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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 10

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. The Peril Of Over Confidence: 10:1-13

II. Stay Away From the Idol Feasts: 10:14-22

III. Marketplace Meat/Liberty/Another's Conscience: 10:23-33


While the consciences of the weak need to be strengthened. This chapter is a warning to the "strong" among the Corinthians who were arguing that they had the right to attend the feasts held in an idol's temple. (8:10) The previous chapter had ended with a warning, that those who fail to exercise self-control, even in things morally indifferent, will fail to obtain the prize. Apparently some in Corinth were arguing that the spiritual privileges they had obtained, i.e. like being baptized into Christ and sharing in the Lord's Supper, protected them against any harm. Hence they could freely attend the idol feasts, without being in any danger.

'At the back of this passage there lies the over-confidence of some of the Corinthian Christians. Their point of view was, "We have been baptized and we are therefore one with Jesus Christ; we have partaken of the Lord's Supper and therefore we have partaken of the body and blood of Christ; we are in Christ and Christ in us; therefore we are quite safe; we can eat meat offered to idols and take no harm; there is no possible danger for us." By recalling the example of Israel, Paul showed that being recipients of special privileges did not guarantee one's salvation. Thus, he showed that Israel had received a "baptism" and a "supper" just the same as the Corinthians had; nevertheless, the greater portion of them were lost.' [Note: _ Willis pp. 313-314]


Verse 1

1Co_10:1 For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

'For' -'Moreover' (KJV) 'Paul appeals to the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness in confirmation of his statement concerning himself in 9:26f. and as a powerful warning to the Corinthians who may be tempted to flirt with the idolatrous practices of their neighbors. It is a real, not an imaginary peril.' (Robertson p. 151)

'It is possible that I may be rejected, for the Israelites were.' (Vincent p. 238)

'ignorant' -'I do not want you to be unaware' (NASV) This phrase is frequently used by Paul to stress the vital nature of a truth that he is about to state. ( Rom_1:13 ; 1Co_12:1 ; 2Co_1:8 ; 1Th_4:13 )

'our fathers' -In the previous chapter Paul had given an illustration from the games.

'Many a Greek must have looked long and hard at some beaten athlete, sitting by himself in dejection while the victor has the applause and attention of the masses. And many a Jew must have wondered about the loss of thousands in the desert.' (McGuiggan p. 132)

'Our fathers' may be relating to those Christians of Jewish background. And yet, seeing that the Church is the 'Israel of God' since the death of Christ ( Gal_6:16 ; Gal_3:27-28 ; Rom_4:11 ); in a sense these Jews were the ancestors of Gentile Christians too.

'were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea' -notice the stress on the word "all" in these verses. 'God included "all"; if any of them were excluded and did not remain included, this was due wholly to their own action .' (Lenski p. 390)

'under the cloud' -'"The cloud" shading and guiding the Israelites from above, and "the sea" making a path for them through its midst and drowning their enemies behind them, were glorious signs to "our fathers" of God's salvation.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 857) ( Exo_13:21-22 ; Exo_14:19-20 ; Num_14:14 ; Psa_105:39 )

'passed through the sea' -Paul agrees that the "sea" which was parted, formed walls high enough to cover the Israelites. ( Exo_14:22 )

Verse 2

1Co_10:2 and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

'were all baptized..in the cloud and in the sea' -indicating that baptism is an immersion. 'With a wall of water on each side and a cloud over them (and or behind them), the Israelites were buried from the sight of the Egyptians.' (McGarvey p. 97)

'unto Moses' -'As Moses was Israel's deliverer, so Christ is theirs.' (Fee p. 445) 'The passage of the Red Sea led Israel to fully accept Moses as their master and leader under God. ( Exo_14:31 )' (McGarvey p. 98) As Christians are baptized "unto" Christ. ( Rom_6:3-4 ; Gal_3:27 )

Points to Note:

1. Like our baptism, the baptism of the Israelites accomplished a deliverance from the land of bondage. 'This Israelite "baptism" separated the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt just as Christian baptism separates one from sin.' (Willis p. 317) ( Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ; Act_22:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 )

2. Baptism is a burial. ( Rom_6:4 )

3. Baptism is an act of faith. Entering the parted Sea took a lot of faith in Moses' words. Likewise, our baptism is that final step of trust in God before salvation is obtained. It constitutes the line between a professed believer and a true believer. ( Act_2:41 )

4. Paul believed in the historical accuracy of the Exodus record. Therefore, if one is going to deny the truthfulness of various miraculous events in the O.T., one must also deny the truthfulness of Jesus and the N.T.

