1 Corinthians


6. Eating food offered to idols, 8:1-11:1

i] The issue of food offered to idols


Paul now addresses a further question put to him by the Corinthian believers with regard their right to eat food associated with idolatry, 8:1-11:1. In 8:1-13 Paul agrees with the Corinthian libertines' ("the strong") claim that there is only one God, that there are no idol gods and that eating food, wherever it may have come from, is of no consequence to God. Yet, Paul goes on to show that the libertines' "knowledge"(their claim to a gifted spiritual insight that gives them independence) is really quite flawed. God may not be interested in food, but he is concerned if a believer's action destroys the faith of a brother or sister. So, in dealing with the problem, Paul makes the point that we cannot function independently of a brother's, or sister's, welfare; love must motivate our actions.


i] Context: See 1:1-3. In this section of Paul's letter, running from 8:1 to 11:1, Paul deals with a question put to him by the Corinthian believers concerning their right to eat food associated with idolatry, eg., eating at pagan celebrations and/or eating food consecrated to idols. He makes the point that although we have found freedom in Christ, we are not free to act in a way that undermines a brother's faith. So, in 8:1-18 Paul focuses on the strategy and personal example of foregoing one's rights for the other. Then, in 8:19-23, Paul goes on to "show that standing in solidarity with the other, as against autonomy or self-affirmation, lies at the heart of the gospel", Thiselton.

In chapter 9, Paul details his own example of self-control for the sake of the gospel, and goes on to explain that although he has found liberty / freedom in Christ, he happily becomes "all thing to all men" for the sake of their salvation. Like an athlete, Paul willingly pummels his body, pushing past his desire for self-indulgence, or his own rights, and does this to achieve the prize, namely, the salvation of the lost. Paul writes with the intention that his example should be followed by those who demand the freedom to eat food associated with idols at the possible expense of a brother's salvation.

In chapter 10, Paul exposes the real danger facing believers who attend meals in the idol temples, a danger evident in the national life of Israel, v1-13. He then applies this example, stating that such attendance is incompatible with the Christian life, v14-22. Finally, Paul deals with the practical issue of eating meat from the market place, meat which would most likely has been offered to idols, 10:23-11:1.


ii] Background: In his former / lost letter to the Corinthians (presumably a first letter, now lost, although this is disputed), Paul told the church to abstain from idolatry and immorality. It seems that the response of many of the members was to oppose this advice on the basis that, as they were now members of Christ's church and worshiping the true God, then their attendance at functions in the local temple was neither here nor there. The idol represented nothing, so where was the problem? This issue is then put to Paul in a letter from some members of the Corinthian church, and so prompts the chapters before us.

When it comes to the actual offenders, it is usually argued that they are the libertine members of the congregation, and that their actions are offending other members of the congregation with a weak conscience. Hurd, in The Origin of 1 Corinthians, 1965, has led the charge against this view. He contends that the whole Corinthian congregation is libertine and that Paul's reference to those of a weak conscience is hypothetical / for argument sake; see Garland. The issue remains unresolved.


iii] Structure: The issue of food offered to idols:

Topic: About eating idol-meat, v1a.

Propositions, v1-6:

Love takes precedence over knowledge, v1-3:

Monotheism requires exclusive loyalty to God, v4-6;

The conscience of a believer of weak faith is easily defiled, v7.

Warning / Instruction: v8-9:

Food plays no part in a person's relationship with God.

Food must not be a stumbling block for the weak.

Explanation, v10-12:

Improper actions can destroy a believer of weak faith.

Conclusion, v13:

dioper, "Therefore",

if eating idol-meat causes a brother to stumble,

"I will not eat it.""


iv] Interpretation:

Proposition: A believer cannot function independently of a brother, or sister's, welfare.


