1 Corinthians 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.

As concerning therefore the eating of those things,.... The apostle having enlarged on the head of knowledge, which those who made an ill use of their Christian liberty urged in favour of their conduct; he returns to the subject in question, in relation to meats,

that are offered in sacrifice unto idols. The determinations of the Jewish schools concerning this affair are as follow, which admit of no manner of profit by them in any shape:

"a beast, the whole of which they offer to idols, is forbidden of profit, even its dung, and its bones, and its horns, and its hoofs, and its skin, all is forbid to be of any profit'' {y}.

Again {z},

"flesh or wine, or fruits, which are brought in to be offered up to idols, are not forbidden to profit with, although they are brought into the idol's temple, until they offer them up before it; hynpl Mwbyrqh "but when offered up before it"; they become an offering; and though they may return them, and bring them out, lo, these are forbidden for ever; and all that is found in an idol's temple, even water and salt, are forbidden of profit by the law, lk wnmm lkwaw, "and he that eats anything thereof" is to be beaten.''

Once more {a},

"an Israelite that lifts up a cheese to worship it, but does not worship it, but a Gentile worships it, it is forbidden of profit, became the lifting of it up is an action; and so if he lifts up an egg, and a Gentile comes and worships it, it is forbidden; he that cuts a gourd, or any such thing, and worships it, it is forbidden, &c.''

But by these decrees we Christians are not bound;

we know that an idol is nothing in the world; among the things created by God in the world; for though the matter of it may be of God, the form is of men; nor has it any share in the government of the world: and though that of which it may be made, as gold, silver, brass, &c. is something; yet as it is a form and representation of God, it is nothing, because there can be no representation of the invisible God; it is nothing, that is, it has no divinity in it, it is no God. Though it may have an existence, as the sun, moon, and stars, yet not divinity; and in that sense nothing. The apostle here speaks the language of the Jewish doctors, who say {b},

"why dost thou envy an idol? vmm hb Nyav, "since it is nothing, or there is nothing it."''

And again {c},

"the Rabbins say, since vmm z"eb Nyaw, "there is nothing in an idol", why do they call them deities;''

Very likely the apostle may have reference to Mylyla, the Hebrew word for idols, which signifies things of nought, that are good for nothing, are of no value, and are as nothing, Isaiah 2:20.

and that there is none other God but one. This clause may be considered either as a reason of the former, why an idol is nothing, is no deity, is no God, "for there is none other God but one", as it may be rendered; or as a part of what believers know; for as they know an idol is nothing, so they know, both from reason and revelation, from the books of the Old and New Testament, that there is but one God, and consequently that idols are nothing, and that they cannot defile them, nor anything that is offered to them.

{y} Maimon. Hilch. Obede Cochabim, &c. c. 7. sect. 3.
{z} Ib. sect. 15.
{a} Ib. c. 8. sect. 3.
{b} Prefat. ad Echa Rabbati, fol. 40. 3.
{c} Debarim Rabba, fol. 236. 2. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 135. 2. & 138. 2. & 141. 4.