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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 10

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-33

1 Corinthians 10:1 . I would not have you ignorant of the grand point, the foundation of the Hebrew religion; that our fathers, for such was the usual language of the jews and proselytes respecting the Israelites, were under the cloud, the symbol of Jehovah’s presence, and the visible token of covenant favour and protection. And this cloud distinguished them from all other nations.

1 Corinthians 10:2-4 . And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. He initiated them into the covenant in all its moral and ritual obligations, and the manna and the rock corresponded with the bread and wine in our sacraments. The eye of faith sees glory in the scriptures, conveying instruction from ancient symbols and past events. A divine radiance shines upon us from under the coverings of the sanctuary; and whether the symbol be bread and wine, or rock and water, it is the same Saviour whose body we discern in the sacrament, slain as the paschal lamb, and crucified on Calvary. This is the Lamb, the heavenly food of which Moses said, a stranger shall not eat thereof. In the same cloud or Spirit, as at the Jordan, “are we all baptized into one body.”

1 Corinthians 10:7 . Neither be ye idolaters, as in the tragic case of the golden calf, described in Exodus 32:0.

1 Corinthians 10:8 . Neither let us commit fornication, as the Hebrews did at Moab’s feast; and as the lower sort of heathens do in all the feasts of Venus or Astarte. See on Numbers 25:0.

1 Corinthians 10:9 . Neither let us tempt Christ, as in the revolt at Rephidim, when the people murmured for water, and when Moses and Aaron received their sentence, not to enter the promised land. “They turned back, and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” Psalms 78:41. They tempted him again when they loathed the manna, and were destroyed of serpents. Exodus 17:0. Numbers 21:0.

1 Corinthians 10:10 . The destroyer seems to refer to the avenging angel who inflicted the plague. It was an angel who smote the firstborn of the Egyptians; it was an angel who slew the seventy thousand who gloried in an arm of flesh, when David numbered the people; it was an angel who destroyed the blaspheming Assyrians, and Herod when he gave not God the glory. Thus both the old and new testament ascribe the visitations of God to the ministry of angels.

1 Corinthians 10:11 . These things happened for ensamples, and are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world, or ages of Christ, are come. Paul enumerates only five revolts of the fathers, though they rebelled ten times against the Lord. He expressly says, that these revolts were against “Christ,” against Jehovah, the Angel of the burning bush, and whom the psalmist above calls the Holy One of Israel. All the versions read Christ, the Syriac, the Spanish, the Irish, the Sweedish, and the Russian. Such also is the doctrine of the christian fathers, that Christ is the Angel who spake to the patriarchs, and led the Israelites to the promised land. Beware then, oh factious men who disturb the church at Corinth, for all the Israelites were baptized, as well as you, and yet they fell short of the promised land.

1 Corinthians 10:12 . Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed. Ο δοκων , existimans, Montanus: so in Hebrews 4:1. One who estimates himself to stand, is admonished to take heed lest he fall. Let such at Corinth who foster factions in the church beware, lest God who punished the ancient rebels, should also punish some at Corinth with sickness, and others with the sleep of death.

1 Corinthians 10:17 . We being many are one bread, one body. The venerable ÆLFRIC, archbishop of Sherborne, Dorsetshire, in the tenth century, translated eighty spels (exercises, sermons) from ancient fathers. One of which, in die pascæ, for Erist or Easter Sunday, contains an illustration of these words. “Understand now and rejoice, for we are all one loaf, and one body in Christ. He is our head, we are his members. Ne bith se hlaf of anum corne, neither is the loaf made of one corn, ac of manegum, but of many. Ne tha win of anre berean, nor the wine of one berry, but of many. So also should we all have unity in our Lord. Therefore the holy housel (sacrament) is called a mystery, because one thing is there seen, and another thing is designed.” By consequence, if the figure was seen in the bread, and the substance seen by faith in Christ, Ælfric was not a believer in transubstantiation.

1 Corinthians 10:20 . The gentiles sacrifice to devils. The learned Dr. William Stukeley names the ancient temple of Dracontium in Asia, as bearing Satan’s names. What else are the sacrifices of the wicked. What else their songs and their dances, but the dance of demons. What else was the worship of Venus, and if possible, worse still, that of Priapus. Come out from among them; escape for thy life. The figures of their idols are demons revealed.

1 Corinthians 10:22 . Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? And what could provoke him more than to liken him to “a calf that eateth grass?” David in exile would neither offer their drink-offerings of blood, nor pronounce the name of their imaginary gods. He escaped from Philistia without any signs of apostasy. Psalms 16:3.

1 Corinthians 10:25 . Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no questions whether the animal had been offered in sacrifice. This was wise and prudent advice, and the jews themselves begin to follow it.

1 Corinthians 10:32 . Give none offence, neither to the jews, by any contempt of the ceremonial law; nor to the gentiles, by injudicious or unseasonable attacks on their religion, their mythology, and customs, as I have endeavoured to do in all places: 1 Corinthians 9:20-22. But especially give no offence to the church; render due honour to all the brethren. Weigh the consequences of your words, and examine the tendency of your steps.


In the preseding chapter our apostle animated us to the race, and the combat, by the hope of the crown, and the awe of being disapproved and cast away. Here he supports his arguments by the multitude of the Israelites who were cast off, and disapproved as unworthy of the promised rest. The victims of ancient visitations rise from their graves to warn posterity of crimes, revolts, and apostasy. All these Israelites, like the defective and unfaithful christians, had received a double sacrament. They were all baptized unto Moses, as their leader, and type of Christ, both in the sea, when they marched through the deep, and in the cloud on Sinai, when they were sprinkled with blood. And admitting water to be figurative of the Spirit, as our Lord has said, John 7:37-38, they all drank of that spiritual rock which followed them in the wilderness, and flowed into pools in the parched ground. Yea, and they all ate of that spiritual bread, which was a figure of Christ the true bread, as is largely illustrated by our Saviour, in John 6:0.; yet after all they fell short of the promised land.

Oh my soul, be sanctified by fear. Do not tempt Christ by presumptuous sins, do not murmur at salutary chastisements, and do not in the lowest sense commit fornication, which was common at the feasts of Astaroth, the Venus of the gentiles. No man on the peril of his salvation must join the table of the Lord with the table of devils. Hence no men’s souls were in greater danger than those Gnostics, who affecting to say that an idol was nothing, indulged in pagan impurity, and most insidiously ensnared the weaker christians. Let the believer still fear the bacchanalian route, though no idol be there, as equally ensnaring to his weakness, and reproachful to religion.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-corinthians-10.html. 1835.
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