Paul begins by introducing the subject, "Now regarding the issue you raised concerning eating food that has been offered to idols", v1a. He then establishes two principles which he qualifies: First, believers possess knowledge, although love takes precedence over knowledge since love links us with the divine, while knowledge inflates self-conceit and is limited in scope, v1b-3; Second, there is but one God and so idols are nothing, although Christian monotheism requires exclusive loyalty to the true God, v4-6. One can argue from this that eating food offered to idols is inconsequential; "Food will not affect our standing with God. We are not minus something, if we do not eat; and we are not plus something, if we do eat", Barclay, v8. Yet, Paul goes on to argue that attending temple banquets, feasting on foods offered to idols, may easily "scandalize fellow Christians, especially those with weak consciences", Fitzmyer, v6-10. Consequently, one believer's freedom has destroyed another believer's salvation; such is a sin against Christ, v11-12. Paul concludes by providing a personal example; dioper, "therefore". "Given the seriousness of such a sin, he personally will avoid anything that might put a weak brother at risk", Garland, v13.


Two important key words:

IEidwloqutwn, "food offered to idols." The actual problem addressed by Paul is somewhat unclear. It may just be that the eating of temple meat / foods, consecrated in idol worship, is the issue at hand. Given that much of the food available in Corinth was likely sourced from pagan worship, then the buying and eating of this food would pose a serious ethical problem for the Christian community. On the other hand, the issue may be more specific. It is possible that some of the believers were actually participating in local cultic festivals at Corinth. These would be social, as well as religious occasions, part of everyday life. Whatever the actual situation, the libertine Corinthian believers, "the strong", seem to think that their "knowledge", their gifted spiritual insight, gives them the freedom to either buy and/or attend and that Paul did not have the authority to direct them on this matter.


IGnwsiV, "knowledge"? Paul has already noted that the Corinthians are rich in "knowledge", 1:5. When it comes to "this knowledge", we are unsure of the actual content of the gifted spiritual insight possessed by the Corinthian libertines which promotes in them a sense of liberty / freedom and assurance. Their "knowledge" certainly blinded them to the damage they were doing to believers of a more sensitive nature (probably law-bound believers, of whom many would be converted Jews). Such "knowledge" could be heretical, a form of Gnosticism, or just a form of Christian theology which is incomplete, warped and badly applied.

Although Christian theology is always influenced by the secular environment, it is surely best to see the Corinthian problem as primarily Christian, rather than platonic, so "theological knowledge", Barnett. Given the central place of the law / grace debate in the early church, there is a good possibility that the "knowledge" is based on a flawed version of Paul's doctrine of justification. Has the slogan "for freedom Christ has set us free" overpowered the notion of responsibility, ie., has the indicative has overpowered the imperative? They now claim to "possess knowledge" and so are free.

We do well to remember Luther's words in his "Liberty of a Christian Man": "A Christian man is a most free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian man is a most dutiful servant of all, subject to all." The Corinthian libertines have seemingly forgotten this paradox and adopted a form of perfectionism. Paul's task is to remind them to apply the imperative of love.

Note that Paul is using the word "knowledge" differently to the word "wisdom". With "wisdom" there is the wisdom of God, the gospel, and the wisdom of the world, secular rationalizations.


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 8:1

Eating food offered to idols, v1-13: i] Three key propositions on which Paul develops his argument: a) Love takes precedence over knowledge, v1-3. Paul sets out to examine a position argued by libertine members of the Corinthian congregation, namely, that eating food associated with idols is not a problem for a believer, given that the idol-gods are no gods. These libertines, "the strong", claim to have acquired a spiritual independence, a "knowledge", that guides their Christian life (and their ethically insensitive behavior). As Paul puts it, "we know that (as you claim) 'all believers have a special gift of knowledge.'" The problem is, the Christian walk is not one of self-sufficiency controlled by some special gift of spiritual insight (especially when that insight is flawed, as here), but is one of love, of the upbuilding of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and this shaped by a growing knowledge of the revealed will of God.

peri + gen. "about" - concerning, about. Reference; "with reference to / concerning." Paul now writes on an issue raised in a letter from the Corinthians: "on the subject of", Thiselton.

