How Many Lords?

Hello everyone. We’re continuing our walk through the Bible here at Deeper Waters. We’ve been studying the doctrine of the Trinity. We’re in the New Testament now and we’re going through the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. We’re going to move ahead a good distance now and go to 1 Cor. 8. This is one of the favorite passages of anti-Trinitarians to use, which is ironic because it’s one of the best passages to use to defend the Trinity. We’re looking at verses 4-6 tonight:

4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

Paul is here talking about idols and why it’s okay to eat meat offered to them because the idols are essentially nothing. Now I’m not saying an idol isn’t a real object, but an idol is to be a symbol of a god of some sort, but that god doesn’t really exist. There’s nothing evil in the object itself. It’s just a chunk of metal of some kind.

He points out that for many people there are many gods and there are many lords, but for us, Christians, there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ. Of course, I am abbreviating what he says so I recommend seeing the entire text.

First off, Mormons use this passage to teach their doctrine that there are many gods. However, who is Paul writing to? He’s writing to Christians and saying “To us, there is but one God.” This isn’t relativistic truth, whatever that would be.

Paul is saying Christians are believers in one God. Now a Mormon can claim that they’re monotheists, but they are at best henotheists. Mormonism teaches a doctrine of many gods, particularly through the first principles of the “gospel” as Joseph Smith said in the King Follett Discourse.

How about Jehovah’s Witnesses? They say that the one God is said to be the Father. If that’s the case, then Jesus can’t be God. The argument however would assume too much. If that is the case, then the Father cannot be the Lord for Jesus is said to be the one Lord. What exactly is going on in this passage?

Richard Bauckham in “God Crucified” makes the case that what is going on is that Paul is Christianizing the Shema. Remember that passage? It’s Deuteronomy 6:4

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

If any verse encapsulated Jewish belief, it was this one. Notice the use of God and Lord both. Also the reference to One. Paul is taking this and he’s putting Jesus into the Shema, which actually shows the high view that Paul had of Jesus in that he took Israel’s defining statement of faith and made a Christian version out of it.

Also, notice the way this is worded. Creation is by the Father and through the Son. This is fitting in exactly with the Wisdom motif that we’ve seen so often. The Father is the agent of creation and the Son is the one by whom all things are created.

Thus, in conclusion, we see that the argument of the anti-Trinitarian just doesn’t hold water, and in fact, this passage is a great statement of Trinitarian belief.

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