Category Archives: 1 CORINTHIANS 8

Instruction as to the relationship of the believer to idolatry.

1 CORINTHIANS 8

SURVEY OF THE CHAPTER
We come now to the third of the questions the Corinthians had for the apostle.  It seems that many of those in the assembly at Corinth had been idol-worshippers before they were saved.  It seems, also, that some of them had found it difficult to shake off their old habits.  This might seem incredible, until we take into account the powerful hold that demons have upon those who give themselves over to worshipping them via an idol.  Before we are too harsh in our criticism of them, we might ask ourselves whether we have carried anything over from our pre-conversion days.  The apostle had to remind the Colossian believers that covetousness is idolatry, Colossians 3:5, and the apostle John warned his readers to keep themselves from idols, 1 John 5:21, so the danger is very real.  It is true that if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, and old things have passed away, and all things have become new; but that is God’s judicial attitude to the matter in view of the sin-offering work of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17,21.  In practice, we carry many things over.  The only difference is that the carry-over by the Corinthians was very serious, because it involved association with demon activity.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 8, VERSES 1 TO 6:

8:1  Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

8:2  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

8:3  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

8:4  As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

8:5  For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER 

(a) Verse 1a  The question stated.
(b) Verses 1b-3 The relationship between knowledge and love.
(c) Verses 4-6 The relationship between the believer and God.
(d) Verses 7-8  The relationship between the believer and idols.
(e) Verses 9-13 The relationship between a strong believer and his weak brother.

(a)    Verse 1a     The question stated.

8:1  Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

Now as touching- this is the formula used to introduce a question that the Corinthians posed to the apostle in a letter to him.  It is the same as “now concerning” in 7:1, 12:1, 16:1.
Things offered unto idols- in the idol temple were the offerings presented to the idol in worship.  The question at issue is whether the believer can have any association with that practice.

(b)    Verses 1b-3    The relationship between knowledge and love.

This section is in a parenthesis, as the apostle digresses briefly to write on the subject of knowledge.
We know that we all have knowledge- the apostle enlarges on this in the next section.  Because every true believer has eternal life, and that eternal life involves the knowledge of God, John 17:3, the apostle is justified in saying that all believers, in principle, have knowledge.  Not all believers put that knowledge into practice, however, as we shall see in verse 7.  Neither do all believers use that knowledge in love, as we shall see from verses 9-12.
Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth- two things should be borne in mind about knowledge.  First, that knowledge, in isolation, will tend to puff up the carnal believer, so that he imagines he is superior to others, and so becomes inflated with pride.  Love, on the other hand, in harmony with knowledge, will edifiy, or build up, the spiritual character of both the one loving and the one loved.  The apostle will write in chapter 13:6 that love rejoices with the truth, so he is not here setting knowledge and love in opposition, but showing that they should act together.  This sets the tone for the rest of the teaching of the chapter.

8:2  And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing- this is the second thing to be borne in mind about knowledge.  If wrongly applied, it leads to behaviour contrary to love, (verse 1), and contrary to God, (verse 3).  There were those at Corinth who thought that because they now knew, as believers, that an idol is nothing, then they could still go into an idol’s temple.  The use of the word “thinketh” hints at the fact that they were allowing this knowledge to puff them up in pride, believing they could reason the matter through without recourse to the truth of God, and act in this matter with impunity.
He knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know- his thinking needs to be adjusted, so that a right relationship between knowledge and love may be established.  He knows some things about the matter of idol-worship, but his knowledge is incomplete, in the sense that he does not know how to relate knowledge and love together.  This ignorance the apostle seeks to correct.  If it is not corrected, then all his knowledge as a believer will be affected, so crucial is this question- it will be as if he knows nothing properly.

8:3  But if any man love God, the same is known of Him.

But if any man love God- “lover of God” can be thought of as one definition of a Christian.  The apostle uses it like this in Romans 8:28.  Love to God is very relevant here, because God demands that we love Him with all the heart, soul, strength and mind, Luke 10:27.  Those who have associations as believers with idols, are not fulfilling this command, for their hearts are divided.  The prophets likened idolatry to spiritual adultery, for the affections are drawn away from Him.
The same is known of Him- this puts the whole matter into context, for the believer is brought into a living relationship with God, so that it can be said that God knows him.  Since God knows the believer, He must be living, intelligent and loving.  Of no idol can this be said.  To seek a relationship with a dead idol is contrary to the essence of Christianity.

(c)    Verses 4-6    The relationship between the believer and God.

