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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 12 - Verse 2

Verse 2.

Ye know, etc. This verse is regarded by many as a parenthesis. But it is not necessary to suppose that it is so, or that it does not cohere with that which follows. The design seems to be to remind them of their former miserable condition as idolaters, in order to make them more sensible of their advantages as Christians, and that they might be led more highly to appreciate their present condition. Paul often refers Christians to their former condition, to excite in them gratitude for the mercies that God has conferred on them in the gospel. See Barnes "1 Co 6:11".

Comp. Ro 6:17; Eph 2:11,12; Tit 3:3.

That ye were Gentiles. Heathen; worshippers of idols. The idea is, that they were pagans; that they had no Knowledge of the true God, but were sunk in miserable superstition and idolatry.

Carried away. Led along; that is, deluded by your passions, deluded by your priests, deluded by your vain and splendid rites of worship. The whole system made an appeal to the senses, and bore along its rotaries as if by a foreign and irresistible impulse. The word which is used (apagomenoi) conveys, properly, the idea of being carried into bondage, or being led to punishment; and refers here, doubtless, to the strong means which had been used by crafty politicians and priests in their former state to delude and deceive them.

Unto these dumb idols. These idols which could not speak—an attribute which is often given to them, to show the folly of worshipping them, Ps 115:5; 135:15; Hab 2:18,19.

The ancient priests and politicians deluded the people with the notion that oracles were uttered by the idols whom they worshipped, and thus they maintained the belief in their divinity. The idea of Paul here seems to be,

(1.) that their idols never could have uttered the oracles which were ascribed to them, and consequently that they had been deluded.

(2.) That these idols could never have endowed them with such spiritual privileges as they now had, and consequently that their present state was far preferable to their former condition.

Even as ye were led. Were led by the priests in the temples of the idols. They were under strong delusions, and the arts of cunning and unprincipled men. The idea is, that they had been under a strong infatuation, and were entirely at the control of their spiritual leaders—a description remarkably applicable now to all forms of imposture in the world. No System of paganism consults the freedom and independence of the mind of man; but it is everywhere characterized as a system of power, and not of thought; and all its arrangements are made to secure that power without an intelligent assent of the understanding and the heart.

{a} "dumb idols" 1 Th 1:9

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