twn eidwloqutwn (oV) adj. "food sacrificed to idols" - the idolatrous sacrifices. The adjective serves as a substantive. The meaning of this word is unclear. The NIV follows the traditional line of food (possibly "meat")"sacrificed / offered" to idols. The issue may specifically concern eating "meat consecrated to heathen deities", REB. Paul's position seems to be that it is acceptable to eat such foods, when purchased as part of normal commerce, 10:25-33, but that it is unacceptable to eat such foods at cultic meals in pagan temples. The principle of love, of leading a brother astray, guides this conclusion.

oJti "that" - [we know] that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows. A majority of commentators believe that the conjunction here is introducing direct speech, "we know that (as you claim) 'all have knowledge'", Bruce, cf. REB., Paul is saying that he is fully aware of the slogan used by the Corinthian libertines, "the strong": "all of us possess knowledge." The "all / everyone" is probably "all believers." Paul goes on to show that when it comes to divine knowledge and its application, the libertines "knowledge" is flawed, 8:7.

ecomen (ecw) pres. "we [all] possess" - we have. As a claim of the Corinthians the expression needs weight, so "possess", as NIV.

gnwsiV (iV ewV) "knowledge" - [all] knowledge. Nominative subject of the verb "to puff up." We are tempted to view this "knowledge", possessed by the Corinthian libertines, as a special spiritual gift of insight which serves to promote their assurance, self-awareness and freedom. So, eating at pagan feasts is not a problem for such self-aware believers. Obviously, we need to distinguish between the libertines flawed knowledge and the business of knowing divine wisdom / knowledge. Paul simply uses the anarthrous noun gnwsiV, "knowledge", as a technical identifier for the libertines' particular spiritual insight, but this sense does not come out in the different translations. Few translations try to distinguish the libertines' "knowledge" from the act of knowing God's will. The NIV uses "this knowledge" to identify the libertines' gnwsiV, although without quotation marks.

fusioi (fusiow) pres. "puffs up" - [knowledge] causes conceit, haughtiness, arrogance, pride. The present tense is probably gnomic, expressing a universal principle. "Puffs a person up with pride", TEV.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrast.

oikodomei (oikodomew) "builds up" - [love] edifies, builds up, strengthens. The person who loves will consider the welfare of others; "love makes us helpful to others", CEV.


As far as Paul is concerned, those who claim to have acquired "this knowledge" have not even begun to know the wisdom of God in Christ.

ei + ind. "-" - if. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, "if, as is the case ... then ..." See v3. "if someone assumes they have already arrived at 'knowledge', then they have not yet begun to know as they aught to know."

egnwkenai (ginwskw) perf. inf. "he knows" - [anyone thinks] to have known. The infinitive here introduces a dependent statement of perception, "if a person thinks that he knows something ..." Since Paul is referring to the libertines' claim to special knowledge, both NJB and REB translate the infinitive as a noun, "knowledge", in order to help convey its technical sense. The perfect tense, a past action with ongoing consequences, conveys the idea claimed by the libertines that they have come to know and now know.

ti "[he knows] something" - anything. This pronoun is a variant reading and not present in some early key texts. It serves to qualify "knowledge", "if anyone fancies that he has some kind of knowledge", REB. Yet, Paul is going to demonstrate that the libertines so called "knowledge" is faulty and is leading them into sin, so the variant probably should not be read; "if anyone imagines he has 'this knowledge'".

oupw egnw (ginwskw) aor. "does not yet know" - not yet he knew. The adverb oupw = ou + pw, "not yet". The aorist is probably ingressive / inceptive where the emphasis is placed at the beginning of the action. So, Paul is saying that when it comes to the knowledge business, the libertines haven't even started the journey.

kaqwV "as" - insomuch as. Here adverbial, expressing manner; "in the manner of what is necessary to know."

gnwnai (ginwskw) aor. inf. "[he ought] to know" - it is necessary [to know]. The infinitive serves as the subject of the impersonal verb "it is necessary" = "to know is necessary." "He has not yet reached the stage when he has knowledge at all in the real sense of the term", Barclay.


True knowledge is reflected, not in some ethereal spiritual wisdom, but in the way love is expressed toward our brothers and sisters. The person who loves is the one who is growing in knowledge. Note, the reference to "God" in this verse is probably a later addition to the text. "The person who loves is the person who is growing in true knowledge."

