SOAP Study - October 13, 2020

    10.13.20 | by Larry Williamson


    1 Corinthians 8:1-8

    Now 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. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.[a]

    So, what about eating meat that has been offered to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. But for us,

    There is one God, the Father,
        by whom all things were created,
        and for whom we live.
    And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,
        through whom all things were created,
        and through whom we live.

    However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.


    • What verse stood out to you while you were reading?
    • What did you discover about God, yourself, and others?
    • How should this information impact your life?
    • What needs to be different about the way you are currently living?
    • Take some time to talk to God about the things you just learned and how you want your life to look different. Give God thanks for revealing these things to you, ask Him for wisdom and courage to move forward so that you can apply these things to your life.

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    There is a lot to unpack here! Paul starts Chapter 8 by responding to a question written to him about the appropriateness of eating meat that was sacrificed to other gods. There are people on both sides of this situation where your Jewish Christians exist on the "Don't eat it" side and your Non-Jewish Christians on the "It's fine" side. Before Paul goes into the matter, he discusses how "we all have knowledge," but that knowledge can make us feel important, but it is love that strengthens the church. This baseline ideology that Paul is providing confronts any dispute that exists within the church. It even makes me think of a Bob Goff quote that says, "Don't let being "right" talk you out of being kind." Paul sets this foundational truth in place to shift both sides' perspective from the knowledge that they know to be more concerned about how this affects someone else. First, Paul confronts the existence of the idols that the meat was being sacrificed to while maintaining the belief that there is one God and one Lord, but there's something after this section that I never noticed. In verse 7, Paul states there were believers in Jesus, who also believed in other gods, and this sets the stage for the rest of this response in Chapter 8.


    This passage usually is the part of 1 Corinthians that I tend to read mindlessly. The first seven chapters were packed with discussions of division in the church, wisdom, pride, sex, and marriage, which comes off as more interesting than a section about food. It may just be PTSD from going through the temple sections in Exodus and Leviticus that causes this feeling. However, Paul here is not merely discussing the act behind consuming meat offered to idols but uncovering why this is not a moment for debate but a moment for perspective. How often do we have disagreements and disruptions because we know about being right? I feel like it usually happens mostly in a culture that allows us to voice our opinions freely. However, we often miss those affected by our views and decisions because we seek the things that delight us and comfort us and hide behind the Lord's grace even though we could be leading someone astray. In today's and tomorrow's SOAP scriptures, Paul challenges believers to be a "love first" people.


    Father God, thank you for being the creator and the reason why we live. We understand that we follow your examples of love to humanity when we're willing to make sacrifices for others' care. We thank you for the Lord Jesus, who is our sustainer in this life, who has enabled us to be agents of love for our fellow believers. We trust that your Spirit can guide us to choose others over ourselves.