10 May 2022

1 Corinthians 8:1-8

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know 'all of us possess knowledge'. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (v. 1)

Psalm 128


1 Corinthians is in the New Testament and forms part of the letters of St Paul, who wrote letters to various churches. He had founded the church in Corinth, which was an important city and Roman colony on a major trade route. He wrote this letter in about 55 AD. Corinth was very prosperous, but it had come to Paul’s attention that there was much immorality and drunkenness. Today's passage comes just after a discussion about marriage and forms part of a long discourse on idolatry.

 It was the custom for people to sacrifice animals to their pagan gods. Whatever meat left over was either served to worshippers in the temple, or sold in the market. Many Jews were uncomfortable with eating meat that had been offered to other gods, and bought meat from their own butchers. To them there was only one God and that was the God of the covenant.

 Some of the Christian teachers had said that it was in order to eat this meat, even in the pagan temples. They said Christians know who the true God is, and this knowledge cannot be undermined by something as trivial as eating meat offered to idols. Idols count for nothing in the world. But Paul says that it is not knowledge, but love that is important. And, in any event, what matters is not our knowledge of God, but God’s knowledge of us and our awareness of that knowledge, which will be found in the love we have for God in our own hearts. Paul wants the Corinthians to think clearly about who the true God is. God is different from any other god, whether or not those other gods are imaginary or real. Paul does not say that knowledge is not important. What matters is how that knowledge is used and conveyed to others.


To Ponder:

  • How important is knowledge of God in your life?
  • What could a contemporary example of eating food sacrificed to idols, look like?

Bible notes author

The Revd Lynita Conradie

Lynita Conradie was ordained in 2005 in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and worked part-time as a minister and also as a human rights lawyer and editor of the Namibian Law Reports, in Namibia. Lynita came to Britain in September 2013 and served as a presbyter in the Nottingham (North) Circuit until August 2018. She is currently in the Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit. In 2021 she was awarded a Professional Doctorate in practical theology by Chester University. In her spare time, Lynita follows cricket and rugby and likes reading and travelling.

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