Call to Worship September 6 2020
All types of idol use and uses for meat were a prevalent part of the Gentile culture. The list of idols was long in the Greco-Roman culture of Paul’s day, but that is no different from the O.T. idol worshippers that surrounded the Israelites. Meat had always played a role in the sacrificial system of the Gentiles and Jews, but the Jews choice and use of that meat was specifically outlined or restricted by God. Gentiles had no restriction for their idol worship due to the inanimate nature of their idols. Their gods had no eyes, ears, and mouths or, most importantly, wills. An idol with no will is simply intrinsic and incipient self-worship. Just as “all roads lead to Rome,” all idols lead to self-worship. Humanity is utterly and ultimately infatuated with itself, so they fashion idols in their image. Therefore, Paul implored the Corinthians to understand that idols were not attached to the one true living God in any way and were actually nothing. There is only one living God. (vs. 5-6)
The Corinthian church apparently had another concern. Meat of all kinds was often used in sacrifices to these idols. A portion of that meat may have been eaten by the family who had previously offered it in sacrifice. A serving of that meat may be used and/or sold to the local “butcher” by the pagan priests. So what were Christians to do if they were invited to a post sacrificial meal by their neighbor or possibly purchased meat which had been part of a pagan sacrifice? Paul noted that there was a knowledge that the meat was of no concern. For just as the idols were nothing then so was the meat offered to them. Yet, Paul knew that some would misuse this knowledge. They would be “puffed up” with it and put down others whose consciences were not as clear on the matter.
Paul established an important model and solution. Recognize you are not the only one with knowledge, especially concerning the deadness of idols (Matthew Henry, 1 Corinthians, Ch. 8). The issue was not necessarily understanding that idols were nothing, but it was the spirit of the matter. Would two believers with similar understanding learn to be gracious with one another in secondary matters? Those not concerned about the meat may eat it, but not with a spirit of haughtiness and judgement of their fellow believer. Those with an issue of conscience should not eat it and should not hold their brother or sister in contempt if they partake of it. Each group was to give proper room, but the one with further knowledge must show love and consideration for the weaker believer. So eat the meat in such a way not to purposefully offend your weaker brother. Just because you may eat does not mean you have to, especially by flaunting it in someone else’s face. So, Paul’s model was to consider his fellow believer first over himself. (B.F.S.)