8:1 Now 1 as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we a all have knowledge. Knowledge b puffeth up, but charity c edifieth.
(1) He begins to entreat of another type of
indifferent things, that is, things offered to idols, or the use of flesh so
offered and sacrificed. And first of all he removes all those things which the
Corinthians pretended in using things offered to idols without any respect.
First of all they affirmed that this difference of foods was for the unskilful
men, but as for them, they knew well enough the benefit of Christ, which
causes all these things to be clean to those that are clean. Be it so, Paul
says: even if we are all sufficiently instructed in the knowledge of Christ, I
say nonetheless that we must not simply rest in this knowledge. The reason is,
that unless our knowledge is tempered with charity, it does not only not
avail, but also does much hurt, because it is the mistress of pride. Nay, it
does not so much as deserve the name of godly knowledge, if it is separate
from the love of God, and therefore from the love of our neighbour.
(a) This general word is to be abridged as (1 Corinthians
8:7) appears, for there is a type of taunt in it, as we may perceive by (1 Corinthians
(b) Gives occasion of vanity and pride, because
it is void of charity.
(c) Instructs our neighbour.
2 As concerning therefore the eating of
those things that are offered in sacrifice unto d
idols, we know that an idol [is] e
nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one.
(2) The application of that answer to things
offered to idols: I grant, he says, that an idol is indeed a vain imagination,
and that there is but one God and Lord, and therefore that food cannot be made
either holy or profane by the idol. But it does not follow therefore, that a
man may, without regard of what they are, use those foods as any other.
(d) The word "idol" in this place is
taken for an image which is made to represent some godhead, so that worship
might be given to it: whereupon came the word "idolatry", that is to
say, "image service".
(e) Is a vain dream.
8:6 But to us [there is
but] one God, the Father, f of whom
[are] all things, and we g in him; and h
one Lord Jesus Christ, i by whom [are]
all things, and we by him.
(f) When the Father is distinguished from the
Son, he is named the beginning of all things.
(g) We have our being in him.
(h) But as the Father is called Lord, so is the
Son therefore God: therefore this word "one" does not regard the
persons, but the natures.
(i) This word "by" does not signify the
instrumental cause, but the efficient: for the Father and the Son work
together, which is not so to be taken that we make two causes, seeing they
have both but one nature, though they are distinct persons.
Howbeit [there is] not in every man that knowledge: for 4
some with k conscience of the idol unto
this hour eat [it] as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being
weak is defiled.
(3) The reason why that does not follow, is this:
because there are many men who do not know that which you know. Now the
judgment of outward things depend not only upon your conscience, but upon the
conscience of those that behold you, and therefore your actions must be
applied not only to your knowledge, but also to the ignorance of your
brethren. (4) An applying of the reason: there
are many who cannot eat of things offered to idols, except with a wavering
conscience, because they think them to be unclean. Therefore if by your
example they wish to do that which inwardly they think displeases God, their
conscience is defiled with this eating, and you have been the occasion of this
(k) By conscience of the idol, he means the
secret judgment that they had within themselves, by which they thought all
things unclean that were offered to idols, and therefore they could not use
them with good conscience. For conscience has this power, that if it is good,
it makes indifferent things good, and if it is evil, it makes them evil.
But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better;
neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
(5) An anticipation of an objection: why then
will we therefore be deprived of our liberty? Nay, says the apostle, you will
lose no part of Christianity although you abstain for your brethren's sake,
as also if you receive the food, for it makes you in no way the more holy, for
our commendation before God consists not in foods. But to use our liberty with
offence of our brethren is an abuse of liberty, the true use of which is
completely contrary, that is, to use it in such a way that we have
consideration of our weak brethren.
For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple,
shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things
which are offered to idols;
(6) Another plain explication of the same reason,
propounding the example of the sitting down at the table in the idol's
temple. This thing the Corinthians did wrongly consider among things
indifferent, because it is simply forbidden for the circumstance of the place,
even though the offence had ceased, as it will be declared in its place.
And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
(7) An amplification of the argument taken both
of comparison and opposites: "You wretched man", he says,
"pleasing yourself with your knowledge which indeed is not knowledge, for
if you had true knowledge, you would not sit down to eat food in an idol's
temple. Will you destroy your brother, hardening his weak conscience by this
example to do evil, for whose salvation Christ himself has died?"
But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin
(8) Another amplification: such offending of our
weak brethren, results in the offending of Christ, and therefore do not let
these men think that they have to deal only with their brethren.
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the
world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
(9) The conclusion, which Paul conceives in his
own person, that he might not seem to exact that of others which he will not
be first subject to himself. I had rather (he says) abstain forever from all
types of flesh, then give occasion of sin to any of my brethren. And on a
smaller scale, in any certain place or time, I would refuse to eat flesh
offered to idols, for my brother's sake.