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The Scriptorium

Knowing as Loving

All true knowing leads here. 1 Corinthians 8.1

1 Corinthians 8 (1)

Pray Psalm 18.1-3.
I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

Sing Psalm 18.1-3.
(St. Columba: How Sweet and Awesome)
I love You, LORD, my Strength, my Rock, my Savior and my Fort;
my God, my ever-shelt’ring Rock, You shield my trembling heart.

My Stronghold, LORD, my Saving Horn, I call to You with praise!
From those who Your salvation scorn You save us all our days.

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 8.1.

1. How does Paul warn us against “knowledge”?

2. What edifies?

The Corinthians had asked a question about things offered to idols, whether it was permitted for believers to eat such things. “We’ll get to that,” Paul indicates, “but first things first.”

Evidently this subject was one of the bones of contention between the divided believers in Corinth. We can imagine the debate: “No one who is truly a believer—such as we are—would ever eat anything offered to an idol!” “Well, hoo, hoo, hoo, look who knows so much! I’m a believer, and I eat food sacrificed to idols because idols are nothing! Grow up!”

Each side used its “knowledge” to condemn the other side. Paul saw right through this. The proper end of all knowledge is love, because to know truly is to know Jesus, Who is love and Who fills us to love others by His grace. The kind of knowledge that puffs up and makes one person prideful and condemning is thus either wrong or incomplete.  

So before he could address the question of eating foods to idols, he had to set them straight about when we really know and when we don’t. We don’t know as we should if we use our knowledge to vaunt ourselves or put others down. Paul sets up a parallelism in which the second phrase draws the first one more fully into the light of truth. “Knowledge” is thus truly such when it is shaped by “love”; and such knowledge does not “puff up” but rather “edifies.”

Once again, Paul is on the trail to love. You don’t love by tolerating sin in your midst (chapter 5). You don’t love by going to court before unbelievers (chapter 6). You don’t love by ignoring or neglecting your calling (chapter 7). And you don’t love by acting like a know-it-all to condemn your brothers in Christ.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“Next to your question about eating food that has been sacrificed to idols.
On this question everyone feels that only his answer is the right one!
But although being a ‘know-it-all’ makes us feel important,
what is really needed to build the church is love” (1 Cor. 8.1 TLB).

When we focus our attention on loving God and others and keeping His Law through the power of the Holy Spirit, extraneous issues become less important, and the greater issue of love takes the forefront.
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I AM the LORD” (Lev. 19.18).

Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10.42-45).

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn. 3.16).
“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 Jn. 3.24).
“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4.21).
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rom13.8).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Gal. 5.22).
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith…” (1 Tim. 1.5).
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Pet. 4.8; Prov. 10.12).

Much better to err on the side of “love” that “never fails”, than to be “sounding brass, clanging cymbals”, and amounting to absolutely “nothing” (1 Cor. 13.8, 1, 2).

For reflection
1. Is it possible for someone to “know” Jesus but not truly “know” Him? Explain.

2. Peter says we should grow in the “knowledge” of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18). What would indicate that we were growing in such knowledge?

3. What can you do to make sure your knowledge of Jesus is always edifying and never merely puffed-up?

He shows, from the effects, how frivolous a thing it is to boast of knowledge, when love is wanting. "Of what avail is knowledge, that is of such a kind as puffs us up and elates us, while it is the part of love to edify?"
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8.1

Pray Psalm 18.43-50.
Concentrate on praising the Lord for His sovereignty, rule over the nations, protection, and shepherding care. Call on Him to bring a great awakening to faith in all nations.

Sing Psalm 18.43-50.
(St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
Lord Jesus Christ exalted, above all earthly strife!
You rule all lands and nations, the Lord and King of life!
They flock to You who never did seek out Your glorious face,
obedient to Your mandate, renewed within Your grace.

You live, our Rock, our Savior, exalted by our God!
Upon Your foes with vengeance Your holy feet have trod.
Delivered from Your enemies and lifted high above,
You rescue and redeem us by Your eternal love.

Let nations rise and praise You, and give You thanks, O LORD!
Deliv’rance, grace, and favor You grant us by Your Word.
Bestow Your lovingkindness upon us as before,
and bless and keep Your people henceforth and evermore.

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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