1 Corinthians 8:4 MEANING

1 Corinthians 8:4
(4) As concerning therefore the eating of those things.--See 1 Corinthians 8:1. The subject resumed after the parenthesis. We have, perhaps, in this repetition of the words a characteristic of a letter written by another from the author's dictation, as was the case with this and other epistles.

An idol is nothing in the world.--It is nothing in itself but a piece of wood or metal, and it really represents nothing, for we know that there is "no God but one." The word "other" was inserted in later MSS., probably from a recollection of the words of the first commandment.

Verse 4. - We know that an idol is nothing in the world. After his brief but pregnant digression on the nature of true knowledge, he returns to these questions, and probably once more quotes their own words. They had given this reason for open and public indifference with respect to meat offered to idols. With respect to idols, three views were possible to Christians: either

(1) that they were "demons" - the spirits of deified dead men; or

(2) that they were evil spirits - a favorite view among the Jews (via 10:20; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37; Revelation 9:20); or

(3) that they were merely (lead images corresponding to nothing at all (Isaiah 44 etc.). That there is none other God but one. This belief is the signature of Judaism, according to their daily and oft repeated shema (Deuteronomy 6:4, etc.).

8:1-6 There is no proof of ignorance more common than conceit of knowledge. Much may be known, when nothing is known to good purpose. And those who think they know any thing, and grow vain thereon, are the least likely to make good use of their knowledge. Satan hurts some as much by tempting them to be proud of mental powers, as others, by alluring to sensuality. Knowledge which puffs up the possessor, and renders him confident, is as dangerous as self-righteous pride, though what he knows may be right. Without holy affections all human knowledge is worthless. The heathens had gods of higher and lower degree; gods many, and lords many; so called, but not such in truth. Christians know better. One God made all, and has power over all. The one God, even the Father, signifies the Godhead as the sole object of all religious worship; and the Lord Jesus Christ denotes the person of Emmanuel, God manifest in the flesh, One with the Father, and with us; the appointed Mediator, and Lord of all; through whom we come to the Father, and through whom the Father sends all blessings to us, by the influence and working of the Holy Spirit. While we refuse all worship to the many who are called gods and lords, and to saints and angels, let us try whether we really come to God by faith in Christ.As concerning therefore the eating of those things,.... The apostle having enlarged on the head of knowledge, which those who made an ill use of their Christian liberty urged in favour of their conduct; he returns to the subject in question, in relation to meats,

that are offered in sacrifice unto idols. The determinations of the Jewish schools concerning this affair are as follow, which admit of no manner of profit by them in any shape:

"a beast, the whole of which they offer to idols, is forbidden of profit, even its dung, and its bones, and its horns, and its hoofs, and its skin, all is forbid to be of any profit'' (y).

Again (z),

"flesh or wine, or fruits, which are brought in to be offered up to idols, are not forbidden to profit with, although they are brought into the idol's temple, until they offer them up before it; "but when offered up before it"; they become an offering; and though they may return them, and bring them out, lo, these are forbidden for ever; and all that is found in an idol's temple, even water and salt, are forbidden of profit by the law, , "and he that eats anything thereof" is to be beaten.''

Once more (a),

"an Israelite that lifts up a cheese to worship it, but does not worship it, but a Gentile worships it, it is forbidden of profit, became the lifting of it up is an action; and so if he lifts up an egg, and a Gentile comes and worships it, it is forbidden; he that cuts a gourd, or any such thing, and worships it, it is forbidden, &c.''

But by these decrees we Christians are not bound;

we know that an idol is nothing in the world; among the things created by God in the world; for though the matter of it may be of God, the form is of men; nor has it any share in the government of the world: and though that of which it may be made, as gold, silver, brass, &c. is something; yet as it is a form and representation of God, it is nothing, because there can be no representation of the invisible God; it is nothing, that is, it has no divinity in it, it is no God. Though it may have an existence, as the sun, moon, and stars, yet not divinity; and in that sense nothing. The apostle here speaks the language of the Jewish doctors, who say (b),

"why dost thou envy an idol? , "since it is nothing, or there is nothing it."''

And again (c),

"the Rabbins say, since , "there is nothing in an idol", why do they call them deities;''

Very likely the apostle may have reference to the Hebrew word for idols, which signifies things of nought, that are good for nothing, are of no value, and are as nothing, Isaiah 2:20.

And that there is none other God but one. This clause may be considered either as a reason of the former, why an idol is nothing, is no deity, is no God, "for there is none other God but one", as it may be rendered; or as a part of what believers know; for as they know an idol is nothing, so they know, both from reason and revelation, from the books of the Old and New Testament, that there is but one God, and consequently that idols are nothing, and that they cannot defile them, nor anything that is offered to them.


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