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

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Verse 1

1Co 10:1

1 Corinthians 10:1

ForPaul had just shown them, by his own example, the necessity for watchfulness and untiring effort, lest they should be unapproved, and now he continues this same thought by reference to the history of Israel that the possession of great privileges is no safeguard, and that the seductions of idolatry must not be consciously despised.

I would not, brethren, have you ignorant,—By this he does not mean their being ignorant of the bare facts of the narra­tive, for they were the most striking in the Old Testament, but of their spiritual significance. This practical application is found in the fact that the fleshly kingdom of Israel was the type of the spiritual kingdom, the church of Jesus Christ. The earthly Canaan, the type of the heavenly. The rewards, the conflicts, the weapons of the one were earthly and carnal; in the other, heavenly and spiritual. The conduct of the peo­ple under the law of God and his dealings with them were re­corded for our instruction and warning. Paul introduces the dealing of God with them here for the instruction and warn­ing of the church at Corinth and for all Christians, as the let­ter is addressed “unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2). So after telling them in the preceding paragraph how he labored to keep under his body lest he should be rejected, he pleads with them to be guarded and careful, and introduces these dealings of God with Israel to warn and help them by these examples.

that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;—[The cloud betokened the immediate pres­ence of the angel of God; “And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness, yet gave it light by night: and the one came not near the other all the night.” (Exodus 14:19-20). And immediately after this, trusting themselves to Moses as a medium of God’s power, they passed through the dried-up bed of the sea so that] the cloud was over them and the sea stood as a wall on each side of them, thus were they covered and overwhelmed with the two.

Verses 1-5

1Co 10:1-5


1 Corinthians 10:1-5

1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren--For (ASV). He had just shown them(1 Corinthians 9:25-27) the necessity of bringing the body into subjection in order to win the ultimate prize (eternal life). His aim now is to show how the Israelites failed, even with all their advantages, to reach their goal because they did not restrain themselves from evil. In short, he uses the failure of the Israelites as an exam­ ple of how one may fall short of winning the prize or be a castaway. I would not that ye should be ignorant, - That is, he wanted them to know not so much the bare facts of Israel’s history but the spiritual significance of the facts for Christians in their race for life. how that all They were all blessed (all is used five times in the first 4 verses) in contrast with nearly all (many) who were overthrown in 1 Corinthians 10:5 - all were blessed but most perished before reaching the land of Canaan. our fathers - The forefathers of the Jewish people. And since Israel was the nation through whom the Redeemer came, they were the spiritual forefathers of all who are heirs of the promise (Galatians 3:26-29) - that forefathers in faith and covenant relationship. were under the cloud, - The divine cloud that stood between them and the Egyptians, covered them, and hid them as they passed through the sea (Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 14:19-20). It signifies the divine presence and protection (Exodus 14:24). and all passed through the sea; - The Red Sea, which stood between their bondage in Egypt and their freedom in the wilderness. To pass through the sea meant salvation from the pursuing Egyptians (Exodus 14:13; Exodus 14:21-30).

1 Corinthians 10:2 And were all baptized-- That is, they were buried or hid (immersed) by the cloud over them and the water of the sea around them (Exodus 14:29; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). unto Moses Into Moses (RSV), as followers of Moses (Williams), were united with Moses (Beck). When they passed through the sea, leaving the servitude of Egypt, Moses became their acknowledged leader and by being in union with him, God was to control their lives through him. Consider the analogy between their baptism and ours: (1) They were baptized into Moses; we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27). (2) They were baptized in the cloud and the sea; we are baptized in water (Acts 8:35-39; Acts 10:47-48). (3) Their baptism marked the end of their servitude to and the beginning of their freedom in the wilderness; our baptism marks the end of our servitude to sin and the beginning of freedom in Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). (4) They came up out of their baptism into the wilderness their state of freedom from Egyptian bondage; we arise from our baptism into the church the state of our freedom from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:4). (5) Their baptism delivered them from the kingdom of Egypt; our baptism delivers us from the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13; Colossians 2:11-12). (6) Baptism stood between them and salvation from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13); baptism now stands between the sinner and salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21), remission of sins (Acts 2:38), washing away of sins (Acts 22:16), getting into Christ (Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27), getting into the death of Christ (Romans 6:3), resurrection to a new life (Romans 6:4), obedience to a command of Christ (Acts 10:47-48), and being in the one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). (7) When they came forth from baptism they partook of supernatural food (1 Corinthians 10:3-4); when we come forth from our watery grave we eat the supernatural food of God’s word (1 Peter 2:1-2). in the cloud and in the sea;--See notes .

1 Corinthians 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat:--The food, the manna, they ate in the wilderness was supernaturally supplied (Exodus 16:12-22) and it continued until they crossed the Jordan and possessed the promised land (Joshua 5:12). It is called spiritual because it came directly from God. This is typical of Christ coming as the bread of God which supplies every spiritual need of man (John 6:31-35). Most commentators see the food here and the drink of v. 4 as typical of the Lord’s Supper. But in my judgment that limits and strains the analogy. A few of the analogous points in the incidents here cited are: Pharaoh as a type of Satan (the god of this world), Egypt a type of the world or sin, Moses a type of Christ, the Red Sea a type of NT baptism, the wilderness a type of the church (or the Christian life). the crossing of Jordan a type of death, and Canaan a type of heaven. Thus I believe the food and drink are a type of all the spiritual needs of the Christian life - the needs supplied to us by Christ through the gospel (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4). This of course would include the Lord’s Supper, but the type is not limited to that.