'After deliverance came the question of sustenance. This was affected in the desert by means no less miraculous and symbolic.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. pp. 857-858)

Verse 3

1Co_10:3 and did all eat the same spiritual food;

'same' -'All received and enjoyed the identical spiritual blessing.' (Lenski p. 391)

Point to Note:

'Same' is a powerful word here. No Israelite could complain that they weren't given the same advantages as Joshua or Caleb (i.e. those who made it). Likewise, all Christians today undergo the 'same' baptism, they partake of the 'same' elements, they have the 'same' mediator, they read from the 'same' bible. Therefore, whose fault is it, if I don't make it to heaven?

'spiritual food' -i.e. the manna. It is called "spiritual food", because of it's miraculous origin. ( Exo_16:1-36 ; Psa_78:25 ; Joh_6:31 'He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.') 'The manna and water weren't made of spiritual "stuff". They came from an invisible source, God. "Spiritual" stresses the source of the gifts, not their constituent elements.' (McGuiggan p. 133)

Verse 4

1Co_10:4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.

'spiritual drink' -the water that God miraculously provided. ( Exo_17:1-7 ; Num_20:2-13 )

'they drank' -'The imperfect tense denoting continued action--throughout their journey.' (Vincent p. 239) Moses will fetch water from the rock near the beginning of their wilderness experience ( Exo_17:1-7 ), and also near the end. (Numb. 20:2-13) 'The fact that water was twice supplied by Christ at different periods would be sufficient to suggest his continual presence.' (McGarvey p. 99)

'of a spiritual rock that followed them' -'Jewish legend..conceived the idea of a rock which travelled alongside the people throughout their forty year's journey..Paul does not endorse this material fancy.' (F.F. Bruce p. 91)

'The rock typified Christ. The rock didn't follow them. The God who brings water from flinty rocks was wherever they were .' (McGuiggan p. 133)

'and the rock was Christ' -'We must not disgrace Paul by making him say that the pre-incarnate Christ followed the march of Israel in the shape of a lump of rock..He does mean that Christ was the source of the water which saved the Israelites from perishing..as he is the source of supply for us today.' (Robertson p. 152)

Points to Note:

1. Paul believed in the pre-existence of Jesus.

2. It was this same Jesus, who had saved the Corinthians, who also had saved and met the needs of the Israelites. In the case that someone in Corinth objected to Paul material here, by saying, 'But they perished because they didn't have Christ..we do, so we don't need to worry.' Paul responds, 'Who do you think kept them alive all those years!'

'Christ lived already in the midst of the ancient people, and that people has perished! How can you suppose, you Christians, that you are secured from the same fate!' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 858)

3. Jesus is identified with Jehovah of the O.T., by the use of the word "Rock". ( Deu_32:4 ; Deu_32:15 ; Deu_32:30-31 )

Conclusion of this section: Privileges, yes even spiritual privileges do not guard one against falling into sin. Remember the generation that come out of bondage. They had a baptism too! They feasted on spiritual food and drink also (as Christians have the Lord's Supper), and they had Christ with them too! And yet:

Verse 5

1Co_10:5 Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

'Howbeit' -'Nevertheless' (NASV) 'However, in spite of their unique position and mercies the Israelites proved unfaithful.' (Erdman p. 102)

'most of them' -'in fact, with the entire generation of military age, twenty years old and upward, that came out of Egypt (apart from Caleb and Joshua). Num_14:20-24 ; Num_28:1-31 ; Num_29:1-40 ; Num_30:1-16 ; Num_31:1-54 ; Num_32:1-42 ; Num_33:1-56 ; Num_34:1-29 ; Num_35:1-34 ; Deu_1:34-40 . (F.F. Bruce p. 92)

'was not well pleased' -'God was not at all satisfied.' (Wms) And to miss God's favor, is the biggest failure in life.

'for' -here is the evidence that God wasn't pleased with most of them.

'overthrown' -2693. katastronnumi kat-as-trone'-noo-mee; from 2596 and 4766; to strew down, i.e. (by implication) to prostrate (slay): -overthrow.

-'their bodies were scattered over the desert.' (Fee p. 450); 'for the desert was strewn with their corpses.' (NEB) 'The recipients of God's richest blessings were strewn out all over the wilderness like paper littering the countryside.' (Willis p. 321)

'God's displeasure; sooner or later this doom overtook nearly all the witnesses of the Exodus ( Heb_3:17 ). What a spectacle for the eyes of the self-satisfied Cor.: all these bodies, full-fed with miraculous nourishment, strewing the soil of the desert!' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 859) ( Num_14:16 )

WHY THEY FELL: 10:6-10

'Thus he sets in motion the following section in which he will specify the reasons for Israel's failure.' (Fee pp. 449-450)

'The fall of the Israel of the Exodus was due to the very temptations now surrounding the Cor. Church --to the allurements of idolatry and its attendant impurity (6ff), and to the cherishing of discontent and presumption (9f). ***Their fate may prove our salvation, if we lay it to heart; the present trial, manifestly is nothing new ..' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 859)

This whole section presents a generation of God's people who tried to "push" the limits of God's patience. They tried to walk right on the edge of sin..the had attempted to "push" their demands and rights as far as they could..AND THEY GOT BURNED! And many in Corinth were presently on the same path.

