1 Corinthians 8:2-12

2 but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.
3 We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.
4 Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there's nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God,
5 that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don't add up to anything but a tall story.
6 They say - again, quite rightly - that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master - Jesus the Messiah - and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It's true.
7 In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It's just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn't everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn't that insensitive. We need to be sensitive to the fact that we're not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating "idol meat," and are sure that there's something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn't going to change overnight.
8 But fortunately God doesn't grade us on our diet. We're neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can't stomach it.
9 But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a Christian still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.
10 For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn't there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused - maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.
11 Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn't you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him - because, as you say, it doesn't really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin!
12 When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn't worth it at the cost of even one of these "weak ones."

1 Corinthians 8:2-12 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 CORINTHIANS 8

In this chapter the apostle proceeds to consider the case of eating things offered to idols, which, though an indifferent thing, was abused by many in the Corinthian church, to the scandal and hurt of weak Christians; wherefore the apostle dissuades from the use of it, and refutes the arguments which were used by them in defence of their practice. And the general foundation on which they proceeded being their knowledge of Christian liberty, he begins with that; and makes answer to it, by granting, that he, and they, and all had knowledge in general; and by distinguishing between knowledge and charity, the one puffing up, and the other edifying: wherefore to argue from the one, to the disuse of the other, was wrong, 1Co 8:1 seeing that kind of knowledge, which was not accompanied with love, was no true knowledge, 1Co 8:2 but that was right which had annexed to it love to God, and our neighbour, 1Co 8:3 and then applies this observation to the case of things offered to idols; and explains the knowledge which some had, and boasted of, that an idol was nothing, and that there was but one God, 1Co 8:4 which latter he proves and confirms, partly by allowing that there were many nominal gods and lords, both in heaven and earth; but then they were only so by name, not by nature, 1Co 8:5 and partly by observing the common faith of Christians, that there is but one God, and one Lord Jesus, who are both described by their names and properties, 1Co 8:6 But now, though there was such knowledge concerning an idol, as nothing, and things offered to it, as indifferent, in some, this was not the case of all; who, as their knowledge was small, their consciences were weak, and were defiled by eating such things through the example of others, 1Co 8:7 wherefore it became such who had greater knowledge to abstain from eating them; partly from the unprofitableness of such eating to them with respect to divine acceptance, it making them neither better nor worse, 1Co 8:8 and partly from the harmfulness of it to others, it being a stumblingblock to the weak, which ought not to be laid in their way, 1Co 8:9 and emboldening to do so likewise to the injury of their weak consciences, 1Co 8:10 and so was to the loss and ruin of their peace and comfort, which is aggravated by their being brethren, and such for whom Christ died, 1Co 8:11. Thus by wounding their weak consciences, they that drew them into this practice, by their example, sinned both against their brethren, and Christ himself, 1Co 8:12. From all which the apostle concludes, that rather than offend a weak brother, it was right never to eat any flesh at all; and this he strengthens by his own example and resolution, 1Co 8:13.

1 Corinthians 8:2-12 In-Context

1 The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions -
2 but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.
3 We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.
4 Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there's nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God,
5 that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don't add up to anything but a tall story.
6 They say - again, quite rightly - that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master - Jesus the Messiah - and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It's true.
7 In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It's just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn't everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn't that insensitive. We need to be sensitive to the fact that we're not all at the same level of understanding in this. Some of you have spent your entire lives eating "idol meat," and are sure that there's something bad in the meat that then becomes something bad inside of you. An imagination and conscience shaped under those conditions isn't going to change overnight.
8 But fortunately God doesn't grade us on our diet. We're neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can't stomach it.
9 But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a Christian still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.
10 For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn't there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused - maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.
11 Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn't you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him - because, as you say, it doesn't really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin!
12 When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn't worth it at the cost of even one of these "weak ones."
13 So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there's any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.