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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 10

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-33

X 1-13 The Need of Vigilance and the Danger of Presumption —This is illustrated from the ancient history of Israel. The section grown naturally out of the preceding: ’I myself do not feel secure about my salvation: neither must you. The ancient Israelites received great privileges, yet many fell into grave sins, including pagan worship and pagan vices. You are even now in danger of the same sins, and must not presume foolishly on your strength and rush into temptations’.

1. ’Fathers Christians are the spiritual descendants of the ancient Israelites. ’All’: Emphatic, and therefore repeated four times.

2. In Moses’: For or into Moses, so as to belong to Moses. By the crossing of the Red Sea and by the presence of the Pillar of Cloud they were bound to Moses (i.e. became his followers) as Christians by baptism are (in a higher way) united to Christ.

3. ’Spiritual food’: the manna, which was ’spiritual’ as being miraculous and as a foreshadowing of Holy Communion. We might say ’mystical food’.

4. ’Spiritual rock’: he means that Christ (as God) accompanied them in their journey. God is often called a rock in the OT. Later Jewish writings have a story about a miraculous rocky spring which followed the Israelites, but Paul can hardly be referring to that.

5. All enjoyed the blessings, yet many were lost.

6. ’In a figure of us’: As foreshadowings (or types) of us. The past events had an inner meaning which looked forward to Christianity, cf. §§ 101e, 102, 383a, c. But another translation is possible: ’as examples for us’ (for our imitation or avoidance). ’Coveted,’ probably refers to c their desire to return to Egypt, Numbers 11:4.7-10. Very serious warnings, showing how unstable many Corinthians were, and (probably) how pernicious the influence of the False Apostles had been.

7b. From Exodus 32:6, just before the worship of the golden calf. Evidently hints that the dinners mentioned in 8:10 might become a step towards paganism.

8. Refers to Num 25, where the Israelites join in the idolatry and unchastity of the Moabites.

9. ’Tempt Christ’: ’Tempt the Lord’. The serpents were sent (Numbers 21:5) after the people had grumbled about the manna. ’To tempt God’ often describes an unreasonable demand for miracles.

10. ’Destroyer’: probably refers to the plague of Numbers 14:37 which Paul ascribes to a destroying angel. 11. ’In a figure’: or perhaps ’by way of example’, cf. v 6. ’Upon whom’, etc.: probably: ’to whom the fulfilments of past ages have come’, i.e. what was dimly foreshadowed in past events has now become a reality. Christ has come and has founded his kingdom. 13. According to the best texts: ’No trial has yet come upon you except what is human’ (i.e. ordinary, moderate). To be joined closely to v 12. They have no ground for self-complacency as they have never endured severe trials. And God’, etc.: ’But God. . .’ A kind of parenthesis of comfort inserted in the midst of warnings, as if he feared to depress them too much. ’Issue’: will provide a way of escape’ (or perhaps: ’will appoint the outcome of it’, implying that resistance will be possible).

X 14-XI 1 —Having put forward his two guiding thoughts (see beginning of ch 8) St Paul applies them to the question of sacrificial food. Both thoughts are in his mind during the rest of the chapter.

14-22a There can be no Intermixture or Compromise between Christianity and Paganism —Here the second principle is more prominent. The Mass is set in sharp opposition to pagan sacrifices. Holy Communion unites the faithful to Christ and to one another (obliging each to consider the other’s welfare) and separates them utterly from everything outside the Christian religion, every god or worship. It is on this separation that Paul here insists. The Real Presence is clearly asserted in v 16 and the comparison of the two worships implies the sacrificial character of the Mass.

14. ’Wherefore’: looks back to 12 and 13a, not to the last words.

16. ’Chalice of benediction’: perhaps two ideas: ’Blessed (by God) and the source of blessings’. ’We bless’: i.e. consecrate. ’Break’: in Acts 2:46; Acts 20:11, etc., the Mass is regularly called the ’breaking of bread’. The Host is still broken at every Mass, but in early times one large loaf was used for the whole congregation, instead of separate particles, cf. next verse.

17. Probably: ’As the loaf is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all share in one loaf’.

18. ’ Israel’, etc.: i.e. the unconverted Jews. ’Partakers’, etc.: they are united to the altar and therefore to the God whose altar it is. He wishes to establish the general truth that a worshipper is united to the power (good or bad) which he worships.

19-20a. What then do I mean? That what . . . is anything (different from ordinary food)? Or that a false god is anything real? (i.e. has any existence apart from the image). No. But that the things’, etc.

20a is from Deuteronomy 32:17. He does not mean that each god was to be identified with a particular devil (this would contradict v 19 and 8:4) but that devils encouraged paganism in general, as it kept men in error and sin. In so far as paganism contained good elements, it was under God’s influence.

20b-21. This means that they must not go to a dinner if it involves their attendance at pagan rites. Such attendance destroys the union of the soul to Christ, and unites it instead to something evil. It is substantially the same as his reason against unchastity, 6:13b-20.

21. ’The Lord’s table’: the altar of Mass may properly be called a table. So could the altars of pagans and Jews, Malachi 1:7.22a. ’Or are we going to provoke God to anger?’ An echo of the same passage (Deuteronomy 32:21.). ’Are we’, etc.: i.e. we shall not escape punishment.

22b-33. Rules about Sacrificial Food —Here the first principle (regard for scrupulous Christians) is dominant. Paul’s solution may be called a compromise: Eat the food as long as you do not offend another’s conscience.

22b. ’All things . . . me’: this maxim which had been used to justify unchastity (6:12 note) had also been used to defend unlimited freedom about sacrificial food.

23. ’Edify’: see 8:1 note.

24. ’Nobody must aim at his own good only but must consider that of others as well’.25. ’Shambles’: ’Provisionmarket’. Some temples would sell their surplus offerings to butchers, etc. ’Asking’, etc.: ’Asking no conscientious (i.e. scrupulous) questions’.26. ’For "to the Lord belongs the earth and all it contains"’, (Ps 23 (24) 1, i.e. though consecrated to some heathen god, the food was still God’s creation and good.

27. ’Asking I no conscientious questions’.

28. ’This’, etc.: ’this is sacrificial (or consecrated)’; The best texts omit ’to idols’. The speaker uses the respectful term customary among pagans, betraying the strength of his old pagan associations.

29-30. With bewildering suddenness he turns round and gives a sharp rap to some of the ’weaker brethren’ who had presumed to condemn all eating of sacrificial food as sinful in itself. Such uncharitable judgements by scrupulous Christians are more fully criticized in Romans 14:3-4, Romans 14:6, Romans 14:10, Romans 14:13. The scrupulous are not entitled to impose their scruples on others. ’Liberty’ to eat sacrificial food. ’Judged’: condemned’. ’Partake’ of the food. ’Give thanks’ to God for the food. Cf.Romans 14:6, ’The eater eats in honour of the Lord, for he gives thanks: and the abstainer abstains in honour of the Lord. Tolerance and kindness must be mutual.

32. ’Jews . . . Gentiles’: ’Jews . . . Greeks’; apparently means non-Christians in both cases, for they also must be considered, cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:11.33. ’Please’: ’Try to please’,cf. 9:19-23. 11:1. ’Followers’—imitators in his charitable selfdenial.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/1-corinthians-10.html. 1951.
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