1. Though to those knowing that an idol has no existence, the
question of eating meats offered to idols (referred to in the letter of
the Corinthians, compare
might seem unimportant, it is not so with some, and the infirmities of
such should be respected. The portions of the victims not offered on
the altars belonged partly to the priests, partly to the offerers; and
were eaten at feasts in the temples and in private houses and were
often sold in the markets; so that Christians were constantly exposed
to the temptation of receiving them, which was forbidden
The apostles forbade it in their decree issued from Jerusalem
(Ac 15:1-29; 21:25);
but Paul does not allude here to that decree, as he rests his precepts
rather on his own independent apostolic authority.
we know that we all have knowledge--The Corinthians doubtless had
referred to their "knowledge" (namely, of the indifference of meats, as
in themselves having no sanctity or pollution). Paul replies, "We are
aware that we all have [speaking generally, and so far as Christian
theory goes; for in
he speaks of some who practically have not] this
Knowledge puffeth up--when without "love." Here a parenthesis
begins; and the main subject is resumed in the same words,
"As concerning [touching] therefore the eating," &c. "Puffing up" is to
please self. "Edifying" is to please one's neighbor; Knowledge only
says, All things are lawful for me; Love adds, But all things do not
edifieth--tends to build up the spiritual temple
(1Co 3:9; 6:19).
2. And--omitted in the oldest manuscripts The absence of the connecting
particle gives an emphatical sententiousness to the style, suitable to
the subject. The first step to knowledge is to know our own ignorance.
Without love there is only the appearance of knowledge.
knoweth--The oldest manuscripts read a Greek word implying
personal experimental acquaintance, not merely knowledge of a fact,
which the Greek of "we know" or
as he ought to know--experimentally and in the way of "love."
3. love God--the source of love to our neighbor
(1Jo 4:11, 12, 20; 5:2).
the same--literally, "this man"; he who loves, not he who "thinks
that he knows," not having "charity" or love
(1Co 8:1, 2).
is known of him--is known with the knowledge of approval and is
acknowledged by God as His
Contrast, "I never knew you"
To love God is to know God; and he who thus knows God has been first
known by God (compare
4. As concerning, &c.--resuming the subject begun in
"As touching," &c.
idol is nothing--has no true being at all, the god it represents
is not a living reality. This does not contradict
which states that they who worship idols, worship devils; for here it
is the GODS believed by the worshippers to be
represented by the idols which are denied to have any existence,
not the devils which really under the idols delude the worshippers.
none other God--The oldest manuscripts omit the word "other"; which
gives a clearer sense.
5. "For even supposing there are (exist) gods so called
whether in heaven (as the sun, moon, and stars) or in earth (as deified
kings, beasts, &c.), as there be (a recognized fact,
Ps 135:5; 136:2)
gods many and lords many." Angels and men in authority are termed
gods in Scripture, as exercising a divinely delegated power
under God (compare
with Ex 22:28;
Ps 82:1, 6;
Joh 10:34, 35).
6. to us--believers.
of whom--from whom as Creator all things derive their existence.
we in him--rather, "we for Him," or "unto Him." God the
is the end for whom and for whose glory believers live. In
all things are said to be created (not only "by" Christ, but
also) "for Him" (CHRIST). So entirely
are the Father and Son one (compare
one Lord--contrasted with the "many lords" of heathendom
we by him--as all things are "of" the Father by creation, so they
(we believers especially) are restored to Him by the new creation
Also, as all things are by Christ by creation, so they (we
especially) are restored by Him by the new creation.
7. Howbeit--Though to us who "have knowledge"
(1Co 8:1, 4-6)
all meats are indifferent, yet "this knowledge is not in all" in the
same degree as we have it. Paul had admitted to the Corinthians that
"we all have knowledge"
that is, so far as Christian theory goes; but practically
some have it not in the same degree.
with conscience--an ancient reading; but other very old manuscripts
read "association" or "habit." In either reading the meaning is: Some
Gentile Christians, whether from old association of ideas or
misdirected conscience, when they ate such meats, ate them with some
feeling as if the idol were something real
and had changed the meats by the fact of the consecration into
something either holy or else polluted.
unto this hour--after they have embraced Christianity; an implied
censure, that they are not further advanced by this time in Christian
their conscience . . . is defiled--by their eating it "as a thing
offered to idols." If they ate it unconscious at the time that it had
been offered to idols, there would be no defilement of conscience. But
conscious of what it was, and not having such knowledge as other
Corinthians boasted of, namely, that an idol is nothing and can
therefore neither pollute nor sanctify meats, they by eating them sin
against conscience (compare
It was on the ground of Christian expediency, not to cause a
stumbling-block to "weak" brethren, that the Jerusalem decree against
partaking of such meats (though indifferent in themselves) was
Hence he here vindicates it against the Corinthian asserters of an
8. Other old manuscripts read, "Neither if we do not eat, are we the
better: neither if we eat are we the worse": the language of the eaters
who justified their eating thus [LACHMANN]. In English Version Paul
admits that "meat neither presents
[so the Greek for 'commendeth']
us as commended nor as disapproved before God": it does not affect our
standing before God
9. this liberty of yours--the watchword for lax Corinthians. The very
indifference of meats, which I concede, is the reason why ye should
"take heed" not to tempt weak brethren
to act against their conscience (which constitutes sin,
Ro 14:22, 23).
10. if any man--being weak.
which hast knowledge--The very knowledge which thou pridest thyself
will lead the weak after thy example to do that against his conscience,
which thou doest without any scruple of conscience; namely, to eat
meats offered to idols.
conscience of him which is weak--rather, "His conscience,
seeing he is weak" [ALFORD and others].
emboldened--literally, "built up." You ought to have built
up your brother in good: but by your example your building
him up is the emboldening him to violate his conscience.
11. shall . . . perish--The oldest manuscripts read
"perisheth." A single act seemingly unimportant may produce everlasting
consequences. The weak brother loses his faith, and if he do not
recover it, his salvation [BENGEL]
for whom Christ died--and for whose sake we too ought to be willing
And yet professing Christians at Corinth virtually tempted their
brethren to their damnation, so far were they from sacrificing aught
for their salvation. Note here, that it is no argument against the
dogma that Christ died for all, even for those who perish, to
say that thus He would have died in vain for many. Scripture is
our rule, not our suppositions as to consequences. More is involved in
redemption than the salvation of man: the character of God as at
once just and loving is vindicated even in the case of the lost for
they might have been saved, and so even in their case Christ has not
died in vain. So the mercies of God's providence are not in vain,
though many abuse them. Even the condemned shall manifest God's love
in the great day, in that they too had the offer of God's mercy. It
shall be the most awful ingredient in their cup that they might have
been saved but would not: Christ died to redeem even them.
12. wound their weak conscience--literally, "smite their
conscience, being (as yet) in a weak state." It aggravates the
cruelty of the act that it is committed on the weak, just as if one were
to strike an invalid.
against Christ--on account of the sympathy between Christ and His
Ac 9:4, 5).
13. meat--Old English for "food" in general.
make . . . to offend--Greek, "is a stumbling-block to."
no flesh--In order to ensure my avoiding flesh offered to idols, I
would abstain from all kinds of flesh, in order not
to be a stumbling-block to my brother.