Knowledge Puffs Up

1Corinthians 8:1-3 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies. And if any man think that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. 

‘Now as touching things offered unto idols’ – Idolatry was the next question the Corinthians asked advice about from Paul.

Thirteen main arguments of Paul: Knowledge is fundamental (8:1-3). Idols are not real gods (8:4-5). There is but one God (8:4-6). People, not idols, are of God (8:6). All people do not have knowledge (8:7). Problems arise from ignorance and a weak conscience (8:7). Meats being offered to idols do not defile the meats themselves (8:8). Meats do not make any difference in our relationship to God (8:8). Knowledge and liberty can become stumbling blocks to the weak (8:9). The example of the strong could cause the weak to commit sin (8:10). Persons thus emboldened to commit sin will perish regardless of Christ’s death for them (8:11). By causing weak brothers to perish, the strong also commit sin (8:12). The strong must set the proper example for the weak to save themselves as well as the weak (8:13).

‘We know that we all have knowledge.’ The idea here is that we who are converted to Christianity have sufficient knowledge concerning idols and idol worship. We also know that we are not bound by Jewish rites and ceremonies, but some may carry their knowledge and liberty too far and do that which is not best for the cause of Christ.

‘Knowledge’ – the Corinthians were puffed up by their knowledge and liberty in Christ and condemned others. It made them bold, rash, and careless regarding the consciences of others not enlightened.

‘Puffed up’ [Greek: phusioo] puffed up or proud (4:6, 18-19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4). So many people become full of themselves as they gain knowledge on certain things – proud people are an abomination to God for their knowledge fills them only with pride and not with wisdom (1Cor. 1-3). Knowledge of the Word of God also puffs up, because without implementing the truths and obeying the commands, your faith is of no value and your knowledge is only knowledge and not wisdom (Jas. 1:19-27).

‘Charity edifies’ – Love builds up. It has no quality to puff up or tear down as does knowledge. It can only be constructive since it is of God (13:1-13). ‘And if any man think that he knows any thing, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.’ The person who acts in a rash, proud way knows nothing as he ought to know. If he torments his brother’s weak and tender conscience with his food and conduct he does not love God or his brother as he should (Matt. 22:36-40).