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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 10

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-22



1 Corinthians 10:1-22; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.

The next great ecclesiastical disorder, resulting from these other two, is the Perversion of the Lord’s Supper, and all that there is about it is in 1 Corinthians 10:1-22; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. The first perversion was open communion. They had been living among the heathen, and had been keeping the heathen festivals as a religious act. When one member of the family was converted and joined the church, perchance his wife, who was a heathen, says, "Let us be liberal. You come and commune with me at my festival, and I will commune with you at your festival." But Paul says, "You cannot eat at the table of the Lord and the table of the devil; you cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of the devil."

I had a woman once to say, "Yes, but that is a different sort of communion." I will admit that it is the greater extreme, but the principle is precisely the same, that is, that it perverts the foundation principle of the Christian religion; that the form of religious act should be the result of individual conviction; that one should not do a thing on account of his wife. It is his own case; it isn’t her case.

I was sitting in the Old Methodist Church in Waco one time and a very handsome, cultured lady at the very top of the social world, leaned over and whispered to me,

"I am going to join your church next Sunday."

I said, "What for?" and she said,

"Well, my husband is a Baptist, and will never be anything else."

I said, "What are you?"

"I am a Presbyterian."

"Well," I said, "if you come to my church Sunday to join I will vote against you. You should not take a step of that kind for that reason. Suppose your husband were a Presbyterian, would you come to the Baptist Church?"


"Then stay where you are forever," I said.

Notice the fact that it is the Lord’s table, the Lord’s cup. A man comes and says,

"May I come to your table? I am perfectly willing for you to come to mine."

I say, "Yes, come on in."

He says, "Not that table; I am referring to the Lord’s table."

"It was not to the Lord’s table that I invited you."

We cannot put the Lord’s table out in the woods. He tells who shall come.

"Well, won’t you take a sup with me?"

"Certainly! Come over to my well and I will let you have cool, delicious, clear water."

"I mean drink with me out of the same communion cup."

"Ah, that is Christ’s cup; I have no jurisdiction over that."

There is not a more convincing argument against open communion of any kind. No open communion argument can stand before the declaration, "It is the Lord’s table." That was the first perversion.

No matter what anybody says, we should stick to the doctrine that Christ placed that table in his church, not for them to say who shall come, but for God to say who shall come. One has to be inside the church before he ’is entitled to sit at the Lord’s table.

This first perversion was open communion, not with another Christian denomination, but with the heathen. The paragraph of that matter is 1 Corinthians 10:1-23: "For I would not, Brethren, have you ignorant that our father were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual Rock that followed them: and the Rock was Christ. Howbeit, with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play [the word "play" means to participate in the licentious orgies of their feasts].... Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth [especially in that way] take heed lest he fall. . . . All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify."

Upon that paragraph I make several important comments. First of all, as that particular paragraph has been made much use of in the baptismal controversy, I wish to expound its signification as bearing upon that subject, and then show its relevancy to the Lord’s Supper.

When I was a young preacher there came to Waco an old gray-bearded brother Methodist, Dr. Fisher, who took the position that immersion was not only not baptism, but that it was a sin. He said so many things about it that our church courteously challenged him to debate with their pastor, and two debates followed – one in Waco and one in Davalla, in Milan County. He, in both Waco and Davalla, took the Position that "our fathers," men, women and children, were baptized, and inasmuch as they were baptized in the cloud it was not immersion, and quoted the passage in Psalm referring to this event, where it is said that the clouds poured out water. He said this baptism was a baptism of pouring.

When I came to reply I stated that these people were baptized in the cloud, not clouds; and that it meant that pillar of cloud was a pillar of fire, and symbolic of the presence of the Lord, and not a rankled at all; second, that the record stated that they passed through dry shod – neither men, women nor children had a drop of water on them – but the record did state that after they passed through, the clouds did burst into a terrific storm upon Pharaoh and his hosts, and he was welcome to that pouring for any use he could make of it. In the next place the baptism was strictly a burial in light. The water, according to the song of Miriam, not only opened, but stood up as walls and congealed. That means they froze. They stood there like walls of ice. When they went down into that ice gorge, the pillar of cloud that always led in front, came back and got in the rear, and toward Pharaoh it was as black as the night of Egypt, and toward the children of Israel it was light. Now, they were down there in that ice coffin. All that the coffin needed was a lid, and since it was under the cloud, the cloud formed the lid of light, and as that light shone on those walls they acted as mirrors and flashed it back so that it was a glorious burial in light, with the sea on two sides and the cloud on top. They were thus "baptized under the cloud and in the sea." The book of Revelation refers to it when it talks about the redeemed after their redemption: "I saw them stand by the sea of glass mingled with fire," referring back to this incident where the pillar of cloud – the cloud of light – shining on the congealed walls of water made it look like a sea of glass mingled with fire. I said that it was one of the strongest arguments for immersion, and there was nothing in it that could in any way substantiate his position. With that explanation we will see how Paul brings this in.

