Knowledge, Love, and Idols - Page 6 (Lessons on First Corinthians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

The multiple names of pagan mythology illustrate the truth Paul mentioned regarding gods many and lords many; but the very fact of their being thought of as operating only in heaven or only on earth proved that none of them controlled "all things," and so the fragmented nature of deity was overlooked or misunderstood in paganism.

and lords many,
The lords were those who ruled over them; to whom they submitted themselves; and whose laws they obeyed. This name lord was also often given to their idol gods. Thus among the nations of Canaan their idols were called lord, Baal Peor, (Numbers 25:3); Baal Zephon, (Exodus 14:2); Baal Zebub, (2 Kings 1:2); Baal Berith, (Judges 8:33); and Baalim, the guardian god of the Phoenicians and Syrians: “And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god” (Judges 8:33; KJV). Grosheide distinguished between the so-called deities of the pagans and their "heroes or demigods"; but the terms are considered here to be synonymous.

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

But to us there is but one God, the Father,
This is one thing that Christians and Jews agree upon , that there is only one God; which is clear from the writings of the Old and New Testament: so that to us believers this point is not in doubt. Whatever the heathen worship, we know that there is only one God; and he alone has a right to rule over us. But, as for who this one God is the Gentiles didn’t know, and the Jews are very ignorant of it; but we Christians know him to be "the Father"; by whom we mean the one God; Father, Son, and Spirit, called the Father, not in relation to any person in the Godhead, but in relation to the creatures he has created: so this one God; Father, Son, and Spirit, is the Father of spirits, the creator of angels, and the souls of men, the God of all flesh, the Father of all the individuals with a human nature, the Father or author of all the mercies and blessings the children of men enjoy. Or else, when he is considered personally, he is the first person in the Godhead, who is called “Father” because of his relationship to his Son, who is the only begotten of the Father. And when he is said to be the one God, it must be understood that the Son and Spirit are not excluded; because if the Son is excluded in this clause from being the one God with the Father, by the same rule of interpretation, the Father, must be excluded in the next clause from being the one Lord with Christ; but in the same way that dominion or lordship belongs to the Father, deity belongs to the Son, and also to the Spirit.
“There is but one God.” That is, only one being who is eternal, self-existing, and almighty; who produced all things, the lone exception being he. All intelligent beings have been created by him for the purpose of manifesting his glory, by receiving and reflecting his wisdom, goodness, and truth. There is no limitation with God, who cannot be localized like the false gods of the pagans. He is the Creator and sustainer of all things in heaven and upon earth.

This one God is, first, the Father; not the first person of the Trinity, but our father. The word, as it is used here does not express the relationship of the first to the second person in the Godhead, but the relationship of God as God, to us as his children. When we say, “Our Father in heaven,” the word “Father” designates the Supreme Being, the Triune Jehovah. The apostle speaks of God, as having the Divine nature, the one infinitely holy Being, who sustains the relation of Father to his creatures. He produced them. He provides for them. He protects them, as a father does his children. He works for their welfare; pities them in their sorrows; sustains them as they pass through trials; shows himself to be their friend. The name Father is given frequently to God, since it is appropriate to the one God, the Divine Being. In other places it is applied to the first person of the Trinity as distinguished from the second; and in these instances the corresponding “Son” is used.

Of whom are all things,
“Of whom” points back to “God, the Father” in the previous clause. He is the Creator, from whom all things derive their existence: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3; KJV). He is the great source of all things; and all things depend on him. It was by his purpose and power that all things were formed, and he sustains the relation of a Father to all he created. The agent in producing all things, however, was the Son: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…Who is the image of the invisible God…For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col 1:14-16; KJV). All created beings and things were produced by him; angels were created by him, to serve and worship him; devils were created by him, but they are under him, and at his control, though they have rebelled against him; all mankind are his creations, his offspring; the whole universe, the heavens, the earth, and seas, and all that are in them, were created by him; all things in nature, providence, grace, and glory, come from him: he is the author of every mercy, worldly and spiritual. Everything has thus been formed in accordance with his plan; and all things now depend on him as their Father. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1; KJV).

And we in him;
We refers to “we Christians.” We are what we are because of him. We owe our existence to him; and we have been regenerated and saved by him. The chief idea here is, probably, that Christians owe their hopes and happiness to God.

“In him” may be rendered unto him or for him: that is, we are formed for him, we live in him and by him, and should live to bring glory to him. We have been made what we are, as Christians, so that we may promote his honor and glory.

“And we in him,” in this case, seems to refer to what believers are, as new creatures; they are in God; they are interested in him as their covenant God, and in his everlasting love; they are engraved on his hands, and set as a seal on his heart; they are "into him", as it may be rendered in the language of the twenty-first century; they are brought near to him, and placed in communion with him; and are "for him.”

And one Lord Jesus Christ,
For the Christian there can be only one Lord, not to the exclusion of the Father and Spirit, but in contrast to the "many lords" whom the heathens worshipped. The word Lord is used here in the sense of proprietor, ruler, governor, or king; and the idea is, that Christians acknowledge subjection to him alone, and not to many gods, as the heathens did. Jesus Christ is the Ruler and Lord of his people. They acknowledge their allegiance to him as their supreme Lawgiver and King. They do not acknowledge subjection to many rulers, whether imaginary gods or men; but receive their laws from him alone. The word "Lord," as it is used here does not imply any inferiority to God; since it is a term which is frequently applied to God himself. The idea in the passage is, that from God, the Father of all, we derive our existence, and all that we have; and that we acknowledge immediate and direct subjection to the Lord Jesus as our Lawgiver and supreme ruler. He is God over all, the Creator and Former of all things; and he is Mediator between God and Man, having all power, dominion, and government put into his hands: he is, in a special sense, the one Lord of his people, and is made that by the right of marriage to them; by the right of the redemption of them; through his being a head unto them, and King of them; and by a voluntary surrender of themselves to him, rejecting all other lords, as sin, Satan, and the world, who have formerly had dominion over them, they acknowledge him to be their one and only Lord. From him Christians receive their laws, and to him they submit their lives. And this idea is so far from the assumption that the Lord Jesus is inferior to God, that it does just the opposite, and presumes equality with God; since a right to give laws to men, to rule their consciences, to direct their religious opinions, and their lives, can appropriately pertain only to one who has equality with God.

Note, Jesus Christ is called "God" no less than ten times in the Greek New Testament. When Paul calls Jesus Lord, he uses the Greek word kurios, and this word would have meant something to Bible reading people in Paul's day. Leon Morris has this to say about “Lord”: "This term could be no more than a polite form of address like our 'Sir.' But it could also be used for the deity one worships. The really significant background, though, is its use in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to render the divine name, Yahweh. . . . Christians who used this as their Bible would be familiar with the term as equivalent to deity."

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