1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: - They drank the water that was miraculously supplied them, as in Horeb after Rephidim (Exodus 17:1-7) and Kadesh (Numbers 20:1-12) and probably by the digging of the well at Beer (Numbers 21:16-18). See note on v. 3. But their blessings consisted in more than the literal water: for they drank of that spiritual Rock That is, they continued to drink from the spiritual rock throughout their whole wilderness journey. It seems to me that the thought changes here from the spiritual drink, the supernaturally supplied water, to the spiritual rock, the supernatural source from which the water came. that followed them: - Not the literal rock (as a foolish tradition of the Jews claimed) but the rock of their salvation, the source of all their blessings. and that Rock was Christ. – That source was Christ, who supplied their needs in or by the Spirit just as He had preached in Spirit to the people before the flood (1 Peter 3:18-21). The point here is that Christ was the source of all spiritual blessings to them just as He is to us (Ephesians 1:3).

1 Corinthians 10:5 But with many of them With most of them (ASV). The many is in contrast with all in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. All were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses, all ate the spiritual food, and all drunk of the spiritual rock, but most (actually all but two, Joshua and Caleb) who had par­ taken of these remarkable blessings did not remain in obedience and thus fell in the wilderness. Only those faithful to the end cross the finish line. God was Their refusal to trust God to deliver into their hands the land which He had promised them disappointed and displeased Him. for they were overthrown in the wilderness. - They fell during their wilderness wandering, their bodies were spread out over the desert, not having reached the ultimate goal, entrance into the promised land (Numbers 14:20-30; Numbers 26:64-65; Hebrews 3:14-19). This proves beyond any doubt that one who starts the Christian race may fall by the wayside without having attained the victor’s crown: for this is the very point this incident in Israel’s history was introduced to illustrate (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Verse 2

1Co 10:2

1 Corinthians 10:2

and were all baptized unto MosesIt brought them into a relationship to Moses they had never sustained before. That is, into his undisputed control over their movements. Up to the very moment of that baptism this control was still dis­puted by Pharaoh. They were saved by that baptism from his hands and passed under the leadership of Moses. True they were baptized figuratively in the cloud and in the sea; yet at the same time, by a like figure, passed out of Pharaoh into Moses. They were committed to his leadership as men now by baptism are consecrated to the leadership of Jesus Christ, and this transition into Moses by an act quite similar to baptism.

in the cloud and in the sea;—Those who passed through the sea did not have water sprinkled or poured upon them. The cloud was not a rain cloud, but one of smoke, that presented at night an appearance of fire and by day a cloud to guide them. (see Exodus 13:21-22). The water from the sea did not wet them, for a strong east wind blew the waters back and con­gealed them, and they went over on dry land. (Exodus 15:8). In this passage the whole body of people were hidden, enclosed, covered by the sea and the cloud, [prefiguring the double pro­cess of submersion and emersion in baptism]. They were baptized in these. “The waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 14:29-30).

Verse 3

1Co 10:3

1 Corinthians 10:3

and did all eat the same spiritual food;—They ate of the food that God gave them—the manna and the quails. [Spiritual is to be taken in contrast with natural, not as re­gards the nature of the food, but of its source, which was su­pernatural and miraculous.] The manna given by God is con­trasted by Jesus with himself as the true bread that came down from heaven. (See John 6:31-35). As the Israelites ate of the manna and were preserved alive, so the disciples ate of the true bread, Jesus Christ. The disciples ate of him by mak­ing him their Lord and doing his will. Jesus said: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34). So it is the meat of his disciples to do the will of Jesus and to finish the work he has given them to do. To do his will strengthens the soul as bread does the body.

Verse 4

1Co 10:4

1 Corinthians 10:4

and did all drink the same spiritual drink:—When they were in the wilderness they were thirsty; Jehovah told Moses to smite the rock; he did so; the water gushed out; they drank of it, and were refreshed. Jesus compares the life he gives to living water, of which if a man drinks, he shall never die: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be­come in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.” (John 4:14).

for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them:— [They habitually made use of the source which was always at hand. In drinking from the smitten rock the Israelites were drinking at the same time of a “spiritual rock”—and not supplying them once alone, but following them throughout their history. So that looking back on the entire journey, it might very naturally be said that the rock had followed them, not meaning that wherever they went they had the same source to draw from, but that throughout their journey they were supplied with water in places and ways as unexpectedly and unlikely.]

and the rock was Christ.—The object of the two epithets— “followed” and “spiritual”—is certainly to distinguish exactly the invisible and spiritual rock, of which he himself speaks, from the material rock spoken of in Exodus, that of which Je­hovah said to Moses the first time: “Behold, I will stand be­fore thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (Exodus 17:6), and the second time in the Wilderness of Sin: “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, that it give forth its water; and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock” (Numbers 20:8). These two rocks already stood there when Israel arrived in these two localities, and remained there when Israel left them. Paul, therefore, can only mean that, behind these material, im­movable rocks, there was one invisible and movable, the true giver of the water, to wit, the Christ himself.

