Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 8:7

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

There is not in every man that knowledge - This is spoken in reference to what is said, 1 Corinthians 8:4; : We know that an idol is nothing in the world; for some with a conscience of the idol, viz. that it is something, eat it - the flesh that was offered to the idol, as a thing thus offered, considering the feast as a sacred banquet, by which they have fellowship with the idol. And their conscience being weak - not properly instructed in Divine things, is defiled - he performs what he does as an act of religious worship, and thus his conscience contracts guilt through this idolatry.

As in the commencement of Christianity, among the Jews that were converted, there were many found who incorporated the rites of the law with the principles of the Gospel; so, doubtless, among the Gentiles, there were several who did not at once throw aside all their idolatry or idolatrous notions, but preserved some of its more spiritual and imposing parts, and might think it necessary to mingle idolatrous feasts with the rites of Christianity; as the sacrament of the Lord's supper was certainly considered as a feast upon a sacrifice, as I have proved in my Discourse on the Nature and Design of the Eucharist. As the minds of many of these young Gentile converts could not, as yet, have been deeply endued with spiritual knowledge, they might incorporate these feasts, and confound their nature and properties.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Howbeit - But. In the previous verses Paul had stated the argument of the Corinthians - that they all knew that an idol was nothing; that they worshipped but one God; and that there could be no danger of their falling into idolatry, even should they partake of the meat offered in sacrifice to idols. Here he replies, that though this might be generally true, yet it was not universally; for that some were ignorant on this subject, and supposed that an idol had a real existence, and that to partake of that meat would be to confirm them in their superstition. The inference therefore is, that on their account they should abstain; see 1 Corinthians 8:11-13.

There is not … - There are some who are weak and ignorant; who have still remains of pagan opinions and superstitious feelings.

That knowledge - That there is but one God; and that an idol is nothing.

For some with conscience of the idol - From conscientious regard to the idol; believing that an idol god has a real existence; and that his favor should be sought, and his wrath be deprecated. It is not to be supposed that converted people would regard idols as the only God; but they might suppose that they were intermediate beings, good or bad angels, and that it was proper to seek their favor or avert their wrath. We are to bear in mind that the pagan were exceedingly ignorant; and that their former notions and superstitious feelings about the gods whom their fathers worshipped, and whom they had adored, would not soon leave them even on their conversion to Christianity. This is just one instance, like thousands, in which former erroneous opinions, prejudices, or superstitious views may influence those who are truly converted to God, and greatly mar and disfigure the beauty and symmetry of their religious character.

Eat it as a thing … - As offered to an idol who was entitled to adoration; or as having a right to their homage. They supposed that some invisible spirit was present with the idol; and that his favor should be sought, or his wrath averted by sacrifice.

And their conscience being weak - Being unenlightened on this subject; and being too weak to withstand the temptation in such a case. Not having a conscience sufficiently clear and strong to enable them to resist the temptation; to overcome all their former prejudices and superstitious feelings; and to act in an independent manner, as if an idol were nothing. Or their conscience was morbidly sensitive and delicate on this subject, they might be disposed to do right, and yet not have sufficient knowledge to convince them that an idol was nothing, and that they ought not to regard it.

Is defiled - Polluted; contaminated. By thus countenancing idolatry he is led into sin, and contracts guilt that will give him pain when his conscience becomes more enlightened; 1 Corinthians 8:11, 1 Corinthians 8:13. From superstitious reverence of the idol, he might think that he was doing right; but the effect would be to lead him to conformity to idol worship that would defile his conscience, pollute his mind, and ultimately produce the deep and painful conviction of guilt. The general reply, therefore, of Paul to the first argument in favor of partaking of the meat offered in sacrifice to idols is, that all Christians have not full knowledge on the subject; and that to partake of that might lead them into the sin of idolatry, and corrupt and destroy their souls.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Eating one kind of food, and abstaining from another, have nothing in them to recommend a person to God. But the apostle cautions against putting a stumbling-block in the way of the weak; lest they be made bold to eat what was offered to the idol, not as common food, but as a sacrifice, and thereby be guilty of idolatry. He who has the Spirit of Christ in him, will love those whom Christ loved so as to die for them. Injuries done to Christians, are done to Christ; but most of all, the entangling them in guilt: wounding their consciences, is wounding him. We should be very tender of doing any thing that may occasion stumbling to others, though it may be innocent in itself. And if we must not endanger other men's souls, how much should we take care not to destroy our own! Let Christians beware of approaching the brink of evil, or the appearance of it, though many do this in public matters, for which perhaps they plead plausibly. Men cannot thus sin against their brethren, without offending Christ, and endangering their own souls.