1 Corinthians 8:5
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
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(5) For though there be. . . .—This is an hypothetic argument. “Be” is the emphatic word of the supposition. Even assuming that there do exist those beings which are called “gods” (we have a right to make such a supposition, for Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 105:2-3, speaks of “gods and lords” of another kind), the difference between the heathen, “gods many” and the “lords and gods” of whom the Old Testament speaks, is that the former are deities, and the latter only a casual way of speaking of angels and other spiritual subjects and servants of the one God. This is brought out in the following verse.

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.That are called gods - Gods so called. The pagans everywhere worshipped multitudes, and gave to them the name of gods.

Whether in heaven - Residing in heaven, as a part of the gods were supposed to do. Perhaps, there may be allusion here to the sun, moon, and stars; but I rather suppose that reference is made to the celestial deities, or to those who were supposed to reside in heaven, though they were supposed occasionally to visit the earth, as Jupiter, Juno, Mercury, etc.

Or in earth - Upon the earth; or that reigned particularly ever the earth, or sea, as Ceres, Neptune, etc. The ancient pagans worshipped some gods that were supposed to dwell in heaven; others that were supposed to reside on earth; and others that presided over the inferior regions, as Pluto, etc.

As there be gods many - ὥσπερ hōsper, etc. As there are, in fact, many which are so called or regarded. It is a fact that the pagans worship many whom they esteem to be gods, or whom they regard as such. This cannot be an admission of Paul that they were truly gods, and ought to he worshipped; but it is a declaration that they esteemed them to be such, or that a large number of imaginary beings were thus adored. The emphasis should be placed on the word "many;" and the design of the parenthesis is, to show that the number of these that were worshipped was not a few, but was immense; and that they were in fact worshipped as gods, and allowed to have the influence over their minds and lives which they would have if they were real; that is, that the effect of this popular belief was to produce just as much fear, alarm, superstition, and corruption, as though these imaginary gods had a real existence. So that though the more intelligent of the pagan put no confidence in them, yet the effect on the great mass was the same as if they had had a real existence, and exerted over them a real control.

And lords many - (κύριοι πολλοὶ kurioi polloi). Those who had a "rule" over them; to whom they submitted themselves; and whose laws they obeyed. This name "lord" was often given to their idol gods. Thus, among the nations of Canaan their idols was called בּצל Ba‛al, ("Baal, or lord"), the tutelary god of the Phoenicians and Syrians; Judges 8:33; Judges 9:4, Judges 9:46. It is used here with reference to the IdoLS, and means that the laws which they were supposed to give in regard to their worship had control over the minds of their worshippers.

5. "For even supposing there are (exist) gods so called (2Th 2:4), whether in heaven (as the sun, moon, and stars) or in earth (as deified kings, beasts, &c.), as there be (a recognized fact, De 10:17; Ps 135:5; 136:2) gods many and lords many." Angels and men in authority are termed gods in Scripture, as exercising a divinely delegated power under God (compare Ex 22:9, with Ex 22:28; Ps 82:1, 6; Joh 10:34, 35). There are many whom heathens call gods, and whom God himself calleth gods: the angels that are in heaven are called God’s host, Genesis 32:2; the heavenly host, Luke 2:13; the sons of God, Job 1:6 2:1. Magistrates are also called gods, Psalm 82:6, because God hath committed a great part of his power unto them. Thus there are many gods and many lords. For though there be that are called gods,.... That are so by name, though not by nature; who are called so in Scripture, as angels and magistrates, or by men, who give them such names, and account them so:

whether in heaven; as the sun, moon, and stars:

or in earth; as men who formerly lived on earth; or various creatures on earth, who have been accounted deities; or stocks and stones graven by man's device:

as there be gods many: almost without number, as were among the Egyptians, Grecians, Romans, and others; yea, even among the Jews, who falling into idolatry, their gods were according to the number of their cities, Jeremiah 2:28

and lords many; referring to the Baalim, or the several idols that went by the name of Baal, or lord, as Baal Peor, Numbers 25:3 Baal Zephon, Exodus 14:2 Baal Zebub, 2 Kings 1:2 Baal Berith, Judges 8:33.