[This is plainly the meaning of the passage in the light of the numerous sayings of Moses in which the Lord is called the Rock of Israel: “The Rock, his work is perfect.” “And lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful.” (Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:18). And by similar ones in Isaiah: “For thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength.” (Isaiah 17:10). “Trust ye in Jehovah for ever; for in Jehovah, even Jehovah, is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:4). Only what is special in the passage under consideration is that this title “Rock” during the journey through the wilder­ness is ascribed here, not to Jehovah, but to Christ. The pas­sage forms an analogy to the words in John 12:41, where the apostle applies to Jesus the vision in which Isaiah beholds Je­hovah in the temple of his glory. (Isaiah 6:1-13). Christ is represented in the passages by Paul and John as pre-existent before coming to the earth, and presiding over the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness. In chapter 8:6, Paul had spoken of Christ as the one “through whom are all things.” Here he designates him as the one who accompanied Israel in the cloud through the wilderness, and gave them de­liverances when they needed.]

Verse 5

1Co 10:5

1 Corinthians 10:5

Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased:— [In the course of these opening verses the emphatic word all occurs five times, the more emphatically to make the sad con­trast between the commencement and the close of the journey. They all without exception stood on the same level of divine favor. In his marvelous dealings with them he was one and the same to them all: to the standing and the falling he was gracious alike, for as “all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” so in the wilderness the same food was common to them all and the same drink to all, both of divine origin, and had they but remained steadfast in the covenant, the same prospect of reaching Canaan was before them all.] But notwithstanding the deliverance he had given them from bondage, and the many works he did in their behalf, most of them forgot his goodness, turned from following Moses, and with them God was not well pleased.

for they were overthrown in the wilderness.—All of the generation that left Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb, were dis­qualified by their misconduct. They were overthrown by the pestilence, by wars, or by natural and unusual diseases, so that they did not reach the land of Canaan. [So now notwith­standing Jesus has delivered us from the slavery of sin, he has provided blessings and favors at every step of the way, we murmur and complain at his dealings and rebel against his law and displease him, and as the Israelites were overthrown in the wilderness, so we fall from our steadfastness and are overthrown by the way, fail to reach the promised land.]

Verse 6

1Co 10:6

1 Corinthians 10:6

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.—The Is­raelites and the facts of their history are examples to us. The same Lord directs our affairs that ordered theirs; and if we sin as they did, we also must expect to be punished and ex­cluded from his favors and from heaven. [In the case of Is­rael, the punishment was directly and visibly connected with the sin, and it is recorded so that their history might be used to instruct future generations; for in this life punishment is not, as a rule, summarily and immediately meted out to sin­ners. In fact, if we judge by appearances only, we might sometimes even think that God rewarded crime and set a pre­mium on sin. The Scripture records show that such appear­ances are deceptive, and that God’s punishments are sure, though they may be long delayed. Israel lusted after flesh, and God granted them their desires, and the consequence was a plague, and the destruction of multitudes. (Numbers 11:4; Numbers 11:33-34). This is a perpetual warning against the indulgence of in­ordinate desires for forbidden things. It was especially ap­propriate as a warning to the Corinthians not to desire partici­pation in the sacrificial feasts of the heathen in which they had been accustomed to indulge.]

Verses 6-10

1Co 10:6-10


1 Corinthians 10:6-10

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things - The things recorded in Israel’s history, but in context their failures as here pointed out by Paul and the judgment of God inflicted upon them because of their departure from His way. were our examples, - Not examples for us to follow but examples to warn us of the con­ sequences of running in the way of the world. They are grave reminders that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). to the intent we should not lust after evil things, - That is, they warn us not to be carried away by the many temptations which confront us to do evil. They fell short of their goal (v. 5) because they followed their lustful desires. So shall we if we serve sin rather than righteousness (Romans 6:1-18). as they also lusted. - For an example, see Numbers 11:4-34. Lust is a strong desire, especially for that which is forbidden or eviL They lusted when they longed to return to the flesh pots of Egypt (Exodus 16:3), which indicates that they were not satisfied with the provisions God had made for them. The point here is that if we fall into the same trap of lusting for worldly things then we shall suffer the same fate.

1 Corinthians 10:7 --Neither be ye idolaters, - Idolatry is the recognition or worship of idols, either as deity or as the representation of deity. Both aspects are prohibited by both the first and the second commands (Exodus 20:3-6). Robertson (WP) observes that this literally means "Stop becoming idolaters, implying that some of them had already begun to be." While we are not likely to erect an idol and worship it in the same sense as the ancients did, we are still faced with the problem. When Paul defined covetousness as idolatry (Colossians 3:5), he was in essence saying that an idol is anything that replaces God as the ruler of one’s life, whether it be self, money, power, honor, or a religious organization. God is our maker and we are His by right of creation. We owe our allegiance to Him alone. When we permit anything to replace God, as with covetousness, we become idolaters in the sense of removing Him from His rightful place and exalting something else to His throne. Materialism may well be the idol that tempts us most. as were some of them; - The worship of the golden calf was what In Exodus 32:6. The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. - That is, they ate the sacrificial offering in a festival to the golden calf and after the festivities they rose up to dance and sing in its honor (Exodus 32:18-19). This almost certainly implies licentious conduct or moral debauchery: for Moses said that the people were naked or were running wild in their unbridled shame (Exodus 32:25).