He takes the Old Testament analogy, and says that the children of Israel were baptized unto Moses, as we are baptized unto Christ; that they were baptized in the cloud and in the sea; they were baptized under the cloud of light in the sea congealed, and not only did they have that symbolic baptism, but they had the spiritual meat and drink. They did all eat of the spiritual meat – the manna, the bread from heaven which typified Christ. "I am the true bread, which came down from heaven," said Christ, commenting on the giving of the manna and they had a spiritual drink, that is, it came by no natural means, but by the power of God when Moses smote the rock near Sinai, and it sent out that water that saved them from perishing with thirst. The rock at Kadesh-Barnea presented a different thought. It was not to be smitten, but invoked. It is sin for Christ to be crucified twice. They had that drink, obtained by supernatural means, so that in a sense they had ordinances. But his point is that ordinances do not save men. Though they had that spiritual manna, and that spiritual drink – the water from the rock – yet their idolatrous, licentious lives showed that at heart they were not right in the sight of God, and that God overthrew them and they perished, and the record of that transaction was made for our admonition, as well as everything else in the Old Testament. All those records were made for us in our time. Abraham’s faith was reckoned unto him for righteousness, which was not written for his sake alone, but ours also.

When we look back at these examples we are to be admonished. Though I have been baptized, though I have partaken of the Lord’s Supper, to me, if life does not bear the fruits of regeneration, these ordinances are empty, and "therefore let him that thinketh he standeth [and on such a basis as that] take heed lest he fall."

Whoever relies on the bread and wine or water, is sure to lose in the great day.

He says that these people, though they had the divine ordinances, exercising open communion with the idolatrous nations around them, would sit down and eat and then rise up and play. Following that comes the immoral debaucheries. That is Paul’s use of it.

There is one other word that calls for explanation. He says, "They drank of a spiritual Rock that followed them: and the Rock was Christ." My old family physician took the position that when Moses smote the rock at Sinai, the stream of water issuing from that rock followed them always, whether they went up hill or down hill. I told him that he was zealous for a good cause, but incorrect in the position that he took. Paul means to say that what followed them – what was behind them – was symbolical only, and that what took place, took place entirely by the power of the symbol, so if any man had looked through the symbol at the thing signified he would have taken hold of the thing as Abraham did, and many others of the old saints, particularly Moses. That symbol of his presence was with them all the time, sometimes leading, sometimes following, depending upon where the danger was.

His first point is that symbolical ordinances do not save people. His second point is set forth in 1 Corinthians 2:1. The subject is resumed in 1 Corinthians 11:19. From this we get at the next perversion of the Lord’s Supper. I have grouped them so that we might get one topic together. In that chapter he discusses the true relation of the Lord’s Supper, and its true lesson, so that the next perversion of the Lord’s Supper is that they partook of it individually, or in groups. One little selfish crowd would come in, and they would partake, and another group would come in, and here some poor people would come in, and no provision had been made for them, and they could not partake. What does this mean?

It means that there cannot be a real celebration of this ordinance unless the church be gathered together. It is a church act.

He closed his discussion by saying this: "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, wait one for another." In other words, assembling is essential to the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. They would come in groups; would not wait and let the whole church partake together to indicate its unity. "You being many are one loaf, one body."

The next perversion was that they would partake of what they called the Lord’s Supper in order to satisfy their hunger and thirst, and would even drink until they were drunk. He says, "What? Have you not houses to eat and to drink In; or despise ye the church of God, and put them to shame that have not?" This fact was intended to symbolize spiritual truth, and was not intended that this unleavened bread and this small quantity of wine should satisfy hunger and thirst. I saw some Negroes celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They had pies for bread and cheap whiskey for wine, and they all caroused and got drunk. Such a thing as this took place in this Corinthian church. He says, "That isn’t proper." This is the third idea. He said, "Here is a crowd full, and yonder is a group of poor people who haven’t anything. That violates fellowship."

Then touching again on the subject of open communion, he gives us a clear meaning of the word "communion." Rev. Tiberias Grachus Jones, pastor of First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, says the word is a great misnomer. He calls it the Lord’s Supper. Some think it means communion of A, B, C, D, and E, but the word indicates a communion of each one of us with Christ. "The cup, is it not the communion, or participation of Christ?" And "is not the eating of the bread a communion of the body of Christ?" It is not a communion with your wife, neighbor, brother, or sister, but the communion is with Christ, and on that account Dr. Jones rightfully took the position that it was a great misnomer. On that subject of the communion with Christ we may bring out the thought that whoever communes not with Christ, but with his wife, whoever partakes of the Lord’s Supper in order to show his fellowship with his wife, or his mother, or his sister, or his aunt, or with any denomination, or any human being, perverts the Lord’s Supper. The participation should be a vision, but the vision should be of Jesus Christ.

