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Saturday, July 23 2016

1 Corinthians 8: Freedom From The Worship Of Vain Things

"Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them"

Most people regard an "idol" to be a religious statue or image of some sort. The religious ("Viewing something or someone as sacred") part is right, but an idol can be anything or anyone that is revered ("Love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess"). A simple tool can even become an idol if possession of it becomes a "sacred right."

In history (see the Fact Finder question below), the English-language word "idol" originated from a Latin word, idolum, that itself originated from an older Greek word, pronounced eidolon, that meant an idea (the English word "idea" actually originated from that Greek word). Although "idle," meaning not active, is a different word, its original meaning is the same as idol i.e. empty, or vain.

The English word "idol" is used to translate a number of Hebrew words of the Holy Scriptures, including:


  • The Hebrew word, pronounced el-eel, which means nothing. Example:

    "16:26 For all the gods of the people are idols [i.e. nothing]: but the LORD made the heavens." (1 Chronicles 16:26 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced mif-leh-tseth, which means horrible thing. Example:

    "15:13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol [i.e. horrible thing] in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron." (1 Kings 15:13 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced seh-mel, which means a likeness i.e. a portrait statue of someone. Example:

    "33:7 And he set a carved image, the idol [i.e. a likeness - a portrait statue of someone] which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:" (2 Chronicles 33:7 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced ghil-lool, which means a carved log or tree trunk. Example:

    "17:12 For they served idols [i.e. a carved log or tree trunk], whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing." (2 Kings 17:12 KJV)

  • The Hebrew word, pronounced aw-tsawb, which means an image of someone or something. Example:

    "115:4 Their idols [i.e. an image of someone or something] are silver and gold, the work of men's hands." (Psalm 115:4 KJV)

The Second Commandment is about not worshiping things that are nothing. The LORD (see The Identity Of The LORD God and The Christian Ten Commandments) is real

"20:4 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: 20:5 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; 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:4-6 KJV)

The apostle Paul was sent out into the entire world (see Paul, The Apostle To The World). That doesn't mean that idolatry wasn't at times rampant in the land of Israel (see What Caused Solomon's Idolatry? and Sun Worship In Israel), but the people of other nations were new to the awareness that idolatry was vain and foolish. Many of them, even after being liberated from the worship of worthless things, were still affected by them because of their concern that so many things in their former lives had been idolatrous. Paul's teaching was simply to not let worthless things have psychological power over you, even after you've trashed the idols themselves (see also Trash Day For Idols): "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 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."

"8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

8:4 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. 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 8:6 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.

8:7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 8:10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (1 Corinthians 8:1-13 KJV)

Fact Finder: When did idolatry begin?
See The History Of Idolatry

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This Day In History, July 23

1014: Brian Boru, "high king of Ireland," was killed while fighting Viking invaders at the Battle of Clontarf.

1348: The first English order of Knighthood, the Order of the Garter, was founded.

1500: Pedro Cabal claimed Brazil for Portugal.

1563: Construction of El Escorial began in Spain by Philip II, a Hapsburg.

1564: The birth of William Shakespeare, one of England's greatest playwrights. He died on the same date in 1616.

1588: The second of three battle encounters of Britain's Royal Navy fleet against the Spanish Armada (carrying thousands of European Marines) that was sent by the Papacy and Roman Catholic Europe to invade England.

1625: Frederick Henry became Stadtholder (ruler) of the Netherlands after the death of Maurice of Nassau.

1632: Three hundred colonists departed for "New France" from Dieppe, France. New France covered what is today eastern Canada, from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Superior, and the most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River as far south as Louisiana (which was named after King Louis of France, as was St. Louis, Missouri).

New France
1633: The League of Heilbronn was established. It united South German Protestants with Sweden and France against the Catholic League and the Imperialists.

1661: Charles II became king of England.

1891: Jews were expelled from Moscow, Russia.

1918: The British Navy under Admiral Keyes raided the German submarine base at Zeebrugge.

1929: The Fascist government of Italy banned the use of foreign words.

1941: King George of the Hellenes and the Greek government fled the Greek mainland from the advancing Germans; the Greek army also formally surrendered to Germany and Italy.

1945: The Russian army liberated the Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps.

1950: Chaing Kai-shek evacuated Hainan, leaving mainland China to Mao Zedong and the communists.

1952: Gamal Abd al-Nasser, 34, and others, including future Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, seized control of the government of Egypt in a bloodless coup. The "Free Officers Movement" forced King Farouk to abdicate and into exile. Egypt was declared a republic in June of the next year. Another revolution in 2011 overthrew that revolution.

1967: A riot in Detroit, Michigan left 43 people killed, 342 injured and 1,400 buildings burned.

1969: Palestinian-born Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy. The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.

1995: Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp discovered Comet Hale-Bopp. At the time of its discovery, the comet was 7.15 au (i.e. astronomical unit; 1 au = the distance from the earth to the sun) from the sun and 1.5 years from perihelion (peri = around, helion = the sun). The comet was estimated to have a 40 kilometer diameter nucleus.


Copyright © Wayne Blank