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Love Is Greater Than Knowledge

Now let me address the issue of food offered in sacrifice to idols. It seems that everyone believes his own opinion is right on this matter.[a] How easily we get puffed up over our opinions! But love builds up the structure of our new life.[b] If anyone thinks of himself as a know-it-all, he still has a lot to learn. But if a person passionately loves God, he will possess the knowledge of God.[c]

Concerning food sacrificed as offerings to idols, we all know that an idol is nothing, for there is no God but one.[d] Although there may be many so-called gods in this world, and in heaven there may be many “gods,” “lords,” and “masters,” yet for us there is only one God—the Father. Out of him is all things, and our lives are lived for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus, the Anointed One, through whom we and all things exist.

But not everyone has this revelation. For some were formerly idolaters, who consider idols as real and living. That’s why they consider the food offered to that “god” as defiled. And their weak consciences become defiled if they eat it. Yes, we know that what you eat will not bring you closer to God. You are no better if you don’t eat certain foods and no better if you do. But you must be careful that the liberty you exercise in eating food offered to idols doesn’t offend the weak believers. 10 For if a believer with a weak conscience sees you, who have a greater understanding, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t this be a temptation to him to violate his own conscience[e] and eat food offered to idols? 11 So, in effect, by exercising your understanding of freedom, you have ruined this weak believer,[f] a brother for whom Christ has died! 12 And when you offend weaker believers by wounding their consciences in this way, you also offend[g] the Anointed One!

13 So I conclude that if my eating certain food deeply offends[h] my brother and hinders his advance in Christ, I will never eat it again. I don’t want to be guilty of causing my brother or sister to be wounded and defeated.


  1. 8:1 Or “we all have knowledge.”
  2. 8:1 That is, knowledge may make a person look important, but it is only through love that we reach our full maturity. It is simply “Love builds up.” It builds up our lives, our churches, our families, and others. Love is the most powerful substance for building what will last forever.
  3. 8:3 Explicit in the Aramaic and implied in the Greek, which can also be translated, “is known [acknowledged] by God.”
  4. 8:4 See Deut. 6:4.
  5. 8:10 Or “have his conscience built up.” Ironically, this is the same Greek word Paul used in v. 1 for love “builds up.” The implication is that the weak believer will be emboldened to violate his conscience by watching a more mature believer freely eating food offered to idols.
  6. 8:11 This is because the “freedom” of the mature could lead the immature believer back into what he feels is idol worship.
  7. 8:12 That is, “They bring an offense against the teachings of Christ,” as translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “When you sin against a weaker believer . . . you also sin against Christ.”
  8. 8:13 The Greek word skandalizō (from which we get our English word scandal) means “to throw a snare in front of someone purposely to trip them up.”

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