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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 20

Verse 20. But. The negative here is omitted, but is understood. The ellipsis of a negative after an interrogative sentence is common in the classical writers, as well as in the Scriptures.—Bloomfield. The sense is, "No; I do not say this, but I say that there are reasons why you should not partake of those sacrifices; and one of those reasons is, that they have been really offered to devils."

They sacrifice to devils, (daimonioiv, demons.) The heathens used the word demon either in a good or a bad sense. They applied it commonly to spirits that were supposed to be inferior to the supreme God: genii; attending spirits; or, as they called them, divinities, or gods. A part were in their view good, and a part evil. Socrates supposed that such a demon or genius attended him, who suggested good thoughts to him, and who was his protector. As these beings were good and well disposed, it was not supposed to be necessary to offer any sacrifices in order to appease them. But a large portion of those genii were supposed to be evil and wicked, and hence the necessity of attempting to appease their wrath by sacrifices and bloody-offerings. It was therefore true, as the apostle says, that the sacrifices of the heathen were made, usually at least, to devils or to evil spirits. Many of these spirits were supposed to be the souls of departed men, who were entitled to worship after death, having been enrolled among the gods. The word "demons," among the Jews, was employed only to designate evil beings. It is not applied in their writings to good angels or to blessed spirits, but to evil angels, to idols, to false gods. Thus in the Seventy, the word is used to translate

HEBREW, Elilim, idols, (Ps 96:5; Isa 65:10;) and Shaid, as in De 32:17, in a passage which Paul has here almost literally used, "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God." Nowhere in the Septuagint is it used in a good sense. In the New Testament the word is uniformly used also to denote evil spirits, and those usually which had taken possession of men in the time of the Saviour, Mt 7:22; 9:33,34; 10:8; 11:18; Mr 1:34,39, et alii. See also Campbell on the Gospels, Pre. Diss. vi., part i., & 14—16. The precise force of the original is not, however, conveyed by our translation. It is not true that the heathens sacrificed to devils, in the common and popular sense of that word, meaning thereby the apostate angel and the spirits under his direction; for the heathens were as ignorant of their existence as they were of the true God; and it is not true that they designed to worship such beings. But it is true,

(1.) that they did not worship the supreme and the true God. They were not acquainted with his existence; and they did not profess to adore him.

(2.) They worshipped demons; beings that they regarded as inferior to the true God; created spirits, or the spirits of men that had been enrolled among the number of the gods.

(3.) It was true that many of these beings were supposed to be malign and evil in their nature, and that their worship was designed to deprecate their wrath. So that, although an idol was nothing in itself, the gold or wood of which it was made was inanimate, and incapable of aiding or injuring them; and although there were no real beings such as the heathens supposed—no genii or inferior gods—yet they designed to offer sacrifice to such beings, and to deprecate their wrath. To join them in this, therefore, would be to express the belief that there were such beings, and that they ought to be worshipped, and that their wrath should be deprecated.

I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. I would not that you should have communion with demons. I would not have you express a belief of their existence; or join in worship to them; or partake of the spirit by which they are supposed to be actuated— a spirit that would be promoted by attendance on their worship. I would not have you, therefore, join in a mode of worship where such beings are acknowledged. You are solemnly dedicated to Christ; and the homage due to him should not be divided with homage offered to devils, or to imaginary beings.

{a} "devils" Le 17:7; De 32:17; Ps 106:37

{*} "devils" "demons"

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