First Corinthians 8:1-13


This begins a topic that goes from 8:1 until 11:1

The topic is “idol food”.

This is in response to the prohibition of 5:10-11, “do not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is . . . an idolater.”


8:1-13 -





A Cultic Meal at the Temples:

1)      8:10 the issue is eating in a temple

2)      The Cultic Meal had three parts:

a.       Preparation

b.      Sacrifice

c.       Feast

3)      The sacrifices or the meat was divided into three parts:

a.       Burned to the god

b.      Worshipers portion to be eaten at the feast

c.       The god’s portion which was placed on the table in front of the idol during the feast.

4)      These meals were both religious activities and social events.


There seems to be four problems with the Corinthians views toward idol worship which would have included these Cultic Meals for all kinds of social events.

1)      “All have knowledge” and “knowledge about idols” (8:1, 4)

a.       The Corinthians were stating and adhering to the concept that everyone knows that idols are nothing.  Anyone who believes in monotheism has knowledge that there is only one God.  So then, idols and idolatry are nothing.

b.      Paul agrees with this view.

c.       The problem is the Corinthians application of it.  Since idols are nothing then attendance at cultic meals in the temples is not an issue.

d.      The Corinthians had done the same thing with their knowledge concerning the body, sex, and temple prostitutes.  (6:12-20)

2)      “Knowledge of Food” (8:8)

a.       Food is not an issue to God

b.      Paul agrees in 8:8

c.       The Corinthians combined the fact that food does not bring us closer to God with the fact that idols are nothing to justify Cultic Meals.

3)      Super-natural, magical Lord’s Supper

a.       In 10:1-4 the Corinthians may believe that since they have partook of the Lord’s supper they are secure and sin is not an issue

4)      Paul’s Apostolic Authority is not Respected

a.       The Corinthians do not feel they need to honor Paul’s teaching and advice as having apostolic authority.  He then can’t correct them with his opinion.

b.      Two reasons why Paul is being rejected based on Corinthian Logic:

                                                               i.      Paul did not accept money from the Corinthians

                                                             ii.      Paul has himself compromised his own teaching by eating food that had been sacrificed to idols when he was with the Corinthians, but refused to eat the same food when he was with the Jews.  (9:19-23)


Paul’s Concerns That Need to be Addressed:

1)      Christian ethics are based in love not knowledge.  Some Corinthians are exalting their rights which are based in knowledge (truth) over what is best for other people who do not share the same knowledge. (8:1-13)

2)      Paul’s conduct has been used as a reason to reject his teaching and apostolic authority.  This is an issue through out this letter: 1:12; 4:18-21; 5:1-5; 9:1-3.  Paul defends his apostleship and his actions in 9:1-27.

3)      The Corinthians incorrect understanding and application of knowledge about idols has led them into some dangerous practices.

4)      The Corinthians views of communion or the Lord’s supper have given them the confidence or the spiritual carelessness of a Christian Superman when it comes to living in sin.

5)      Eating food sacrificed to idols in the privacy of their own homes with out causing someone else to stumble.



now about” indicates a new subject.

We know that we all possess knowledge” is Paul agreeing with the Corinthians statement that they have based their actions on.

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” is Paul qualifying to what extent he agrees with the Corinthians. 

The Corinthians “knowledge” with out the general purpose of “love” is going to result in selfish actions and self promotion.


This does not say in the Greek “we all know” but like it is translated “we all possess knowledge (“gnosis”)”

“Gnosis” is one of the key Corinthian words along with “sophia’ (wisdom) and “logos” (speech, word)



These words  are used in the introduction and in the spiritual gifts chapter.



Knowledge that does not lead to love is knowledge that is not yet useful.