Year B – Epiphany 4 – 1 Corinthians 8

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘no idol in the world really exists’, and that ‘there is no God but one.’ 5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8‘ Food will not bring us close to God.’ We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak. 10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Summary – In this passage the apostle Paul addressed a first-century problem. In an ancient pagan city like Corinth, the temples to the gods and goddesses were also the town’s main butcher shops and “restaurants.” A person or family would bring their sacrifice to the temple and when the pagan priest would kill the sacrifice he would cook part of it for himself and the worshipers, but a lot of the meat from the sacrifice would be sold at a market. A lot of the Christians in the church that Paul is writing to had come out of this pagan worship. Paul taught that loving and building up others in the church is more important than having knowledge that only leaves you prideful and willing to hurt others.

Insight – Imagine you are a new Christian, living in the Corinthian church at the time of Paul’s letters. You converted out of a pagan lifestyle. You and your family had often gone to the temple. It was mysterious, and you sensed a dark feeling every time you went in that would make you shudder. The only time you ate meat was when you did rituals at the temple. But then someone shared the gospel of Jesus with you, and you were able to get ride of those dark, mysterious and evil practices that were part of your life. You were trying to discover what it means to follow Jesus and live as a Christian. You can not eat meat, in fact every time you have to walk by the old temple on business and you smell the smell of meat cooking outside of it, it makes you shudder and you remember your former lifestyle. Some of your new Christian friends have you to their house, and they serve you meat, from the temple where you formerly worshiped false gods. You ask them how they can eat that? Their response is to make fun of you, and to tell you that the false god’s don’t exists, and they laugh at your concerns. This is the situation that Paul is addressing. It is not wrong to eat meat, even meat that was sacrificed to idols, because God is Lord of all creation. But what is wrong is to not have love for your brothers, to not care about offending their consciences. Love of one another is the most important aspect in a Christians life.

Catechism – How do you know that God knows you personally? Because I love my Heavenly Father. (1 Corin. 8:3)

Discussion – Have you ever felt that you knew something that someone else didn’t? Did that give you a sense of pride? Have you ever done something that you wanted, even though it meant hurting someone else?

Prayer – Our Gracious Father, we give you thanks that you know us, and that you love us. We ask that we would learn to reflect that love towards those around us. We ask forgiveness for those times we are selfish and we do not act in love towards those around us. We ask that you would kill our selfish desires and that we would be more willing to love others. We ask this in the name of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Contributed by Jared McNabb

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