20 July 2015
by Philip Layton


Knowledge does not surpass love and concern for others

Click here to read 1 Corinthians 8

Discussion Questions

  • What do you think verse 2 means?

  • Would you agree that the chapter talks about keeping your conscience clear and helping others do the same?

  • Is there anything you do or don’t do as a matter of conscience rather than obedience?

Share your thoughts below, or tweet about it with the #boundlessbible hashtag. Don't forget this week's Children's Challenge!

Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'

Witchdoctors are not found only in far-off, out-of-the-way lands. So-called sophisticated countries have them too. Their ‘magic’ just goes under different names., like horoscopes. It’s amazing how even intelligent people get drawn into their influence, although most readers deny they take what they read seriously. It seems a universal desire of men and women to have an inkling of what the future holds before it arrives.

The Christians of Paul’s time had to deal with another ‘magic’ issue, that of food served to them to eat which had previously been offered as a sacrifice to at a pagan altar. What should they do? Refuse to eat it, and so offend their hosts?

Paul gives helpful guidance. Pragmatic advice. It is not such a difficult question as people believe, he says. Treating it as a big problem gives it more significance than it deserves. ‘Food does not bring us near to God: we are no worse if we do not eat, and not better if we do,’ he says (v 8).

The important thing is the effect of our behaviour on others. ‘Be careful … that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling-block to the weak,’ he continues. ‘For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge’ (vv 9-11).

It’s the ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ question. And the answer, for me as a Christian, is that I am. And Paul knew he was. So, he says, ‘If what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again’ (v 13). It’s not vegetarianism that’s the issue here, it’s the example I give to others. On a trivial level, my peek at the horoscope gives quite the wrong signal about leaving the future  to a loving, all-powerful God. So I don’t do it. It’s no loss!

Evelyn Merriam

Tags: 1 Corinthians