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                                                          1 Corinthians 8:4-6 - [Verse 6 in Original Greek]

5 For even if there R286 are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there R287 is {but} one God, the R288 Father, from R289 whom are all things and we {exist} for Him; and one R290 Lord, Jesus Christ, by R291 whom are all things, and we {exist} through Him.

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Start---There is no God but one ...
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Old Testament and of the Christian scriptures. He only is God in the true sense. He alone may rightfully be worshiped, and that through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verses 5, 6
For though there be that are called gods whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.

The multiple names of pagan mythology illustrate the truth Paul mentioned regarding gods many and lords many; but the very fact of their being thought of as operating in heaven or on earth proved that none of them controlled "all things," hence the fragmented nature of deity as misunderstood in paganism.

One God, the Father, of whom are all things ...
There is no limitation with God, who cannot be localized like the false gods of the pagans. He is the Creator and sustainer of all things in heaven or upon earth.

To us there is one God ...
There is a difference in Christianity and false religions. "The Christian is not a syncretist, who attempts to harmonize the teachings of all religions." F10

Gods many and lords many ...
Grosheide distinguished between the so-called deities of the pagans and their "heroes or demigods"; F11 but the terms are here considered to be synonymous.

LORD was the usual way of referring to deity in the various cults of the time, which makes Paul's frequent application of it to Jesus Christ significant. Paul simply made it clear that the heathen world worshiped a multitude of deities, putting no difference between them. F12

One Lord Jesus Christ ...
 There is affirmed here the oneness of God and Christ. God is honored as the Creator of all things and Christ his Son as the Creator of the New Creation. Jesus Christ is called
"God" no less than ten times in the Greek New Testament. See my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 31.

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Learn not to exceed what is written—In The Original Copies of the Holy Verses .Wit--- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Wit --IntroductionForConcernedStudents.htm

 

We through him ...
means "for whom we exist." F13

Through whom are all things ...
in this clause "must be co-extensive with the `all things' in the preceding verse, that is, the universe." F14

LORD was the usual way of referring to deity in the various cults of the time, which makes Paul's frequent application of it to Jesus Christ significant. Paul simply made it clear that the heathen world worshiped a multitude of deities, putting no difference between them. F12

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Verse 1
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.   

Now concerning ...
These words indicate that "the Corinthians had asked Paul questions in regard to these matters," F2 a fact also indicated by the use of quotation marks to set off portions of this verse and in 1 Cor. 8:4 and 1 Cor. 8:5 in the RSV.

We all have knowledge ...
This was the conceited declaration of the questioners from Corinth who evidently indulged themselves in the pagan temples without regard to weak brethren; and the first thing Paul did was to nail down the fact that "knowledge" without love was the grossest ignorance.

Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up ...
is the way this stands in the Greek (English Revised Version margin); and it is a shame that our translators changed it. Knowledge without love only puffs up the one who fancies he is wise and does nothing for others, whereas love builds up both its possessor and others.

The evident concern of Paul's questioners did not refer to themselves (they already knew everything), but "they wanted to know how to deal with the people who refused to eat meat sacrificed to idols." F3 Despite this conceit, some of them were actually "sitting at meat in an idol's temple"! (1 Corinthians 8:10). As some would say today, they were bringing their "culture" into the church!

The problem regarded several possibilities: (1) Should a Christian partake of the feasts in the idol temples? (2) Was it permissible for him to buy food in the public markets, where most if not all of it had been procured from the sacrifices? (3) Might he, when invited to a friend's house, eat flesh which had been sacrificed to idols?


 
Verse 2
If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth not yet as he ought to know.

Thinketh that he knoweth ...
All earthly knowledge is partial and fragmentary. "Knowledge is proud that it has learned so much. Wisdom is humble that it knows no more." F4 In thinking that they knew everything and at the same time despising the brethren they denominated as ignorant, the Corinthians indeed knew nothing as they should have known.


 
Verse 3
But if any man loveth God, the same is known by him.

This verse ends surprisingly with "the same is known by him," instead of "the same knows him," as might have been expected; and Farrar was probably correct in the observation that:

Paul did not wish to use any terms which would foster the already overgrown conceit of knowledge which was inflating the minds of his Corinthian converts. Furthermore he felt that "God knoweth them that are his" (2 Timothy 3:19). F5

Also, as Morris said, "The really important thing is not that we know God, but that he knows us!" F6


 
Verse 4
Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one.

The sophisticated arguments of the "knowledge" party in Corinth are apparent in this. Since idols had no existence in fact, they felt safe in ignoring the popular superstitions regarding them; and Paul allowed the argument to stand, for the moment, it certainly being true that there is no God but one, and that an idol actually had no existence in reality.

However, although Paul did not recognize idols "as having any real existence, even as false deities," F7 he was "certain that evil spirits and demons exist, and that in reality these were behind the idols and were using them to seduce men from the worship of the true God." F8 (See 10:20.)

