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Knowledge Puffs Up

“Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3).

In this text the apostle Paul addressed a conflict that existed in Corinth.  How were the Corinthians to handle the eating of meat offered up to pagan idols?  Though some of the Corinthians were aware that “an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one” (vs. 4), others “until now eat it [meat offered to an idol] as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (vs. 7).  Paul recognized that those with superior knowledge could be guilty of acting arrogantly in the matter, and eating meat in the presence of those whose understanding was limited.  He asked, “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” (vs. 12).  In considering the responsibility he had toward his brother, Paul proclaimed his love by writing, “Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (vs. 13).

While Paul did not devalue the importance of knowledge in this passage, he did indicate that knowledge, in and of itself was not only insufficient, but fraught with danger.  Knowing can lead to sinning!  In the context, Paul emphasized that such knowledge must be tempered with love for the brethren.

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