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, establishing a counter condition to v2; "if on the other hand, .."

ei + ind. "the man who / whoever" - if [as is the case, anyone loves god, then this one has been known by him]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the condition is assumed to be true - asserted "for the sake of argument", Porter. Given that the writer is establishing an argument, it is possible to present the argument as a statement, as NIV, although in this case, a conditional argument is best.

agapa/ (agapaw) "[the man who] loves" - [anyone] loves. Acting with consideration for the welfare of others, compassion.

ton qeon .... uJp autou "God [is known] by God" - god [this one has been known] by him. Some important texts do not have "God .... by him" and many commentators (eg. Fee, Thiselton, Conzelmann...) hold that the shorter text is most likely original.

egnwstai (ginwskw) perf. pas/mid. "is known" - has been known / has known. Probably in the middle voice in the sense that the knowing is experienced by the person who loves. The person who loves is the person who is growing in true knowledge, divine knowledge, while the person who claims to have arrived at "knowledge", but doesn't love, shows by their behavior that their knowledge is flawed. "If, on the other hand, someone acts with loving compassion toward others, then that person is the one who is growing in true knowledge."

uJp (uJpo) + gen. "by [God]" - Expressing agency.


b) Monotheism requires exclusive loyalty to God, v4-6. To the subject at hand - eating food associated with pagan worship practices - Paul acknowledge the "knowledge" held by the Corinthian believers; "we acknowledge with you that 'an idol has no existence in itself' and that 'there is only one God.'" Paul then explains further that for a believer there is only one God, the Father, the source and purpose of life, and only one Lord, Jesus Christ, the agent and means of life. Yet, Paul qualifies his words because the libertines' spiritual insight is not as complete and flawless as they suppose. There may be no real god associated with idol worship, but these "so-called gods" are very real to those who believe in them. And of course, there are demonic forces associated with idol-worship, a point that Paul will develop later.

oun "so then" - therefore. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.

peri + gen. "about" - Reference; "concerning / about / with reference to."

twn eidwloqutwn adj. "food sacrificed to idols" - [eating] of idolatrous sacrifices. The adjective serves as a substantive, while the genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective. The actual issue, not fully explained in v1, is now carried in the genitival phrase, "eating /food / of the idolatrous sacrifices / consecrated to /associated with heathen deities / pagan gods / idols / pagan temples." "Eating meat sacrificed to idols", BAGD, expresses a narrow interpretation of the phrase, while a broader interpretation may be safer, "eating food associated with idols", Thiselton.

oidamen (oida) perf. "we know" - The "we" is probably "we apostles", specifically Paul, but possibly Paul and his apostolic team, or just Paul, ie., an editorial / royal plural. Paul is saying that he acknowledges the belief ("knowledge") held by the Corinthians.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement, probably serving to introduce two quotations, either from the letter sent to Paul or the verbal report given to Paul by Chloes household; "we acknowledge with you that 'an idol has no existence in itself' and 'there is only one God.'"

ouden eidwlon (on) "an idol is nothing at all" - an idol is nothing. The adjective ouden, is probably serving as a substantive, "no one, nothing", standing in the predicate position. An idol is an inanimate object representing a presumed divine being, but as Yahweh is the only God, then "an idol is (represents) nothing (is a nonentity)".

en + dat. "in" - in [the world]. Local, space. "An idol represents nothing that is real (that exists in the world)." Of course, although Paul affirms this "knowledge", he does so with serious qualifications. He will later explain that dark powers hide behind pagan religions.

kai "and" - Coordinative.

oJti "that" - Introducing the second dependent statement, direct quote.

ei mh "but [one]" - [there is no god] except [one]. Introducing an exception which establishes a contrast.


gar "for" - More reason than causal; Paul expands on the quotes. Even if there were other deities, there is only one God for believers, v5-6. In a parenthesis, bracketed in the NIV, Paul foreshadows his argument that there is indeed something behind idol worship, subjectively for the worshiper, and objectively in the presence of dark powers, 10:14-22.