Verse 6

1Co_10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

'were our examples' -'These events are examples to us, warning us' (Nor)

Points to Note:

1. The following verses implies: O.T. examples are ever relevant. Therefore, preaching from the O.T. fills a very important purpose.

2. Because man remains the same and is prone to commit the same mistakes.

3. Because God still feels the same way about all these sins. Hence the God of the O.T. is the same as the God of the N.T.

4. Time and culture haven't changed God's attitude towards these sins. Fornication was wrong in 1400 B.C., in the wilderness, and fornication was still wrong in the middle of the first century in Greece.

'to the intent' -'to keep us from' (Wms);

'not lust after evil things' -'to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things' (Fee p. 452)

'as they also lusted' -'Instead of rejoicing in the spiritual blessings which God extended to them they constantly lusted after "evil things."' (Lenski p. 396)

Point to Note:

It wasn't that they always "lusted" after things which were inherently evil!

'They were tired, they said, of manna day after day ( Num_11:4 )..And they lusted after meat, flesh to eat...Was eating meat so important that they would insult and tempt God? ( Num_11:4-5 ) Should men recently rescued from age old slavery and on their way to freedom whine over the loss of flesh to eat?...Do you think the Corinthians should have been listening?' (McGuiggan p. 134)

Is there any lesson here for us? How many Christians still "lust" for the things of the world..despite the fact that God has graciously forgiven them? When Christians demand that they have the right to..social drinking, smoking, dancing, gambling, indecent clothing, etc...No matter how are weakened by their "right"..Isn't that "lusting" after evil things also? In those cases, aren't Christians really saying, "The lifestyle that God has brought me to, isn't fulfilling enough. I need more. The Christian life is boring, it's barren, unfulfilling, not exciting enough...why, I remember all the fun we used to have......"

The following are four examples of how "privileged" Israel "lusted after evil things."

Verse 7

1Co_10:7 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' -'Lit., stop becoming idolaters, implying that some of them had already begun to be.' (Robertson pp.152-153)

'as it is written' - Exo_32:4 . The infamous "Golden Calf" incident.

'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play' -Paul fixes his attention, not on the construction of the calf, but on the "feast" which attended the worship of it.

The Corinthian's were not arguing for the right to construct or worship idols, rather, simply for the right to attend the feasts in the various idol temples. In response, Paul cites the worship of the golden calf, and labels as "idolatry", the feast which attended it's worship. The eating and drinking in presence and or honor of the idol was "idolatry" too!

'The eating of the cultic meal constituted idolatry just as it did at Corinth. Although neither the Israelites nor the Corinthians considered their conduct to be idolatrous, both were guilty of it.' (Willis p. 323)

'rose up to play' -'often refers to cultic dancing..and in the Exodus narrative the revelry is further expressed in terms of "shouting" (32:17), "singing" (18), and "dancing" (19), nonetheless in this case..it almost certainly carries overtones of sexual play. This is suggested by the further description in v.25 of the people's "breaking loose", or "running wildly out of control".' (Fee pp. 454-455)

Verse 8

1Co_10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

'fornication' -a regular part of worship to idols. And a very real temptation for the Corinthians. (6:9,12-18) 'A thousand priests ministered at the licentious rites of the temple of Venus at Corinth.' (Vincent p. 240)

'three and twenty thousand' -referring to the events of Num_25:1 ff. Moses recorded that 24,000 died. 'Both figures appear to be round numbers, for few will contend that exactly 23,000 or 24,000 fell on that day.' (Lenski p. 398) Both figures are accurate approximations, the precise number that died being between both of them. Over 23,000, but not quite 24,000. We do the same thing today.

'in one day' -any questions about how God feels about fornication?

Point to Note:

The specific event of fornication cited, was the result of the Israelites attending an "idol feast", in which they "ate and bowed down to their gods" ( Num_25:2 ). 23,000 Israelites died in one day, and the whole thing started when the people of God accepted an invitation to attend a feast dedicated to the worship of an specific god. ( Num_25:2 'For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods..') And this is exactly the "liberty" that some Corinthians are claiming.

Verse 9

1Co_10:9 Neither let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial, and perished by the serpents.