1 Corinthians 10:8 --Neither let us commit fornication, -Fornication is a general term covering all forms of illicit sexual activity - it is sexual immorality (NIV) , lewdness (BV), or whoredom (MacKnight). The Corinthians clearly understood the close connection between idolatry and fornication because of the practice at the temple of Aphrodite, where it is said that 1000 beautiful prostitutes plied their trade as a part of worship. as some of them committed, - As is recorded in Numbers 25:1-6. The fornication committed there was in conjunction with idol worship (Numbers 25:1-2). and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. - Moses said 24,000 died in the plague (Numbers 25:9). Obviously there is an apparent discrepancy here, but I do not believe that it is borne out under sincere and honest examination - it is apparent only. But nonetheless this has been and continues to be a perplexity to commentators. Typical of some who make no effort to explain it are: Lipscomb and Shepherd, when Lips­ comb simply states, "Why this discrepancy I am unable to explain" (Lipscomb believed and loved the Bible and approached it with as great honesty as anyone I have ever studied; why he chose not to offer some possible solution I am unable to explain). Vincent (WS) says, "A plain discrepancy .... It may have been a lapse of memory." But if this is the case, how could one defend Paul’s inspiration (1 Corinthians 14:37; Ephesians 3:1-7; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)? How could one reply to the liberals charge (as given in The Interpreter’s Bible) that this "is fatal to any theory of verbal infallibility"? The HS was given to the apostles to bring all things to their memory (In. 14:26; 16:13). Had Vincent suffered a lapse of memory concerning inspiration? F.W. Farrar (in The Pulpit Commentary) says, "We cannot give any account of the discrepancy, which is, however, unimportant." The figures themselves may be unimportant, but whether Paul made a mistake in citing them, and thus contradicting Moses, is of vital importance to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures. If Paul made a mistake here, then we would have no reason not to question him everywhere. I believe, however, even though there is a variation in the accounts, that both Paul and Moses are right. Whether I can ever harmonize them to everyone’s satisfaction is another question altogether, one that may not be of grave importance. I believe that ultimately God is the author of both statements, and that from His perspective there is absolute harmony. My perspective may be too limited to see the whole picture. To my mind there are two reasonable solutions known (there are others but they seem highly improbable to me): (1) Moses gives, without specifying a time limit, the total number who perished in the whole incident, which may have covered several days; Paul gives the number that fell in one day. (2) There is a possibility that both authors (both under the guidance of the HS) rounded out the number. Let us suppose that the actual number was 23,500. Moses could have rounded it out at 24,000 and Paul at 23,000. This view is strengthened by the fact that it is highly unlikely that exactly 24,000 fell in the whole incident and that exactly 23,000 fell in one day. Whether either of these is the true explanation or not we may never know this side of eternity, but they do show that a solution is possible. Of the two views, the first carries more weight to my mind. One warning: we must not get so bogged down with what appears to be a discrepancy that we miss Paul’s point, namely, the danger of falling into sin.

1 Corinthians 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, - Neither let us make trial of the Lord (ASV). That is, by the attitude of ingratitude, a failure to accept Him and the provisions He has made for us, and thus to try His patience and provoke His displeasure. as some of them also tempted, As some of them provoked the Lord’s displeasure by speaking against Him and loathing the manna He sent them from heaven (Numbers 21:4-5). and were destroyed of serpents. ­ Fiery serpents, by which "much people of Israel died" (Numbers 21:6). When the people saw what they had done, they repented and Moses made a brazen serpent and hung it on a pole so that they could look upon it and live (Numbers 21:7-9). The warning here is for us to learn not to put the Lord to the test by being dissatisfied with His provisions (for our salvation) and by murmuring (evilly speaking against) His revealed will. To turn away from Christ and His gospel (to idols or any sinful practice) would be for us worse than the Israelites turning against Moses. God is good in all of His ways (Psalms 100:5; Psalms 145:9) and we should be eternally grateful to Him for what He has done, what He is now doing, and what He will yet do for us. Our attitude, if grateful, will be expressed by thanksgiving; if ungrateful, by complaining or speaking evil of the Lord and His ways.

1 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured,--While there are several incidents of grumbling, complaining, dissatisfaction, and rebellion of Israel during her wilderness wandering, Paul seems to have in mind the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, in which 250 died (Numbers 16:1-35), and the 14,700 who died in a plague brought upon those who com plained about their death (Numbers 16:46-50). (Numbers 14:1-4; Numbers 14:27 records another case of murmuring.) All their muttering and complaining indicates their discontent and ingratitude. Complaining and gratitude seldom come from the same heart. and were destroyed of the destroyer. - Probably has reference to the angel of Exodus 12:23. At any rate, after the death of those attached to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, a plague began among the people, killing 14,700 (Numbers 16:49) before Aaron ran in among them to make atonement. As he stood between the living and the dead with his censer, the destruction was stopped (Numbers 16:46-48). But the destroyer had destroyed 14,700. The warning is that as the Israelites suffered the punishment due their sins, so will we if we follow their pattern of behavior (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

Verse 7

1Co 10:7

1 Corinthians 10:7

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them;—Some of them had a fondness for idolatry and were drawn into it. When Moses went up into the mountain to receive the law, the people induced Aaron to make them the golden calf, “and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4).

as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.—[To play here refers to those lively dances which occurred at heathen festivals (Exodus 32:3-6; Exodus 32:18-19; Exodus 32:25), in which the Corinthians, who, before they became Christians, had indulged. Here lay their peril. They had been released from the superstitions of idolatry (1 Corinthians 8:4), and were still at­tracted by the feasting and gaiety, which were directly de­signed to provoke the most licentious passions—dances of which those now practiced are the direct lineal descendants. Hence the close connection between idolatry and fornication, which appears all through this epistle.]

