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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 Now in regard to meat
sacrificed to idols: we realize that "all of us have knowledge";
knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.
If anyone supposes he knows something, he does
not yet know as he ought to know.
But if one loves God, one is known by him.
So about the eating of meat sacrificed to
idols: we know that "there is no idol in the world," and that
"there is no God but one."
Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in
heaven and on earth (there are, to be sure, many "gods" and many
3 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from
whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through
whom all things are and through whom we exist.
But not all have this knowledge. There are some
who have been so used to idolatry up until now that, when they eat meat
sacrificed to idols, their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.
4 Now food will not bring us closer to God. We
are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do.
But make sure that this liberty of yours in no
way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.
If someone sees you, with your knowledge,
reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience too, weak
as it is, be "built up" to eat the meat sacrificed to idols?
Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is
brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died.
When you sin in this way against your brothers
and wound their consciences, weak as they are, you are sinning against Christ.
5 Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I
will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause my brother to sin.
[⇒ 8:1-⇒ 11:1] The
Corinthians' second question concerns meat that has been sacrificed to idols;
in this area they were exhibiting a disordered sense of liberation that Paul
here tries to rectify. These chapters contain a sustained and unified argument
that illustrates Paul's method of theological reflection on a moral dilemma.
Although the problem with which he is dealing is dated, the guidelines for
moral decisions that he offers are of lasting validity. Essentially Paul urges
them to take a communitarian rather than an individualistic view of their
Christian freedom. Many decisions that they consider pertinent only to their
private relationship with God have, in fact, social consequences. Nor can moral
decisions be determined by merely theoretical considerations; they must be
based on concrete circumstances, specifically on the value and needs of other
individuals and on mutual responsibility within the community. Paul here
introduces the theme of "building up" (oikodome), i.e., of
contributing by individual action to the welfare and growth of the community.
This theme will be further developed in 1 Cor 14; see the note on
⇒ 1 Cor 14:3b-5. Several years later Paul would
again deal with the problem of meat sacrificed to idols in
⇒ Romans 14:1-⇒ 15:6.
2 [1a] Meat sacrificed to idols: much
of the food consumed in the city could have passed through pagan religious
ceremonies before finding its way into markets and homes. "All of us have
knowledge": a slogan, similar to ⇒ 1 Cor 6:12,
which reveals the self-image of the Corinthians. ⇒ 1 Cor
8:4 will specify the content of this knowledge.
3  This verse rephrases the
monotheistic confession of v 4 in such a way as to contrast it with polytheism
(⇒ 1 Cor 8:5) and to express our relationship with
the one God in concrete, i.e., in personal and Christian terms. And for whom we
exist: since the Greek contains no verb here and the action intended must be
inferred from the preposition eis, another translation is equally possible:
"toward whom we return." Through whom all things: the earliest
reference in the New Testament to Jesus' role in creation.
4 [8-9] Although the food in itself
is morally neutral, extrinsic circumstances may make the eating of it harmful.
A stumbling block: the image is that of tripping or causing someone to fall (cf
⇒ 1 Cor 8:13; ⇒ 9:12;
⇒ 10:12, ⇒ 32;
⇒ 2 Cor 6:3; ⇒ Romans
14:13, ⇒ 20-1). This is a basic moral
imperative for Paul, a counterpart to the positive imperative to "build
one another up"; compare the expression "giving offense" as
opposed to "pleasing" in ⇒ 1 Cor
5  His own course is clear: he
will avoid any action that might harm another Christian. This statement
prepares for the paradigmatic development in 1 Cor 9.
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