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Bible Commentaries

Contending for the Faith

1 Corinthians 10

Verse 1

The Danger of Self-Confidence

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant: The word "Moreover," better translated "for," ties the last four verses of chapter nine to this chapter. Paul’s desire is for the Corinthians not to be "ignorant" (agnoeo) of the things he is about to tell them regarding self-denial. It appears that some in Corinth thought their salvation was already secure since they had been baptized into Jesus Christ, had partaken of the communion, and had already experienced many blessings of being in Christ.

In verses 24-27 of the ninth chapter, Paul shows that salvation is attained by practicing self-denial. He uses himself as an example by not accepting financial support for his work, even though it meant many hardships. Practicing self-denial was something the Corinthians were not interested in; therefore, Paul wants them to consider his personal actions as well as the actions of the Israelites. Unlike Paul, most of the Israelites did not practice self-denial; consequently, they were not allowed to enter into the land of Canaan, a type of heaven.

Whenever Paul desires to introduce important information to his readers, he says, "I would not that ye should be ignorant," meaning "I want you to know" (Romans 1:13; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). No doubt, the Corinthians already knew about the actions of "our fathers"; however, Paul reminds them to emphasize the point of his teaching here.

how that all our fathers: In the first four verses, Paul repeats the word "all" five times to emphasize that every one of their fathers were involved (all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized unto Moses, all ate the same spiritual meat, all drank the same spiritual drink). The plural "our" fathers did not refer to the Jewish Christians only but to the entire church, a point made obvious by Paul’s addressing them as "brethren." Paul compares the examples of the Old Testament ancestry to those making up the New Testament church. Those who make up the church are referred to as the "Israel of God." Paul says,

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God (Galatians 6:15-16).

In the next several verses, Paul will be speaking of their fathers who were, in fact, God’s people (as the Corinthians were); however, most of them fell (verse 5). Paul now reminds the Corinthians how God’s people in the Old Testament (Israel) fell away. He uses this approach to teach them that, even though they are Christians, they must be watchful and practice self-denial lest they also be overcome with sin as their fathers were. Later in this chapter Paul says,

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (10:11-12).

were under the cloud: Being "under the cloud" means being under God’s leadership and protection. The Israelites "were under the guidance of the cloud, were safely conveyed by it, and were safe under it; it being, in fact, both a guide and a shelter, or defence" (Bloomfield, Vol. VI 477). "They were under the shelter of the Divine presence manifested by the cloud" (Godet 480).

In the Israelites’ journey across the wilderness, God continually led them in a pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:20-22; Exodus 14:19; Exodus 40:34-38; Numbers 9:16-23; Numbers 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:33; Psalms 78:14).

and all passed through the sea: By following God’s leadership, the Israelites "all passed through the sea." The word "passed" (dierchomai) is in the aorist tense, indicating a once-for-all-action, and means "to go, walk, (or) journey" (Thayer 147-2-1330) through the sea, referring to the crossing of the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14; Numbers 33:8; Joshua 4:23; Psalms 78:13), a journey that represents their redemption. As long as they denied themselves, were "under the cloud" (God’s leadership), and obeyed God, God protected them.

These references to "all our fathers" indicate that they "all" (all the Christians in Corinth) were under God’s protection and leadership, and they "all" were redeemed from slavery of sin.

Verse 2

And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

Sometimes this verse is misapplied by those attempting to prove that sprinkling is a form of baptism. They claim the Israelites were baptized in the cloud when it began raining from the cloud--they were baptized by the "sprinkling" rain. The "cloud," mentioned here however, is not a rain cloud, but a smoke cloud. David says, "He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night" (Psalms 205:39). This cloud of smoke could be seen during the day as well as at night when it became a pillar of fire. Moses says,

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people (Exodus 13:21-22).

Being "baptized...in the cloud and in the sea" means that the Israelites were hidden "in" (en) or hidden by the "cloud" and the "sea" to the point that the Egyptians could not see them. Moses says,

And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night (Exodus 14:19-20).

The cloud was "before" them, "behind them," and "above them" (Numbers 14:14). The only place the cloud was not seen was on the right and left side, but God opened the sea, and a wall of water built up on both sides of them as they crossed over on dry land.

And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left (Exodus 14:21-22:).

This deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage is a shadow of Christian baptism, which is a deliverance from the world of sin. Being "baptized unto Moses" indicates that Moses, as a type of Christ, was the instrument God used to save His people from slavery. "Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians..." (Exodus 14:30). Being "baptized unto (eis) Moses" indicates that Moses was to the Israelites what Christ is to Christians. Paul says, "For as many of you as have been baptized into (eis) Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). (Also compare Romans 6:3; Romans 6:5 and Matthew 28:19.) This baptism placed the Israelites in "a spiritual union with Moses" (Vincent, Vol. III 238) and placed them under obligation to follow the instructions of Moses. Likewise, being baptized into Christ places Christians in a spiritual union with Christ and places them under obligation to follow and obey Christ. Once the Israelites were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, they were saved or redeemed. "Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians..." (Exodus 14:30). Likewise, today, being baptized into Christ indicates salvation from sins. Jesus says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).

Paul is making the point that, even though the Israelites were baptized (verse 2), became God’s people, ate of the spiritual meat (verse 3), and drank of the spiritual drink (verse 4), they still were "overthrown in the wilderness" (verse 5). This fact, Paul says, is given as an "example" (verse 6); therefore, they must not be "ignorant" (verse 1) of these things.

Verse 3

And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

The "spiritual meat" to the Israelites is parallel to the bread used in the Christian communion. Eating the "spiritual meat" has reference to eating the manna provided by God (Exodus 16:4; Exodus 16:16-17) to feed His people as they traveled through the wilderness. The word "spiritual" (pneumatikos) does not indicate that the "meat" was not physical food but that the meat was "produced by the sole power of God himself without natural instrumentality, supernatural" (Thayer 523-2-4152). This "meat" (broma) is referred to as "spiritual meat" because of its "supernatural character" (Robertson, Vol. IV 151). The "spiritual meat" or manna represents Christ. Jesus refers to himself as "bread" when He says,

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:31-35).