Verse 8

1Co 10:8

1 Corinthians 10:8

Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them com­mitted,—They were guilty of fornication with the daughters of Moab, and by them led into idolatry and three and twenty thousand were destroyed. This is held up as a warning to Christians to avoid associations that lead to idolatry. [The danger of fornication was always connected with idolatry. At Corinth, therefore, it might easily follow participation in sac­rificial feasts.]

and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.—In Numbers 25:1-9, it is said that there were four and twenty thousand. Why this discrepancy I am not able to explain.

Verse 9

1Co 10:9

1 Corinthians 10:9

Neither, let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial,—When difficulties presented themselves in the way, the Israelites often tried the Lord by their distrust of him and readiness to turn back and follow him no more.

[The word, try, when applied to man, means to present mo­tives or inducements to sin; when used in reference to the Lord, it means to try his patience, to provoke his anger to act in such a way as to see how much he will bear and how long he will endure the wickedness of men. The Israelites tried his patience by rebellion, by murmuring, by impatience, and dissatisfaction with his dealings. The Corinthians tried him when they exposed themselves to temptations in idol temples, and thus needlessly trying the strength of his religion, and making the experiment on the grace of the Lord, as if he were bound to keep them even in the midst of danger into which they needlessly ran. They had the promise of grace to keep them only when they were in the way of duty, and were using all proper precautions against sin. To go beyond this would be to try him, and to provoke him to leave them.]

and perished by the serpents.—”And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged be­cause of the way. 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, and there is no water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, because we have spoken against Jehovah, and against thee; pray unto Jehovah, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And Jehovah said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a standard: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and set it upon the standard: and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Numbers 21:4-9).

Verse 10

1Co 10:10

1 Corinthians 10:10

Neither murmur ye,—To murmur is to complain in a dis­contented rebellious spirit.

as some of them murmured,—The fact here recited is that of the revolt of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram who murdered be­cause they were not permitted to serve in the priestly office. They envied others who were entrusted with higher trusts than they. [In quoting this example, Paul possibly had in view the irritation felt by a party among the Corinthians against himself and his fellow laborers who disapproved of their taking part in heathen rejoicings. This party chafed at their severity, which gave rise to so painful a situation for Christians in relation to their idolatrous friends.]

and perished by the destroyer.—Korah, Dathan, and Abi­ram were swallowed up by the earth. (Numbers 16:1-35). [The destroyer means the pestilence which destroyed fourteen thou­sand and seven hundred persons. (Numbers 16:49). The pestilence in David’s day was administered by a destroying angel. (2 Samuel 24:16-17). The angel in Exodus 12:23 is called the destroyer. It should be noted, (1) that in all the sins specified in the foregoing, Paul says, “some of them,” showing that it was not true of all the Israelites of that day; (2) that he regards all these sins as connected with and growing out of lusting. (Compare James 1:14-15; 1 John 2:16-17).]

Verse 11

1Co 10:11

1 Corinthians 10:11

Now these things happened unto them by way of exam­ple;—In the days of the patriarchs and of Moses, God gave the law, and then applied the law to the facts and conditions as they arose in the workings of human affairs.

and they were written for our admonition,—They were written for examples and instruction to the world for all suc­ceeding time, to teach how God deals with man and how he applies his own law. No man can have a clear knowledge of how God will apply his law without studying the lessons he has given in the Old Testament Scriptures. All his dealings with men are instructive to us, and help in learning our duty and how God will regard our actions under his law. God’s dealings with the unfaithful are just as much for our good as his dealings with the righteous. With both it has been impos­sible to keep man long in the strait and narrow way. So it behooves us in questions of God’s dealings with men to go to these examples in which God applies his law to learn the con­ditions required.

upon whom the ends of the ages are come.—[The ages are the ages of the world’s history, and the apostle means that we belong to the last dispensation, or the gospel era. In Hebrews 9:26, Christ’s manifestation as the Messiah is said to mark the end or completion of the ages. The Christian dispensation is called “the end of the ages” because it is the last and final dis­pensation. (1 John 2:18; 1 Peter 4:7). The church is the heir of all the past—history culminates in it, and the lessons taught by the past are for its admonition.]

