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1 Corinthians 8

New International Version

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that 'We all possess knowledge.' But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that 'An idol is nothing at all in the world' and that 'There is no God but one.' 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, won't that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
English Standard Version

1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed 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 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us 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 right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
King James Version

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. 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.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
New Living Translation

1 Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that 'we all have knowledge' about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. 2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn't really know very much. 3 But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes. 4 So, what about eating meat that has been offered to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. 5 There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. 6 But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life. 7 However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. 8 It's true that we can't win God's approval by what we eat. We don't lose anything if we don't eat it, and we don't gain anything if we do. 9 But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. 10 For if others see you--with your 'superior knowledge'--eating in the temple of an idol, won't they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? 11 So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. 12 And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. 13 So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live--for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that "we all have knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by him. 4 About eating food sacrificed to idols, then, we know that "an idol is nothing in the world," and that "there is no God but one." 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth--as there are many "gods" and many "lords"-- 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him. 7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. Some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food sacrificed to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not bring us close to God. We are not worse off if we don't eat, and we are not better if we do eat. 9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, the one who has knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, won't his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So the weak person, the brother or sister for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against brothers and sisters and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother or sister to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won't cause my brother or sister to fall.

What does 1 Corinthians 8 mean?

Paul turns to another issue possibly raised by the Corinthians in an earlier letter written to him. This challenges his previous teaching to them about restrictions on eating meat offered to idols. Paul's response begins in chapter 8 and continues through to the end of chapter 10, where he sets very specific guidelines about buying and eating meat offered to idols, as well as eating in idol temples.

The worship of gods and idols saturated Corinthian society, where idol temples were integrated into many aspects of daily life. Bringing an offering to a god or idol was a near-universal experience in Greek and Roman culture, as was going to a banquet for a birthday, business meeting, wedding, or funeral at an idol temple. Christians and Jews who refused to enter idol temples would find themselves isolated from much more than just the religious culture of their community. It's no wonder some of the Christians in Corinth pushed back on Paul's restrictions about attending idol temples for civic and family functions. These practices seemed as normal to them as any other part of daily life.

Food offered to idols was eaten in idol temples, but the leftover food was also sold in the market. The questions facing Christians, many of whom had worshiped idols themselves before converting to Christianity, was whether it was okay to eat anything that had been offered to an idol under any circumstance. What if someone served it at a dinner party? What if you didn't know it was idol food?

The Corinthians argue that since they know idols don't truly exist, as true gods, and that only the one true God is real, why does it matter if they eat the meat or not? Paul agrees with them that the idols are nothing and the food itself is nothing more than food. They aren't wrong on that aspect of their position (1 Corinthians 8:1–6).

The problem, Paul responds, is that not all of them really know these things. Some Christians, especially those from a background of deep idol worship, are not fully convinced that the idols have no real power. They cannot eat the food with a clear conscience. Even if their conscience is "weak" and misguided, Paul says that to violate their conscience is to commit sin (1 Corinthians 8:7–10).

That's why what the Corinthians know is not enough. They must also love their brothers who do not know. If Christians with weaker consciences are led into sin—through violating their own consciences—by seeing those with stronger consciences eating idol food in an idol temple, the stronger ones will be guilty of sinning against their brothers and against Christ, who died for them. Paul writes that he would personally give up eating any meat at all in order not to lead a brother in Christ into sin (1 Corinthians 8:11–13).