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The scriptures say there is no “God but one,” then there are ‘many gods,’ who or what are they?

DNKJB 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 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.”

Also is this a contradiction?

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The apostle Paul does admit the existence of other “gods” and “lords” (whether in heaven or on earth). Later in his epistle, he elaborates that these “gods” are in fact demons.1

20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. NKJV, ©1982

Compare the apostle Paul’s statement to Deuteronomy 32:17:

17 They sacrificed to demons, not God, to gods they had not known; to new gods who had recently come along, gods your ancestors had not known about. NET, ©1996


Footnotes

1 1 Cor. 10:20

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I think this question confuses two matters that the Bible is at pains to separate. In numerous places, the Bible freely discusses the many gods that there are but also declares that there is only one God. This is no contradiction.

There are numerous places where the Bible clearly says that there is only ONE true God who is Jehovah God Almighty! Deut 4:35, 6:4; Isa 44:6, 45:5, 6, 1 Cor 8:4; Eph 4:6, 1 Tim 1:17.

It then also says that while there are many gods (that declared gods by humans) they are not gods at all: 2 Kings 19:18, Isa 37:19, Jer 2;11, 5:7, 16:20, 1 Cor 8:4-6, Acts 19:26, Gal 4:8. Therefore, since these are not gods at all then, they are not gods! Deut 32:17 and 1 Cor 10:20 both say that some of these false gods are merely demons

  • Nice one Dr Peter McGowan – user26950 Nov 28 '18 at 22:20
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The most important thing that should be mentioned is that there were no quotation marks in Koine Greek or Biblical Hebrew. Therefore, it can be ambiguous on what the author originally intended to mean. So it can be hard to tell if the Apostle Paul meant gods or if he meant "gods" (as in "so-called" gods). Another example is that in the book of Jeremiah the false prophets are often simply referred to as prophets but it's understood to be in a figurative sense as in "prophets" ("so-called"). Considering Paul's repeated affirmation of monotheism it can be concluded that he meant "gods."

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Peace.

For me, the “other gods” are the doctrines and commandments of men scribed (the handwriting of ordinances…or rather dogmas) for others to worship and serve before the one God. The worship of the one God is then become vain.

Mark 7:7-9 KJV (7) Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The commandment of the one God (to have love for one another) is put aside in order to hold the “tradition”….the transmissions of men (the handwritings passed down through generations) .

(8) For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

The commandment of God is rejected so that the transmission of men is kept. They become “other gods” as people worship and serve them more than the one God and His commandments.

(9) And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

The “creature” (the formation, ordinance) is worshipped and served MORE than the Creator. The commandments of men are used to judge others…which is not having love for one another as commanded by the Creator. God created us and everything we see. He is not the product of our own handwritings that have no power (as compared to God’s power) in the serving and worshipping of them.

Romans 1:25 KJV (25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

They changed the truth of God into the lie….the original lie….where they become judges (“gods”) of others knowing what and who is good and evil supposedly in His authority.

The woman in the garden added here own carnal commandment (“neither shall you touch it”) to God’s commandment and then presented it as though God commanded it when He did not. Added commandments of men become a basis to speak evil of/judging others (as "evil doers") who do not follow them.

Genesis 3:2-5 KJV (2) And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: (3) But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (5) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Setting aside the commandment of God (to have love for one another) in order to worship and serve the commandments of men do nothing for us even though they are being professed to be done in His name (authority).

Matthew 7:21-23 KJV (21) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Others are being judged as “devils” supposedly in His name (authority)….as they do not keep their particular handwriting of ordinances.

Part of the original lie is that “God does know….” ( judging of others as "devils" is supposedly done in His name or authority). For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Doing these things supposedly in His name (authority) as judges of others for God is not doing His commandment to have love for one another.

(22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

We are the offspring of God and not the other way around. God is not the handwriting of dogmas (ordinances) that men have scribed for others to serve and worship. He is not graven by “art and man’s device”. He is not the “graven image” of man’s own thoughts.