Verse 4

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: The "spiritual drink" has reference to the natural water that came from the smitten rock prepared by God (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:7-8). Just as the "spiritual meat" is parallel to the unleavened bread in the Christian communion, the "spiritual drink" is parallel to the fruit of the vine in the Christian communion.

for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: The bread (manna) mentioned in verse 3 came from heaven, but the "spiritual drink" came from the "spiritual Rock" that followed them. This "spiritual Rock" followed them, not by rolling along after them, as the old Jewish legend relates, but by continually being there when water was needed. Even though the Israelites were in a desert area, they were never without water as long as they were under the protection of God. David says, "He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river" (Psalms 105:41).

and that Rock was Christ: The "Rock" refers to the Lord (Psalms 18:2; Psalms 18:31; Deuteronomy 32:15; Isaiah 30:29). In this verse the "spiritual Rock" was in reality the Christ who "followed" (akoloutheo) or "accompanied" (Thayer 22-1-190) them throughout the wilderness. Isaiah records,

For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them (Isaiah 63:8-10).

As we continue noticing Paul’s parallel, we must keep in mind that "all fathers" were under God’s protection and leadership (verse 1), they "all" were redeemed from slavery by being baptized in the cloud and in the sea (verse 2), they "all" ate the "spiritual meat" (verse 3), and finally they "all" drank of that "spiritual Rock" and had Christ as their provider.

Verse 5

But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

But with many of them God was not well pleased: The pronoun "them" refers to the "fathers" of verse 1. The term "many" (pleion) means "the more part" or "very many" (Thayer 516-1-4119) of them were not pleasing to God because of their disobedience. The idea of "many" appears to be an understatement. The real tragedy is seen when realizing that of 603,550 (Numbers 2:32) men who left Egypt only Caleb and Joshua entered the promised land.

Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness (Numbers 14:30-32).

for they were overthrown in the wilderness: Except for the two who were allowed to enter the promised land, the rest "were overthrown in the wilderness," meaning they died in the wilderness. They rejected God and were "spread abroad" (Revised Version) in the wilderness.

Verse 6

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Now these things were our examples: Paul’s argument is that even though the Corinthians have been baptized into Christ and eat and drink of the body and blood of Christ, they must be careful that they do not fall as the Israelites did.

The Corinthians...have been ’baptized,’ but so also were the Israelites; if the virtual baptism of the (Israelites) availed not to save them from the doom of lust, neither will the actual baptism of the (Corinthians) save them (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Vol. III 310).

Paul’s desire is for the Corinthians to consider the examples of their "fathers" in the wilderness: the "things" mentioned in verses 1-5 are the "examples" (KJV center column) or the "figure" or "types" (RV center column) of the Corinthians. Paul is using these examples to warn the Corinthians about what will happen to them if they continue in the same way.

to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted: The word "lust" (epithumetes), even though it is usually translated as a verb, is actually a noun meaning "a craver" (Strong #1938). Vine translates, "we should not be lusters" of evil things" (132). As Christians, we "should not be desirers" (Vincent, Vol. III 240) of evil things.

The Corinthians needed to consider the examples and warnings set before them to the "intent" that they will not follow the same road to destruction by "lust(ing) after evil things" as the Israelites did. The Israelites lusted for a different type of food that led to their death.

And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?...And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted (Numbers 11:4; Numbers 11:34).

The Corinthians, in like-fashion, "lusted" (epithumeo) "after evil things," meaning they "desired" (Thayer 238-2-1937) evil things. These "evil things" refer to moral things affecting their "thinking, feeling, (and) actions." "Evil" is defined as "base, wrong (or) wicked" things (Thayer 320-2-2556). They often lusted after the meats sacrificed to idols, even though they knew it would cause some to sin. Now, Paul is teaching them that just as their "fathers" lusted and missed the promised land (Canaan), so will they miss their promised land (heaven) because of similar sins. The other examples that Paul specifically mentions besides the sin of lust, are the following four wicked sins enumerated in verses 7-10 (idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ, and murmuring), also characteristic of the Israelites.

Verse 7

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.

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them: In Paul’s second example here, he changes from the first person in verse 6 to the second person because the Corinthians are especially susceptible to the sin of idolatry; and he himself is not. "Idolaters" (eidololatres) are "worshippers of false gods" (Thayer 174-2-1496).

The seriousness of being an idolater is seen in the words of the Apostle John when he says, "...idolaters...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 21:8). The indication is that a person does not have to reject the true God or actually believe in false gods, but he can be an idolater by simply being a worshiper of false gods. God’s people (the Israelites) in the wilderness displeased Him by eating and drinking of the sacrifice offered to an idol and rising "up to play."

as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play: Rising "to play" refers to the dancing that was a part of the worship to the heathen deities (Exodus 32:19). The Revised Standard Version says, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance." This seventh verse is a quote taken from Exodus:

And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (32:6-9).

The Israelites believed in the God of heaven; however, they reached a point that they wanted to see their God; therefore, they made gods of gold and worshiped them. In this passage, Paul does not make reference to the worshiping of the idol, but instead to the association with it. Possibly, he has reference to his previous words "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" (8:10).

While the Corinthians were not guilty of worshiping false gods, they were guilty of associating with those who did worship them. As Paul has previously explained in chapter eight, the eating of the sacrificial meat was not, within itself, wrong; however, he now warns of the dangers of doing such a thing. He warns that this association may cause some of them to participate in the worship itself--this situation would constitute idolatry. Paul means "do not, by participation in the idol feasts, seem to be idolaters" (Bloomfield, Vol. VI 488).

Verse 8

Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed: Paul changed from first person in verse 6 to second person in verse 7 because all Christians did not share their practice and, therefore, were not in danger of committing idolatry; now he returns to first person once again.

Paul’s third example concerning fornication (porneuo) or "unlawful sexual intercourse" (Thayer 532-1-4203) is an act that every Christian must be watchful of just as much as the Corinthians (see comments on chapters five, six, and seven). Both idolatry and fornication were prevalent among the Israelites and the Corinthians, and the two sins seem to be so intimately related that they are usually found together. The Israelites were grossly guilty of sexual immorality. Paul is here having reference to Numbers 25:1-9:

And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

and fell in one day three and twenty thousand: Paul refers to 23,000 falling by committing fornication and Numbers 25:9 refers to 24,000. There are differences of opinion about this discrepancy:

1. The Cambridge Bible says, "The actual number would no doubt be between the two, so that both here and in the book of Numbers only round numbers are given" (97).

2. "The number being so large, the figures intend only to approximate: more than 23,000 counted exactly, but not entirely 24,000 (Lenski 398).

3. Lightfoot says, "...not definitely three-and-twenty thousand perished just to a man, but three-and twenty thousand at least" (Vol. IV 225).