8:4  As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols- the apostle has now ended the digression of verse 1b to 3, and now repeats the matter he is dealing with.
We know that an idol is nothing in the world- as is said in verse 1, we all have knowledge, and this is the relevant example of that knowledge, namely, that an idol is nothing.  This knowledge is derived first from the Old Testament scriptures.  For example, Psalm 96:5 states very clearly that “all the gods of the heathen are idols”, the word “idol” meaning “nothing”.  It is also to be derived form the New Testament, for we find that Paul’s word to the idolaters of Lystra was that “ye should turn from these vanities to the living God”, Acts 14:15.  Here the word vanity means “that which is vain, unprofitable and useless”.  This is not to say that idols do not exist- they are not “nothing” in that sense, but they are of no value when it comes to getting to know and worship God.  Notice that the idol is in the world, as well as being nothing.  The Christian has to do with the God of heaven.
And that there is none other God but one- there is only one Being who can possible be given the name God with a capital “G”.  It is not possible for there to be more than one omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being, for it there were, they would share power, and not be all powerful.  And only a being that is all powerful, all knowing and all present is worthy to be called God.  The knowledge that this is so is in-built into us, however men might fight against the concept.  The only way to make sense of everything is to believe in the God of the Bible.  He is the source of reason and logic, so when a professed atheist seeks to argue that there is no God, he is in fact proving there is.  He has to “borrow” the Christian’s God in order to deny Him!  This, of course, is self-defeating, and therefore wrong.

8:5  For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

For though there be that are called gods- the heathen might call their idols gods, but that does mean they are in fact God.  The very fact that there is a plurality of gods would remind us of their falseness.  The heathen had lost the idea of the One Supreme God, who encompasses in Himself every conceivable virtue and good characteristic.  This is why they had a pantheon, (meaning “all the gods”), an array of gods that they felt were needed to make up the full number of virtues.  So they had a god of love, a god of war, a god of pity, and so on, each one making a contribution to the whole.
In the beginning God had made man after His likeness, and in His image, so that He might be reproduced and represented by man on the earth.  Now, having fallen from that high estate, man makes a god in his image, and even deifies his own lusts and passions.
Whether in heaven or in earth- the heathen had their visible gods, housed in their temples on earth, but behind these were the sinister forces of evil in the heavens, the demon powers that they worshipped, wittingly or unwittingly.  What else, other than Satanic force, would make a man bow down before a lump of wood, or silver, or gold, and pray to it and even worship it?  This is darkness indeed!  This is the result of turning from the knowledge of the True God that was known at the beginning, and allowing Satan to blind their minds.
(as there be gods many, and lords many,)- these idols are not only called gods, but lords as well, and they are many.  Every sort of mentality of man is catered for.  Every situation has its saviour-god.  And all in opposition to the True God of heaven.  Not only are these gods the objects of worship, but they are the objects of fear, too, for they are lords.  They dominate the lives of their devotees, holding them in superstitious dread.  One of the major gods in the Old Testament times was Baal, a name which means “lord”.

8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.

But to us there is but one God, the Father- by his use of the word “but” the apostle indicates that he is now presenting the alternative to the pagan view of the idea of “God”.  To us Christians, taught as we are by the Spirit of Truth through the Scriptures, there is only one God, and He makes Himself known now as the Father.  It was not always so, for God was not called Father by Old Testament saints.  He had fatherly characteristics, it is true, (“like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him”, Psalm 103:13), but until the Son of God came into the world God was not known as Father, although in fact He has ever been the Father of the Son.  So it is that the Lord Jesus can say to His Father “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it”, John 17:26.  And before He ascended He declared, “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father”, John 20:17.

Some have taken this phrase out of its context and taught that the Father is the only Person who can rightly be called God, and that the Lord Jesus must therefore be called God in a lesser sense, thus denying His Deity.  This is heresy, and should be thought of as such.  No person who denies the Deity of Christ will be in heaven, for He said Himself, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”, John 5:24.  And what was the “word” that was to be heard?  It was the word or theme of His Deity, for He had just declared, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work”, verse 17, and the Jews, alert to anything that they thought to be an attack on the integrity of their God, responded by seeking to kill Him, since He had, to their mind, made Himself “equal with God”, verse 18.  So belief in the Son’s equality with God is vital, for only those who believe this have passed from death in trespasses and sins into the possession of everlasting life.  The apostle is so confident and assured about the truth of the Deity of Christ that he can pen a statement which at first glance seems to deny it

To be equal with God means to have equal attributes to God, about which we may say three things:
They are underived attributes:
 He is the only Uncaused Being.  “From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God”, Psalm 90:2.
 He is the Cause of all things that have come into existence.  “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.”  Romans 11:36.
 He is the basis of all reality, for He is the God of truth, and truth is that which corresponds to things as they really are.  “The God of truth”, Isaiah 65:16.
 He is self-sufficient.  “God that made the world…neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needeth any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things”, Acts 17:24,25.

