| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 45 - Page 85 of 251 Index | Zoom | |
pp. 165 - 169
In chapter 8: Paul deals with another theme which apparently had been raised in
the Corinthians' letter to him, concerning food which had been sacrificed to idols; and he
returns to it again in chapter 10: 14-33. This was a problem confined to apostolic times,
but nevertheless a pressing one for believers. Much of the food offered for sale had
passed through the rites of heathen temples. Being associated with idolatry, it was
offensive to the Jewish mind, but would not be a particular problem to a Gentile. What
was the answer to this difficulty in a close community consisting of Jews and Gentiles?
First of all, the Apostle deals with knowledge as a whole, possibly with special regard to
a `gnostic' section in the Corinthian church, which held a conceited idea of their
intellectual attainments. Knowledge without divine love is valueless. It merely
"puffs up" the old sinful nature, and therefore can be dangerous:
"Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge.
Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth. If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything,
he knoweth not yet as he ought to know; but if any man loveth God, the same is known
of Him" (I Cor. 8: 1-3 R.V.).
Love builds up, and is the antidote to a barren knowledge which merely puffs up.
Moreover, it is the sign that God has taken the initiative. It is His love that comes
first, just as John wrote in his first epistle, "We love Him: because He first loved us"
(I John 4: 19). But returning to the theme of idolatrous food and idols themselves, Paul
writes "we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one"
(verse 4 R.V.). This does not mean that idolatry was not a reality, but it was the
conception of the idolater that was wrong. There was not an idol in the sense such a
person regarded it, for the gods they thought the idols represented were nothing more
than demons. The word god was in common use in the ancient world, which was thickly
populated with so-called divine beings who, though their natural home was thought to be
in heaven, from time to time appeared on earth. But these `many gods' and `many lords'
had no real existence, and were in direct conflict with the stern monotheism of the
Scripture (8: 4, 5). This thought the Apostle now expands:
"Yet to us there is one God, the Father, of (ek) Whom are all things (ta panta), and we
unto (eis) Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through (dia) Whom are all things (ta panta),
and we through (dia) Him" (8: 6 R.V.).
From the prepositions used, the Father is brought before us as the source, and the Lord
Jesus as the mediator of creation and redemption. We must be very careful to avoid the
idea that the mediatorial position of Christ gives Him a lower place as regards the
Godhead than the Father. In a similar passage in Col. 1: 16 we read "all things (ta panta)
were created by (dia) Him (Christ), and FOR or UNTO (eis) Him (as the goal)". In
Rev. 4: 8-11 the (R.V.) ascription of praise is to "The Lord God, the Almighty, which
was and which is and which is to come (Christ, 1: 8) . . . . . for Thou didst create all
things (ta panta), and because of Thy will they were, and were created". It should be
noted too that in neither of these contexts do we find the plain panta, all things. This