'make trial of the Lord' -'i.e. to see how far his patience will stretch or question if he means what he says.' (F.F. Bruce p. 92) 'To tempt out, tempt thoroughly; try to the utmost' (Vincent p. 240) (See Psa_95:8 ; Num_14:22 ) 'To try thoroughly, to the utmost--as though one would see how far God's indulgence will go.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 860)

Listen to this quotation:

'The continual practice of things which are questionable may become the occasion of our presuming too far upon the forbearance of God, of our attempting to see how far we can go without falling , or of testing God, to learn how far he will let us go without punishment or reproof...Indulgence in some forms of amusement, not in themselves sinful, and in practices which other persons regard as harmless, may make us discontented with our lives of more rigid morality, until continued dissatisfaction deepens into disloyalty and ends in actual defiance of God.' [Note: _ Erdman p. 103]

'and perished by the serpents' -recorded in Num_21:4-6 'The graphic imperfect tense.."lay a-perishing," transports us to the scene of misery resulting from this experiment upon God ! (Gr. Ex. N.T. pp. 860-861)

Point to Note:

The event cited in Num_21:4-6 reveals that the Israelites were simply wanting to have 'better food' (21:5). And yet God still considered this a "test" of His patience and mercy. We can "test" God, try His patience by pressing for our "rights". Dissatisfaction with what God has given you, is trying the Lord!

Verse 10

1Co_10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.

'murmur' -1111. gogguzo gong-good'-zo; of uncertain derivation; to grumble: -murmur. 'Don't complain' (Beck); 'You must stop grumbling.' (Wms)

Complaining was a frequent problem in the wilderness. ( Exo_15:24 ; Exo_16:2 ff; Exo_17:3 ; Numb. 11:1; 14:2ff; 16:11,41; Deu_1:27 ; Psa_106:25 )

'perished by the destroyer' - Exo_12:23 ; 1Ch_21:15 ; Heb_12:28 . Probably referring to an angel which inflicted the punishment. This verse is probably referring to the rebellion of Korah, recorded in Num_16:1-50 , especially verse 41.

'People murmur when they think that justice has not been given to their claim, when they believe that they have been deprived of their legitimate rights ....Complaining to God because of His restrictions over our conduct implies that we know better what we need that He does; it charges God will placing unnecessary restrictions on our freedom...' (Willis p. 327)

'Whining Israel moaned about how tough the road to freedom was. And they moaned about missing the food they were used to. Back in Egypt they had this and that, how come they had to give up so much? And would it surprise us if we knew that the Corinthians were feeling the same sense of loss? Things couldn't be the same now. there were old haunts they couldn't go, old friends with whom they couldn't now associate, old and pleasurable practices now forbidden to them. They could sympathize with the Israelites even if God couldn't.' (McGuiggan p. 135)

Verse 11

1Co_10:11 Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.

'these things' -all the events just cited.

'by way of example' -'are illustrations of the way in which God works.' (Phi) 'What happened to the Israelites is not exceptional by any means; it will in its way happen to God's people every time they turn away from him.' (Lenski p. 401)

'they were written' -'thus indicating their divinely ordained reason for being in Scripture . In this sentence one captures a sense of Paul's view that both the historical events and the inscripturated narrative are not simply history or isolated texts in Scripture; rather, behind all these things lies the eternal purposes of the living God, who knows the end from the beginning..' (Fee p. 458)

'for our admonition' -'to serve as a caution to us.' (TCNT) 'Words that remonstrate and reprove.' (Lenski p. 401)

'And God said: "Write that down! I want the Corinthians to read that in years to come. And I want them to get the message. I will not be trifled with or insulted."' (McGuiggan p. 135)

'upon whom the ends of the ages are come' -The Corinthians were living in a time when all the past purposes of God expressed in the O.T. were realizing their fulfillment. ( Mar_1:15 ; Luk_10:23 ; Luk_24:25 ; Act_3:24 ) A time period when prophecy and fulfillment had met.

'Hence the Christian is justified in considering himself as the terminus to which all the earlier developments of revelation point..Christianity is the goal and end of all earlier revelations, and now new one follows it.' (Willis p. 330)

Points to Note:

1. God still feels the same way about..fornication, idolatry, grumbling, and pushing our "rights".

2. The events recorded in the O.T. were all recorded for a definite purpose. To teach anything, they must have been recorded accurately, and then preserved. Hence Paul here admits that the O.T. is inspired and infallible.

3. Man hasn't changed. We are not morally superior to the Israelites, for we can fall into the same sins. We need to be "admonished" also. Therefore, God's word is ever relevant to the human condition.

4. No 'age' is going to be after the Christian age, hence WE MUST learn from the examples of the past. The only warning that we will get, are examples recorded from the past! ( 2Pe_2:4-9 )

Verse 12

1Co_10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

'thinketh he standeth' -'who imagines that he is standing so securely' (Mon) Obviously, this warning is addressed to those who considered themselves "strong" Christians. No once saved always saved here.

Some of the Corinthians considered themselves "secure", seeing that they had been baptized, were partaking in the Lord's Supper and had Christ. Paul had proven conclusively, that another "blessed" generation had many of the same type of things, and yet fell! There is no room for arrogance or pride!

