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[a]Now food will not bring us closer to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do.(A) But make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.(B) 10 If someone sees you, with your knowledge, reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience too, weak as it is, be “built up” to eat the meat sacrificed to idols? 11 Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died.(C) 12 When you sin in this way against your brothers and wound their consciences, weak as they are, you are sinning against Christ. 13 [b](D)Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause my brother to sin.

Chapter 9[c]

Paul’s Rights as an Apostle. Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?(E) Although I may not be an apostle for others, certainly I am for you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.


  1. 8:8–9 Although the food in itself is morally neutral, extrinsic circumstances may make the eating of it harmful. A stumbling block: the image is that of tripping or causing someone to fall (cf. 1 Cor 8:13; 9:12; 10:12, 32; 2 Cor 6:3; Rom 14:13, 20–1). This is a basic moral imperative for Paul, a counterpart to the positive imperative to “build one another up”; compare the expression “giving offense” as opposed to “pleasing” in 1 Cor 10:32–33.
  2. 8:13 His own course is clear: he will avoid any action that might harm another Christian. This statement prepares for the paradigmatic development in 1 Cor 9.
  3. 9:1–27 This chapter is an emotionally charged expansion of Paul’s appeal to his own example in 1 Cor 8:13; its purpose is to reinforce the exhortation of 1 Cor 8:9. The two opening questions introduce the themes of Paul’s freedom and his apostleship (1 Cor 9:1), themes that the chapter will develop in reverse order, 1 Cor 9:1–18 treating the question of his apostleship and the rights that flow from it, and 1 Cor 9:19–27 exploring dialectically the nature of Paul’s freedom. The language is highly rhetorical, abounding in questions, wordplays, paradoxes, images, and appeals to authority and experience. The argument is unified by repetitions; its articulations are highlighted by inclusions and transitional verses.