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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 4

Verse 4. As concerning therefore, etc. The parenthesis closes with 1 Co 8:3. The apostle now proceeds to the real question in debate, and repeats in this verse the question, and the admission that all had knowledge. The admission that all had knowledge proceeds through 1 Co 8:4,5,6; and in 1 Co 8:7, he gives the answer to it. In 1 Co 8:4-6, everything is admitted by Paul which they asked in regard to the real extent of their knowledge on this subject; and in 1 Co 8:7 he shows that, even on the ground of this admission, the conclusion would not follow that it was right to partake of the food offered in sacrifice in the temple of an idol.

The eating of those things, etc. Whether it is right to eat them. Here the question is varied somewhat from what it was in 1 Co 8:1, but substantially the same inquiry is stated. The question was, whether it was right for Christians to eat the meat of animals that had been slain in sacrifice to idols.

We know. 1 Co 8:1. We Corinthians know; and Paul seems fully to admit that they had all the knowledge which they claimed, 1 Co 8:7. But his object was to show that even admitting that, it would not follow that it would be right to partake of that meat. It is well to bear in mind, that the object of their statement in regard to knowledge was to show that there could be no impropriety in partaking of the food. This argument the apostle answers in 1 Co 8:7.

That an idol is nothing. Is not the true God; is not a proper object of worship. We are not so stupid as to suppose that the block of wood, or the carved image, or the chiseled marble is a real intelligence, and is conscious and capable of receiving worship, or benefiting its rotaries. We fully admit, and know, that the whole thing is delusive; and there can be no danger that, by partaking of the food offered in sacrifice to them, we should ever be brought to a belief of the stupendous falsehood that they are true objects of worship, or to deny the true God. There is no doubt that the more intelligent heathen had this knowledge; and doubtless nearly all Christians possessed it, though a few who had been educated in the grosser views of heathenism might still have regarded the idol with a superstitious reverence. For whatever might have been the knowledge of statesmen and philosophers on the subject, it was still doubtless true that the great mass of the heathen world did regard the dumb idols as the proper objects of worship, and supposed that they were inhabited by invisible spirits—the gods. For purposes of state, and policy, and imposition, the lawgivers and priests of the pagan world were careful to cherish this delusion. See 1 Co 8:7.

Is nothing. Is delusive; is imaginary. There may have been a reference here to the name of all idol among the Hebrews. They called idols

HEBREW

(Elilim,) or, in the singular,

HEBREW, (Elil,) vain, null, nothing-worth, nothingness, vanity, weakness, etc.; indicating their vanity and powerlessness, Le 26:1; 1 Ch 16:26; Isa 2:8,18-20; 10:10; 19:1,3; 31:7; Ps 96:5; Eze 30:13; Hab 2:18; Zec 11:17, etc.

In the world. It is nothing at all; it has no power over the world; no real existence anywhere. There are no such gods as the heathens pretend to worship. There is but one God; and that fact is known to us all. The phrase "in the world" seems to be added by way of emphasis, to show the utter nothingness of idols; to explain in the most emphatic manner the belief that they had no real existence.

And that there is none other God but one. This was a great cardinal truth of religion. See Barnes "Mr 12:29.

Comp. De 6:4,5. To keep this great truth in mind was the grand object of the Jewish economy; and this was so plain and important, that the Corinthians supposed that it must be admitted by all. Even though they should partake of the meat that was offered in sacrifice to idols, yet they supposed it was not possible that any of them could forget the great cardinal truth that there was but one God.

{b} "idol" Is 41:24

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