1 Corinthians 8:1-4

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-4 Paul moves on from teaching about marriage to their questions regarding eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Quite a shift in topics. The meat offered on pagan altars was usually divided into three portions. One portion was burnt in honor of the god, one portion was given to the worshiper to take home and eat, and the third portion was given to the priest. If the priest didn’t want to eat his portion, he sold it at the temple restaurant or meat market. This was usually cheaper than what was available anywhere else, so some saw it as a bargain and felt it was a deal too good to pass up.

But some in the church had issues with this practice and didn’t feel it was appropriate to eat meat that had been brought to the temple as a sacrifice. “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” Instead of talking about food, Paul first talks about the principles of knowledge and love. Christian behavior is founded on love, not knowledge; and the goal of the Christian life is not knowledge, but love. Both knowledge and love have an effect on our lives in that each of them make something grow. The difference between puffs up and builds up is striking; it is the difference between a bubble and a building. Some Christians grow, others just swell!

The reality is that none of us really know anything apart from God and His wisdom and knowledge which He makes available to us because of His love for us. Based on our own ability we don’t know squat. “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” If we think we know it all, we really don’t know anything. Yet, there is a knowledge that is important: the knowledge God has of those who love Him. “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” God alone is the source of all wisdom and knowledge and we receive that from God through relationship with God. He gives it to us as He loves and knows us.

Paul levels the discussion to the reality that there is nothing except God and a bunch of fake stuff that become idols made by human means. Because there is only One True God, idols are not competing gods. Idols are therefore nothing in the world, and are only so-called gods because man chooses to make them such. Their existence is meaningless because they are not real. God alone is worthy of our praise and adoration. He alone sits on the throne of the universe as ruler of all mankind. “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” Any concern about idols is misplaced as they aren’t even reality.

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