They are unchanging attributes:
 He is perfect, so He never needs to change for the better.  “As for God, His way is perfect”, Psalm 18:30.
 He is infinitely holy, so He will never change for the worse.  “The seraphims…and one cried unto another, and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts'”, Isaiah 6:2,3.

They are unlimited attributes:
 God is of infinite quality, being essentially good.  “Thou art good, and doest good”, Psalm 119:68.  In other words, God is not simply good in theory, but good in practice also.
 God is of infinite duration, being eternal.  “Unto the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17.
 God is of infinite presence, being everywhere. “Whither shall I flee from Thy presence?” Psalm 139:7.  God is “not far from any one of us”, Acts 17:27.
 He is of infinite power, being all-powerful.  “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?”  Jeremiah 32:27.  “For with God nothing shall be impossible”, Luke 1:37.
 God is of infinite knowledge, being all-knowing.  “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world”, Acts 15:18.  “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth”, 2 Chronicles 16:9.  This knowledge is not limited to the past and the present, for God has foreknowledge of all things; He does not have to wait for them to happen before knowing them.

These, then, are the attributes, or qualities that Christ Jesus had eternally within the Godhead.  He did not think it robbery to share them equally with the Father and the Spirit, according to Philippians 2:6.  Despite all this, and indeed because of all this, He was prepared to make Himself of no reputation, take manhood, and humble Himself to the death of the cross.  When He came into manhood, He did not leave His Deity behind.  One who is truly God cannot leave Deity behind, for the nature of God is unchanging, Malachi 3:6.  What Christ did do, however, is take upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, Philippians 2:7; so He added something to His Person, namely manhood.  He is now God and man in one Person.
This is why He could say “All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him”, Matthew 11:27.  So no man unaided can know the Father, but through the Son he can know Him.  However, no man can know the Son in the very essence of His being, for only the Father can grasp the mystery of the Son, who is God and man in one Person.  Truly “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh”, 1 Timothy 3:16.

Further things that need to be noted in relation to the Deity of Christ:
 He is Son of God in a sense different to angels, Adam, or believers, who are all called sons of God.  The sonship of believers is derived, His is eternal, and therefore underived.
 In John 10:30-36, the expressions “I and My Father are one”, “makest Thyself God”, and “I am the Son of God”, mean the same thing, and signify His Deity.  If this were not so, the Jews would not have attempted to stone Him for blasphemy.
 To be the son of someone or something in Bible times meant to share their nature.  “Son of thunder”, “sons of Belial (worthlessness), “son of perdition”, “son of man”.  As Son of God, the Lord Jesus shares the nature of God.  Believers are sons by adoption; He is un-originated and eternal.
 If the foregoing were not so, He could not be the Only-begotten Son, for He would not be alone, and that title indicates He is.

THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A CENTRAL DOCTRINE
 The apostle Paul described himself as “separated unto the gospel of God…concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord”, Romans 1:1,3.  So the Deity of Christ is central to the gospel message.
 “and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth from all sin”, 1 John 1:7.  The Deity of Christ is the reason His blood cleanseth from sin.
 “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life”, 1 John 5:12.  The Deity of Christ must be believed before life from God is given.  To have not the Son means to reject the doctrine of His Sonship, which involves His Deity.
 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God”, 1 John 4:15.  Those who believe the doctrine of His Deity are secure in God, and have the Spirit of God dwelling within.
 “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God…on this rock”, Matthew 16:16,18.  The Deity of Christ is the foundation upon which the true church is built.

THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A CONSISTENT DOCTRINE
 In Genesis 1:1 a plural noun, “God”, is used with a singular verb, “created”.  This can only be possible if the three persons of the Godhead are one.
 In Malachi 3:1- “I will send My messenger, (John the Baptist), and he shall prepare the way before Me”.  Yet in Mark 1:2 we read, “As is written in the prophets, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee'”.  So to prepare the way before Christ is to prepare the way before Jehovah.  Again, in Mark 1:3, John the Baptist prepares “the way of the Lord”, meaning Jehovah, for this is a quotation from Isaiah 40:3.  But John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ.
 In Matthew 2:23 we discover that the child born is “God with us”.
 In Revelation 22:12,13 the one who comes quickly declares, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last”. But these are Divine titles, as found in Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 41:4; 44:6.

