CHAPTER 8:1-3_ COMMUNITY, KNOWLEDGE & REAL LOVE ARE BASED ON GOD AS CREATOR AND REDEEMER PART 1
Paul continues his instruction to the church in how they are to live in community through the knowledge of God constrained by His love. Knowledge is a key theme in this letter and in chapter eight Paul uses it or a derivative of it eleven times. Up to this point in 1 Corinthians, he uses the term in three distinct ways.
First, there’s a knowledge that we ought to have: “do you not know that we will judge angels…?” Second, there’s a knowledge that we can’t have: “or how do you know wife whether you will save your husband?” Third, there’s the knowledge that we do have: “we know that all have knowledge.” The object of this knowledge (the third way we know) is first our knowledge of God and secondly our knowledge of the creature which instructs us how we are to live communally as we submit to Christ and his word so that real human flourishing occurs. This is easier said, then done. It seems that in this chapter, the quality of knowledge unfolds in the interplay of the subject/object relationships. Paul begins with:
“Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
The Corinthians were real believers whose lifestyle contradicted the Gospel. This was dangerous and that’s why the apostle wrote to them. They were known for not coming behind in any gift but also for their arrogance and pride which forfeited God’s love and thus tore down the people for which Christ Jesus died.
Devotion to Christ as Paul reveals is fleshed out in the community setting where iron sharpens iron through God’s providential design of diversity expressed through each member of the church. The purpose for this is vibrant human flourishing as each one contributes to the good of the other.
Here we have an example of how “not to” wield our knowledge of God so that the weaker member of the church may be raised to new heights of holiness and not razed to sin.
(v.1) Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies
The focus is on worship, “things sacrificed to idols…” who Paul and the Corinthians know are false. The apostle admits that knowledge is real, but if applied arrogantly rather than moved by love, it becomes self-serving to exalt the knower at the expense of the encouragement of another.
Paul is not belittling knowledge, but he is mocking knowledge that’s not wielded as Jesus modeled. This is a major issue in our relationships. The maxim, “people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care” should give us pause when we are in any setting.
2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know
Paul seems to be saying that if God’s love is not the engine driving our dissemination of God’s knowledge, then that knowledge is immoral, sinful and weak. The reason for this understanding is tied to verse three
3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
When Paul says, “but if anyone loves God…” he is pointing out the difference between perceived knowledge and actual knowledge. The former is based on subjective feeling, the latter is grounded on objective evidence. To be known by God (synonymous with new birth, redemption, being “born-again”) precedes our loving God (evidence of new birth, redemption, being “born again”).
This love and it’s authenticity expresses itself in humble submission to God’s revealed will (Scripture) which causes us to gladly lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, rather than being self-absorbed with our knowledge. The test for Christian authenticity is the love Jesus modeled and succinctly expresses in John 13:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Paul is saying the same thing Jesus said. That if our knowledge of God is real, then it will be authenticated/evidenced in how we imitate Jesus’ love when we relate to our Christian brothers and sisters. This knowledge is not a perceived knowledge, but an actual knowledge seen in communal living. (SDG)