1 Corinthians 10:19
What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) What say I then?—It might have been argued from the preceding verse that the Apostle admitted the heathen offerings and the idols to which they were offered to be as real as were the offerings and Being to whom the altar was erected by Israel, whereas in 1Corinthians 8:4 he had asserted the contrary.

1 Corinthians 10:19-22. What say I then — Do I, in saying this, allow that an idol is any thing divine? Or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing — Is a sacrifice to a real deity? Or is made either better or worse, or to differ from ordinary meat, by being thus offered to idols? You well know that I intend to maintain nothing of this kind: so far from it, that I aver the things which the Gentiles sacrifice — To supposed deities; they sacrifice to devils — For, though I grant the idol is nothing, yet those spirits that sometimes dwell in the images of these idols, and give answers from them, are something: they are demons, most wicked and unclean spirits, defiling every person and thing that has any relation to them. We may observe here, “The word δαιμωνια, demons, is used in the LXX. to denote the ghosts of men deceased; and Josephus (Bell., lib. 1 Corinthians 7:6) says, demons are the spirits of wicked men. It is therefore probable, that the writers of the New Testament use the word demons in the same sense, especially as it is well known that the greatest part of the heathen gods were dead men. The heathen worshipped two kinds of demons: the one kind were the souls of kings and heroes, deified after death, but who could have no agency in human affairs; the other kind of demons were those evil spirits who, under the names of Jupiter, Apollo, Trophonius, &c., moving the heathen priests and priestesses to deliver oracles, greatly promoted idolatry.” — Macknight. Such in reality, as if he had said, are the gods of the heathen, and with such only can ye hold communion in those sacrifices. And not to God — The heathen in general had no idea of God; that is, of an unoriginated, eternal, immutable, and infinitely perfect being, the Creator and Governor of all things. And I would not ye should have fellowship with devils — Or with their votaries, either in their worship, their principles, their practices, or their hopes; — ye who have at your baptism solemnly renounced the devil and all his adherents. For certainly it is not a small sin, nor a thing to be made light of, to have fellowship with them. Ye cannot of right — Or in reason, you ought not, it is contrary to your Christian profession so to do; drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils — Ye cannot have communion with both; cannot reasonably make profession of the worship of God, (which you do in the Lord’s supper in the highest instance,) and also of the worship of devils, (as you do in the idol feasts,) these being so contrary one to the other. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy — Namely, by joining devils in competition with him? or by thus caressing his rivals? Are we stronger than He? — Able to resist or to bear his wrath? Can we secure ourselves against his judgments, when he comes forth to punish for such sins?10:15-22 Did not the joining in the Lord's supper show a profession of faith in Christ crucified, and of adoring gratitude to him for his salvation ? Christians, by this ordinance, and the faith therein professed, were united as the grains of wheat in one loaf of bread, or as the members in the human body, seeing they were all united to Christ, and had fellowship with him and one another. This is confirmed from the Jewish worship and customs in sacrifice. The apostle applies this to feasting with idolaters. Eating food as part of a heathen sacrifice, was worshipping the idol to whom it was made, and having fellowship or communion with it; just as he who eats the Lord's supper, is accounted to partake in the Christian sacrifice, or as they who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of what was offered on their altar. It was denying Christianity; for communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could never be had at once. If Christians venture into places, and join in sacrifices to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, they will provoke God.What say I then? - This is in the present tense; τί οὖν φημι ti oun phēmi, what do I say? What is my meaning? What follows from this? Do I mean to say that an idol is anything; that it has a real existence? Does my reasoning lead to that conclusion; and am I to be understood as affirming that an idol is of itself of any consequence? It must be recollected that the Corinthian Christians are introduced by Paul 1 Corinthians 8:4 as saying that they knew that an idol was nothing in the world. Paul did not directly contradict that; but his reasoning had led him to the necessity of calling the propriety of their attending on the feasts of idols in question; and he introduces the matter now by asking these questions, thus leading the mind to it rather than directly affirming it at once. "Am I in this reasoning to be understood as affirming that an idol is anything, or that the meat there offered differs from other meat? No; you know, says Paul, that this is not my meaning. I admit that an idol in itself is nothing; but I do not admit, therefore, that it is right for you to attend in their temples; for though the "idol" itself - the block of wood or stone - is nothing, yet the offerings are really made to devils; and I would not have you engage in such a service;" 1 Corinthians 10:20-21.

That the idol is anything? - That the block of wood or stone is a real living object of worship, to be dreaded or loved? See the note at 1 Corinthians 8:4.

Or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? - Or that the meat which is offered "differs" from that which is not offered; that the mere act of offering it changes its qualities? I do not admit or suppose this.

