Knowledge Puffs Up: What Does 1 Corinthians 8:1 Mean?


1 Corinthians 8:1 reads, “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” King James Version (KJV)

Translation1 Corinthians 8:1
ESVNow concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
NASBNow concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.
NIVNow about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
NLTNow regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

Knowledge Puffs Up: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

8:1-6 There is no proof of ignorance more common than conceit of knowledge. Much may be known, when nothing is known to good purpose. And those who think they know any thing, and grow vain thereon, are the least likely to make good use of their knowledge.

Satan hurts some as much by tempting them to be proud of mental powers, as others, by alluring to sensuality. Knowledge which puffs up the possessor, and renders him confident, is as dangerous as self-righteous pride, though what he knows may be right.

Without holy affections all human knowledge is worthless. The heathens had gods of higher and lower degree; gods many, and lords many; so called, but not such in truth. Christians know better. One God made all, and has power over all.

The one God, even the Father, signifies the Godhead as the sole object of all religious worship; and the Lord Jesus Christ denotes the person of Emmanuel, God manifest in the flesh, One with the Father, and with us; the appointed Mediator, and Lord of all; through whom we come to the Father, and through whom the Father sends all blessings to us, by the influence and working of the Holy Spirit.

While we refuse all worship to the many who are called gods and lords, and to saints and angels, let us try whether we really come to God by faith in Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:1 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

1Co 8:1-13. On Partaking of Meats Offered to Idols.

1. Though to those knowing that an idol has no existence, the question of eating meats offered to idols (referred to in the letter of the Corinthians, compare 1Co 7:1) might seem unimportant, it is not so with some, and the infirmities of such should be respected.

The portions of the victims not offered on the altars belonged partly to the priests, partly to the offerers; and were eaten at feasts in the temples and in private houses and were often sold in the markets; so that Christians were constantly exposed to the temptation of receiving them, which was forbidden (Nu 25:2; Ps 106:28).

The apostles forbade it in their decree issued from Jerusalem (Ac 15:1-29; 21:25); but Paul does not allude here to that decree, as he rests his precepts rather on his own independent apostolic authority.

we know that we all have knowledge—The Corinthians doubtless had referred to their “knowledge” (namely, of the indifference of meats, as in themselves having no sanctity or pollution). Paul replies, “We are aware that we all have [speaking generally, and so far as Christian theory goes; for in 1Co 8:7 he speaks of some who practically have not] this knowledge.”

Knowledge puffeth up—when without “love.” Here a parenthesis begins; and the main subject is resumed in the same words, 1Co 8:4. “As concerning [touching] therefore the eating,” &c. “Puffing up” is to please self. “Edifying” is to please one’s neighbor; Knowledge only says, All things are lawful for me; Love adds, But all things do not edify [Bengel], (1Co 10:23; Ro 14:15).

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