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
1 Corinthians 8:5. For (γάρ) even (καί) if really (εἴπερ, see Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 343; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 202) there exist so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth. Heathenism conceived heaven and earth to be filled with beings whom they called gods (Jupiter, Apollo, and so forth; gods of the woods and the rivers, etc.). Paul does not admit the existence of such gods,[1325] but merely supposes it, and that with καὶ εἴπερ. i.e. even in the case that, if there be in reality, if after all, whereby of course “in incerto relinquitur, utrum jure an injuria sumatur” (Hermann, a[1326] Viger. p. 834), this, however, not being implied in εἴπερ by itself, but by the connection in which it stands here. Comp Romans 8:9; Romans 8:17, etc.; and see Baeumlein, l.c. The supposed case—the reality of which is still left to stand on its own footing—is then established, so far as its possibility is concerned, by ὥσπερ κ.τ.λ[1328]: as there are, indeed, gods many and lords many. What is conceded here is the premiss from which that possibility may be drawn as a consequence. If there exist, that is to say, a multitude of superhuman beings, who come under the category of θεοί (in the wider sense) and ΚΎΡΙΟΙ, then we must admit that it is possible that those whom the heathen call gods

Jupiter, Apollo, and so on—have an actual existence.[1329] The θεοὶ πολλοί and ΚΎΡΙΟΙ ΠΟΛΛΟΊ are, as the connection necessarily leads us to understand, not human rulers, deified kings, and the like, but the superhuman powers (angels), of whom it is said in Deuteronomy 10:17 : ὁ γὰρ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῶν, οὗτος Θεὸς τῶν θεῶν καὶ Κύριος τῶν κυρίων. Comp Psalm 136:2-3. Most commentators take ΕἸΣΊ as said e gentilium persuasione (so Pott, Flatt, Heydenreich, de Wette, Ewald, Neander, Maier), which would give as the sense of the whole: “if there be in reality so-called gods among the heathen, as, indeed, they speak of many gods and lords” (de Wette). But this explanation runs counter to the fact that εἰσί is put first with emphasis; and the e gentilium persuasione is neither expressed nor hinted at in the text, but is a pure insertion of the commentators, and that with the less warrant, seeing that it is the emphatic ἡμῖν in the apodosis that first introduces a contrast with others. This applies, too, against the arbitrary distinction made by Billroth, who maintains that only the first ΕἸΣΊ denotes real existence (the ΛΕΓΌΜ. ΘΕΟΊ being demons, x. 20), while with the second we should supply: in the view of the heathen. Rückert takes both the first and second εἰσί in the right sense, but makes ΕἼΠΕΡ mean,—contrary to the rules of the language,—although it must be conceded that (which is not its meaning even in such passages as those given by Kühner, II. § 824, note 2), and supposes that the apostle conceived the angels and demons to be the realities answering to the λεγόμ. θεοί.[1331]

As regards καὶ εἰ, etiam, tum, si, which marks the contents of the conditional clause as uncertain, comp on Mark 14:29; and see Hermann, a[1333] Viger. p. 832; Stallbaum, a[1334] Plat. Apol. p. 32 A. It is here the “etiamsi de re in cogitatione posita,” Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 884. Examples of καὶ γὰρ εἰ, for even if, may be seen in Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 141.

[1325] We know from 1 Corinthians 10:20 that he did not allow that the gods as such existed at all, but held those beings regarded as gods to be demons. Comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 279.

[1326] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1328] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1329] The meaning of the verse, therefore, freely rendered, would be: For even if we suppose that the gods of the heathen mythology have a real existence, which is no such absurd supposition, seeing that there is not merely One God and One Lord (in the wider sense of these words), but gods many and lords many: still for us Christians, etc., ver. 6. Hofmann agrees substantially with our exposition of the passage. See also his Schriftbew. I. p. 348.

[1331] There is no ground whatever for bringing in the demons here from 1 Corinthians 10:20 (this in opposition to Olshausen and others). The second part of the verse, which makes no further mention of λεγομένοις θεοῖς, should have sufficed of itself to prevent this; still more the correlation in which the many gods and lords stand to the εἷς Θεός and εἷς Κύριος in ver. 6.

