(1 Cor. 8:5-6) Is there one God or not?

CLAIM: Paul writes that “there are many gods and many lords” (v.5), but he says that “for us there is but one God” (v.6). Does this mean that there are actually many gods, but Christians just believe in one?

RESPONSE: These statements need to be qualified by their context. In verse 4, Paul writes, “We know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.” In verse 5, he qualifies these other gods as “so-called.” If a history professor said, “The Greeks had many gods,” we wouldn’t understand him to mean that Zeus and Hera existed –only that they believed this to be the case. Later, in verse 7, Paul explains that “not all men have this knowledge.” Craig Blomberg writes, “What Paul means by ‘for us’ is ‘we know’ (whereas others do not) that only one true God exists in the universe.”[1]

[1] Blomberg, Craig. From Pentecost to Patmos: an Introduction to Acts through Revelation. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2006. 181.