eiper "if there are" - [and = even] if. This conjunction functions in much the same was as ei, but with a concessive slant. So, introducing a conditional clause, 1st. class, here, for the sake of argument; "although it may be true, for the sake of argument, that there are ......... yet (v6) [for us there is but one God ........]"

legomenoi (legw) pres. pas. part. "so-called [gods]" - [there are] ones being called [gods]. The participle is usually treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "gods", but possibly serving as a predicate nominative substantive; "beings known as gods." Entities such as imagination, psychological manipulation, through to demonic powers, may properly be given the title of "god".

eite .... eite ..."whether .... or ....." - either [in heaven] or [on earth]. A correlative comparative construction.

en + dat. "in [heaven]" - Local, space. "Heaven" may not mean God's abode here, but the heavenly bodies / sky, such that sky + earth = world, en kosmw/, "in the world."

epi + gen. "on [earth]" - Spacial.

wJsper "as indeed" - even as, just as [there are gods many and lords many]. Comparative. Introducing a parenthesis where Paul qualifies his words by making the point that, of course, such powers do exist. Both "gods" and "lords" are placed in inverted comers by the NIV to highlight the idea that the titles are describing those powers. "And indeed there are plenty of 'gods' and plenty of 'lords'", Barclay.


all (alla) "yet" - but, rather, on the contrary. Adversative. We have an anacoluthon here, ie., Paul has lost track of his syntax and used an adversative rather than "for even if (v5) ....... yet for us ..." Missing in some manuscripts, but probably dropped to tidy up the grammar.

hJmin dat. pro. "for us" - to us [there is one god the father]. Dative of interest, advantage / ethical, feeling.

ex (ek) + gen. "from [whom all things come]" - out of, from [whom are all things]. Expressing source / origin. Identifying God as the origin of all things.

eiV + acc. "[and] for [whom we live]" - [and we] into [him]. Spatial, expressing direction toward and arrival at. We find our origin / source / being in God and we find our future in/into him: "from whom everything derives, and in whom is the goal of our existence."

di (dia) + gen. "through" - through, by means of [whom are all things]. Expressing agency; Jesus is the agent of creation. "through whom everything derives."

kai hJmeiV dia autou "and through whom we live" - and we through him. Jesus, through his redemptive work, is the means of our existence. "Everything was made by him and by him life was given to us", CEV.


c) The conscience of a believer of weak faith is easily defiled, v7. Paul makes a further point; the libertines' "knowledge", which gives them their sense of assurance, self-awareness and independence, is not possessed by all believers. For many, their past experience with paganism has left an indelible mark - "some are still gripped by the idol by force of habit", Thiselton. As a consequence, those whose self-awareness is weak are easily led into sin by the thoughtless behavior of others.

all (alla) "but [not everyone]" - but. The adversative underlines this statement; "but it is not everyone who possesses this knowledge", Barrett.

en + dat. "everyone" - [there is not] in [all men]. Local, expressing space, metaphorical; "there is not in every man that knowledge", AV.

hJ gnwsiV (iV ewV) "knows this / possesses this knowledge" - the = this knowledge. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. Again, Paul is using the technical identifier, gnwsiV, "this knowledge", Barrett, a point missed by the NIV in translating the noun with a verb. "Not everyone possesses 'the knowledge' of you libertines." Not just the knowledge that "an idol has no existence in itself", but the totality of their supposed spiritual insight. So, the opening clause is tongue in cheek.

eJwV arti "are still" - [but/and some] until now. Temporal construction.

th/ sunhqeia/ (a) dat. "accustomed" - being accustomed, habituated. The variant "conscience" is rejected by most commentators. The dative is probably adverbial, causal; "but some are by reason of being / because they are accustomed until now of idols" = "some are still gripped by the idol by force of habit", Thiselton. The sense "association", ESV, best expresses the idea conveyed by this word; "but some, because of their former (until now) association."

tou eidwlou (on) gen. "to idols" - of the idol. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective; "through being accustomed to idols in former times", BAGD, as NIV, but possibly adjectival, idiomatic, "their former association which they had with idols." The singular is interesting; is the accustomed devotion to a particular deity? Probably just generic, so Zerwick, ie., typifying a class.

