King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Corinthians 8

The danger of having a high conceit of knowledge. (1-6) The mischief of offending weak brethren. (7-13)

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The danger of having a high conceit of knowledge

1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

The mischief of offending weak brethren

7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Now concerning those things. It appears from this whole passage that the Corinthians had, in a former letter, consulted this apostle, upon the subject of eating meats offered to idols. It was not unusual to reserve some part of the sacrifice of which they made a supper, either in their own family, with their friends, or sometimes even in the temple. Some of the Christians of Corinth attended without scruple at these sorts of feasts, and eat of the meats offered to idols; whilst others, on the contrary, took scandal at this conduct, and thought it a tacit approbation of idolatry. S. Paul being consulted upon this difficulty, gives them his advice in this chapter. Calmet. — We know that we all have knowledge about it. That is, all we, who are sufficiently instructed, have knowledge enough to be convinced, that idols are nothing in themselves, nor the meats offered to them better nor worse upon that account. Wi. — Knowledge puffeth up, &c. Knowledge, without charity and humility, serveth only to puff persons up. Ch.

Ver. 4. An idol is nothing. The apostle seems to allude in this place to the Greek signification of this word, eidolon, signifying a false representation; as for instance in ghosts, which are said to appear sometimes at night. Umbræ tenues, simulacra luce carentium. Calmet.

Ver. 5. Many gods, &c. Reputed for such among the heathens. Ch.

Ver. 6. To us there is but one God, the Father; of whom all things, and we unto him. Of or from the Father are all things, even the eternal Son and the Holy Ghost, though they are one and the same God with the Father. — And one Lord Jesus Christ: by whom are all things, and we by him. All things were created by the Son of God, the eternal and uncreated wisdom of the Father, from whom he proceeds from eternity, and also by the Holy Ghost, all creatures being equally the work of the three divine persons. The Arians and Socinians pretend from this place, that only the Father is truly and properly God. The Catholics answer, that he is called the God, of whom all, because from him always proceeded, do proceed, and shall always proceed the Son and the Holy Ghost, though one and the same God in nature, substance, &c. And that when he is called the one God, by these words are excluded the false gods of the heathens, not the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are but one God with the Father. S. Chrys. also here observes, (hom. xx.) that if the two other persons are excluded, because the Father is called one God, by the same way of reasoning it would follow, that because Jesus Christ is called the one Lord, neither the Holy Ghost, nor even the Father, are the one Lord, whereas the Scriptures many times express the divine majesty, as well by the word Lord as by the word God. Wi.

Ver. 7. But knowledge is not in every one, &c. The new converts, who had been Jews, thought that things which had been offered to idols were defiled, unclean, and could not be lawfully eaten: they who had been Gentiles looked upon them as victims offered to idols, in which there was some virtue of enchantment, &c. Their weak consciences judged they could not be lawfully eaten: and when they were induced to eat them by the example of others, it was still against their consciences. The infidels also might sometimes think that the Christians, in eating such things, honoured their idols; in such cases, they who were better instructed, were to abstain, not to give offence to weak consciences, and lest they should make them sin. And a weak brother shall perish, for whom Christ died; where we may learn, that Christ died also for those that shall perish, and not only for the predestinate. Wi.

Ver. 8-9. Meat doth not commend us to God. It is an admonition to those, who because they knew that meats offered to idols were not worse, would not abstain, even when this scandalized the weak brethren: he tells them that eating or not eating of them, does not make them more acceptable to God, nor puts them to any inconvenience, since they may get other meats: therefore they ought not to make use of their liberty, when it proves a stumbling-block to the weak, and makes them sin. Wi.

Ver. 10. In the idol’s temple.[1] It does not seem likely that any Christians would go to eat with idolaters in their very temples, of things offered to their idols: so that we may rather understand any place where infidels and Christians eat together, and where it happened that some meats were brought which had been first offered to idols, which the well-instructed Christians regarded not, nor asked any questions about, but the weak scrupled to eat them. Wi. — Shall not his conscience. The meaning of S. Paul’s words is this: Will not your weak brother, who is not endowed with so great a knowledge as you, be induced, from your example, to eat these meats offered to idols, believing that he will derive therefrom some benefit. Estius.

Ver. 13. If meat scandalize. That is, if my eating cause my brother to sin. Ch. — Can we put any meat, or life itself, in competition with a soul, and the blood of Christ, which has been shed for that soul, when we know the value of each!

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[1] V. 10. In idolio, en eidoleio. Though the Greek word may sometimes be used to signify the temple itself of idols, yet it may in general signify a place, or thing some ways belong to idols. See Estius, P. Alemain, &c.