently minor issue pervades the next three chapters (through 11:1). Though the details relate to another era of history, the underlying principles are very relevant for life in today's world. The structure of these three chapters is:

(1) Presentation of the question and the new underlying elements being misused, "knowledge" (w. 1-6) and "freedom" (6:12, 10:23);
(2) A principle for resolving such questions — limiting oneself in order to edify others (vv. 7-13);
(3) Illustrations of the principle (9:1-10:22);
(4) Application of the principle to the question at hand (10:23-11:1).

The former pagans of Corinth who became believers knew that even though they once worshipped idols, offering similar sacrifices in the same shrines, God has forgiven their past sins. Further, as believers they do not offer such sacrifices now; rather, they know that the idols to which they sacrificed have '"no real existence" at all (v. 4).

Therefore, since they have this "knowledge" (vv. 1, 4-6), and since "everything is permitted" (6:12, 10:23), is there any reason why they should have scruples against buying meat in the public meat-markets — as some of them, whom Sha'ul considers "weak" (vv. 7-12), do have?

The key to Sha'ul's answer (vv. 7-13, 10:23-11:1) is doing what builds up or "edifies." (The Greek word is "oikodomed," a word whose literal sense has to do with putting up houses but which, like "constructive" in English, has a metaphorical meaning too; the word is so used ten times in this letter — vv. 1, 10; 10:23; and seven times in Chapter 14). What builds up is love; whereas knowledge — unless it is governed by love (13:2) — only puffs up, or, worse, "builds up wrongly" (v. 10; "wrongly" is not in the Greek but is implied by the context; KJV's rendering, "emboldened," captures the sense but misses the connection with the other instances of "oikodomeo"). Likewise, in union with the Messiah we have freedom; therefore, in a sense, "everything is permitted"; but, as Sha'ul puts it, "not everything is edifying" (10:23; see also 9:Iff. and 6:12-13N).

The portions of these chapters dealing explicitly with the food question (8:1-13, 10:23-11:1) closely resemble Ro 14:1—15:6&NN. In that passage, one must consider the possibility that "weak" refers to Messianic Jews "not yet free of the Law" (it doesn't); but here the "weak" can only be former pagans, not Jewish believers. 

2. The person who thinks he “knows” something doesn’t yet know in the way he ought to know.
3. However, if someone loves God, God knows him.
4. So, as for eating food sacrificed to idols, we “know” that, as you say, “An idol has no real existence in the world, and there is only one God.”
5. For even if there are so-called “gods,” either in heaven or on earth — as in fact there are “gods” and “lords” galore —
6. yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom were created all things and through whom we have our being.
One God, the Father, as the Tanakh teaches. The New Testament does not teach that there is more than one God, nor does it teach that the one God is Yeshua the Son. From whom all things come and for whom we exist. The Father is the final source and final goal (Ro 11:36); at the close of history even Yeshua becomes subject to the Father (15:28).

One Lord. Greek kudos; see Ml l:20N, 7:2IN. Here "kudos" cannot mean "Adonai" or YHVH (the personal name of God); it must mean "Adon" Hebrew for "Lord," not a name but a title of God bespeaking the fact that everyone owes him allegiance and obedience. The assertion that the Lord is Yeshua the Messiah means that the allegiance and obedience owed to God are also owed to Yeshua. Why? Because through him were created all things, for Yeshua is the Word who "became a human being" (Yn 1:14), the same Word as when "God said" the things by which the universe was created (Genesis 1:3-31); and also because Yeshua is he through whom we have our being — from which we learn that God the Father exercises his function as maintainer and provider by continuing to speak our existence through him, the living and ongoing Word. Compare Ro 11:36, Co 1:15-19. 

7. But not everyone has this knowledge. Moreover, some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat food which has been sacrificed to them, they think of it as really affected by the idol; and their consciences, being weak, are thus defiled.
Knowledge. Should the word be in quotation marks or not? If not, Sha'ul's emphasis is that true knowledge, as set forth in vv. 4-6 and v. 8. should suffice to set a person free of overscrupulousness. But he may still be using the word ironically, as in vv. 10-11, pointing out that his questioners' self-proclaimed "knowledge" is still not enough to keep them from prideful, inconsiderate behavior that will damage others. 

8. Now food will not improve our relationship with God — we will be neither poorer if we abstain nor richer if we eat.
9. However watch out that your mastery of the situation does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
10. You have this “knowledge”; but suppose someone with a weak conscience sees you sitting, eating a meal in the temple of an idol. Won’t he be built up wrongly to eat this food which has been sacrificed to idols?
11. Thus by your “knowledge” this weak person is destroyed, this brother for whom the Messiah died;
12. and so, when you sin against the brothers by wounding their conscience when it is weak, you are sinning against the Messiah!
13. To sum up, if food will be a snare for my brother, I will never eat meat again, lest I cause my brother to sin.
I will never eat meat again, lest I cause my brother to sin. Sha'ul's readers are left to think about this for a chapter and a half, but this is not his final disposition of the question, which he takes up again at 10:23. 

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