Acts 17:28-29 KJV (28) For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (29) Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.

Man's handwriting of ordinances (dogmas) are against us and contrary to us getting along with one another as they are used to judge others with (thereby setting aside the commandment of God to have love for one another).

Colossians 2:14-15 KJV (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

God has brought us out of the house of bondage.

*Exodus 20:1-6 KJV (1) And God spake all these words, saying, (2) I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (3) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (4) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth *

But bowing ourselves down to man’s handwritings of ordinances and serving them brings us back into bondage. These transmissions of men are passed down through generations.

(5) Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (6) And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments

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We have to focus on the Bible definition of the term ‘god’.

So, what is ‘god’ according the Scriptures? Paul wrote that ‘god’ (θεος) was equivalent to σεβασμα (2 Tes 2:4), that is ‘an object of veneration, or, worship’.

Really, given a worshipper, or some of them, anything in the universe of the entia is able to become a ‘god’. According the Bible, [1] a human person (Rev 19:10); [2] one or some of the animals (Eze 8:10-11); [3] a part of our body (Philippians 3:19), or any other ens, animated or inanimated, is able to become a 'god', or an 'idol' for us.

When Paul said that ‘the idol is nothing’ (1 Cor 8:4) we do not understand it like an absolute acceptation of ‘nothing’, but a comparative one. In fact, in the same Paul’s letter (1:28) he spoke about, for an example, “the things that are not” (τα μη οντα) that, very clearly, they were (and are) existing things (as the first part of the verse says). Those “things” “are not” in a comparative sense, in fact the parallelism fixes the equivalence between the ‘things’ that ‘are not’ and the ‘things ignoble’ (αγενη). This aspect (comparative vs absolute acceptation) must be took in consideration also in 1 Cor 8:4.

In other words, compared to IEUE, the Creator, any of these ‘idols’, or ‘gods’ are like ‘nothing’. Since they cannot put an obstacle before His plans, nor, they can help their worshippers, in a comparative sense they are ‘nothing’.

This is a sound conclusion also if we take into consideration the often-expressed God’s quality of ‘jelousy’ (Exo 34:14, and many other passages). In fact, if the gods/idols were nothing in an absolute way, it is senseless – from God’s part – to demand his people not to serve ‘other gods/idols’. I think you do not ever read in the Bible that the Israelites answered God in the following way: ‘Excuse us, Lord IEUE, why you are concerned about to whom we are directing our worship? Since the ‘gods/idols’ you speak on are non-existing entia, at all, is there a basis for your ‘jealousy’?' Truly, if I and my wife found ourselves on a solitary little island, with no people on it, at all, it wouldn’t be stupid – for my part – feel jealous of her?

From the moment God allowed us to receive the gift of free will, everyone of us is able to decide who or what to worship. This is why God is jealous, because he is the Creator, and to him deserves rightly our worship, honor, and respect (Rev 4:11), in an exclusive way.

This conception of God, the Creator, that provides that He deserves an exclusive worship, along with the acknowledgement of the existence of other σεβασμα (‘an object of veneration, or, worship’) is called monolatry. It is different from monotheism. Despite the vast majority of people is persuaded that Bible teaches monotheism, in reality we found that the Bible teaches, instead, monolatry. For users’ sake understanding let me present a simple analogy to illustrate the point of difference between these two important concepts.

A (so to speak) ‘monotheistic’ U.S. newspaper reader would be who believe that exists only one printed newspaper in his country, and reads it. He not believe that, as a matter of fact, there are – in U.S.A. – hundreds (or, thousands?) of different printed newspaper, every day.

Differently, a (so to speak) ‘monolatric’ U.S. newspaper reader would be who knows, for a fact, that in U.S.A. exist hundreds (or, thousands?) of different printed newspaper, every day, but, in every case, he chooses to read only one newspaper among them all.

So, if we understand these basic concepts and apply them on the passage at issue (1 Cor 8:4-6) we will not spot any discrepance, at all.

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