Verses 11-12

1Co 10:11-12


1 Corinthians 10:11-12

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things -All the things that are cited from the history of Israel (1 Corinthians 10:1-10). happened unto them for ensamples:--happened unto them by way of example (ASV). They occurred and were recorded to provide us with a warning, an object lesson, not to fall into the same unbelief and disobedience (Romans 15:4). and they are written for our admonition, They are written down for the purpose of instructing us (Williams). They are there for our warning (v. 6), to teach us not to follow Israel’s lifestyle of lust, idolatry, fornication, testing the Lord, and murmuring (1 Corinthians 10:6-10) they admonish us to learn the deadly nature of sin by example rather than by experience. upon whom - Specifically Christians living in the early days of the church but in principle all who live during the final age, from Pentecost to the second coming. the ends of the world are come. - In whose days the ages have reached their climax (Goodspeed). That is, the ages or dispensations have reached their ultimate goal, their consummation, in the Christian system. All previous dispensations (the patriarchal and Mosaical) were designed to bring men to the grand climax that became a reality in Christ and the Christian system. The Christian age is thus the final age or dispensation it is the end of the ages. Thus in Christ and His kingdom we have come to the last age of the world. Christianity is God’s final, complete and perfect system. There is no age yet to come after it. After it, eternity! This puts the finality of the gospel beyond question. Some have misinterpreted the passage to teach the immediate second coming of Christ and the end of the world. Beck translates it: "Who are living when the world is coming to an end." BV renders it: "To whom the end of the age is imminent." This misses Paul’s point completely. His design is to show that we, who are living in the last age, the one to which all the others were designed to bring us (Galatians 3:19-25), should learn from previous dispensations the basis upon which God deals with His chosen people, in the final age as well as the former ones.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore The conclusion that is reached in view of what has been said (1 Corinthians 9:24 to 1 Corinthians 10:11). let him that thinketh he standeth - Let him who is confident that he stands firm, that he is secure in his relationship with God, that apostasy cannot happen to him, that he is too spiritually strong to be caught in the web of sin as were the Israelites, become aware of the danger that confronts him. It is good to have confidence, and woe is the man who does not, but an overconfidence, especially when it is connected with the false concept concerning an unbreakable relationship with God, may lead one to ignore danger signals and thus result in open sin and a severing from the moors of safety. take heed - Beware (BV) or be careful (Beck). That is, take extreme care. lest he fall. Lest he fall into sin and apostasy, as did the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:6-10), which resulted in physical death, and as a consequence bring upon himself separation from God or spiritual death (Isaiah 59:1-2). As certain as Israel (or at least some of them) fell out of favor with God and perished. so is the possibility of our fall from His favor to eternal destruction (2 Peter 2:20-22). If it is impossible for one to fall, as the popular theory of eternal security says, then Paul’s warning is absurd and this whole section (1 Corinthians 9:24 to 1 Corinthians 10:12) is pointless. But worse still, it would have been dishonesty on Paul’s part if he sent out danger signals when there was no danger present - if he cried, "Wolf, wolf" when there was no wolf. To prove that one can and may fall is the whole point of citing these incidents from Israel’s history.

Verse 12

1Co 10:12

1 Corinthians 10:12

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.—When one feels most confidence in himself, then there is the greatest danger that he will be presumptuous and commit the greatest sin. Poor in spirit, contrite and humble in heart are qualities that God loves in man. [Distrust of self leads to trust in God, and God loves not him who thanked God that he was not as other men are, and felt that his good deeds and holy life entitled him to the high privileges of di­vine favor; but loved him who in humility smote upon his breast and cried, “Be merciful to me a sinner.” Self-­confidence leads to reliance on self instead of God.]

Verse 13

1Co 10:13


1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation--The word tempt has two basic meanings throughout the Bible: (1) A trial or test to prove one’s metal, faith, or steadfastness. Job is an example of this meaning. (2) To tempt to entice to sin (James 1:12-15). Sin in its fundamental nature is the improper use of created things (see 1 Corinthians 6:12 and my note there). In this sense temptation is Satan’s inducement to use God-given things for ungodly purposes - uses other than the creative purpose. taken you - Overtaken (NASV), laid hold on (BV), waylaid (Moffett), or seized. but such as is common to man: - But such as man can bear (ASV). Temptations are the common lot of humanity, but none of them are of such nature as to go beyond man’s ability to overcome them. One may succumb to temptation, and thus fall as in v. 12, but if so, it is by choice rather than by necessity. but God is faithful, - God is reliable (BV) and you can trust Him for the htwo following things: (1) who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; - That is, He will not permit a temptation to overtake you that is beyond your ability to bear. Temptations are tempered to the strength of each individual. (2) but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, All temptations come with a built-in escape route that is, a means of escape is always a part of the temptation. God knows how to deliver His people (2 Peter 2:9). Satan is the author of all inducements to evil, but God does not permit him to so entrap man that he has no choice but to sin. that ye may be able to bear it. - That you may bear up under it (Williams), overcome it, conquer it, and escape without sin by the means provided by God. Temptation per se is not sin; yielding to it (not taking the escape route) is.

Verse 14

1Co 10:14

1 Corinthians 10:14

Wherefore,—[This appeal is made in view of all that has been said of the severe judgments that came upon the idola­trous Israelites, and the danger that Christians may fall into the same sins and thus incur God’s displeasure.]

my beloved,—While Paul reproves them very sharply, he speaks to them in much love and tenderness.

flee from idolatry.—Avoid idolatry by fleeing from it. This is the only safe method of escaping its coils. We are subject to idolatry, not so gross in form, but more insidious and deceptive. We serve what we worship. [We should avoid all that approaches the confines of sin, and keep at a dis­tance from everything which excites evil passions or which tends to ensnare the soul.]

Verses 14-22

1Co 10:14-22


1 Corinthians 10:14-22

1 Corinthians 10:14 -Wherefore, Therefore (RSV). What had been said of the Israelites, how many of their sins were connected to or grew out of idolatry, should be enough to warn them of the danger confronting them (specifically, in context, the danger of eating meats offered to idols). my dearly beloved, ­ An endearing appeal, one that shows his deep affections for his brethren in Christ. flee from idolatry. Keep on running from idolatry (Williams). That is, keep on shunning all appearance of and connection with idol worship. One does not play with fire lest he be burned; just so, one does not dally with temptation (the Corinthians obviously had a weakness toward idol worship) lest he fall into sin.