4. Vincent, Lange, and Alford say, "It may have been a lapse of memory." This view cannot be right because Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit and certainly the Spirit did not forget (Vincent, Vol. III 240; Lange 207; Alford, Vol. II 555).

It is likely, however, that the reason for the difference in the number is that Numbers 25:9 tells us that 24,000 died in all, and Paul is stating 23,000 died in one day; indicating that 1000 more died on separate days.

Verse 9

Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

The King James Version says tempting "Christ"; however, many manuscripts say Kurion, meaning Lord. The difference is immaterial because regardless of whether "Christ" or "Lord" is used, Christ is meant (see verse 4).

Paul’s fourth example has reference to Numbers 21:5-6:

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Death came upon these people because they "tempt(ed)" the Lord. Paul’s instruction in this verse is "neither let us tempt Christ." Lenski translates, "Let us not try out the Lord" (399), indicating that they were wanting to see just how far they could push God before He would punish them. The word "tempt" (ekpeirazo) is a compound word meaning "to test" (Strong #3985) God. "The compound word is very significant, ’to tempt out’ (ek); tempt thoroughly; try to the utmost" (Vincent, Vol. III 240). To "tempt" indicates the idea of offering a challenge to God to give proof of His power. The Israelites would "tempt" or "try" God by not being contented. They would speak against Him about many things, often complaining it would have been better to stay in Egypt. When the Israelites no longer had bread and water, God provided; however, they were not satisfied with the light bread from God; therefore, they complained. On that occasion God proved His power by destroying the complainers with snakes. In similar ways, the Corinthians tempted God by showing their discontentment with living a Christian life. They still desired to associate with their past by exposing themselves to temptation by eating in the idol’s temple. There was other food to eat, but they chose to eat this controversial sacrificial meat--this act was testing God.

Verse 10

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured: Paul now returns to the second person plural and gives the fifth example that the Corinthians were not to follow: murmuring. The word "murmur" (gogguzo) means to "mutter, grumble, (or to) say anything in a low tone" (Thayer 120-1-1111). In this verse Paul specifically has reference to murmuring because of discontentment. The Israelites were not satisfied with the blessings bestowed upon them by God; therefore, they would grumble or complain. This example given by Paul is taken from Numbers 16:13-49.

and were destroyed of the destroyer: Because of the Israelites’ complaining, many (14,700 men--Numbers 16:49) were "destroyed of (by) the destroyer." The "destroyer" is not Satan, but the destroying angel sometimes referred to as the death angel:

For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you" (Exodus 12:23).

In like fashion the Corinthians are being warned against the possibility of being destroyed because of their murmuring and complaining. Instead the Corinthians should be thankful for each blessing bestowed upon them. They should be doing as Paul told the Thessalonians: "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

In verses 7, 8, 9, and 10, Paul contrasts "some of them" to the "all" mentioned in verses 1, 2, 3, and 4. The Israelites were God’s chosen people, they were under God’s protection and leadership (verse 1), and they "all" were redeemed from slavery by being baptized in the cloud and in the sea (verse 2), and they "all" ate the spiritual bread (verse 3), and finally they "all" drank of that spiritual Rock, and had Christ as their provider. Even with these blessings, many of the Corinthians (like the Israelites) were "idolaters," others were "fornicators," others "tempted" Christ, and still others "murmured" against God. Paul, therefore, uses the illustration of their forefathers to show that just as many of them died without receiving their promised land, the Corinthians would lose their promised land of heaven if they continued to murmur.

Verse 11

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: In verse 6, Paul states the same truth that he does in this verse: "these things were our examples." After giving several examples, he returns to the main thought, restates it, and gives more teaching upon it. The word "ensamples" (tupos), often translated "example" (verse 6), means "a dissuasive example, (or) a pattern of warning" (Thayer 632-2-5179). The "things," the five sins mentioned in verses 6-10 (lusting after evil things, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ, and murmuring), are "written" as examples to be avoided.

and they are written for our admonition: The point Paul is drawing attention to is the consequences of following the examples of the Israelites. He is issuing an "admonition" (nouthesia), "a warning" (Strong #3559), a rebuke or a correction to every Christian. The warning is the same as given in Romans 11:20: "Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear." Paul says,

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

upon whom the ends of the world are come: The term "world" (aion) is better translated "age" (Strong #165) and refers to the final and present age--the Christian age. By using the plural "ends" (telos), Paul has reference to the ending of all dispensations. He is saying that the Patriarchal age has come and ended, the Mosaical age has come and ended, and now we are in the final age--the Christian age--and it is the end or last age.

"Ends of the world" is used here as in Hebrews: "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26). Paul’s reasoning in this verse is that the Christian age is to end, and there will be no more; therefore, they must immediately take heed to these ensamples.

Verse 12

Paul’s Application of These Examples to the Corinthians

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Because of the "world" or "age" coming to an end, Paul warns Christians against self-satisfaction. He would have all Christians realize that even if they think that they are standing strong, they may become careless in their Christian lives and fall. Paul has given five examples (verses 1-5), showing that many of God’s children under the Mosaical law fell. He points out to the Corinthians that they might consider the same possibility of falling into sin in their own lives.

Paul’s words here, once and for all, remove the doctrine of "once saved, always saved." This false doctrine is generally taken from a misunderstanding of the Apostle Peter’s words when he says, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (2 Peter 1:10). The ones Peter says "shall never fall" are those who make their "calling and election sure," those who are faithful Christians. In this verse Paul warns the Christian to "take heed lest he fall."

Verse 13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: In verse 12, Paul warns the Corinthians about falling into temptation, but now he gives encouragement. The word "temptation" (peirasmos) means "an enticement to sin" (Thayer 498-2-3986). Paul specifically has reference to temptations to return to the former life of heathenistic practices, especially idolatry. He is telling the Corinthians that none of the temptations they are encountering are out of the ordinary. These "temptations" had "taken" (lambano) them or had "seized" or taken hold of them (Thayer 370-2-2983). The words "common to man" (anthropinos) are defined as "human" (Thayer 46-1-442), referring to "human nature" (Cambridge Greek Testament 149) in contrast to something supernatural. The temptations that have taken hold of them are normal for human beings; and, therefore, by the grace of God, they can withstand them.

but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: Even though the temptations are brought on by human nature and are common to man, Paul encourages the Corinthians by saying, "but God is faithful" and He "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." Paul is not saying that God will remove these natural temptations but that He will leave a way open for them to retreat or endure once they have been seized by the temptation.