esqiousin pres. "that when they eat such / sacrificial food they think of it" - eat [food]. Fee argues that the eating is taking place in the precincts of a pagan temple in the presence of the idol. Other commentators argue that the food has been sourced from the local temple, purchased in the local market, and thus, only an association with the idol is what is in the mind; "as if it were part of an idolatrous sacrifice." It seems more likely that what is in mind is attendance at community celebrations in the temple, with attendant idolatrous worship.

wJV "as [having been sacrificed to an idol]" - as, like [an idolatrous sacrifice]. Comparative.

ousa (eimi) pres. part. "since ..... is" - [and] being [weak]. The participle is adverbial, probably causal, as NIV; "because it is weak", TNT.

autwn gen. pro. "their" - [the conscience] of them [is defiled]. The genitive is possessive.

hJ suneidhsiV (iV ewV) "conscience" - the conscience, self-awareness, consciousness. Nominative subject of the verb "is defiled." Numerous meanings are possible, ranging from "a kind of moral referee that pronounces on the rightness or wrongness of one's actions", Fee, to a form of conscious self-awareness that promotes freedom. "As a consequence, those whose self-awareness is inferior, are led into sin."

asqenhV adj. "weak" - Predicate nominative in agreement with "the conscience." "Weak" covers all bases, but possibly "vulnerable / insecure / inferior"

molunetai (molunw) pres. pas. "it is defiled" - is defiled, tainted, polluted. The sense is to render unclean and therefore "to lead into sin."


ii] Warning / Instruction, v8-9. Paul again quotes a slogan from the libertines: "food does not bring us before God's judgement seat." Of course, Paul agrees, eating, or abstaining, is of no interest to God, but he goes on to qualify his words; Demanding our rights at the expense of another person's damnation is of interest to God.

ou parasthsei (paristhmi) fut. + dat. "does not bring us near to" - [but/and] will not present, stand near, alongside of. Variant paristhsi pres. The base meaning of "present / stand by" is used here in the sense of present before / stand in the presence of God, for either reward or punishment, so "food will not bring (does not bring) us before God's judgement seat", Jeremias. The variant present tense, although not well attested, fits better if the clause is actually a quote from the Corinthians. The clause looks very much like another claim articulated by the libertines. The libertines are arguing that God is quite indifferent when it comes to food, including food associated with pagan temple worship.

tw/ qew/ (oV) "God" - Dative of indirect object.

oute ..... oute "-" - neither [if we do not eat are we lacking] nor [if we eat are we better]. A negated coordinate construction; "neither if we do not eat are we worse off, nor if we do eat are we better off."

ean + subj. "if [we do not eat]" - if. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition stated in the "if" clause (protasis) has the possibility of coming true; "if, as the case may be, ..... then .....". Paul is agreeing with the libertines, but as usual, with a sting in his argument. Yes indeed, there is no divine blessing or censure either in eating or abstaining from food, unless of course, by eating we lead a brother astray, v9. "We gain no additional merit if we eat, and we are none the worse if we refrain", Bruce.

uJsteroumeqa (uJsterw) pres. pas. "no worse" - are we lacking, falling short, going without. In the abstaining business, we are not without "want / lose no advantage" in relation to God.

perisseuomen (perisseuw) pres. "better" - we are better, abound. In the eating business, we are not without "gain / abundance" in relation to God.


de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument to a qualification; "but you must be careful", Barclay.

blepete (blepw) imp. "be careful" - see to it, beware. "Make sure that ..", NAB.

pwV "however" - [lest] somehow, in some way, perhaps. It is unclear whether the original text intended pwV to introduce a dependent statement after a verb of saying or thinking, now indicated by a circumflex, pw:V, "be careful that this liberty of yours does not become ....", or an adverbial usage expressing an unspecified manner, means, or reason for an action, indicated by being without a circumflex, pwV, as here. The negation mh adds to the confusion since mhpwV can mean "lest somehow", although it seems best to link the negation with the subjunctive genhtai forming a subjunctive of prohibition; "one thing, however, you must make sure of, this liberty of yours should not prove a stumbling block", Cassirer.