'The lonely and silent desert once rang with Israelite laughter. The God who had demonstrated his power over idols and gods would bury his own people if they impenitently insult him. What's the good of a good beginning if the end is a lonely hole in a howling desert under a pile of stones nobody visits?' (McGuiggan p. 135)

And yet the Corinthians would of complained, 'you don't realize how tough it is to live in this environment.' To this Paul responds with a classic verse:

Verse 13

1Co_10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.

'temptation' -'No temptation has come your way' (Phi) 'A temptation is any inducement to sin' (Lenski p. 403)

'taken you' -'has seized, and holds one in its grasp' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 862) 'the verb is in the perfect tense denoting that the temptation is one which lingers .' (Willis p. 331)

'such as man can bear' -'but such as in common to man' (NASV); 'that is not common to all mankind' (TCNT)

Point to Note:

1. No generation can complain, 'but living the Christian life is much harder for us, than it was for our parents.'

2. Every generation faces the same type of temptations. The Corinthians were facing the same temptations that the Israelites had years before.

3. Some temptations "linger", and must be continually resisted. A bad or tough environment is never an excuse to sin. ( Gen_39:1-23 )

'but God is faithful' -He can be counted on to help! Paul now will cite to ways in which God "comes through" during all temptations that we will face in life.

'who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able' -notice what Paul doesn't say. 'God will not suffer you to be tempted.' All Christians WILL face temptation, God has never promised that He will remove trials. Rather, He monitors them, and you can be assured, that whatever trial or temptation you find yourself faced with, IT IS WITHIN YOUR ABILITY TO RESIST.

'but will with the temptation make also the way of escape' -in every temptation, a way to resist it EXISTS!

Points to Note:

1. God never places us in a no-win situation, in which the only way out is to commit sin. There are no "greater sin-lesser sin" moral dilemmas. There is ALWAYS A NON-SINFUL WAY TO ENDURE THE TRIAL.

2. You will never be faced with a temptation that requires "superhuman" effort to endure.

3. Every time we sin, we have demonstrated a lack of faith in God, for we refused to look for or take the way of escape. Sin is always our fault .

4. Since a way of escape always exists in every temptation, we can never BLAME anything or anyone else for our own moral failures.

5. Unfortunately, many want the 'way of escape' to be easy. When it comes to temptation, many are waiting for some "feeling" to overwhelm them, which will magically remove all desire to give in. Rather, the way of escape is always through our ability to endure.

6. A way of escape, when it comes to idolatry is given in the next verse. "Flee"!

7. God is not the source of temptations, but rather He monitors all temptations .

8. 'Shut into a cul de sac, a man despairs; but let him see a door open for his exit, and he will struggle on with his load..How different all this from the Stoic consolation of suicide : "The door stands open"!' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 862)

Verse 14

1Co_10:14 Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

'my beloved' -'is strongly affectionate and urgently pleading.' (Lenski p. 406)

'flee' -'continue to flee'. 'They should not see how near they can come to idolatry without partaking in it, but how far they can keep from it.' (Erdman p. 105) Especially in light of how others in the past had failed! Flirtation with idolatry in the past drew severe judgements.

Verse 15

1Co_10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

'as to wise men' -'Paul never asks mere blind obedience; he always labors to secure obedience as a result of thorough conviction.' (Lenski p. 407)

-'As to men of sense I speak' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 863) 'Men of discernment' (TCNT); 'I appeal to your intelligence' (Ber); 'I appeal to your good sense.' (Gspd); 'I speak as to sensible men' (RSV). 'Plea that they make proper use of the mind given them.' (Robertson p. 154)

'The prohibition of v. 14 is both abrupt and absolute. Now Paul seeks to show them how sensible it is..Since the Corinthians had prided themselves in their understanding of things, and surely had intimated a much as their letter to him, Paul allows: "I speak as to sensible people." (Fee p. 464)

Point to Note:

God's commands, including His prohibitions make perfect sense when scrutinized. God doesn't give irrational commandments. It is the "sensible" course of action to abstain from drunkenness, adultery, fornication, etc..

'judge ye what I say' -'Look now and see for yourselves whether what I am about to say is true.' (Tay) (11:13; 14:20)

Paul's line of argument in the following section is as follows: (1) They understand the "fellowship/communion" which Christians share in when they partake of the Lord's Supper. (2) And the same truth was seen in O.T. sacred meals. (10:18) (3) Why can't they see that the same principle of "fellowship" also is found in the pagan meals, which they were claiming they had the right to attend. (10:19-20)

Verse 16

1Co_10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?

'cup of blessing' -the fruit of the vine in the Lord's Supper.

'which we bless' -( 1Co_11:24 ) 'Over which we pronounce a blessing as by Christ at the institution of the ordinance.' (Robertson p. 154)

The Cup is here mentioned first, because Paul wishes to expand upon the bread and draw an argument from it.

'communion' -2842. koinonia koy-nohn-ee'-ah; from 2844; partnership, i.e. (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: -(to) communicate(-ation), communion, (contri-)distribution, fellowship.