Whether or not we are overcome with the temptation depends upon our enduring it. Paul says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). The Apostle James says, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12).

but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it: Paul’s message is that, even in times of temptation, God has made "a way to escape." Every temptation has a way out! The "way to escape" is the God-given ability to endure the temptation until it leaves us. Paul is teaching that we must take advantage of the opportunities to escape from our temptations.

The term "bear" (hupophero) does not mean to "escape"; instead, it means to "endure" (Thayer 645-2-5297). God will give us the help we need to "bear" our temptations if we remain faithful to Him.

Another point to consider is that Paul is showing a contrast with verse 12 where he has warned the Corinthians of the danger of falling when they think they will not fall. Here in verse 13, he shows that their capability of overcoming temptations is due to their faithfulness to God, not to themselves. If they remain faithful to God and stay away from idolatry, they will overcome the temptations of idolatry.

Verse 14

The Lord’s Table and the Table of Devils

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Paul tenderly appeals to the Corinthians as "my dearly beloved" and returns to the main subject, which began in chapter eight, about being in attendance and eating at the idol’s table. He repeats the warning given in verse 7 to show the urgency of staying away from idolatry. In chapters eight and nine, Paul says that, in reality, idols are nothing; therefore, the meat offered to the idols is nothing. However, he now shows that, regardless of these facts, "idolatry" itself is sin and those who have fellowship with idols commit sin. Paul is not changing his previous teaching that eating the sacrificial meat is not sinful, except when it has a negative influence on others.

The Corinthians should not see how close to idolatry they can get. "If we go on the verge of what is allowable, we make it easy for Satan to draw us over the line into what is sinful" (McGarvey 103). This point is exactly what Paul is presenting. Enduring the temptations of idolatry is accomplished by fleeing from the worship of idols--the Corinthians’ "way of escape."

The term "flee" (pheugo) means "to shun or avoid by flight" (Thayer 651-1-5343) (see comments on "flee" 6:18). The idea of fleeing from idolatry does not indicate that the Corinthians are already committing idolatry, but that they may be close to doing so. The expression "flee from" is present imperative and indicates to continue fleeing. The Revised Standard Version renders this verse: "Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols."

Beginning with this verse, Paul is showing a comparison: to Christians, the communion (Lord’s Supper) puts people in joint participation with Christ (verse 16); to the Israelites, their sacrifices put them in joint participation with God (verse 18).

In the same way, when the Corinthians eat at the idol’s table, they are in joint participation with the idol (10:19-22). In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul says,

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:16-17).

Paul instructs Christians to be separated from idols.

Verse 15

I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

Paul is not being sarcastic, as in 1 Corinthians 4:10, by calling these men "wise." The term "wise" (phronimos) means "intelligent" (Thayer 658-2-5429) and refers to people who have understanding. He is calling upon them to judge wisely or to use common sense as they consider what he is teaching them.

Verse 16

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

The pronoun "we" is contrasted to the "ye" in verse 15. Obviously, the "ye" refers to the ones written to, the Corinthians; however, the "we" refers to Christians who are assembled with Paul. "The subject of the verb ’we,’ denotes the whole congregation" (Lange 209). Alford says the pronoun "we" refers to "we, the assembled" (Vol. 2 558). The first person plural ("we") is used in verses 16 and 17 in reference to both the "cup of blessing" and the "bread." The purpose is to show that all communicants "bless" the "cup of blessing" and they all "break" the "bread." This act is not done by a minister in some type of special priestly function but by each communicant.

This verse is composed of two rhetorical questions that are asked to make the Corinthians think about reasons why they should not take part in an idol feast. Lightfoot says that Paul’s reasoning is:

As we in the eating of bread, and drinking of the...cup, partake of the body and blood of Christ; so in eating things offered to idols men partake of and with an idol. You partake of the blood of Christ, therefore fly from idolatry" (Vol. IV 227).

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ: The first question concerns the "cup of blessing" in the Lord’s Supper. The cup, instead of the bread, is mentioned first "perhaps, because Paul wishes to dwell more at length on the bread; or possibly, because drinking rather than eating characterized the idol-feasts" (Vincent, Vol. III 242).

It is a known fact that when Christians partake of the "cup of blessing," they are in "communion" (koinonia) with Christ and his shed blood. They are in "fellowship" with or have a "joint participation" (Thayer 352-11-2842) with the blood of Christ. "The word communion denotes the fellowship of persons with persons in one and the same object" (Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. II 863). By all the assembled Christians partaking of "the cup of blessing," they all become partakers with each other and with Christ. How do they all partake of the "cup of blessing?" Jesus says, "And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it" (Mark 14:23). Notice the steps in this example:

1. One person (Jesus) "took" the cup (cup of blessing). Notice the singular "the" indicating that Jesus took only one cup of blessing.

2. Jesus gave thanks for the one cup of blessing.

3. Jesus "gave" the one cup of blessing to "them" (plural, the assembled).

4. The assembled Christians "all drank of it," being "the cup of blessing."

By this process the communicants show that they are in fellowship with Christ through His shed blood. With this knowledge, Paul is drawing to the Corinthians’ minds the fact that in order to be consistent, they must believe the same about eating and drinking in the idol’s feast. When they partake of the sacrificial meat at the idol’s feast, they are, in fact, showing that they are in fellowship with and having a "joint participation" with the idol.

The Cup of Blessing

What constitutes "the cup of blessing"? Some suppose that the "cup of blessing" is called such because when Jesus instituted the communion, He took the third cup of the passover, which bore the name "the cup of blessing." Others say the "cup of blessing" is a cup containing fruit of the vine, which is thought to be a blessing as indicated in Isaiah 65:8: "As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it...." At the very least, we know that in the communion the "cup of blessing" is called such because "we" bless it.

’Cup of blessing’ (1 Corinthians 10:16; called the ’cup of the Lord,’ Verse 21), that is, the cup over which the blessing is spoken, when the wine contained in it is expressly consecrated by prayer to the sacred use of the Lords’ Supper (Unger 230).

The word "cup" (poterion) literally means "a drinking vessel" (Thayer 533-1-4221). By using the singular article "the," Paul indicates that there is only one literal drinking vessel. Thayer says the word "blessing" (eulogia) means "consecration." He continues by saying, "...that this is the meaning is evident from the explanatory adjunct we bless" (Thayer 260-1-2129). It is a "consecrated cup." It is consecrated because it has been set apart for the communion of the blood of Christ, and it contains the second element (fruit of the vine), representing the blood of Jesus Christ.