19, 20. What say I then?—The inference might be drawn from the analogies of the Lord's Supper and Jewish sacrifices, that an idol is really what the heathen thought it to be, a god, and that in eating idol-meats they had fellowship with the god. This verse guards against such an inference: "What would I say then? that a thing sacrificed to an idol is any real thing (in the sense that the heathen regard it), or that an idol is any real thing?" (The oldest manuscripts read the words in this order. Supply "Nay") "But [I say] that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils (demons)." Paul here introduces a new fact. It is true that, as I said, an idol has no reality in the sense that the heathen regard it, but it has a reality in another sense; heathendom being under Satan's dominion as "prince of this world," he and his demons are in fact the powers worshipped by the heathen, whether they are or are not conscious of it (De 32:17; Le 17:7; 2Ch 11:15; Ps 106:37; Re 9:20). "Devil" is in the Greek restricted to Satan; "demons" is the term applied to his subordinate evil spirits. Fear, rather than love, is the motive of heathen worship (compare the English word "panic," from Pan, whose human form with horns and cloven hoofs gave rise to the vulgar representations of Satan which prevail now); just as fear is the spirit of Satan and his demons (Jas 2:19). I do not by this contradict what I before said, nor now affirm that an idol is any thing, or the sacrifices offered to it any thing. An idol hath nothing in it of a Deity, nor can it either sanctify or pollute any thing that is set before it; the error is in your action, as you communicate with such as are idolaters; it is your own action that polluteth you, not the idol, nor yet the meat set before it. What say I then?.... Or may be objected to, or inferred from, what I say;

that an idol is anything, or that which is sacrificed to idols is anything? to which must be answered, as the Syriac version reads, "no", by no means; by running the parallel between Christians having communion with the body and blood of Christ, in the Lord's supper, through eating the bread and drinking the wine, the Israelites partaking of the altar, by eating of the sacrifices of it, and men's joining with idols and idolaters, by eating things sacrificed to idols; it follows not that an idol has anything of deity in it, and is to be set upon a level with God, when, as he had said before, an idol was nothing, and what he now said did not at all contradict that; or that things offered to idols are to be had in the same account, or to be equalled to, or be thought to have any thing in them, as the elements of the bread and wine in the Lord's supper, or the sacrifices that were offered by the Israelites on the altar, according to the divine command; he meant no such thing, but only argued from the greater to the lesser, and his sense is more fully declared in the next words.

What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 10:19-20. By these two analogues, 1 Corinthians 10:16-18, the apostle has now justified his warning given above against the sacrificial feasts as a warning against idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). But from the case of the Jewish sacrificial eating last adduced, his readers might easily draw the inference: “You declare, then, the idolatrous offerings and the idols to be what the heathen count them?” For whereas the apostle adduced the κοινωνία of the Jewish θυσιαστήριον, and that as an analogue of the heathen θυσιαστήρια, he seemed thereby to recognise the κοινωνία of these too, and consequently also the real divine existence of the idols thus adored. He therefore himself puts the possible false inference in the shape of a question (1 Corinthians 10:19), and then annuls it in 1 Corinthians 10:20 by adducing the wholly different results to which 1 Corinthians 10:18 in reality gives rise. The inference, namely, is drawn only from 1 Corinthians 10:18, not from 1 Corinthians 10:16-18 (de Wette, Osiander, Hofmann, al[1684]), as 1 Corinthians 10:20 (θύουσιν, correlative to the θυσιαστηρίου of 1 Corinthians 10:18) shows.

τὶ οὖν φημι;] what do I maintain then? namely, in following up 1 Corinthians 10:18. Upon this way of exciting attention by a question, comp Dissen, a[1686] Demosth. de cor. p. 347. Krüger, Anab. i. 4. 14.

τὶ ἐστιν] is something, i.e. has reality, namely, as εἰδωλόθυτον, so that it is really flesh which is consecrated to a god, as the heathen think, and as εἴδωλον, so that it really is a divine being answering to the conception which the heathen have of it; as if, for instance, there were such a being as Jupiter in existence, who actually possessed the attributes and so forth ascribed to him by the heathen. To accent the words τι ἔστιν (Billroth, Tischendorf, comp Ewald) would give the sense: that any idol-sacrifice (and: any idol) exists, in the capacity, that is to say, of idol-sacrifice and of idol. Either rendering harmonizes with 1 Corinthians 8:4. In opposition to the latter of the two, it must not be said, with Rückert, that ἔστι would need to come immediately after ὅτι, for the last place, too, is the seat of emphasis (Kühner, II. p. 625); nor yet, with de Wette, that the one half (εἰδωλόθυτον) is not so suitable, for the context surely makes it perfectly plain that Paul is not speaking of absolute existence. But since both renderings are equally good as regards sense and expression, we can only decide between them on this ground, that with the second the τί would be superfluous, whereas with the first—which, following the Vulgate, is the common one—it has significance, which should give it the preference. At the same time, we must not insert any pregnancy of meaning like that in 1 Corinthians 3:7 (of influence and effect) into the τί, as Hofmann does without warrant from the context; but it is the simple aliquid, the opposite of the non-real, of the non-ens.