So at the beginning and end of both the Old and the New Testaments, the Deity of Christ is set forth in some way.  And this is true of all that lies between.

THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A CONTESTED DOCTRINE
 “He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son”, 1 John 2:22.
 “And it (the little horn, a symbol of the Antichrist) cast down the truth to the ground”, Daniel 8:12.
 “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time”, 1 John 2:18.
 “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:  for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds”, 2 John 9-11.

THE DEITY OF CHRIST IS A DOCTRINE TO BE CONTENDED FOR
 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”, 2 Timothy 4:7.
 “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints”, Jude 3.

THE DEITY OF CHRIST DIVIDES MEN INTO BELIEVERS OR UNBELIEVERS
 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him”, John 3:36.
 “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins”, John 8:24.
 “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life”, 1 John 5:12.
 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God”, 1 John 4:15.

To return to our verse.  In view of the statements from Scripture just quoted, and since Scripture does not contradict itself, we shall have to ask what the apostle means when he says “to us there is one God, even the Father”.  We have noted that the “but” introduces a contrast to what pagans think.  The expression “to us” reminds us that the apostle is presenting what Christians believe.  So since to be a Christian one must believe in the Deity of Christ, and since here Christians believers are said to hold that “there is one God, even the Father”, there must be some explanation which reconciles these things satisfactorily.
It has often been remarked that “a text out of context is a pretext”.  In other words, a text of Scripture taken out of its setting, its context, can become the pretext or starting-point of error.  And this is the case here.  The statement in question must be taken in relation to its surroundings.  The apostle has spoken of “gods many and lords many”.  Now those gods were the same as the lords.  The false gods of the heathen lorded over their devotees, and held them in fear.  So the apostle is not setting gods apart from lords, as if there were two varieties of false deity.  So by the same token he is not setting the Father over against the Son.  Indeed, we could look on the fact that the gods were equal to the lords as a proof that the Father is equal to the Son, and vice versa.

When the apostle is thinking of the fact that the gods falsely claim deity, he counters this by saying that to the Christian, Deity, considered purely as Deity, (and leaving aside all other considerations, such as the Deity of Christ), is represented by the Father, for the Son of God is God and man, and therefore is not simply Deity.

When the apostle is thinking of the fact that the gods falsely claim lordship, he counters this by saying that to us Christians lordship, considered purely as lordship, (and leaving aside all other considerations, such as the Lordship of the Father), is represented by the Lord Jesus, for He “died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord, both of the dead and living”, Romans 14:9.  Of course this verse applies only to Christ, and not the Father, although He is Lord too.

If there are those who wish to use this verse to assert that the Lord Jesus is not God, then, to be consistent, they must use it to show that the Father is not Lord, for “to us there is one Lord, Jesus Christ”. 