When all communicants partake of the consecrated cup, they show they are in fellowship with Christ through His shed blood. Matthew says, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28).

In both phrases, the "cup of blessing" and the "bread," Paul uses the verb "is." The cup of blessing "is" the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread "is" the communion of the body of Christ. The verb "is" does not mean "represent" or "signify." Instead the verb is used in a literal sense to indicate a true fact. The "cup of blessing" shows that the participants are in fellowship with Christ. Likewise, the same is true with reference to the bread. In communion, the partaking of the "bread" shows that the participants are in fellowship with the body of Christ, who died on the cross for our sins.

Transubstantiation

This teaching should not be confused with the doctrine of transubstantiation, which teaches that the "fruit of the vine" becomes the literal blood of Christ and that the "bread" is literally the body of Christ. The verb "is" relates to the word "communion" or joint participation or fellowship and not to the "body" and "blood." Paul is teaching that the participants are in fellowship with Christ. The doctrine of transubstantiation cannot be correct because when Jesus instituted the communion, He was present and had not shed His blood nor given His life. Matthew says, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body" (Matthew 26:26). The bread could not have been the literal "body" because the literal body was alive and instituting the communion. Likewise, the scriptures say,

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this (what they were told to drink) is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:27-28).

The "drink" element could not have been the literal "blood" of Christ because He had not shed His blood at that time. In the same way, the "cup" did not become the literal new testament when the Apostle Paul said, "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (11:25).

The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ: This second rhetorical question presents the same conclusion as the first. When we eat at the Lord’s table, we are showing that we are in fellowship with the Lord; likewise, if we eat at the idol’s table we show that we are in fellowship with the idol.

The plural pronoun "we" is significant because it denotes that the person doing the breaking is the one communing. Each communicant breaks from the loaf that he eats. "Each believer breaks the bread for himself" (Vine 137). Therefore, the practice of using individual and unbroken wafers is inconsistent with Paul’s teaching here. In such a practice, the "bread" is not necessarily broken by the communicants; therefore, we could not say "the bread which we break."

Often, in the scriptures, the communion is referred to as "breaking bread." "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight" (Acts 20:7). When assembled Christians, partake of "the bread," they are in "fellowship" with and have a "joint participation" with Christ.

The term "bread" (artos) is unleavened bread and means "food composed of flour mixed with water and baked" (Thayer 75-2-740). Thayer continues by saying,

The Israelites made it in the form of an oblong or round cake, as thick as one’s thumb, and as large as a plate or platter; hence it was not cut, but broken.

The Cambridge Greek Testament translates "the bread which we break" as "the loaf of bread which we break" (150). The "communion" or "joint participation" comes by the assembled Christians’ partaking of one loaf (bread) by breaking a piece and passing to the next communicant. In so doing, they are in communion with or having fellowship with the "body of Christ," the body that died and arose from the grave.

Verse 17

For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

For we being many are one bread, and one body: This verse answers the second question found in verse 16 about the "bread which we break" being "the communion of the body of Christ" and teaches that if Christians partake at the idol’s feast, they are also in communion with the idol. The New International Version translates, "Because there is one loaf (bread), we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf (bread)." In contrast to verse 16, where Paul refers to the "body" in a literal sense (the Lord’s body), he now speaks of the "body" in a "figurative sense, the body of believers, the Church" (Vincent, Vol. III 243).

The one bread symbolizes the oneness or fellowship of the believers in the "one body." The pronoun "we" refers to those who assemble in the "one body," the one congregation.

for we are all partakers of that one bread: The words "partakers of" (ek metecho) mean "to share or participate" (Strong #3348). Vincent translates the word "of" as "from." Vincent continues by saying, "That which all eat is taken from (ek) the one loaf, and they eat of it mutually, in common, sharing it among them (meta)" (Vol. III 243).

The pronoun "we" refers to the congregation; "We, the assembled," (Alford, Vol. II 558) share one loaf, representing the body of Christ (verse 16), thus proving that even though there are many Christians in the congregation, we are one with each other and with Jesus Christ.

It seems to be implied that the practice was to communicate all from one loaf: and this would be a natural result of following the Lord’s action in the Last Supper (Cambridge Greek Testament 151).

Jesus and the apostles did partake of one loaf that was passed one to another. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body" (Matthew 26:26). Notice the steps mentioned in this verse:

1. Jesus "took bread."

2. Jesus "blessed" the bread.

3. Jesus "brake" the bread.

4. Jesus "gave" the bread "to the disciples."

5. Jesus said, "Take eat; this is my body."

What Jesus took, He "gave it (singular) to the disciples" and said, "Take, eat." This sharing of one loaf (bread) makes the "many" one with each other and with Christ. "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5).

By each and all receiving a piece of the one loaf, which represents Christ’s body, they signify that they are all bound in one spiritual body, united to Christ and therefore to each other (Vincent, Vol. III 243).

Metz says, "The communicants, by all receiving a piece of the same loaf, are made into one spiritual body" (Beacon Bible Commentary 409). The church (body of Christ) is compared to our body that is made up of many members. Paul says,

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (12:12-27).

Verse 18

Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

Behold Israel after the flesh: Here Paul introduces a second reason why the Corinthians should not eat at the idol’s table by directing their attention again to the people of Israel. He tells them to "behold" (blepo) Israel or to "turn (your) thoughts or direct the mind to (Israel)" (Thayer 103-2-991) and to their actions. The words "after the flesh" indicate that Paul is referring to fleshly Israel and not to spiritual Israel (the church).

are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar: Here Paul is teaching how we become "partakers of the altar" by using Israel as an example. The priests of Israel conducted the sacrificial service to God, including the eating of sacrificial meat; and, therefore, they were in communion with Him. They, thus, became "partakers of the altar." "But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose..." (Deuteronomy 12:18). They were in communion with God because they were eating meat in sacrifice to Him. Likewise, if the Christians in Corinth participate in a sacrifice offered to an idol, they are communing with that idol.

Paul is not talking about eating meat that has been used previously in a sacrifice to an idol as he did earlier and as he does later in this chapter. He is here teaching the Corinthians against participating in a sacrificial service to an idol. His argument is that since part of the meat is burned on the altar as a sacrifice to an idol and part of it is eaten by the worshipers, they, in effect, become "partakers" (koinonos) or a "sharer" (Thayer 852-2-2844) with the altar and, therefore, have fellowship with the idol when they eat from the altar. In this sense, they become a worshiper of the god to whom the altar is dedicated--this practice is idolatry.