ἀλλʼ] refers to the negative sense of the preceding question. Hence: “No; on the contrary, I maintain,” etc. See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 37; Baeumlein, p. 10 f.

ἃ θύουσιν] see the critical remarks. The subject is self-evident: the sacrificers (the heathen, who sacrifice). Kühner, II. p. 35 f.

The assertion, again, that the heathen sacrifices are presented to demons and not to a real God (Θεῷ), follows (οὖν, in 1 Corinthians 10:19) from the fellowship in which the Jew who ate of the sacrifices stood to the altar on which they were offered; inasmuch as confessedly it was only the Jewish θυσιαστήριον with its sacrifice that belonged to a real God, and consequently the heathen θυσιαστήρια and their offerings could not have reference to a God, but only to beings of an opposite kind, i.e. demons.

δαιμονίοις] does not mean idols, false or imaginary gods (Bos, Mosheim, Valckenaer, Zachariae, Rosenmüller, Heydenreich, Flatt, Pott, Neander), which is contrary to the uniform usage of the LXX. and the N. T.,[1688] and would, moreover, yield a thought quite out of keeping with the context; for it was the apostle’s aim to point to a connection with an antichristian reality. The word means, as always in the N. T., demons, diabolic spirits. That the heathen worships quoad eventum (of course not quoad intentionem) were offered to devils, was a view derived by all the later Jews with strict logical consistency from the premisses of a pure monotheism and its opposite. See the LXX. rendering of Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:37,—a reminiscence of which we have in Paul’s expression here,

Psalm 95:5; Bar 4:7; Tob 3:8; Tob 6:14, and the Rabbinical writers quoted in Eisenmenger’s entdeckt. Judenth. I. pp. 805 ff., 816 ff. So Paul, too, makes the real existences answering to the heathen conceptions of the gods, to be demons, which is essentially connected with the Christian idea that heathendom is the realm of the devil; for, according to this idea, the various individual beings regarded by the heathen as gods can be nothing else but diabolic spirits, who collectively make up the whole imperial host of the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12), who is himself the ἀρχηγός.[1689] Comp Hahn, Theol. des N. Test. I. p. 366 f.; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 279. The ancient church, too, followed Paul in remaining true to this idea. See Grotius on this passage. Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 421 ff. As to the consistency of this view with that expressed in 1 Corinthians 8:4, see the remarks on the latter verse. Rückert therefore (with Grotius) is wrong in altering the representation to this effect, that according to Paul the demons had “given the heathen to believe” that there were gods to whom men should sacrifice, in order to obtain for themselves under their name divine worship and offerings, and that in so far the sacrifices of the heathen were presented to demons. The LXX. rendering of Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 95:5 should of itself have been enough to prevent any such paraphrase of the direct dative-relation.

οὐ θέλω δὲ κ.τ.λ[1691]] that I, however, do not wish, still dependent upon ὅτι, the reply to ΤῚ ΟὖΝ ΦΗΜΙ being only thus completed. The ΚΟΙΝΩΝΟΎς points back to ΚΟΙΝΩΝ. in 1 Corinthians 10:18. The article in ΤῶΝ ΔΑΙΜ. denotes this class of beings.

[1684] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1686] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1688] Acts 17:18 is uttered by Greeks according to their sense of the word; but in Revelation 9:20 we are to understand demons as meant.

[1689] Mosheim objects that if Paul held this belief, he must have pronounced the sacrificial meat to be positively unclean. But it had surely received no character indelebilis through its being set apart for the altar. If not partaken of in its quality as sacrificial meat, it had lost its relation to the demons, and had become ordinary meat, just as Jewish sacrificial flesh, too, retained the consecration of the altar only for him who ate it as such.

