First Corinthians – Part 20
Last time we finished our discussion on marriage during the Acts period. Paul’s instruction though not by commandment was nonetheless through his inspired judgment and he tells the believers then that it would be “better” for the unmarried to remain in that state. This can only be rightly interpreted by understanding and acknowledging that these were necessities of the short time which was then in progress. That is, Christ’s coming was close and the ministry that Paul was involved with, and encouraging others to follow him in, had an administration that held Jew to be first and an economy with its roots in the gospels and old testament Jewish scriptures. This idea is extended also to the widow:
KJG 1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. (1Co 7:39 KJG)
KJG 1 Corinthians 7:40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.
TBT 1 Corinthians 7:40 μακαριωτέρα δέ ἐστιν ἐὰν οὕτω μείνῃ, κατὰ τὴν ἐμὴν γνώμην· δοκῶ δὲ κἀγὼ Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ ἔχειν.
She is happier (more blessed) to remain unmarried — and literally “and I also seem to have the Spirit of God”. Do you think it is the Spirit of God to take the “short time” regimin appropriate to the ACTS and then impose it on believers today ignoring the Judgment of Acts 28?
I trust that through the reading of this great epistle that you will see the mind of God in context and discern the things that differ.
Paul now moves to another question that the Corinthians raised. The matter relates to idolatry and specifically the flesh that was offered to the idols.
1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
“We know that we all have knowledge” our knowledge goes at least as far as knowing that we possess knowledge. Unfortunately this will not solve the problem at hand and those withing the assembly who think that it will are mistaken. Knowledge does indeed puff up — we see this around us and is a common thread that follows humanity through the ages. But love builds up — a timeless and useful truth to incorporate into our own lives as we minister to people around us.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
2 εἰ δέ τις δοκεῖ εἰδέναι τι, οὐδέπω οὐδὲν ἔγνωκε καθὼς δεῖ γνῶναι·
The real depth of knowledge does not appear to the one who thinks he knows, the knowledge that such a person has is only by necessity of immediate surroundings. “He knoweth nothing yet” is one thought and “as he ought to know” is another οὐδέπω οὐδὲν ἔγνωκε καθὼς δεῖ γνῶναι, literally “he knoweth not one thing as of yet” and then “according as it is necessary to know”. The depth is not there, and therefore this knowledge will not be sufficient to address the issues relating to the leftovers from idolatry specifically the “weak” brethren.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
Extending this distinction between Love and Knowledge, Paul says that the man that Loves God is known by Him. Since God is the source of all love, knowledge and wisdom — this will have a far more important effect on how any believer should respond in the face of these difficulties and questions.
Paul then lays out the problem more carefully and builds on the foundation laid above by first rehearsing verse 1 concerning the idolatry:
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.
TBT 1 Corinthians 8:4 περὶ τῆς βρώσεως οὖν τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων, οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ, καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς Θεὸς ἕτερος εἰ μὴ εἷς. (1Co 8:4 TBT)
We know that an idol is nothing in the world. There is no personal reality to the image itself and that there is only one real living God. The entities that idols represent may have some reality but they are all lesser and of no real power and authority in comparison to the creator.
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
So there are gods many and lords many — but they are less!
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.
TBT 1 Corinthians 8:6 ἀλλ᾽ ἡμῖν εἷς Θεὸς ὁ πατήρ, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν· καὶ εἷς Κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, δι᾽ οὗ τὰ πάντα, καὶ ἡμεῖς δι᾽ αὐτοῦ. (1Co 8:6 TBT)
The verse is an interesting one as it answers to the gods many and lords many of the previous verse beginning with the adversative conjunction ἀλλ᾽ “But” and answering the plurality with a clear singularity of one God and one Lord expressed with qualifying terms. There are two personages mentioned here “The Father” and “The Lord Jesus Christ”. The prepositions are interesting and can be traced in similar statements of Paul and John concerning Jesus — see for example Colossians 1:16 and Rev. 4:8-11. The Father is the source and Christ the mediator. This does not mean that Christ is therefore different in substance to God, He is different to God the father by way of function. Notice in colossians 1:16 All things (the all things) were created by him (both things in heaven and earth). Why the article with “all things” ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα ? This can be explained by the fact that not “all things” are good but were “originally” — the fallen personalities would not be included in “the all things”. Who created these things? The Lord Jesus Christ did! “all things were created by him, and for him:”. Similarly the Lord Jesus is the Lord God Almighty which was, and is, and is to come. The Father is God but the mediator is of the same substance see John 1:1.
KJG Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Rev. 4:8 ¶ And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
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.
Paul shows the knowledge that we should all agree to and that is apparent — meat does not commend us to God — eating or not eating does not maker us better or worse respectively.
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. (1Co 8:1-13 KJG)
The knowledge of the situation does not easily move into a good application without Love — that which transcends “knowledge”. This forceful application of true knowledge is what Paul calls sin! A person who respects these meats is referred to as “weak” — this does not give license to do him harm and cause a stmblingblock to be placed before his feet.
Paul’s words are clear “I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend”