First Corinthians 8:1-13


The issue is a conflict between the value of knowledge and the value of love.


What directs or determines your actions?  Knowledge or Love?

Why do you pursue God?

Does knowledge lead to love or does love lead to knowledge?

What is the ultimate goal of the Christian life?  To act in knowledge or to act in love?



“We all possess knowledge”

  1. This may be a Corinthian slogan which meant that what we know concerning idol meat is common information available to every believer.
  2. Or, Paul may be taking this saying and playing down knowledge since knowledge had been used by the Corinthians to indicated superior spirituality.


puffs up” means it makes a man look big like air puffs up a balloon.

builds up” indicates to fill with substance.  “Build Up” is the word “oikodomei” and is used to refer to building a building.  In 1 Th. 5:11 “oikodomei” is used to refer to building each other up.


The idea here is that a man with knowledge may look “big” but a man who acts in love is a “built up” man who has substance to his size.


Paul is in no way down playing knowledge. 

Paul is simply indicating that the goal of knowledge is to manifest love.

Only when a person operates in love do they truly have spiritual substance.



Does not say they don’t know or don’t have knowledge.

It means they are still lacking something in regard to completing the purpose of knowledge.

The Corinthians are still lacking something that will help them truly evaluate themselves.


thinks he knows” is perfect tense and refers to “complete knowledge”

does not yet know” is aorist and means they have not yet began to have knowledge.

The man who thinks he has complete knowledge does not yet have knowledge.



Known by God” is a surprise.  We would expect something else. 

known” could also be “recognized by God”

This verb could be either:

  1. Perfect Passive – which would mean one has come to know God for themselves.
  2. Middle – which would mean they are known or recognized.



Paul again quotes the Corinthians theology or talking point:

An idol is nothing

Paul uses this quote and agrees with it to a certain level in verses 8:5-6 but yet we must think that Paul has another level of understanding concerning idols that he will bring up in 10:20 when he says “sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons.”


This is a classy way of Paul acting in love at the level of the Corinthian’s incomplete understanding.  They are correct to a certain level by saying “an idol is nothing”.


The problem is the Corinthians are taking this knowledge and by their actions they are shoving it down the less knowledgeable or less mature believer’s throats.

The younger believers are choking on the Corinthian’s “knowledge” because the Corinthians with knowledge refuse to act in love.


Paul could be arrogant and correct the Corinthians knowledge or he could work with them and correct their attitude.


Paul sticks with the Great Shema of Deut. 6:4 “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”



weak conscience” refers to:

a)     unrenewed mind of Romans 12:2

b)     an infant still living on milk who is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness of Hebrews 5:13



Paul quickly corrects a possible understanding that a person could be more spiritual if they ate certain food or refrained from certain food.


When Paul says “we are no worse if we do not eat” he may have been correcting the Corinthians theory that a believer is worse if they don’t eat meat offered to idols.


Likewise, when he says “no better if we do” would correct their teaching that a believer is more spiritual if he can eat meat that had come from an idol temple.



stumbling block” is “prskomma” which referred to”

  1. a stone in a pathway, or
  2. an obstacle someone needed to climb over or
  3. something that would make someone trip or
  4. something that would make progress difficult.



Do not force your convictions on someone who does not understand them.

Do not force your freedom on someone who does not understand them.


The word “brother” is used three times in 8:11-13.


brother for whom Christ died” is a three fold description of the young believer:

a)     they are a brother

b)     “for whom” could be “for whose sake” indicates it for this very person that Jesus came to the earth

c)      “Christ died” indicates what Christ was willing to do for this person.


Now after hearing this three fold description of this brother Paul then writes what is occurring when the Corinthian believers get involved in this person’s life:

d)     They are “destroyed by your knowledge


This is a great case of sarcasm or a sad case of irony.  The eternal Son of God comes in love to the earth for the purpose of saving this person by dying for them on the cross.  But, when the Corinthians come along they destroy this very same person by carelessly flaunting their thimble of knowledge and neglecting love.