1 Corinthians 8

Meat Sacrificed to Idols

Construction Tools

Knowledge makes arrogant, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1).

The verb “to build up” is used literally of things like the construction of a house (Luke 6:48). Here it is used figuratively to refer to the strengthening of other believers (cf. Acts 20:32; 1 Thess 5:11). The tools shown here include compasses and three plumb-bobs. Such tools were used by Roman craftsmen and builders to keep their projects straight and square.

Animal Sacrifice

Therefore concerning eating food that has been sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8:4).

This photo provides a modern-day illustration of meat being offered as a sacrifice during the Samaritan Passover. As with both the ancient Israelites and the sacrifices in Greco-Roman culture, the meat was subsequently consumed, whether by the one who brought it, the priests, or in the case of pagans, to whomever was willing to purchase it.

The Market at Corinth

Some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat meat as if it were sacrificed to an idol (1 Corinthians 8:7).

Archaeologists identified a macellum (a market selling provisions, especially meat and fish) in Corinth. The identification was made on the basis of an inscription that mentions the founding of the macellum. This market would have been familiar to Paul’s Corinthian audience as the place from which meat sacrificed to idols could be purchased.


Take care lest this liberty of yours somehow becomes a stumbling block to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:9).

An illustration from the world of chariot racing may be taken from this mosaic. Although a number of chariot teams are running well, this team has been upset, resulting in a dangerous or even deadly tangle of horses, driver, and equipment. Such a team is disqualified from the race and may endanger others as well. This mosaic was photographed at the Lyon Gallo-Roman Museum.

Going Meatless in Antiquity

If food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again (1 Corinthians 8:13).

Vegetables would have been an option for one who avoided meat, at least at some times of year. But an even more likely staple food would have been grains, mainly bread. This fresco depicts a baker’s shop in the Roman city of Pompeii; the baker is selling the typical round loaves that were common at that time. About 34 bakeries have been discovered so far in Pompeii, some large enough to bake 80 loaves at a time in a single oven.

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