'of the blood of Christ' -'lit., a participation in..the blood of Christ.' (Robertson p. 154)

When Christians partake of the Lord's Supper, they are demonstrating that they share and enjoy the benefits of Christ's death. 'Since, therefore, the cup is specifically interpreted by the Lord (cf. Mar_14:24 ), and continued to be so understood in the early church ( 1Co_11:25 ), as "my blood of the new covenant), this language almost certainly refers to their sharing in the provisions and benefits of that covenant.' (Fee p. 468)

Point to Note:

Partaking of the Lord's Supper doesn't impart the forgiveness of sins, rather, it is something that forgiven people (i.e. those who already have contact with the blood of Christ) have the right to share in. ( Act_2:41-42 )

'The bread which we break' -( Act_20:7 )

Verse 17

1Co_10:17 seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we are all partake of the one bread.

'we' -Christians universally.

'are one bread' -'Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body' (NASV)

Points to Note:

1. Paul isn't saying that you can only use "one piece" of bread on the Lord's Table. The "one bread" under consideration was shared in by all Christians in all areas. Paul said, "we who are many..for WE ALL PARTAKE OF THE ONE BREAD". Paul includes himself with the Corinthians as partaking of the 'one bread', and yet Paul wasn't a member at Corinth when he wrote this letter!

2. Paul's point is that all Christians partake of these same elements, especially the bread. This participation in the Lord's Table, demonstrates that you belong to the "one body". Note: Partaking of the Lord's Supper doesn't add you to the body of Christ, faith and baptism accomplish that. ( 1Co_12:13 )

3. Again, all of this is being said to set up Paul's argument in verses 19-22. The Corinthians were trying to draw a false distinction between "participation" and "fellowship". They were arguing that they could participate in the temple feasts, without having "fellowship" with the false religion being celebrated. Paul says, does that make sense?

Verse 18

1Co_10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: have not they that eat the sacrifices communion with the altar?

'Behold' -'Look at' (NASV)

'Israel after the flesh' -'the nation of Israel' (NASV) Which implies that an "Israel after the Spirit" exists. ( Gal_3:28 ; Gal_6:16 ; Rom_2:28-29 )

'eat the sacrifices communion with the altar?' -'the language "eat the sacrifices" refers to the meal that followed the actual sacrifice, in which they together ate portions of the sacrificial food. ( Deu_14:22-27 )' (Fee p. 470)


Paul now will proceed to apply the principles learned in 16-18, but before he does this, he anticipates their arguments.

'Since Paul has been arguing that there IS religious significance to the Lord's Table and to the sacrificial meals of Israel, he must now qualify their argument in light of that reality.' (Fee p. 471)

Verse 19

1Co_10:19 What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

'What say I then?' -'What do I mean then?' (NASV)

'that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything' -i.e. that the food is polluted? No.

'that an idol is anything?' -i.e. that the 'gods' of the heathen really do have an objective existence? No.

Paul agrees with the Corinthians up to a point. They were right in stating that the food wasn't defiled and that there existed no 'gods' which the idols supposedly represented. But Paul then adds, 'BUT THAT ISN'T THE WHOLE STORY'!

Verse 20

1Co_10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have communion with demons.

'they sacrifice to demons' -now the Gentiles wouldn't admit this. Most idolaters, even modern ones, would be offended by the charge that they were serving the devil! But Paul, cites reality.

Points to Note:

1. While no real gods existed behind the idols, evil powers did! 'Idolatry, was, above everything, inspired by Satan.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 865) Idolatry, like all forms of perverted Christianity are Satan's attempt to cloud the truth and turn people away from God. ( 2Co_11:13-15 ; 1Ti_4:1-3 'doctrines of demons')

2. All present forms of idolatry serve the Devil's purpose also.

'I would not that ye should have communion with demons' -'I do not want you to be partners with demons' (RSV)

'The implication is that when a person participates in the cultic meal to the pagan deity he has actually, though not intentionally , worshiped Satan..' (Willis p. 341)

'To gather as a body to commune with the body of Christ is to speak on behalf of Christ. To gather with idolaters to sacrifice to their gods (which are the product of the doctrines of demons) is to speak in favor of darkness..The believer is joining demons in the work of darkening the minds of men.' (McGuiggan p. 137)

Point to Note:

'Some today want to charge that sin is an attitude of heart; hence, one cannot mistakenly sin so as to be eternally lost. Yet, in this passage, Paul asserts that one can unintentionally become a partner with evil spirits and unintentionally worship Satan.' (Willis p. 341)

Verse 21

1Co_10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons.

