5For since there are indeed things called gods, whether in heaven or whether on earth, so that there are many gods and many lords, 6but for us, one God the Father from whom comes everything and we are in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom comes everything and we through him. — 1 Corinthians 8:5-6
In our passage today we find the apostle Paul in debate with the believers in Corinth apparently over food offered to idols. But Paul rarely answered questions such as these narrowly, with a â€œyesâ€ or â€œnoâ€ only to the specific question. He liked to get down to some principles on which one could base other actions and further learning.
Here he tells us something about the nature of God, the nature of Jesus as part of his argument. Idols are nothing, because we know that there is only one God. But there is also one Lord, Jesus Christ. Paul manages to say some things about Jesus in these few words.
First, letâ€™s look at what he says about God the Father.
- There is only one God. It is so easy for us to get our loyalties divided. It was even easier in the pagan world of Corinth, because there were many deities proclaimed and calling for attention. The idea that there was only one seemed very strange to many of these people. In the modern world, we often neglect this point, because we donâ€™t have so many overt calls to worship other deities as deities. But we do have many things taking our focus off of what is ultimately important.
- God is the creator of everything. In the world in which there were many gods there was doubt about who was the creator and who was the sovereign. Many of the creation myths involved conflict between the gods, and left the gods subject to natural forces. God as creator of all is sovereign over all. His word is authoritative and does not return empty. He doesnâ€™t have to fight for his place.
- We live for God. Paulâ€™s audience may have expected him to start talking about God being in everything. But instead, Paul starts talking about us. We belong to God. We serve God. We are here to do Godâ€™s will. That takes the focus off of us and what we want or our rights. We need to look at what God wants.
But Paul now turns to Jesus, and in the way he phrases what he says about Jesus, he makes it clear that Jesus is the Lord, and that Jesus is due the same reverence, authority, worship, praise and service that belongs to God the Father.
- Jesus is the one and only Lord. As God is one, so Jesus is one. Jesus and the Father work together. Any notion about God that puts Jesus in opposition to God is false and should be rejected. He has all of the sovereignty of God.
- Through Jesus everything was made. Jesus is also the creator. This is a very early statement of some of the principles on which the doctrine of the trinity is based. Jesus and the Father function together, in agreement, in full authority and in full sovereignty. God the creator is also Jesus the creator.
- We also owe our service to Jesus, just as we do to God the Father.
Later in this chapter Paul will point out that sinning against one of the people for whom Christ died is a sin against Jesus. And if we understand this passage correctly, we will also understand that it is the creatorâ€”the sovereign of the universe that we sin against whenever we hurt one of the least of Christâ€™s brothers or sisters.
Where is your focus?
Whom do you serve?