Of whom are all things- in the Godhead, various functions are the special province of each Person.  Here we learn that all things are “of” the Father; that is, they are out from Him as to their source and initiation.  Now the Godhead is one, as Deuteronomy 6:4 declares in the words “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord”.  (Which verse was quoted by the Lord Jesus when He was on earth, so it was not an embarrassment to Him in view of His claim to be equal with God.  The word “one” is a composite word, and contains within itself the idea of plurality in unity, and unity in plurality).  So it can be said of the Godhead as a whole that all things are out from God.  But in the order and harmony that prevails between the Persons of the Godhead, the Father, (as the very name would suggest), is the initiator, on behalf of all.  Just as the Son can do nothing of Himself, John 5:12, because Divine persons are unable to act contrary to one another or in independence, so the Father does nothing of Himself, as independent to the Son and the Spirit.
Now this, of course, cannot be said of heathen gods.  The evil spirits that govern idolatry can indeed initiate evil things, but they are certainly not the initiating cause of all things, for they are fallen creatures, and as creatures, they have a Creator.  What folly, therefore, to have any association with such fallen creatures.  And yet, this was what some of the Corinthians were doing.
And we in Him- now the preposition used here is the very opposite of the word “of”.  If that word means “out of”, this one means “into”.  It is translated very appropriately by the Authorised Version as “in Him”, since the Greek preposition used here means both.  When “eis” is translated by “in” it implies previous motion into the place specified.  So the apostle is saying that the believer’s true position as being in the Father, is the result of Divine grace putting him there.  So all things, physical and spiritual, originate with our Father, and this spiritual position of security originates with Him too.  Of course it goes without saying that no evil spirit could achieve this.
And one Lord Jesus Christ- in the Godhead, therefore, now that He has come into manhood, the Lord Jesus is the one who exercises Lordship, in harmony, of course, with the Father and the Spirit.  The Father is called Lord by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:25, and the Spirit is called Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:17, but the administration of Divine Lordship is carried out by the Son.  As already noted, He died, rose, and revived, that He might be Lord, Romans 14:9.
By whom are all things- it is through the agency of the Son of God that all things have been brought into being.  He is God’s Firstborn Son, (as well as His Only-begotten), and He it is who administers for the Godhead.  We read in John 1:3 that “all things were made by Him”, and in Colossians 1:16 we read “all things were created by Him”.  The word “by” in these two quotations is the same in Greek as is used in the verse we are considering.  God could not use any agent outside of Himself when He created in the beginning, for the simple reason that there were none to use.  What the Persons of the Godhead did do, however, was use one of their number to bring all things into being.  This is a testimony to the Deity of the Son.  That this is not an independent act on the part of the Son is seen in the fact that of God it is said that “of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen”, Romans 11:36.  The Persons of the Godhead are in total harmony, yet each has his distinctive role.
And we by Him- it is also through the agency of the Son that believers are what they are.  Not only so, He preserves what He establishes.  The Corinthians are being reminded that everything there is came into being through Divine Persons, and nothing may be attributed to other powers, least of all demonic ones.  Believers owe their creation, salvation, preservation, and eventual glorification to the Son of God.  What ingratitude to turn from Him and face an idol in worship!  One of the reasons God insisted that Israel keep away from idolatry was that He declares Himself to be a jealous God, Exodus 20:4,5.  One of the prime things He is jealous of is the honour of His Son, who is the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15.  To have to do with idols is to incur God’s displeasure.
When he was thinking of the Father, the apostle used opposite prepositions to show that all was out of Him and all should gravitate towards Him.  When he speaks of the Son, however, he uses the same preposition.  All things were, and are, through the Son, and by His agency believers are what they are, and shall be what they shall be.  So we could say that what the Father initiates and consummates, He does through the Son.  Every action is contained within the Godhead, so there is no room for exterior forces, good or (least of all), evil.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 8, VERSES 7 TO 13:

8:7  Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

8:8  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.

8:9  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

8:10  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;

8:11  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

8:12  But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

8:13  Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. 

(c)     Verses 7-8    The relationship between the believer and idols.

8:7  Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge- strange as it may seem, some of the Corinthian believers were not fully aware of the fact that God was the One who claimed their sole attention.  Such was the hold that demons have upon idol-worshippers, that even persons saved from idolatry may have a lingering fear of them, and may seek to placate them with offerings.  Of course no true believer will attribute Deity to a demon, but superstitious fear may be very difficult to eradicate, unless the truth of God is firmly taught and grasped.  This is the key, the knowledge of God, which knowledge comes through Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3.  A right view of Christ will put everything into perspective.
For some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol- some Corinthians believers, even to the time of the writing of the epistle, (having therefore been saved for some time), were still eating “it”, that is, a thing offered to an idol.  The apostle does not seem to be able to bring himself to say “sacrifice”, so abhorrent is idolatry to him.  The reason they did this was that they had “conscience of the idol”.  That is, their conscience before conversion had become so hardened to worshipping idols that even now they were saved they had a lingering fear of the consequences of renouncing idolatry completely.
And their conscience being weak is defiled- before, their conscience was hardened; now it is weak, because they had not come into the enjoyment of full liberty in Christ, who has defeated the powers of evil utterly by His cross, Colossians 2:15.  Being weak, and not fortified by Christian truth, these believers had now made their conscience defiled by what they were doing.  The Old Testament spoke of the pollution of idolatry, for example in Ezekiel 20:31.

8:8  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.

But meat commendeth us not to God- note how gently the apostle deals with this matter.  He will be severe in chapter 10, but here he argues from the point of view of what God accepts.  Even if Christians were to offer meat as an offering to God, that would gain them no favour with Him, for the days of animal sacrifice are over.  How much less would offering meat to an idol commend them to God, then.
For neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse- not only does offering meat to God gain us no advantage, but not offering it does not mean we fall short of His approval in the sense of not being so near to God as we might be. The word “commend” has the idea of being placed near.  So the apostle is saying you are neither nearer to God if you eat sacrifices, nor are you further off if you do not.  So if the offering and eating of meat is of no advantage even when done in connection with the worship of God, it is certainly of no use if offered to a wicked demon.