hJ exousia (a) "that the exercise of [your] freedom" - [this] the power, right [of you]. Nominative subject in the object clause /dependent statement formed by blepete, "see / be careful that ...." BAGD supplies three meanings: a) a freedom of choice and right to act; b) power, capacity; c) authority. The first meaning is obviously intended. The sense, "this 'freedom/liberty' of yours", is best, expressing the libertines' freedom of action, their claim to a right of choice on ethical matters on the ground of their "knowledge". "You must be careful that this liberty of yours does not turn out to be the very thing which becomes a barrier in the way of those who are weak in the faith", Barclay.

mh .... genhtai (ginomai) aor. subj. "does not become" - may become. This construction forms a subjunctive of prohibition; "this liberty of yours should not prove a stumbling block", Cassirer.

proskomma (a) "a stumbling block" - a hindrance, a cause of stumbling, offense, sin. Predicate nominative. "Barrier", Barclay, or "obstacle", Bruce, is probably not strong enough, in that it is a believer who is being "tripped up", "caused to stumble", even "led into sin." The "weak" brother is obviously weak / insecure in faith; "their faith is not as robust" as the self-aware believer, Phillips.

toiV asqenesin dat. adj. "to the weak" - to the weak ones. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object / interest, disadvantage.


iii] Explanation, v10-12. Paul now drives home his point. It is precisely because God is indifferent about food that we should not demand our right of free action independent of the welfare of our brothers and sisters. To demand rights of free action based on a questionable spiritual insight, action which then destroys a brother's faith, is to "sin against Christ."

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause, explaining why the strong should be careful.

ean + subj. "if" - if, as the case may be, [anyone sees you, the one having knowledge, in the idol's temple reclining / eating, then will not the conscience of him being weak be built up so as to eat the idolatrous sacrifices]? Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true.

ontoV (eimi) gen. pres. part. " with [a weak conscience]" - [the conscience / self-awareness of him] being [weak / insecure]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting tiV, "anyone"; "if anyone who has a weak conscience."

se "[sees] you" - [sees] ye. The singular is interesting, missing in some manuscripts obviously left out to generalize the injunction.

ton econta (ecw) pres. part. "who have" - you [the ones having]. The participle serves as a substantive standing as an object complement to se, "you", in a double accusative construction.

gnwsin (iV ewV) "this knowledge" - knowledge. Accusative direct object of the participle "having". The NIV again rightly identifies the claim of the libertines to a special gift of spiritual insight with "this knowledge", although inverted comers would better identify the ongoing use of this term, "you have 'knowledge'", Bruce.

katakeimenon (katakeimai) pres. part. "eating" - reclining. The participle introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what they see. "Reclining" is the usual pose for gathering around a table for a meal, so "sitting as a guest at a party in the shrine of a heathen idol", Barclay.

en + dat. "in [an idol's temple]" - Local; expressing space. Local. Possibly indicating the substance of the issue at hand, ie., participating in pagan feasts, but of course the reference could just be an illustration of the wider issue of associating with idolatrous practices by eating consecrated food. "Sitting eating in the temple of some false God", NJB.

ouci "won't" - not. In an interrogative clause, as here, prompting the answer "yes"; lit. "will he not be emboldened to eat the idolatrous sacrifice?"

oikodomhqhsetai (oikodomew) fut. pas. "emboldened" - will be built up. "Emboldened" and "encouraged", NRSV etc., miss the play on words here. The libertines go to a building to "build up / edify" a brother to damnation. "May not his conscience (self-awareness) too, weak as it is, be 'built up' to eat meat sacrificed to idols?", NAB.

eiV to .... esqiein (esqiw) pres. inf. "to eat" - This construction will often form a purpose clause, sometimes a consecutive clause expressing result, as here; "with the result that they eat what has been sacrificed to idols."


gar "so" - for. Introducing a causal clause further explaining why the strong need to be careful how they exercise their freedom in the presence of the weak, v9; "because" such a person "is destroyed by your knowledge."

oJ asqenwn (asqenew) pres. part. "this weak brother / or sister" - the one being weak [is being destroyed by your knowledge]. The participle serves as a substantive.