The word "partakers" is a different word from "partakers" (metecho) in the preceding verse. In this verse "partakers" is a form of the word "communion" (koinonia) as used in verse 16 and implies "that the altar and the worshiper share together in the victim" (The Cambridge Bible 100); they are in communion with the sacrifice. We should understand that any person who eats meat while participating in a sacrificial service is communing with the idol whether he intends to or not.

The question is not as to the intention of the actors, but as to the import of the act, and as to the interpretation universally put upon it. To partake of a Jewish sacrifice as a sacrifice and in a holy place, was an act of Jewish worship. By parity of reasoning, to partake of a heathen sacrifice as a sacrifice, and in a holy place, was of necessity an act of heathen worship (Hodge 191).

The point is that the partaking of food is a basis of fellowship, the kind of fellowship being determined by the acknowledged character of the food: food offered on the altar established a fellowship with that altar in Israel’s case: so food offered on a heathen altar establishes fellowship with that altar whatever its significance. This significance may in reality be nil (19), but it is not so for those who sacrifice; for them it involves (20) the recognition of idols (daemons), and fellowship with their altar involves fellowship with demons: and the inconsistency of Christians who act as recognising (sic) such fellowship is obvious, and is explicitly stated in verse 21 (Cambridge Greek Testament 151-152).

Therefore, any one knowingly partaking of an idol sacrifice is worshiping the idol. No doubt this same principle is the reason why Paul commands the Corinthians "...not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat" (5:11). In eating with those of such sinful qualities, we show by our actions that we sanction and are in fellowship with their activities. The sin mentioned here is "idolatry," but the same truth is applied to fornicators, covetous, railers, drunkards and extortioners.

Verse 19

What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

The purpose of this verse is to clear up a possible misunderstanding before it is mentioned by Paul’s enemies. In verse 18, Paul deals with the Jewish sacrifice; and now he switches to the pagan sacrifice or pagan idol.

What say I then: By the words "What say I then?" Paul is asking, "What am I saying?" or "What do I mean by these words?" Paul asks this question to confirm that he is not contradicting what he taught earlier when he said that the god represented by the idol does not exist and that the meat offered to this non-existent god was not sinful. Paul says, "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" (8:4).

that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing: The word "any thing" (tis) means "to be anything, actually to exist" (Thayer 627-1-5100). Paul is reaffirming that the god, represented by the idol, does not actually exist. Even with this fact in mind, he wants the Corinthians to understand that, regardless of whether the god exists, those who make sacrifices to idols believe they exist and are, therefore, having fellowship with them when they eat of the sacrificial meat. In fact, in verse 20, Paul does not even refer to these so-called gods as "God," but as "devils."

Verse 20

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: Paul’s third reason for instructing the Corinthians not to eat of the sacrificial meat is given by answering the rhetorical question in the previous verse. He asks, "Am I saying that an idol is anything?" He answers by saying, "No, these idols do not even represent gods, but instead, they represent devils." This verse possibly has reference to Israel’s apostasy in the wilderness: "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not" (Deuteronomy 32:17).

and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils: Since the worship of idols is a worship of devils, the Corinthians are instructed not to have fellowship with them. The word "fellowship" (koinonos) is the same term translated "partakers" in verse 18 and "communion" in verse 16; it has reference to having a joint participation with the devils by eating from the table of devils. The word "devils" (daimonion) means "evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil" (Thayer 124-1-1140) and is better translated "demons."

Paul is not admitting that the idols are representing a real being; but, instead, he has reference to the spiritual forces of wickedness that are under the control of Satan. Paul speaks of these in writing to the church in Ephesus, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). The pagan gods are, in fact, demons as David says, "For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens" (Psalms 96:5).

Any participation in any form of worship to these non-existent beings is idolatry. "The implication of all this is that we must not think of these demons as actually existing evil spirits but as the powers of darkness in general" (Grosheide 235).

Hodge says,

We must understand the apostle, therefore, as saying on the one hand, that the gods of the heathen were imaginary beings; and on the other, that their sacrifices were really offered to evil spirits (193).

The Corinthians did not intend for their worship to be to evil spirits, but it was. Likewise, when the Corinthians ate at the table of devils, they were communing with the devil, even though they did not intend to do so.

All altars, all sacrifices, and all worship that are not intended to serve the true God are thus actually though not necessarily consciously and intentionally devoted to these demons (Lenski 415).

Verse 21

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: The "cup of the Lord" indicates "the Lord’s Supper" and the "cup of devils" indicates "the heathen feast" (Vincent, Vol. III 244).

The word "cup" (poterion), in this passage, refers to drinking "what is in the cup" (Thayer 510-1-4095). Thayer continues to say that the word "cup" is used "by metonomy of the container for the contained, the contents of the cup, what is offered to be drunk" (533-1-4221). The word "cup" is used "metonymically of the vessel containing the drink, that is, to drink of anything, a part of it--to drink a cup, for example, of wine in the proper and literal sense, not figurative" (Robinson 582). "Metonymically a cup for the contents of a cup....To drink the cup, 1 Corinthians 10:21, consecrated to the Lord or to idols" (Robinson 611).

In order for a person to "drink the cup" of the Lord--a cup consecrated to the Lord or the cup used in worship to Him in the Lord’s Supper--there must be two objects involved. First, there must be a literal cup; and, secondly, there must be a liquid in the literal cup. Likewise, "the cup of devils," which is a cup consecrated to "beings other than God" (The Cambridge Bible 101), must include the same two objects. In drinking from this literal cup, the person shows he is in fellowship with the Lord or with demons respectively.

By the statement "ye cannot," Paul does not mean that it is physically impossible for a person to drink from this literal cup of the Lord and the cup of devils (demons); instead, he is saying that it is "morally impossible" because one excludes the other (Robertson, Vol. IV 156). When a person has fellowship with the Lord, he cannot have fellowship with demons and vice versa.

ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils: This point is Paul’s fourth reason why Christians are not to eat sacrificial meat at the idol’s altar. He restates or explains the first statement of this verse by saying "ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils." The term "partakers" (metecho) used here as in verse 17, means "to share or participate" (Strong #2844). Christians must choose whether to be in fellowship with the Lord or with demons. Obedience to the Lord excludes the devil, and obedience to the devil excludes the Lord.

