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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

08 March 2006

So-called Gods and Lords

Q: Scripture says, “For though, there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many)....” Who are “gods ... in heaven or in earth” other than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

The Golden CalfA: I’m not sure what translation you use. A slightly different rendering of 1 Corinthians 8:5 from the English Standard Version helps us understand the intent of the original Greek: “[T]here may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords.’” The verse comes in the midst of Paul’s condemnation of false worship and food offerings to idols.

Remember the words of Israel after Aaron had the golden calf made. They said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! (Exodus 32:4)” The calf symbolized all the false gods of Egypt, deities against which the Lord had specifically leveled many of the plagues in order to show their powerlessness (see Exodus 7:14-10:29; 12:29-32. How quickly Israel forgot who had truly brought them up out of Egypt with “a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (Deuteronomy 4:34)”!

While the world may claim other “gods” and “lords,” only the Triune God is true God and worthy of our praise and worship. If you read all of 1 Corinthians 8, it’s easy to see this in context. For more on this topic, please see my previous post on food offered to idols.

Scripture, except in question, quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Anonymous Rev. Alex Klages said...

Another aspect to the many gods thing is that whatever we hold first in our hearts and lives is serving as our god. Hence, committing any sin is ultimately committing a sin of idolatry. So although there is only one God, yet many of us have our own household gods, and like Rachel, we like to hide them under our cloaks, hoping our Father won't find them. So Paul isn't even just attacking the so-called gods, really. He's pointing out the insufficiency of anything which serves as a god to us other than the true, the Triune, God.

10 March, 2006 10:19  

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