di (dia) + acc. "for[ whom]" - because of, for the sake of [whom christ died]. Causal; "on account of whom Christ died." Your so called claim to spiritual insight "has destroyed someone Christ died for", CEV.

apollutai (apollumi) pas. "is destroyed" - cause the ruin of. Instead of building up, the libertines "demolish / ruin." Probably in the sense of undermining faith and therefore, salvation, but also possibly just disturbing a believer's walk, "a stunting of the Christian life", Bruce.

en "by" - Possibly instrumental, expressing means, as NIV, but also possibly local, "in the knowledge of you." Note the presence of the article th/ in the prepositional construction, so "in the sphere of your knowledge"; "the insecure brother is surrounded by / caught up in your spiritual knowledge" and yet is not properly able understand it, or apply it.

sh/ dat. pro. "your [knowledge]" - ye [knowledge]. Singular again. Possibly attracted to the dative article th/, or "in/by you [and your] knowledge", ie., a possessive personal pronoun is assumed. "And so your superior knowledge becomes his ruin", Barclay.


aJmartanonteV (aJmartanw) pres. part. "when you sin" - [but/and thus] sinning. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV, although possibly causal; "by sinning in this way", Moffatt.

eiV + acc. "against [your brothers]" - into = against [the brothers]. Here expressing disadvantage, "against", as NIV.

ouJtwV adv. "in this way" - thus, so, in this way. This modal adverb leads the sentence and so is emphatic by position, referring back to the eating in v10, describing such behavior as "sin"; "in such a way as this", Thiselton.

kai "and" - Possibly epexegetic specifying the sin against the brother, namely, wounding their conscience.

tuptonteV (tuptw) pres. part. "wound" - striking, beating, wounding. The participle is again adverbial, probably temporal as NIV. "Wound" is often used of wounding someone's feelings, as "wound their over-scrupulous conscience", Williams. "Damage" caries the sense better. "Striking a blow at", Barclay, is a bit to literal.

autwn gen. pro. "their" - The genitive is possessive.

asqenousan (asqenew) pres. part. "weak [conscience]" - conscience [being weak]. Although anarthrous (without an article), the participle is surely adjectival, attributive, limiting "conscience", as NIV. None-the-less, adverbial temporal is possible, although somewhat illogical, "wounding their conscience when it is weak", ESV (causal, "because it is weak"????).

eiV "against" - into = against [christ you sin]. Again expressing disadvantage. When we "damage" the inferior / insecure / vulnerable consciousness / self-awareness of a believer, we don't just sin against them, we also sin against Christ.


iv] Conclusion. Paul concludes by saying that if eating causes a brother's downfall, then he is quite willing to "never eat meat again."

dioper "therefore" - Inferential; "for this very reason."

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause, 1st. class, where the condition is assumed to be true for argument sake; "If, as is the case for argument sake, ...... then...."

skandalizei (skandalizw) "causes [my brother] to fall into sin" - cause to stumble, offend, affront [the brother of me]. Here probably in the sense of "trip up", possibly lead into sin as NIV, but more likely undermine their faith and thus, their eternal salvation; "if food be the downfall of a fellow Christian", REB.

ou mh + subj. "never" - never. The double negative with the subjunctive forms a subjunctive of emphatic negation; "I will certainly never ever ..."

krea (aV atoV) "meat" - [should i eat] meats. Accusative direct object of the verb "to eat." Animal flesh is intended and of course, Paul's use of the word here supports those who argue that the issue Paul is addressing is the eating of meat offered to / associated with idols, rather than just "food". The plural "meats" may mean "different kinds of meat", however processed or wherever purchased. If it is associated with idols and has the potential of tripping up a fellow believer, then abstinence is better than eating.

eiV ton aiwna "again" - into the age. Idiomatic.

iJna mh + subj. "so that .. not" - that not = lest [i cause the brother of me to stumble]. Serving to introduce a purpose clause, "in order that", or hypothetical result, "so that". "So that / in order that I may not cause my brother or sister's downfall."


1 Corinthians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]