In this example, Paul says that the Corinthians cannot "participate at the Lord’s "table" (trapeza), or Lord’s "banquet (or) feast" (Thayer 629-2-5132), and the devils’ "banquet (or) feast" simultaneously. The "Lord’s table" refers to "what is on the table" (Robertson, Vol. IV 156)--"the cup of blessing" and the "bread" (verse 16). "The description of the altar as a table carries on the thought of the Lord as the host" (Cambridge Greek Testament 153) at this feast called the Lord’s Supper. Likewise, "the table of devils" indicates that the demons are the host at their altar. Therefore, when a person participates at the demons’ feast, he enters into fellowship with the demons; likewise, when he participates at the Lord’s feast, in the way the Lord instructs, he enters into fellowship with the Lord.

Eating and drinking at the Lord’s table includes doing so with an humble desire to be obedient to His instructions, including observing the communion as the Lord intended it to be observed. As Christ instituted the communion, He said,

Take, eat (the bread): this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me (11:24-25).

As we partake of these emblems, we must do so by remembering the Lord’s death in an humble manner. Paul says, "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body" (11:29).

Verse 22

Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy: Paul represents Christ as being married to Christians (Ephesians 5:23-32); therefore, if Christians share their love with demons, they are attempting to provoke the Lord to jealousy as a wife would if she shared her love with another man. The words "provoke to jealousy" (parazeloo) mean "to provoke to anger" (Thayer 482-1-3863) or to "stimulate" (Strong 3863) to jealousy.

This question implies that some of the Corinthians believed they could eat from the Lord’s table and the table of demons at the same time and that, in fact, they were participating in both feasts. In so doing, they were attempting to stimulate the Lord to jealousy and make Him angry. The Lord is referred to as being jealous or angry over any attempt on the part of Christians to share their love between Him and pagan gods. He loves us so much that he wants our love to be to Him only. Possibly, Paul is alluding to Exodus where God is referred to as being jealous concerning idol worship: "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God" (20:5). Other places speak of the Lord’s jealousy: "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God" (Deuteronomy 4:24). Also, " (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 6:15). Today’s English Version translates "God...tolerates no rivals."

are we stronger than he: The rhetorical question: "Are we stronger than he?" is actually a denial. No, we are not stronger than the Lord; we will not be able to overcome His wrath; therefore, we should do nothing to arouse His anger or jealousy.

They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (Deuteronomy 32:21).

The Lord will not accept our worship to Him if we are also worshiping demons; such actions will only provoke Him.

Verse 23

Limits to Christian Liberties

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: In the previous verses, Paul has dealt with participating in the idol’s feast and concludes that it is sinful to do so; however, the question returns, "Can we eat the sacrificial meat that is sold in the public marketplace?" Beginning with verse 23, Paul answers this question.

The words of this verse are repetitious of the words of 1 Corinthians 6:12 (see notes); however, Paul now stresses that the key factor in deciding which liberties are to be practiced and which liberties are to be avoided is in reference to things that "edify" others. It appears that both statements in this verse originate from those criticizing Paul and that he is here responding to their criticism by restating their words. Today’s English Version renders: "’We are allowed to do anything,’ so they say, That is true, but not everything is good. ’We are allowed to do anything’--but not everything is helpful."

Christians are to do everything for God’s glory. Even if something is a liberty and is lawful, if it leads another into sin, it is not "expedient" (sumphero) or is not "profitable" (Thayer 597-2-4851) and should be omitted.

all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not: Paul reemphasizes his teaching by restating that, even though things are lawful, they do not necessarily "edify" (oikodomeo)--all lawful things do not necessarily "promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, (and) blessedness" (Thayer 440-1-3618). We must be willing to give up a liberty for the sake of those who are not edified. In considering liberties, we must think not only of ourselves but how we can edify others. Paul says, "Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification" (Romans 15:2).

In this verse Paul has given two restrictions to use to decide what is and what is not a liberty. First, liberties are things that are expedient (profitable); and, secondly, liberties are things that edify.

Verse 24

Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

Paul gives a third restriction about liberties: Christians should be concerned about others. Paul teaches that liberties are based on love one for another and Christians should not do things that please only themselves. True Christians are watchful for ways to benefit others even before themselves. Paul says that "love" "doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil" (13:5).

Paul’s emphasis on the subject of liberties is that where there is no law and a liberty is involved, we can decide on the matter. Our decision, however, must be made in consideration of others, as much as ourselves. If the liberty will not bring harm to us, we must consider whether it will bring harm to our neighbor. If the answer is "Yes," we must avoid the liberty. As Paul says in Galatians, "Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (6:2). As Christians, we are not individuals living to ourselves: we make up one body, the church, and, therefore "none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself" (Romans 14:7).

Verses 25-26

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.

In these two verses, Paul teaches about our attitude toward liberties that are controversial. Concerning eating meat that is sold in the marketplace, Paul says, "Eat the meat, and you do not have to ask questions concerning it." He is teaching that we should not be scrupulous to the point that we create unnecessary difficulties.

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: The term "shambles" (makellon) refers to a "meat-market" (Thayer 386-2-3111). Paul is saying that whenever they buy meat at the public meat-market, they do not have to ask if it is sacrificial meat. When a person eats this meat recognizing that it is furnished by the Lord, he eats, giving the Lord thanks. Paul says,

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:6-8).

There is some disagreement about to whom the word "conscience" applies. One view is that Paul refers to weak Christians who believe it to be sinful to eat the sacrificial meat. In this sense, Paul is saying, "Since you are buying the meat to eat at home, you do not have to concern yourself with the feelings of weak Christians." A second view, which seems correct, is that Paul is referring to strong Christians, those who do not believe it to be sinful to eat sacrificial meat. Thus he is saying, "When you buy meat at the public meat-market, it is not sacrificial meat--it belongs to the Lord; therefore, eat it without worrying about violating your own conscience about being in fellowship with idols."

For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: These words are quoted from Psalms 24:1 and are giving the reason for Paul’s answer in verse 25. The earth belongs to the Lord; and all things on the earth, including the meat, come from the Lord; therefore, they are to eat it with thanksgiving to the Lord. In writing to Timothy, Paul says, "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:4). The intent of Paul’s words in verse 26 is to inform the Corinthians that the sacrificial meat does not and never has belonged to the idol but to the Lord--and they may eat it.

Verse 27

If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast: Paul is now regulating a Christian’s actions when he accepts an invitation to eat in the home of an unbeliever. The "unbeliever" is not a Christian who has fallen away but is a pagan. Paul is instructing Christians about what to do when a pagan--a friend or a member of one’s own family--invites them into their home.

