Knowledge and love (1 Cor. 8:1)

“Now concerning food

Offered to idols,

We know that

‘All of us possess knowledge.’


Puffs up,

But love builds up.”

Περὶ δὲ τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων, οἴδαμεν ὅτι πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν. ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ, ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη οἰκοδομεῖ·

Paul said that concerning food offered to idols (Περὶ δὲ τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων), we know (οἴδαμεν) that all of us possess knowledge (ὅτι πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν).  Knowledge (ἡ γνῶσις) puffs up (φυσιοῖ), but love builds up (ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη οἰκοδομεῖ).  Only the Pauline letters used this word φυσιοῖ, that means to puff up, blow up, inflate, arrogant, or proud.  Paul next took up the question about food offered to pagan idols.  Religious beliefs and eating habits among Jews were a big deal.  Paul used another Corinthian saying “Everyone has some knowledge” to make a point that knowledge tends to make people proud.  Everyone has some knowledge that they are proud about.  However, as Paul indicated love, agape ἀγάπη, actually builds up without any pride.  Paul was attacking this problem of eating food offered to idols from the perspective of knowledge and love.  Knowledge gives people a false sense of superiority when love is what really makes things better.  Do you prefer knowledge or love?

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