[1333] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1334] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6. Confirmatory elucidation of the preceding statement ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλονεἰ μὴ εἶς.1 Corinthians 8:5 may be an interjected comment of the Church Letter upon its creed; (c) the expression “gods many and lords many” applied to heathen divinities, which is foreign to Pauline as to Jewish phraseology, but natural on the lips of old polytheists; (d) the aptness with which ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐν πᾶσιν ἡ γνῶσις (1 Corinthians 8:7) fits in with this explanation, being understood as Paul’s reply to his readers’ declaration of their enlightened faith. See, on this question, W. Lock in Expositor, ., vi., 65. The articles of belief cited from the Cor[1234] in 1 Corinthians 8:4 b and 6 had probably been formulated first by P., like the Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν of 1 Corinthians 6:12, and so would be fitly quoted to him.—οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:19), being parl[1235] to οὐδεὶς Θεός κ.τ.λ., should be rendered not “An idol is nothing,” etc., but “There is no idol in the world” (so R.V. virtually, Mr[1236], Hf[1237], Bt[1238], Ed[1239], Sm[1240]). Existence is denied to the idol not absolutely (see 5, 1 Corinthians 10:19 f.), but relatively; it has no real place ἐν κόσμῳ, no power over the elements of nature; “the earth is the Lord’s,” etc. (1 Corinthians 10:26); there is no Zeus in the sky, nor Poseidon ruling the sea, but “one God and Father” everywhere,—a faith emancipating enlightened Christians from every heathenish superstition.—οὐδὲν εἴδωλον κ.τ.λ. forms the polemic counterpart to οὐδεὶς Θεὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς (see parls.),—the cornerstone of Jehovism, which Christ has made the world’s creed.—εἴδωλον (sc. a thing possessing εἶδος, form only), semblance, phantasm, renders in the LXX several Hebrew words for false gods—esp. ’elîlîm, nothings, and hebhel, emptiness; the term was applied first to the images, then to the (supposed) godships they represent, branding them as shams and shows: see 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Acts 14:15, Psalm 96:5. The κόσμος reveals the being and power of the One God (Romans 1:20); idolaters have no living God, but are ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ (Ephesians 2:12).

[1234] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1235] parallel.

[1236] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1237] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1238] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[1239] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1240] P. Schmiedel, in Handcommentar zum N.T. (1893).5. as there be gods many, and lords many] The Apostle does not say there are many gods or lords, but only that the gods of the heathen are called so. Calvin reminds us that the sun and moon, which have been deified by some, are but our servants, and that other so-called gods of the heathen are but deified powers of nature, or deified men.1 Corinthians 8:5. Λεγόμενοι, that are called) God is said to be the supremely powerful One. Hence by homonymy [things or persons distinct in nature receiving by analogy the same name], angels who are powerful on account of their spiritual nature, and men who are powerful from being placed in authority, are called gods.—ἐν οὐρανῷ, in heaven)—ἐπὶ γῆς, on earth) The provinces of the gods among the Gentiles were divided into heaven, and earth, along with the sea; but each of these belongs to God.—θεοὶ πολλοὶ καὶ κύριοι πολλοὶ, gods many and lords many) Psalm 136:2-3.Verse 5. - For though there be that are called gods. The verse is a limitation of the phrase which perhaps he had quoted from their letter. There are, indeed, demons, and there are created things, like the host of heaven and the powers of nature, which are called gods and pass for gods. Gods many, and lords many. Perhaps a passing allusion to the use of elohim, gods, for men in great positions, and to the habitual deification of Roman emperors even in their lifetime. The title "Augustus," which they all had borne, was to Jewish ears "the name of blasphemy" (Revelation 13:1), implying that they were to be objects of reverence. Indeed, the worship of the Caesars was, in that strange epoch of mingled atheism and superstition, almost the only sincere cult that was left. Gods - lords

Superhuman beings to whom these titles are given, as Ephesians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:31; John 14:30.

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