The "feast" mentioned here is not the same as accepting an invitation to eat in the idol’s temple--a sinful practice. Instead the invitation is to a "feast" or meal in the private home of an unbeliever. Paul’s implication is that the believer does not have to break off all relations with pagans; it is acceptable to eat with pagans in private gatherings.

and ye be disposed to go: Since this meal takes place in a private home, it is not a worship service; therefore, idolatry is not committed. Thus, the Christian has the right to decide for himself whether to go. This point is obvious from the words, "if ye be disposed to go." The word "disposed" (thelo) means "choose" (Strong #2309).

whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake: Paul says to follow the same rules given about buying meat in the public meat market. If they are invited to the home of a pagan and they choose to go, they are to "eat, asking no question for conscience sake"; that is, they did not have to ask if the meat had previously been used in sacrifices to their gods (see verse 25 for explanation of "conscience sake").

Verse 28

But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols: This verse offers the opposite scenario to verse 27. A Christian has been invited into the home of a pagan. A weak Christian, a "fellow-guest" (The Cambridge Bible 103) informs another invited guest that the pagan is serving meat "offered in sacrifice" (eidolothuton) or "sacrificed to idols" (Thayer 174-2-1494).

eat not for his sake that shewed it: If a brother learns and becomes concerned that the meat being served in the pagan’s home was "offered in sacrifice unto idols," the stronger Christian is instructed to follow the principle of verses 23 and 24 and "eat not for his sake that shewed it" or eat not "out of consideration for" (Bratcher 100) the weaker Christian. The word "shewed" (menuo) is defined as the one who "made known" (Thayer 412-2-3377) the truth.

and for conscience sake: If the invited Christian eats this meat, he will be offending the "conscience" of the weaker brother, the one who revealed the origin of the meat, as is made clear from verse 29a: "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other." The Revised Standard Version has verse 28 and verse 29a in parentheses; therefore, joining the words in verse 29b to Paul’s question in verse 27:

If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. For why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: The King James Version adds the words from verse 26 as quoted from Psalms 24:1; however, even though these words do no damage to the passage, the phrase is not part of the original text (see verse 26 for explanation of this phrase).

Verse 29

Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: Here Paul is explaining that the words "for conscience sake" in verse 28 refer to the conscience of the person revealing that the meat has been offered in sacrifice to idols. Paul’s point is that the strong Christian is to waive his liberty of eating this meat for the sake of the brother with a weak conscience. The strong Christian’s conscience is not injured regardless of whether he eats sacrificial meat or not because he knows it is not sinful within itself. He is instructed, however, to avoid it because of weaker Christians.

for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?: It appears that Paul is almost contradicting his previous teaching, but he is not. The word "for" (gar) connects this statement with the preceding statement. Paul is asking another rhetorical question: "Why should my weak brother’s conscience be able to restrict my liberty?"

Paul is confronting an issue that could arise, that no man has the right to interfere with the liberty enjoyed by another. The fact that the strong Christian has the liberty to eat sacrificial meat in private homes also indicates that he has the liberty not to eat the sacrificial meat. If eating offends another, it is to be avoided for this reason. His rights or liberties do not rest entirely upon himself but also upon his weaker brethren (verse 24).

Verse 30

For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

In this and the previous statement, Paul puts himself in the place of the strong Christian by asking questions about the reason why he must give up his liberties, when, in fact, he knows that he is doing nothing sinful. "If I by ’grace’ (charis) or ’with thankfulness’ (Vincent, Vol. III 245) eat meat that came from the Lord (verse 26), why am I evil spoken of if I do so with thanksgiving?" The answer obviously is that by eating this sacrificial meat, the weaker Christian’s conscience becomes offended, and he is made to sin. This is the reason why Paul would be evil spoken of if he eats. In the next four verses, Paul goes into detail to answer these two questions.

Verses 31-33

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Beginning with verse 31 and continuing through verse 1 of chapter eleven, Paul answers the questions asked in verses 29 and 30. The first verse of chapter 11 says, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." He gives three answers:

1. Do all things to the glory of God (10:31).

2. Do not offend Jews, Gentiles, nor the church (10:32).

3. Follow Paul’s example by following Christ (10:33-11:1).

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God: By these words Paul is teaching that, regardless of whether they are eating, drinking, or doing anything else, they are to do it "to the glory of God." This fact is true with anything that we do; however, contextually, Paul is basically limiting his remarks to liberties. When liberties are involved, they and we are to do what will best promote the glory of Christ by bringing others closer to Him. To do things "to the glory of God" "is the ruling motive in the Christian’s life, not just having his own way about whims and preferences" (Robertson, Vol. IV 158). As Christians we must do things that will build up, edify, and encourage others to live as true Christians should.

Give none offence: Paul now enlarges upon the teaching found in verse 31. He says, in doing all things to the glory of God, "give none offence" or do not "lead others into sin by one’s mode of life" (Thayer 70-1-677) when liberties are involved. Do not cause any person to stumble.

neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: These three classes of people involve all mankind. "Jews" and "Gentiles" refer to two classes of people outside the church (1:22). The "Gentiles" represent the heathen society, and the "Jews" represent those who are religious but have not accepted Christ as the Messiah. The third class of people is called "the church of God," including all Christian believers; these are the children of God.

Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved: With these words Paul encourages the Corinthians to follow his personal example, especially in reference to liberties. Paul’s life was lived by thinking of others before thinking of himself. His goal was to do what would be pleasing to others in matters that would lead them to be "saved" (sozo)--"to make one a partaker of the salvation by Christ" (Thayer 610-2-4982). Paul says,

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you (9:19-23).

Paul gave up his own liberties (for example, refusing financial support) that others would profit by listening to his teachings about Christ and be saved. Saving the lost was Paul’s first priority.

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ: Paul concludes the teaching about liberties with the first verse of chapter eleven. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." In verse 33, he encourages the Corinthians to follow his personal example; and now he explains why--Paul followed the Lord’s example; therefore, when others are following him, they are following Christ.

Paul’s final remarks about liberties teach that we should do all things, first, for God’s glory and, second, for man’s salvation. Also, we must refrain from liberties that will lead others farther away from Christ, regardless of whether they are in the church or in the world. These points must always be in our minds in deciding whether or not to involve ourselves with liberties.

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Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/1-corinthians-10.html. 1993-2022.