1 Corinthians 10:15 -I speak as to wise men; - I appeal to your intelligence (BV). I see no irony or sarcasm here, as some do, but simply an appeal to sensible men who could use their own power of reason on the subject matter he is now to present (vv. 16-33). judge ye what I say. Weigh my words for yourselves (Moffett). That is, as sensible men you can weigh the evidence and arrive at proper conclusions for yourself.

1 Corinthians 10:16 -The cup of blessing The fruit of the vine which is used in partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:25; Matthew 26:27-28)_ No one should have any problem understanding that the cup stands for (by the figure of speech known as metonomy) the contents, not the literal cup. which we bless, For which we give thanks (1 Corinthians 11:24-25) and ask God’s blessings on both it and us that the purpose He had in view for it might be attained. In thanksgiving we are expressing gratitude to God for providing the means of redemption through the shed blood of Christ, of which the cup is a symbolic reminder (11:25). is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? A rhetorical question demanding an affirmative answer. It is a participation (a sharing, a partnership, a fellowship) in the sacrificial death of Christ. That is, it connects one with Christ (Him as the giver and us as the receivers of the benefits) in His suffering and death. How could one thus participate in the blood of Christ (probably meaning the purpose for which the blood was shed) without being one with Him ­ without joining Him and all others who partake in aim and purpose? One could not. Just so, one could not eat in the temple of idols (with those who were worshiping idols) without connecting himself with them and the idolaters in aim and purpose. The bread which we break, - The loaf broken in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24; Matthew 26:26). The broken bread connects one with the Lord’s body which was sacrificed on the cross (v. 17). is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Same as the statement relating to the blood. Fellow­ ship or communion, as in this v., is joint participation in such a manner as for those involved to become one in aim and action. Thus one cannot partake of (have fellowship with) the table of the Lord and the table of the devil at the same time (v. 21) that one cannot be joined to both in aim and purpose. One cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

1 Corinthians 10:17 This verse presents some translation difficulties, as can be verified by comparing the KJV and ASV with other translations. Does Paul say that we are one bread, one body, or does he say that because we partake of the one bread we are therefore one body? It seems to me that his aim is to demonstrate the unity of the body by the unity of the bread - that is, all are one body because they partake of the one bread. His argument is (or so it seems to me) that if we are one because we eat of the same (one) loaf, then it follows with all the force of reason that they would be one with idolaters if they ate with them at the table of devils (1 Corinthians 10:20-21). They were wise enough (v. 15) to reach this conclusion for themselves. - For we being many are one bread, and one body: Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body (NASV). Although members are numerous, when they eat the same bread (the loaf of v. 16) they are sharing together in the one body, the body of Christ, the church (1 Corinthians 12:17-27; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). - for we are all partakers of that one bread. The reason they are one body is because they share in the one loaf - that is, they participate in the meaning and purpose of the death of Christ, of which the communion is a memorial. Paul’s point seems to be that since sharing together at the Lord’s Table made them one body (a thing that would obviously be admitted by their own wisdom, v. 15), it would logically follow that sharing in the worship of idols would make them one with idolaters.

1 Corinthians 10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: - Consider (in order to confirm what was said in v. 17) an analogy here between Israel after the flesh, national Israel, and spiritual the church (Galatians 6:16). are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? - Are not those who eat the sacrifices in spiritual fellowship with the altar (Williams). All the priests in Israel whose right it was to eat the sacrificial offerings. He had previously used this (1 Corinthians 9:13) to prove the right of a preacher to receive support from the church. His point here is to show that when they ate of the sacrifice they were in communion, fellowship, or partnership with the altar - that is, they became one with it in sacrifice and purpose. The altar and the worshiper became one in this act. Just so, when one eats the sacrificial offerings in worship to an idol, he becomes one with it. His point has now been proven by the Lord’s Supper in the NT system (1 Corinthians 10:16-17) and the altar service of the OT.

1 Corinthians 10:19 What say I then? -What do I mean then (NASV)? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? Had he meant by the illustrations (1 Corinthians 10:17-18) that in eating meats in worship to the idols they became one with them that the idol was a reality and that the sacrifice was polluted per se? Indeed not. The idol was still nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4). He had denied their very existence (1 Corinthians 8:4-6) as gods and he is certainly not to be understood as now recognizing them as real entities. Thus the worship of idols is prohibited by reasons other than upon the grounds of their reality and the eating of the sacrificial meat on grounds other than it being polluted as food (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

1 Corinthians 10:20 But I say, -- (RSV). He was not saying that the idol was a real entity and that meats offered to an idol were polluted per se (v. 19), but he was saying: that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: - Probably referring to Deuteronomy 32:17. When the pagans offered a sacrifice, they did it as an act of worship to the idol and this was in effect worship of the devil and his host (demons). Thus all idol worship is ultimately devil worship. There are only two spiritual realms, that pertaining to God (Colossians 1:13) and that over which Satan rules (Ephesians 6:12). To worship anything other than God is to remove worship from its true realm and object and render it in the realm of evil. All worship directed to idols may therefore ultimately and specifically be called worship of the devil. But here the worship is indirectly rendered to him through his messengers. Hence it is called sacrifice to demons, the forces of spiritual wickedness under Satan’s control. and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. - It is always contrary to the will of God for His people to be in union (fellowship or partnership) with devils, and their eating the sacrifice with idolaters (in the context of worship or service) would make them one with both the idol and the idolaters in both principle and practice (1 Corinthians 10:16-18), even though the Christian’s intention was only to eat the meat as food, not to worship or serve the idol. This shows that, while one’s intentions must be right for his worship to be right, it is not necessary for one’s intentions to be wrong for his worship to be wrong. True worship must have the right object, the right spirit or motive, and the right acts, that it must be directed by truth John 4:23-24). Wrong motives plus the right acts or the right motives plus the wrong acts equal vain worship (Matthew 15:9). True worship consists of the right motives and the right acts directed toward the right object. This is a vital lesson that all men should learn.

