In this chapter the apostle deals with the subject of eating meat which has been used in sacrifices to idols. Pagans offered sacrifices of sheep, oxen and other cattle to their idol gods and then used the meat for food at feasts in their temples, in their homes, or else sold it in the markets. The question arose among the Corinthians whether it was lawful for believers to eat this meat. Evidently some were buying the meat for use at home and some were even going to the feasts in the temple of idols and eating the meat there. This question was also considered in the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:28,29).
(Vs. 1.) "Now about meat offered to idols: of course, we all know that an idol is nothing but a block of wood or stone and cannot defile a believer, but some of us do not think it fit to make use of this knowledge of Christian liberty to the wounding and grieving of other believers." Some of the weaker brethren were convinced that it was wrong to eat this meat and were offended when they saw it done. The reply they received was "We know an idol is nothing!" Paul says, "We all know that, but knowledge without wisdom, love and consideration for others leads to pride, conceit and division." "Love edifies," that is, a man who has knowledge joined with love for God and others will seek that which is edifying and profitable to others. Without this attitude and spirit, his knowledge is worthless.
(Vs. 2.) This is true in any matter. If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much of divine things and does not use that knowledge with wisdom, love for others and regard for the glory of God and the peace of the church, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. If he did, he would know that even the Lord pleased not himself (Rom. 15:1-3).
(Vs. 3.) If a man truly loves God, he will show that love for God by loving his brother (being careful not to hinder or offend him), making use of his knowledge and liberty for the edification of others (1 John 4:20). That man will be approved of God, blessed by God and used for God's glory.
(Vs. 4-6.) "We know that a pagan idol is nothing"; it has no real sacrifices of sheep, oxen and other cattle to their idol gods and existence, no meaning, no power, no value. "We know that there is no god but the living God" (Deut. 6:4, 5). There are so-called gods of pagan men, whether in heaven (sun, stars, angels, dead men and women who are venerated) or earth (creatures, statues, or whatever). Yet for us there is only one God, the Father, who is the fountain and source of things (Acts 17:28), There is one Redeemer, the Lord Christ, by whom God created all things (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-18), by whom God redeemed the elect, and by reconciled the world to himself.
(Vs. 7.) "But there are some Christians (former idolaters) who were all their lives accustomed to thinking of a certain idol as real and living, who, if they saw you eat this meat, would be offended, and if they ate of it, their weak consciences would be injured."
(Vs. 8.) What the Christian liberty advocates asserted is positively true. The type of food we eat will not cause our acceptance by God nor will it separate us from God, Whether we eat this meat or leave it has nothing to do with our relationship to God in Christ (Rom. 14:17).
(Vs. 9.) But we are to be careful that our personal liberty and understanding do not become a hindrance or a cause of stumbling to a weak brother. This would be a violation of brotherly love (Rom. 14:13-15; Gal. 5:13, 14).
(Vs.10, 11.) "Suppose a weak brother (who does not have a clear understanding of Christian liberty) should see you (who are learned, mature and knowledgeable) sitting eating in an idol's temple. He may be led by your example to do the same thing against his conscience, knowledge and understanding. In doing so, he violates his principles, which may lead to other careless and more serious infractions and the ultimate ruin of a dear brother for whom Christ died.
(Vs. 12.) "When you, by example, draw men into practices contrary to their consciences and principles, you sin against Christ." Knowing that the brother is offended and that eating this meat is against his judgement, leading him to do so is not love for Christ or the brother; therefore, it is sin.
(Vs. 13.) "Therefore, if my eating a certain food is the cause of my brother's falling or hinders his spiritual growth, I will not eat this meat lest I cause him to stumble."