Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 8:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

There be that are called gods - There are many images that are supposed to be representations of divinities: but these divinities are nothing, the figments of mere fancy; and these images have no corresponding realities.

Whether in heaven or in earth - As the sun, moon, planets, stars, the ocean, rivers, trees, etc. And thus there are, nominally, gods many, and lords many.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 hōsperetc. 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

). 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Counsels to Writers and Editors, 154

Guard Our Publishing Houses—Should there be no guard against the publication of erroneous theories, our own publishing houses would become the agents for disseminating false theories. Writers make a world of one or two items of theory, which others cannot regard as important, and then the writer thinks his ideas are greatly belittled. CW 154.1

Two or three days ago I received a chart from one who professes to be a Sabbathkeeper in California, and he feels very sore over the fact that the Pacific Press does not pay respect to his productions, and accept the light he would present to the world. There will be gods many and lords many that will be struggling for recognition; but should the persons that feel such a burden to pour out something original upon the world, walk humbly with God in meekness and contrition of spirit, the Lord would recognize them and give them the grace of His Holy Spirit, in order that they might do the very work, according to their ability, which God would have them do. CW 154.2

You may say, What does Sister White mean? Is she classing me with these erratic workers whom she has mentioned? No, I do not; but I would present the difficulties that should make our publishing houses cautious, in order that you may see the necessity of measures being taken at our office of publication, to discourage the infatuation with which many are taken, in thinking that the Lord has laid upon them a burden to write and to publish a variety of matter that would not only not be for the benefit of the churches at this time, but would be to the injury of the one who engages in the enterprise. I wish you to see that something must be done to guard the people from impostors, and that there was need to make resolutions that should discourage the determination of men to put their imaginary theories into print. CW 154.3

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Ellen G. White
The Publishing Ministry, 100.1

There will be gods many, and lords many that will be struggling for recognition; but should the persons that feel such a burden to pour out something original upon the world walk humbly with God, in meekness and contrition of spirit, the Lord would recognize them and give them the grace of His Holy Spirit in order that they might do the very work, according to their ability, which God would have them do.—Letter 49, 1894. PM 100.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 47

At the same time there will be a power working from beneath. While God's agents of mercy work through consecrated human beings, Satan sets his agencies in operation, laying under tribute all who will submit to his control. There will be lords many and gods many. The cry will be heard, “Lo, here is Christ,” and, “Lo, there is Christ.” The deep plotting of Satan will reveal itself everywhere for the purpose of diverting the attention of men and women from present duty. There will be signs and wonders. But the eye of faith will discern in all these manifestations harbingers of the grand and awful future, and the triumphs that await the people of God. 9T 47.1

Work, oh, work, keeping eternity in view! Bear in mind that every power must be sanctified. A great work is to be done. Let the prayer go forth from unfeigned lips: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us.... That Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations.” Psalm 67:1, 2. 9T 47.2

Those who realize, even in a limited degree, what redemption means to them and to their fellow men, will walk by faith and will comprehend in some measure the vast needs of humanity. Their hearts will be moved to compassion as they see the widespread destitution in our world—the destitution of the multitudes who are suffering for food and clothing, and the moral destitution of thousands who are under the shadow of a terrible doom, in comparison with which physical suffering fades into nothingness. 9T 47.3

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