'cannot' -just like you "cannot" serve two masters. ( Mat_6:24 ) The is a moral impossibility. To have fellowship with God, one must cease fellowship with evil! Therefore: 'One is not merely eating with friends at the pagan temples; one is engaged in idolatry, idolatry that involves the worship of demons'. (Fee p. 473)

Verse 22

1Co_10:22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

'provoke the Lord to jealousy?' -'Or will you continue eating at both meals, and thus arouse the Lord's jealousy, as Israel did in the desert? ' (Fee p. 473) ( Deu_32:17 ; Deu_32:21 ) 'Or are we trying to stir up God's anger' (Nor)

'jealousy' -'The term "jealousy"..related to his holiness and power, in which he is to be understood as so absolutely without equal that he will brook no rivals to his devotion. ' (Fee p. 474) ( Exo_20:5 )

'are we stronger than he?' -'Those who would put God to the test by insisting on their right to what Paul insists is idolatry are in effect taking God on, challenging him by their actions, daring him to act.' (Fee p. 474)

Point to Note:

1. We can move God to jealousy by trying to flirt with sin and serve Him at the same time. ( Jam_4:4 )

2. We can also move God to jealousy by "accepting" other religions as credible. People don't realize, that saying that a person can be saved without Christ, is saying that the God who wrote the Bible does have an equal in the spiritual realm!


Verse 23

1Co_10:23 All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify.

-The same principle is laid down in 6:12.

'expedient' -i.e. helpful, beneficial, advantageous.

'edify' -builds strong Christian character. All 'lawful' things don't necessarily promote spirituality. 'But not everything is constructive' (Fee p. 479)

Verse 24

1Co_10:24 Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor's good.

'his neighbor's good' - Rom_15:1-3 ; 1Co_13:5 ; Gal_6:2 ; Php_2:1-4 . 'No one should always be looking after his own welfare' (Wms).

And my 'neighbor's good' is defined as that which 'edifies' him spiritually. (10:23)

Point to Note:

'Hence "freedom" does not mean "to seek my own good"; it means to be free in Christ in such a way that one can truly seek to benefit and build up another person.' (Fee p. 479)

To the Corinthians "knowledge and rights" had lead to pride.. a non-Christian bottom line that says, "freedom to do as I please when I please." In contrast, the Christian bottom line is "the spiritual benefit of others."

Verse 25

1Co_10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience' sake,

'shambles' -'in the meat market' (NASV) 'Is mentioned on a fragmentary Latin inscription found near the Lechaeum road, north of the city..' (F.F. Bruce p. 98)

'In sacrifices usually only a part of the victim was consumed. The rest was given to the priests or to the poor, or sold again in the market. Any buyer might therefore unknowingly purchase meat offered to idols.' (Vincent p. 245)

'asking no question' -'without making inquiries' (TCNT) 'Indeed it was required of the Jews, to investigate whether the meat..had been previously sacrificed; so Paul is telling the Corinthians not to conduct such inquiries. Meat is meat; buy and eat.' (Fee p. 481)

'for conscience' sake' -There is some debate concerning "whose" conscience is under consideration here. The conscience of the buyer or seller, or someone standing nearby?

Paul might be simply saying, 'Buy and eat without investigation, because I don't want you to develop a conscience problem. ' Detailed investigation concerning each piece of meat: (1) Is unnecessary, because the meat isn't defiled. (2) Is a waste of time. (3) Would weigh down the conscience needlessly.

Modern Application:

Christians today can "weigh" down their consciences needlessly, by investigating what religious group owns or has a share in what food chain or product. Paul would say, 'buy and eat, and don't investigate. For false concepts don't contaminate the food products of God's creation.'

**Note: Paul never called for a "boycott" of marketplace meat. Christianity didn't spread throughout the Roman Empire due to boycotts, marches or protests, rather, is spread because people lived and preached it.

Verse 26

1Co_10:26 for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.

'for' -quotation from Psa_24:1 . Explaining why one isn't to investigate the origin of the meat.

'fulness therefore' -'all it contains' (NASV). Including food. 'All meat was pure, since it had come from the Lord'. ( 1Ti_4:4-5 )

'Apart from his radical statements on circumcision, it is hard to imagine anything more un-Jewish in the apostle than this.' (Fee p. 482)

Modern Application:

Paul, as always presents a good balance. Mankind is prone to extremes. While eating too much of anything isn't good for you, we need to be careful that we don't label something that God created "unhealthy or bad". 'Buy the meat, eat it and enjoy himself because it has been given by God..to be received with thanksgiving of those that know and believe the truth. ( 1Ti_4:1 ff)' (McGuiggan p. 138)

Verse 27

1Co_10:27 If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast, and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience' sake.

'biddeth you to a feast' -'If one of the unbelievers invites you.' (NASV) ***THIS IS NOT A TEMPLE SETTING!*** (8:10; 10:19-22)

'and ye are disposed to go' -'you wish to go' (NASV). Paul leaves accepting the dinner invitation up to the individual. He has already told us that he accepted such invitations. (9:20-22). And so did Jesus.