No idol is anything in the world ...
Of course, the world was full of idols; but, as Wesley said:

Idol here does not mean a mere image; but, by an inevitable transition of thought, the deity worshiped in the image. By this, Paul says that Zeus, Apollo, etc., have no existence; they are not to be found in the world. F9

Furthermore, Paul does not by such a statement (that they are not in the world) leave room for the thought that they may be anywhere else. The "world" as used here refers to the whole universe.

There is no God but one ...
He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Old Testament and of the Christian scriptures. He only is God in the true sense. He alone may rightfully be worshiped, and that through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


 
Verses 5, 6
For though there be that are called gods whether in heaven or on earth; as there are gods many, and lords many; yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.

The multiple names of pagan mythology illustrate the truth Paul mentioned regarding gods many and lords many; but the very fact of their being thought of as operating in heaven or on earth proved that none of them controlled "all things," hence the fragmented nature of deity as misunderstood in paganism.

One God, the Father, of whom are all things ...
There is no limitation with God, who cannot be localized like the false gods of the pagans. He is the Creator and sustainer of all things in heaven or upon earth.

To us there is one God ...
There is a difference in Christianity and false religions. "The Christian is not a syncretist, who attempts to harmonize the teachings of all religions." F10

Gods many and lords many ...
Grosheide distinguished between the so-called deities of the pagans and their "heroes or demigods"; F11 but the terms are here considered to be synonymous.

LORD was the usual way of referring to deity in the various cults of the time, which makes Paul's frequent application of it to Jesus Christ significant. Paul simply made it clear that the heathen world worshiped a multitude of deities, putting no difference between them. F12

One Lord Jesus Christ ...
There is affirmed here the oneness of God and Christ. God is honored as the Creator of all things and Christ his Son as the Creator of the New Creation. Jesus Christ is called "God" no less than ten times in the Greek New Testament. See my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 31.

We through him ...
means "for whom we exist." F13

Through whom are all things ...
in this clause "must be co-extensive with the `all things' in the preceding verse, that is, the universe." F14

 

 

Footnotes for 1 Corinthians 8
1: William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 85.
2: David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Corinthians (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1935), p. 117.
3: F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 189.
4: Attributed to Kay by Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), p. 125.
5: F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 264.
6: Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 125.
7: John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 416.
8: William Barclay, op. cit., p. 83.
9: John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.
10: Donald S. Metz, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), p. 392.
11: F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 192.
12: Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 126.
13: F. W. Grosheide, op. cit, p 192.
14: David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 120.
15: Donald S. Metz, op. cit., p. 391
16: Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1949), p. 141.
17: F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 265.
18: J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 904.
19: Ibid.
20: Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), p. 517.
21: James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 126.
22: Attributed to Godet by John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.
23: F. W. Farrar, op. cit., p. 265.
24: Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 146.
25: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 613.
26: John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.
27: Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 129.
28: Paul W. Marsh, A New Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969). p. 391.
29: Donald Guthrie, The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1062.
30: George W. DeHoff, Sermons on First Corinthians (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1947), p. 71.
31: Donald R. Metz, op. cit., p. 379.
32: F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 92.
33: J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 903.
34: Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 111.
35: James Macknight, op. cit., p. 108.
36: Ibid.
37: Ibid.
38: T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 310.
39: J. W. McGarvey, op. cit., p. 82.
40: David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 107.
41: Ibid.
42: Donald R. Metz, op. cit., p. 382.
43: F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 92.
44: Donald Guthrie, op. cit., p. 1061.
45: Donald R. Metz, op. cit., p. 383.
46: John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.
47: William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 74.
48: Adam Clarke, op. cit., p. 225.
49: Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 109.
50: James Macknight, op. cit., p. 97.
51: T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 312.
52: James Macknight, op. cit., p. 114.
53: T. Teignmouth Shore, op. cit., p. 313.
54: Foy E. Wallace, Jr., A Review of the New Versions (Fort Worth, Texas: The Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Publications, 1973), p. 433.
55: Ibid.
56: J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 904.
57: S. Lewis Johnson, op. cit., p. 610.
58: F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 93.
59: John William Russell, Compact Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1964), p. 415.
60: William Barclay, op. cit., p. 79.
61: John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.
62: Ibid.
63: Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 123.

 


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=1co&chapter=008>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

 

 

 

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(2)  DSN -> Synopsis on 8:6
(3) GEB -> Study Notes on 8:6
(4) JFB -> Commentary on 8:6
MHC-COM -> Commentary on 8:6
MHC-CON -> Commentary on 8:6
PNT -> Commentary on 8:6
RWP -> Study Notes on 8:6
TSK -> Commentary on 8:6 TSK -> Entry for 8:6
WEN -> Notes on 8:6
NTB -> Fraternity; God; God (continued); Idolatry; Jesus, The Christ; Jesus, The Christ (continued); Trinity
TTT -> Unity of God
EBD -> Creation
PWP -> Devotional using 8:6

 

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