Before I pass that point I will recite two incidents of Texas Baptist history. Both of them attracted a great deal of attention. Many years ago the Baptist pastor of the church of Houston was not very sound in doctrine, but was zealous about works, and would be over persuaded to do things that he ought not to do. A woman came to him crying and told him that her husband was dying and wanted to partake of the Lord’s Supper. He took the emblems, the bread and the wine, and administered the Supper to that dying brother. The Baptists of the state criticized him severely, and harassed him until he made a public apology. The other case is this: When I was pastor of my first church, we had in our membership a very brilliant lawyer who before my day had joined the church at old Baylor University at Independence. He afterwards went to a dance, and some of the brethren thought that it was improper, and he got mad and stayed away and finally the church withdrew fellowship from him. This man was dying, and he sent for me and said, "Brother Carroll, I want you to tell all young people that no spiritual good can come to them by participating in worldly amusements that are far from grace, and that they alienate them from God. My life has been unfruitful, yet I am a true child of God, and now I am conscious that I am dying. I know Jesus said do one thing that I never did, that is, he commanded that all partake of the Lord’s Supper. I never did, and before I pass away I would like to obey him one time if it can be done scripturally. Now can you tell me how it can be done scripturally?" I said, "What importance do you attach to this? Do you think that this will save you." He said, "O no, I am not so foolish as that. I just want to obey him this one time." I said, "I can manage that for you, and do it scripturally." And on Sunday as the church met in conference I said, "Brethren, I suggest that we adjourn to the house of this dying lawyer." The church can adjourn to meet at any place it may desire and as a church can there set forth the Lord’s table; and so we went there horseback and in buggies, and the minutes of the conference were read showing that we were there by adjournment, and we heard this man’s confession of his sins and he asked the church to take him back, Then they set the Lord’s Supper, and his face was illumined when he was able to obey the Lord’s command.

Those two incidents attracted a great deal of attention in Texas. I knew that in my case I had managed it just right, and had conformed to the scripture and made the lesson 100 times more important. Those two cases illustrate the point I am on now.

The apostle Paul, in order to correct the perversion, sets forth the doctrine of the Supper, and this is what he says: "I received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper [that is, the Passover supper], saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come." Paul shows that he did not get this revelation of Christ’s institution from the original apostles. It was a special revelation made to him. Christ himself told Paul what he had done, why he had done it, and what it suggested.

I am now going to give a five-minute sermon on the Lord’s Supper: First, let all the church assemble together for the observance of this Supper. Then exercise three faculties – memory, faith, hope. This do in remembrance. What does memory do? Memory looks back. Whom remember? Not father, not mother, not sister, not wife, not any human being. Simply Jesus. "This do in remembrance of me." Remember Jesus, not in the manger, not raising the dead, no; remember Jesus on the cross, dying. Remember his dying for what? Dying for the remission of our sins. This is memory. "This do in remembrance of me," on the cross dying for remission of sins. Next we take up faith. What does faith do? It discerns the Lord’s body, and the Lord’s blood represented by the eating or the drinking. They are external symbols that represent the acts of faith. Faith sees through that ordinance as a symbol – Christ dying for the remission of our sins. That is faith’s part. Now there is hope. Hope does not look backward, like memory; it looks forward. "As oft as ye drink this ye do show forth the Lord’s death till he come." There is a stretch into the future in the Lord’s Supper. Faith present discerns Christ dying for the remission of sins; memory looks back to Christ dying on the cross for the remission of sins; hope looks forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, his final advent. That isn’t a hard sermon to remember.

Now another five-minute sermon, for it is exceedingly important to remember these things. Suppose then, as in the Lord’s Supper, we "show forth his death till he come." That makes a drama. What do the actors do on the stage? They, in their costumes and in their position, show forth something. Look at the Lord’s Supper as a drama, and you will see it is a twofold drama. What is the first thing presented? Unleavened bread. What does that unleavened bread represent? The sinless Christ. No leaven in him. That shows forth Christ alive. What the second act in that drama? The eulogy. He blessed it. "Eulogy" means he blessed the bread, or gave thanks, and the signification of that is that the sinless Christ is set apart for a certain object. That is the second scene. What is the third scene? The bread broken. There Christ dies. What the fourth? The participation with Christ, the eating of the bread by every one of them. Faith is always present in the eating of the bread. Let us take the other side of it, and we will see from another viewpoint another drama. Take a vessel of wine. There the vessel, and wine ’in it as Christ’s blood, show that he is alive; then comes the eulogy, or setting apart; then comes the pouring out, that is, Christ dying; then comes the drinking or participating. Now the drama is doubled – both sides presented, just as Pharaoh had a dream and saw seven full ears and seven poor ears, and seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the poor cars ate up the seven full ears and the lean cows ate up’ the fat cows. In interpreting it the dream is doubled to show that it was from God. Then he goes on to show the significance of the dream. Seven full ears and seven fat kine are (there the verb "to be" is used as "represent," i.e., they represented) seven years of plenty. It is double, and the seven wilted ears of corn and the seven lean cows are (in a sense of representation) seven years of famine. Now precisely in the same way he says, "this represents my body; this cup represents the new covenant in my blood." That use of the verb "to be" is a common one in all languages. In that sense the verb "to be" is used, and it annihilates the Roman Catholic idea of transubstantiation, i.e., that it actually becomes Christ’s body and actually becomes his blood.