Note: This is one more place in this letter in which Paul is violating Jewish traditions. ( Act_10:9-23 ; Act_11:2-3 )

'whatsoever is set before you, eat' -I like that advice. Be a Gentleman, be a good guest, enjoy the meal! 'As Dodds would put it: Don't show too deep an interest in the past history of your dinner.' (McGuiggan p. 139)

'for conscience' sake' -i.e. your own. See comments on verse 25.

Verse 28

1Co_10:28 But if any man say unto you, This hath been offered in sacrifice, eat not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake:

'But' -a complication arises.

'any man say unto you' -the host or one of the other guests.

'for his sake that showed it' -'the believer has to be informed as to the sacrificial nature of the meat he/she is eating; if they were at the temples, that would be known without the need to be told.' (Fee p. 483) Hence, this is a non-temple setting.

'and for conscience sake' -further defined in the next verse, as the conscience of the person pointing out the origin of the meat being served.

Point to Note:

We are not told "why" the origin of the meat was pointed out. It may be a weak brother. It could be a pagan host who is in affect saying, 'The meat I am serving for dinner was sacrificed to the gods, see, I am religious too.' Or, it may have been a very sincere non-Christian who is seeking to help the Christian out. 'The one who has pointed out the sacrificial origins of this meat to a Christian has done so out of a sense of moral obligation to the Christian, believing that Christians, like Jews, would not eat such food.' (Fee p. 485) And yet, the next verse implies that the person who pointed out the source of the meat, felt that the Christian would be acting hypocritical for eating it.

Verse 29

1Co_10:29 conscience, I say, not thine own, but the other's; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience?

'for why is my liberty judged by another conscience?' -'Why then should my personal freedom be limited by another's conscience' (Wms); 'What? you say, is my freedom to be called in question by another man's conscience.' (NEB)

'judged' -'pass an unfavorable judgement upon, criticize, find fault with, condemn.' (Willis p. 349)

If a Christian (like Paul) went ahead and ate the meat under those circumstances, the other people at dinner would condemn him for it. And Paul asks the Corinthians, what possible "good" (10:24) could come from that? What would be "gained"? (10:23)

Verse 30

1Co_10:30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

'partake with thankfulness' -'If I give thanks for what I eat' (Beck) ( 1Ti_4:4-5 )

'why am I evil spoken of' -'means more than "to criticize"; it always refers to slanderous language.' (Lenski p. 424) 'why am I called a sinner' (Con)

Again, Paul may be arguing, 'If this is what results when I eat under these circumstances, is it worth it?'

Verse 31

1Co_10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

'whatsoever ye do' -these principles apply to other areas of moral neutrality also.

'do all to the glory of God' -'do everything to glorify God' (Beck) The same truth as "And I do all things for the sake of the gospel." ( 1Co_9:23 ) 'This is the ruling motive in the Christian's life, not just having his own way about whims and preferences.' (Robertson p. 158)

'The glory of God , not the observance of food-laws, nor the satisfaction of one's natural appetite, nor even the assertion of one's personal liberty, is the main object of Christian life and action--eating, drinking, or anything else (cf. Col_3:17 )' (F.F. Bruce p. 101)

Verse 32

1Co_10:32 Give no occasions of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God:

'Give no occasions of stumbling' -avoid causing ANYONE to stumble into sin. 'Don't be the reason for others to sin whether they are Jews' (Beck)

'One is not... to pursue a path that is to the detriment of another..To "give offense", therefore, does not so much mean to "hurt someone's feelings" as to behave in such a way as to prevent someone else from hearing the gospel, or to alienate someone who is already a brother or sister.' (Fee pp. 488-489)

Verse 33

1Co_10:33 even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

'even as I also' -referring to his own example previously given in 9:20-22.

'please all men in all things' -which he has already described in detail. (9:19-25)

'not seeking mine own profit' -'not doing..what is best for me, but what is best for them.' (Tay) Pleasing men, but not a men-pleaser in the selfish and negative sense.

'Is to allow no attitudes or practices of his own to stand between the truth of the gospel and those whom he seeks to win.' (F.F. Bruce p. 101)

'that they may be saved' -9:22 'that I may by all means save some.' 'This is the ruling passion of Paul in his dealing with men.' (Robertson p. 158)


(Willis p. 352)


'29 & 30 are a bit difficult. The strong one is not to eat in light of someone else's conscience. But he is not to let the other's conscience become his conscience! The other's weakness limits the liberty of the strong but it is not to become the "truth" for the strong. To eat is still a liberty (esp. at home) Abstain from eating because of his conscience, because he thinks it evil but don't you let his conscience persuade you that your liberty is evil. Paul tells them not to eat but he wants them to know he isn't telling them to abstain from eating because it is wrong. The other man's weakness doesn't make their ability to eat into an evil. Forfeit your liberty but don't let his weakness determine what your liberty is!' (McGuiggan p. 141)

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/1-corinthians-10.html. 1999-2014.
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