Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (v. 1b)

1 Corinthians 8:1-8 Monday 16 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 17:1-8


The passages from 1 Corinthians this week deal with life in the local church and, in particular, how behaviour can affect others.

In this passage, Paul gets to grips with a dilemma that faced the early Church across the region – the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. This was an issue because in that time and place it was difficult to avoid eating such meat when so much of social interaction involved eating with others. To avoid communal meals meant to cut oneself off from the community around including family, business partners and potential avenues of trade. While abstaining from feasts held in pagan temples where the meat would definitely have been sacrificed to idols may have been possible, the difficulty was that surplus meat from these sacrifices would have been sold in open marketplaces. Therefore, it was very difficult to know whether the meat you bought there, or were served elsewhere, had been sacrificed to idols or not.

During the sacrifice of the animal it was believed that the pagan god entered themeat and then entered the person who ate it; a communion with the deity. For new Christians this was the belief they had built their lives upon so far; it was ingrained in them.

The mature Christians in Corinth rightly said that since there were no other gods but God then there could be no god in the meat and so there was no problem to eat it at all.

Paul agrees that this is so but he is firm that those who know this should temper their ‘superior knowledge’ with love. They should be concerned by the detrimental effects of their actions on their sisters and brothers. In effect, there is no room for saying ‘I am not my brother’s keeper’.


To Ponder:

  • Do you believe that you should abstain from words and actions that you believe to be acceptable but which may lead others astray? Are there occasions when you have chosen either to abstain or not to?
  • Paul says that there are many gods and lords. What/who would you consider to be the ‘gods of this world’ today?
  • How may an individual live their life so as to avoid encouraging others into unhealthy practices and beliefs?
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