Take Care with Your Liberty
1Now about food sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge [concerning this]. Knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant, but love [that unselfishly seeks the best for others] builds up and encourages others to grow [in wisdom]. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows and understands anything [of divine matters, without love], he has not yet known as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].
4 In this matter, then, of eating food offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world [it has no real existence], and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, [a]who is the source of all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things [that have been created], and we [believers exist and have life and have been redeemed] through Him.
7 However, not all [believers] have this knowledge. But some, being accustomed [throughout their lives] to [thinking of] the idol until now [as real and living], still eat food [b]as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and because their conscience is weak, it is defiled (guilty, ashamed). 8 Now food will not commend us to God nor bring us close to Him; we are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better if we do eat. 9 Only be careful that this liberty of yours [this power to choose] does not somehow become a stumbling block [that is, a temptation to sin] to the weak [in conscience]. 10 For if someone sees you, a person having [c]knowledge, [d]eating in an idol’s temple, then if he is weak, will he not be encouraged to eat things sacrificed to idols [and violate his own convictions]? 11 For through your knowledge (spiritual maturity) this weak man is ruined [that is, he suffers in his spiritual life], the brother for whom Christ died. 12 And when you sin against the brothers and sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience [by confusing them], you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if [my eating a certain] food causes my brother to stumble (sin), I will not eat [such] meat ever again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
- 1 Corinthians 8:6 Lit from whom are all things.
- 1 Corinthians 8:7 In Paul’s viewpoint, meat sold at the market place (even if it had been used in idol worship) was permissible food because a pagan sacrifice was meaningless, and the meat itself could not be contaminated by any such ritual (cf Mark 7:19). Some who had accepted Christ worried that they were violating their new faith if they ate any meat without knowing its origin first-hand.
- 1 Corinthians 8:10 I.e. the knowledge that no harm can come from eating the meat, since in reality the sacrifice is meaningless (see note v 7).
- 1 Corinthians 8:10 Lit reclining, i.e. the position in which people dined.