(d)    Verses 9-13    The relationship between a strong believer and his weak brother.

8:9  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s- Paul distances himself from their liberty.  It is not true Christian liberty, but the spurious liberty of those who claim to be able, as believers, to worship in an idol’s temple without consequences.  He rather dismissively calls it “this liberty of your’s”, as if to say, “which liberty I do not share, because it is not true Christian liberty”.
Become a stumblingblock to them that are weak- the liberty might be theirs, but the effects are shared by others, even by those whose conscience is not yet strong through acquaintance with the truth of God.  Conscience is that faculty which enables us to relate truths to one another and come to a conclusion.  Conscience, if it is to function correctly, must be informed through the Word of God.  Those whose conscience is not well informed have weak consciences, and are easily led astray.  The false liberty of some would be an obstacle to weak brothers on the path to spiritual maturity.

8:10  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;

For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple- beginning with “for” as it does, this is the explanation of how a weak brother may be stumbled.  It does not say “see thee which has conscience of the idol”, for that would make it appear that Paul approved of them carrying over conscience of the idol from their unsaved days.  He says “hast knowledge”.  The gospel has given him the knowledge of the true state of affairs as regards idols, but he is disregarding it, and in rebellion against it is going into a heathen temple, sitting down there with the worshippers, and sharing the meat that has been offered to idols.  It is not even that he has taken some food and has moved into a dark corner where he cannot be seen.  On the contrary, he is “reclining at table”, such is the force of the words “sit at meat”.  Brazenly and openly the man is enjoying the banquet.  This is bad enough, but there is worse, for a weak brother has followed him inside the temple, and can now see what is going on.
Shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols- as a result, the weak brother’s conscience has now had information given to it.  That information is to the effect that it is acceptable for a believer to eat meat in an idol’s temple.  This is harmful information, and because his conscience is not so informed by the Word of God as it should or could be, the weak conscience of the brother encourages him to do the same thing, and engage in idol-worship.

8:11  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish- the word perish means “to lose well-being”.  It is used in Luke 5:37 of the spoiling of wineskins so that they no longer can be put to their proper use.  This is what concerns the apostle, for weak brethren can be so influenced that their proper calling of pleasing God can be destroyed, and they become useless.  And this is done when knowledge is rebelled against.  It is the knowledge that the brother has as a Christian, but it is knowledge that he is ignoring- yet he is still reckoned by the apostle to have that knowledge, and he will be held responsible at the Judgement Seat of Christ for what use he made of it.  Was it to edify, or to destroy?
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For whom Christ died?  The Lord Jesus died that this person might have the knowledge of God, and be freed from the power of Satan.  Now this person’s fellow-believer is acting so as to bring him back within the influence of Satan.  Christ died to bring him into the highest blessing of fellowship with God, and yet his brother is dragging him down, so that he cannot enjoy that blessing.

8:12  But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

But when ye sin so against the brethren- having presented arguments as to why going into an idol’s temple is not advisable, the apostle very pointedly labels it a sin, and more particularly a sin against the brethren, for to cause a brother to perish, or lose his spiritual well-being, is to sin.  This is true in every sphere, so believers should be very careful what they allow, lest it cause other believers to perish in this way also.
And wound their weak conscience- their conscience was already weak, and now it is wounded.  Being weak, it was not in a healthy state; now, instead of seeking to heal and to restore, a wound is inflicted which will make the condition far worse.  Surgeons often need to cut a patient in order to deal with disease, but they do not cut to wound but to heal.
Ye sin against Christ- such is the vital unity between Christ the Head of the body and each individual member, to wound a believer is to wound Christ.  Paul learnt this truth on the road to Damascus, for to persecute believers was to persecute Christ, Acts 9:5.  This means that our attitude to fellow-believers should always be governed by the fact that they are joined to Christ, and to affect them is to affect Him.

8:13  Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. 

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend- the section closes on a very personal note, as the apostle leads the way for others to follow.  He will write in 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”.  He who had no inclination to go into an idols temple and eat meat offered to the idol, now undertakes to eat no meat of any sort, whether offered to idols to idols or not, if doing so is going to cause a fellow-believer to be tripped up on the pathway of Christian progress.  This is a challenge to all believers; are we prepared to change our behaviour if it is causing others to be harmed spiritually?  Or shall we press on regardless, and care not that we hurt Christ?