Having presented the true doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, there remains to be considered these other statements: "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily [mark that "unworthily" is an adverb], eateth and drinketh condemnation to himself." That passage has scared a great many people. I have heard them say, "I am not worthy! I am not worthy!" I would say, "No, nor am I." "Well," they say, "what about that scripture ’Whoever eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself "? The sense is not unworthy, but unworthily, referring to the manner, being an adverb of manner. An illustration has just been given. These Corinthians did not assemble; they did not eat as spiritual food or drink, but to satisfy their hunger and thirst; they violated fellowship; they wouldn’t wait for one another.

The next scriptural sentence is, "Let a man examine himself and so let him eat." That has been quoted to me as meaning that the individual should be the judge. I said, "Now why don’t you get the connection where Paul says, ’If any of you that is named a brother be an adulterer, or an idolater, or covetous, with such a one, no, not to eat.’ " That part of it, i.e., this examination, does not apply to the whole world, as if to say, "Let every man in the world examine himself," but when church members come to church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, then let them put the examination to themselves. Not, "Am I good enough?" but "Can I, a sinner saved by grace, discern Christ – not my wife? can I see him dying for me? do I discern his body?"

I never participated in this ordinance in my life that I did not have that self-examination: "O Lord, am I thinking of anyone else but thee? Am I thinking of thee in any other place than on the cross? Am I thinking of any other purpose than that thou hast died for the remission of my sins?"

Here he shows its importance when he says, "On this account some are sick, and many of you are asleep." That does not mean that there is any magical power attached to the elements of the Lord’s Supper, so that if a man take it unworthily it will make him sick, or that it will kill him. They used to think that. They used to play on the superstitious fears of the people and say, "If while making a covenant you are true to the covenant, this poison will not hurt you, but if you are planning to be treacherous, then you have swallowed something that will give you the smallpox." What then does it mean? It refers to those marvelous displays of power that the apostles had a right to exercise. A man would be at the Lord’s Supper; maybe he was a blasphemer, and judgment would come upon him, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira; he would go to sleep right there.


1. What is the fifth ecclesiastical disorder, what its relation to the two preceding ones, and where do we find an account of it?

2. What is the first perversion, and what does Paul say about it?

3. What is the principle underlying this discussion of Paul, and what the author’s illustration, of it?

4. What important fact relative to the Lord’s Supper bearing on the so-called communion question, and how?

5. What special use has been made of 1 Corinthians 10:1-22, what the author’s controversy over it, and what his interpretation of the baptismal idea in it?

6. What reference to this in Revelation?

7. What else did the children of Israel have besides that symbolic baptism and what is the meaning of "spiritual food" and "spiritual drink" in 1 Corinthians 10:3-4?

8. What is the difference in the thought of the rock at Rephidim, and the rock at Kadesh-Barnea?

9. What Paul’s point here, and what its relation to the Corinthians and us?

10. What is the meaning of, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play," and what its bearing on the question under consideration?

11. What is the meaning of, "They drank of a spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ?"

12. What the second perversion of the Lord’s Supper, and what its bearing as an essential to the partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

13. What is the third perversion, and how does it violate the principles of fellowship?

14. What is the meaning of "communion" as it is used in 1 Corinthians 10:16, is it really communion at all, and, if so, in what sense, and with whom?

15. What two incidents in Texas Baptist history, one illustrative of the perversion of the Lord’s Supper, and the other, of its correct observance?

16. How did Paul correct the perversion of the Supper, and how did Paul get his information as to the institution of the Supper?

17. What three faculties are exercised in a proper observance of the Lord’s Supper, and what function does each perform?

18. Show forth in a double drama the death of Christ as it is portrayed in the Supper.

19. Why was the drama doubled, and what illustration from the Old Testament?

20. What is the meaning of the verb "to be" in such expressions as, "This is my body, . . .?"

21. What is meaning expression, "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily?"

22. What is the meaning and application of the expression, "Let a man examine himself and so let him eat?"

23. What is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11:30?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/1-corinthians-10.html.
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