1 Corinthians 8
Good News Translation
The Question about Food Offered to Idols
8 Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols.
It is true, of course, that “all of us have knowledge,” as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something really don't know as they ought to know. 3 But the person who loves God is known by him.
4 So then, about eating the food offered to idols: we know that an idol stands for something that does not really exist; we know that there is only the one God. 5 Even if there are so-called “gods,” whether in heaven or on earth, and even though there are many of these “gods” and “lords,” 6 yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone knows this truth. Some people have been so used to idols that to this day when they eat such food they still think of it as food that belongs to an idol; their conscience is weak, and they feel they are defiled by the food. 8 Food, however, will not improve our relation with God; we shall not lose anything if we do not eat, nor shall we gain anything if we do eat.
9 Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin. 10 Suppose a person whose conscience is weak in this matter sees you, who have so-called “knowledge,” eating in the temple of an idol; will not this encourage him to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so this weak person, your brother for whom Christ died, will perish because of your “knowledge”! 12 And in this way you will be sinning against Christ by sinning against other Christians and wounding their weak conscience. 13 So then, if food makes a believer sin, I will never eat meat again, so as not to make a believer fall into sin.Read full chapter
1 Corinthians 8
New International Version
Concerning Food Sacrificed to Idols
8 Now about food sacrificed to idols:(A) We know that “We all possess knowledge.”(B) But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something(C) do not yet know as they ought to know.(D) 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.[a](E)
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols:(F) We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world”(G) and that “There is no God but one.”(H) 5 For even if there are so-called gods,(I) whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God,(J) the Father,(K) from whom all things came(L) and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord,(M) Jesus Christ, through whom all things came(N) and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge.(O) Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak,(P) it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God;(Q) we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block(R) to the weak.(S) 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?(T) 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed(U) by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them(V) in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.(W) 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.(X)
- 1 Corinthians 8:3 An early manuscript and another ancient witness think they have knowledge do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves truly knows.
1 Corinthians 8
Freedom with Responsibility
8 1-3 The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.
4-6 Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.
7 In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive.
We need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating “idol meat,” and are sure that there’s something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn’t going to change overnight.
8-9 But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.
10 For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.
11-13 Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn’t worth it at the cost of even one of these “weak ones.” So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there’s any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.
* * *Read full chapter