[1691] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 10:19-20. Paul’s appeal to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper is leading up to a prohibition of attendance at the idol-feasts. Against this veto the men of “knowledge” will argue that idolatry is illusion (1 Corinthians 8:4 ff.), its rites having no such ground in reality as belongs to Christian observances; the festival has no religious meaning to them, and does not touch their conscience (contrast 1 Corinthians 8:7); if friendship or social feeling invites their presence, why should they not go? Paul admits the non-reality of the idol in itself; but he discerns other terrible presences behind the image—“demons” are virtually worshipped at the idol-feast, and with these the celebrants are brought into contact. “What then do I affirm (the φημὶ of 1 Corinthians 10:15 resumed)? that an idol-sacrifice is anything (has reality)? or that an idol is anything? (to say this would be to contradict 1 Corinthians 8:4). No, but that (ἀλλʼ ὅτι) what the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I would not that you should be communicants of the demons!” How could the Cor[1529], as “men of sense, judge” of a situation like this? The riot and debauch attending heathen festivals showed that foul spirits of evil presided over them: cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6 ff., referring to the worship of Baal-Peor, with which the allusion here made to Deuteronomy 32:17 (cf. Psalm 106:37 f.) is in keeping. “That the worship of heathen cults was offered quoad eventum—not indeed quoad intentionem—to devils was, consistently with their strict monotheism, the general view of later Jews” (Mr[1530]). Heathenism P. regarded as the domain of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12; cf. Luke 4:6, 1 John 5:19), under whose rule the demons serve as the angels under that of God (2 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Timothy 4:1; cf. Matthew 12:24; Matthew 25:41, etc.); idolatry was, above everything, inspired by Satan. δαιμόνιον (= δαίμων, of which it is neut. adj[1531]) was primarily synon. with θεῖον—“δαίμων is related to θεὸς as numen to persona divina” (Cr[1532]); τὸ δαιμόνιον οὐδέν ἐστιν ἀλλʼ ἢ θεὸς ἢ θεοῦ ἔργον (Arist., Rhet., ii. 23. 8); hence Socrates called the mysterious guiding voice within him δαιμόνιόν τι. Ed[1533] observes a tendency, beginning with Eurip. and Plato and accentuated in the Stoics, “to use the word in a depreciatory sense”; already in Homer it often suggested the uncanny, the supernatural as an object of dread. The word was ready to hand for the LXX translators, who used it to render various Heb. epithets for heathen gods. Later Judaism, which peopled the unseen with good and evil spirits, made δαιμόνια a general term for the latter, apart from any specific refer. to idols (see, already, Tob 3:8, etc.); hence its prominence in the Gospels, and the origin of the word demoniac (ὁ δαιμονιζόμενος): on the whole subject, see Cr[1534] s.v., also Everling’s Paulinische Angelologie u. Dãmonologie. For κοινωνοὶ τ. δαιμονίων, cf. Isaiah 44:2, where the “fellows” of the idol signify a kind of religious guild, brought into mystic union with their god through the sacrificial meal (see Cheyne ad loc[1535]); also Isaiah 65:11. 1 Corinthians 10:20 c is calculated to bring home to the Cor[1536] the fearful danger of trifling with idolatry.

[1529] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1530] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1531] adjective.

[1532] Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of N.T. Greek (Eng. Trans.).

[1533] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1534] Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of N.T. Greek (Eng. Trans.).

[1535] ad locum, on this passage.

[1536] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.19. What say I then? that the idol is any thing] St Paul does not mean to say here, any more than in ch. 1 Corinthians 8:4, that an idol, or the god represented by it, has any real objective existence, or that the sacrifices offered to such idols are the property of any such being as that they are intended to represent. But for all that, it may stand as the representative of that which has a very real existence indeed; he kingdom of evil, and those beings which maintain it.1 Corinthians 10:19. Τί, what) In the Protasis, he has derived his argument from the sacred rites of the Christians and Jews; and now about to give the apodosis, he uses προθεραπεία, precaution in the way of anticipation, and sets down by implication the apodosis itself with pious caution, εὐλαβῶς, in 1 Corinthians 10:20 : he who eats things offered to idols, cultivates communion with demons. An idol[88] is a piece of wood, and nothing else; what is offered to an idol is a piece of flesh, and nothing else; but that cup and that bread, which have been spoken of at 1 Corinthians 10:16, are not a mere cup and mere bread.

[88] By inverting the order, the margin of both editions intimates, that εἰδωλόθυτον is to be placed first, and that εἴδωλον should be second in the order; but the Germ. Ver. follows the reading of the text.—E. B.

BC corrected later, D Vulg., d Memph., Theb. Versions, have the order εἰδωλόθυτονεἴδωλον. A omits ἢ ὅτι εἴδωλόν τι ἔστιν.—ED.Verse 19. - What say I then? What is it, then, which I am maintaining (φημι)? That the idol is anything. St. Paul repudiates an inference which he had already denied (1 Corinthians 8:4). Is anything. Has any intrinsic value, meaning, or importance. In itself, the idol offering is a mere dead, indifferent thing. Of itself, the idol is an eidolon - a shadowy, unreal thing, one of the elilim; but in another aspect it was "really something," and so alone could the rabbis account for phenomena which seemed to imply the reality of infernal miracles ('Avoda Zarah,' fol. 54, 2; 55, 1; and see note in 'Life of St. Paul,' 2:74).
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