And through thy knowledge
These words contain an aggravation of the sin such persons are guilty of, who are the means, by their example, of ensnaring weak minds, and causing them to stumble and fall, even in some sense so as to perish:
shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
every word almost carries in it an exaggeration of this matter; it is not some slight injury that is done to the person, but even causing him to "perish"; and this is not said of any person, but a "brother", to whom the strongest affection, and strictest regard, should be shown; and a "weak" brother, of whom the greater care should be taken; and therefore it is an instance of cruelty to do damage to such an one, and that not ignorantly, which cannot be pretended, but "through thy knowledge"; not through the true use, but abuse of it: those that have knowledge should know better, and improve it to the edification, and not the destruction of fellow Christians; and all this done in a case of indifference, that might as well be let alone, of which there was no necessity for the doing of it: but what aggravates most of all is, that this affects a person for "whom Christ died"; that he had such a value for as to purchase and redeem with the price of his own blood; and yet these men made so little account of, as by so trifling a thing to risk their good and welfare. Some would from hence conclude the doctrine of universal redemption, that Christ died for all men, even for them that perish; but it should be observed, that the words are put by way of interrogation, and prove no matter of fact, even supposing they could be understood of eternal ruin and destruction; and at most only imply the danger and possibility thereof through offences given, were they not preserved by the power and grace of God through Christ, who died for them, and so will not suffer them to perish; though this is no thanks to them who lay stumblingblocks in their way, and, as much as in them lies, cause them to perish, in this sense: besides, the "perishing" of this weak brother is to be understood of his peace and comfort, and is explained by "defiling" his conscience, ( 1 Corinthians 8:7 ) by wounding it, ( 1 Corinthians 8:12 ) and making him to offend, ( 1 Corinthians 8:13 ) through an imprudent use of Christian liberty in those who had the greater knowledge, and by a participation of things offered unto idols, in an idol's temple, and not of his eternal damnation in hell; which could never enter into the apostle's thought, as to be brought about hereby, as appears from ( 1 Corinthians 8:8 ) and so is no proof of Christ's dying for such as perish eternally: for those for whom Christ has died, he has by his death procured such blessings for them, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, peace with God, reconciliation unto him, and eternal salvation, which will for ever secure them from perishing in such sense.