Acts 15's Council at Jerusalem was initially to be an inquiry on the subject of circumcision, "certain individuals" who "came down from Judea", one would imagine these were fellow disciples and not unbelieving Jews as their insistence on circumcision lead to a trip to Jerusalem to seek out the wisdom of James/Jacob, who clarifies though the individuals were disciples they were were not under instruction from Jerusalem, and doesn't impose circumcision on the non Jewish disciples.

However, James consults with the Holy Spirit, "28. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials : ...

It also calls the following Decree "Essential":

Acts 15:29... :that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. "

Paul and Barnabas part ways at 15:36-41, because Barnabas would not go without John Mark and Paul would not allow him to come, refusing to forgive Mark for deserting him in Pamphylia.

1 Corinthians 8 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols : we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. 2. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge ; 3. but anyone who loves God is known by him. ...

Other than the first five words, that paragraph has no relation to eating idol meat specifically, Paul seems to be pitching a higher "gnosis" of sorts.

  1. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one." 5. Indeed, even though there may be so called gods in Heaven or on earth ----as in fact there are many gods and many lords---- 6. yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. ...

  2. It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 "Food will not bring us closer to God."

  3. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care this liberty of yours does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Paul fails to mention that he is discussing something he previously agreed he would ensure his pupils would adhere to, and teach that eating idol meat was forbidden and this essential.

Instead he grants them the 'liberty' of eating meat sacrificed to idols, because it's harmless and not beneficial, but they were to be cautious of becoming a stumbling block to "the weak."

I think we should be able to agree with Jesus if he clarifies the issue, and he does, in Revelation 2:14:

Message to Pergamum

".... But I have a few things against you : you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a STUMBLING BLOCK before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication."

Like Balaam, Paul taught people to eat meat sacrificed to idols, and is the only person in the New Testament that we can say did this, who says so himself.

Jesus held something against Paul as he did the others whose identity we don't know. We do know factually it was a condemnation of the teaching, by the Messiah himself, so Paul did not receive it from God or Jesus.

I won't speculate where Paul learned this "knowledge" he speaks of that makes sin not sin, which is exactly what he did, I won't speculate why.

I will just ask was Paul wrong and thus guilty of penning uninspired writings?

Is there another option that doesn't require a long explanation for a simple matter of God saying don't ever, Paul saying do sometimes? A classic case of right and wrong is apparently what we have.

closed as off-topic by Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim, Nigel J, James Shewey, user2910, enegue Dec 7 '17 at 10:30

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions including a biblical text but that are not seeking an answer about ① the history of that biblical text itself or ② the meaning of that biblical text either in context or through a process of arriving at a particular interpretation of it are off-topic." – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim, Nigel J, James Shewey, Community, enegue
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • A short comment: neither Jesus, nor Holy Spirit, nor Father, nor Paul worshiping Them as undivided are sinning. Just, Holy Spirit's instructions for humans are portioned and rationed, thus, in Jerusalem the instruction was "not to eat", yet, the purpose of this was not ontological, but contextual and historical, for ontologically there is nothing wrong in consuming proteins from meat sacrificed to idols, for meat and proteins it consists of do not get tarnished by this. And, if a child was dying of starvation, James also would have given to him any meat. Written word kills Spirit vivifies. – Levan Gigineishvili Dec 6 '17 at 9:11
  • I am not sure that this question fits the rules of the site because it is not really a question about a particular verse or passage. It appears to be a question about a particular subject - whether it is permissible for mendicant believers to eat the surplus meat that was commonly distributed to the public from Greek pagan sacrifices, and what Paul's view of this question was. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Dec 6 '17 at 10:16
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim - I think perhaps the question could have been formatted better, but the OP does seem to be addressing specific texts and whether there is a contradiction between them: Acts 15:28-29, 1 Corinthians 8:1-9, and Revelation 2:14. – user33515 Dec 6 '17 at 14:50
  • I've edited the question to add a "contradiction" tag. I think perhaps the wording of the question could be simplified to reflect that this is a question regarding contradiction between the passages and excise the wording regarding God changing his mind and Jesus, James, the Holy Spirit, or Paul being "wrong". – user33515 Dec 6 '17 at 14:52
  • @user33515 The four questions at the end of the post are still not hermeneutical questions. They are theological questions, and not very clear questions at that. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Dec 6 '17 at 14:56

At the core of your argument are the premises:

(A) The Council of Jerusalem decreed that Gentile converts should abstain from meat offered to idols

(B) "Paul taught people to eat meat sacrificed to idols" (your statement verbatim)

Whatever conclusions one draws from these premises, the argument would be unsound. The second premise is not true.

Paul did not teach people to eat meat sacrificed to idols as you claim. 1 Corinthians 8 is a protracted dialog that actually directs exactly the opposite, if you follow the chapter through to verses 10-11 (you stopped at 9).

The issue that Paul was addressing was that many weak-minded members of the Corinth church were still intentionally eating meat sacrificed to idols, retaining a sort of double-mindedness about their faith. The more cogent among the community, who knew that this practice was improper were also partaking of these offerings, justifying their actions in the sense that Paul speaks of in v.4ff. Possibly they were familiar with the Gospel teaching, not the things which enter in defile the man, but the things which proceed out.1

Rather than immediately and outrightly condemn all parties for the practice, Paul - as he is wont to do - reasons gradually with those addressed, bringing them eventually to his conclusion:

1Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

This is an offhand slight against those among the Corinthians who, as John Chrysostom described, "made an immoderate use of their perfect knowledge to harm both others and themselves."2

2And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

A mild admonition to the "knowledgeable" that they should not be so sure of their knowledge.

4As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Here he is not saying directly that he agrees with their conclusion that eating meat offered to idols is correct. He is merely recapitulating the premises they hold to arrive at their conclusion.

7Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

Here he is now touching on how those who are "knowledgeable" are harming their weaker brethren with false doctrine.

8But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

Now he is beginning his chastisement in earnest, mild at first, then stern:

10For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

He even goes so far as to direct the Corinthians that they should not just avoid meat offered to idols, but - if the case should arise - any kind of meat at all, if it causes a brother somehow to stumble:

13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

This is a good example where considering only a part of a passage out of context can lead to a radically different interpretation. A very thorough and complete exegesis of the Corinthians passage can be found in John Chrysostom's homilies, among others.3

1. Matthew 15:11
2. Homily XX on First Corinthians (tr. from the Greek)
3. Ibid.

  • Well considered. – Nigel J Dec 6 '17 at 15:53
  • 1
    Great answer—Paul doesn't tell anyone to "eat meat sacrificed to idols". – Sola Gratia Dec 6 '17 at 16:40
  • I am afraid that is incorrect, that I provided the quote which proves it and that simply denying the fact will not answer the question regarding was it wrong or not, which is the question, not did he, because he he absolutely declared his pupils, due to their knowledge apparently, that they were at liberty to eat so long as it did not BECOME a stumbling block, suggesting it is not a stumbling block unless weak brothers are effected by it. The wording is clear and my exegesis sound. "But take care thato this liberty of yours does not become a stumbling block to the weak." – Gazali Dec 6 '17 at 18:45
  • As if they didn't have the liberty there would be no need for the warning not to let this liberty effect the weak brothers, and worse is that he calls those who obey the Decree of God "weak." – Gazali Dec 6 '17 at 18:48
  • You said "Here he is now touching on how those who are "knowledgeable" are harming their weaker brethren with false doctrine. That is not in the text. You inferred it as though the "knowledgeable were teaching false doctrine. – Think On These Things Dec 20 '18 at 5:41

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