1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot -Not a literal or physical impossibility but a forbidden thing by its very nature. Its force is that it is impossible to continue oneness with the Lord while sharing in the sacrifice of idols. Robertson (WP) says that it is "morally impossible." drink the cup of the Lord, Eat the Lord’s Sup­ per and thus become one with the Lord and His saints (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). and the cup of devils: - You cannot join in the worship of idols, and thus be one with them and the powers of evil, and still maintain your unity with Christ and His body. --ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. - That is, you cannot continue to be in harmony with both. One must make a choice as to whom he will serve (cf. Joshua 24:15; Matthew 16:24). No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) - that is, no man can worship both God and the deviL

1 Corinthians 10:22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?--What! do we intend to rouse the Lord’s jealousy (Moffett)? The Lord had warned Israel, when He prohibited the making and worshiping of images, that He was a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5). His glory was not to be shared with another, especially a nonentity (1 Chronicles 29:11; Matthew 6:13). While it was not the intentions of the Corinthians to in­ cite the jealousy of God, this they certainly would do were they to eat at the table of devils (v. 21), and in doing so would call down His wrath upon themselves (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21). are we stronger than he? - By no means! If then He is the stronger, and we the weaker, we would be foolish indeed to provoke Him and thus to bring upon ourselves the consequences of His wrath.

1 Corinthians 10:14-22 Additional note:

In chapter 8 Paul permits the eating of meats sacrificed to idols; here and in Acts 15:29 such is prohibited. Did Paul contradict himself? Indeed not! How then do we harmonize the two accounts? Simply by observing the purpose of each section. In chapter 8, His purpose was to show that meat per se was not polluted by being offered in sacrifice to idols. It could be eaten as food without scruples just so long as there was no recognition of or worship to idols involved. Here his purpose is to show that if they eat the meat along with those who are doing so as an act of worship (even though as Christians they knew the idol was nothing) they became one with both the idol and the idol worshiper. This no Christian could rightly do. Thus the eating of meats sacrificed to idols was acceptable as long as it was consumed as food, received with thanksgiving (1 Corinthians 10:23-26; 1 Timothy 4:3-4), and was not eaten in the context of worship to idols (1 Corinthians 10:27). It was prohibited when eaten as a sacrifice to the idol that is, eaten in the context of recognition of or worship to the idol.

Verse 15

1Co 10:15

1 Corinthians 10:15

I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.—[It is a matter requiring judgment and discrimination. They were wise men, and could, out of an abundant personal knowledge, judge as to the wisdom of his counsel when he thus told them to shun all that pertained to idolatry. For idolatry was so in­terwoven with drunkenness, revelling, and licentiousness that it practically included them, and was not to be dallied with.]

Verse 16

1Co 10:16

1 Corinthians 10:16

The cup of blessingHe now directs their attention to the Lord’s Supper which they had greatly perverted. The cup of blessing is the cup that was blessed (Matthew 26:26-27) and consecrated as a means of blessings to those who properly observed it. [The word “blessing” is used interchangeably with “gave thanks.” That is, the same act is sometimes ex­pressed by the one form and sometimes by the other. In Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, what is expressed by “blessed” and “had blessed” in Luke 22:17; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24 is expressed by saying, “had given thanks.” And in the account of the Lord’s Supper as given by Matthew and Mark, the one expression is used in reference to the bread, and the other in reference to the cup. They therefore mean the same thing, or rather ex­press the same act, for that act was both a benediction and thanksgiving; that is, it is addressed to God, acknowledging his mercy and imploring his blessing, and therefore may be expressed either by the words “had blessed” or “had given thanks.”]

which we bless,— [This is the explanation of the preceding clause. The cup of blessing is the cup which we bless; which can only mean the cup on which we implore a blessing; that is, which we pray may be a blessing to the end for which it was appointed.]

is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?—In partaking of it we become partakers of the benefits of the blood of Christ. The blood is the life, and in partaking of it, we de­clare that we partake of the life of Christ, we live the life of Christ.

The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ?—This is but a repetition of the thought con­tained in the preceding clause. We partake of the benefits of the blood and body of Christ in the observance of this ordi­nance.

Verse 17

1Co 10:17

1 Corinthians 10:17

Seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread.—[This is in confirmation of the preceding statement that in the Lord’s Supper there is a fellowship with the body and blood of Christ—with his death.] We who partake are members individually, but we constitute one body of Christ, because we all draw our life from the blood and partake of one bread, the body of Christ. So we are one body in Christ.

Verse 18

1Co 10:18

1 Corinthians 10:18

Behold Israel after the flesh:—This refers to fleshly Is­rael as distinguished from spiritual Israel, the church. (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 4:29; Galatians 6:16).

have not they that eat the sacrifices communion with the al­tar?—They participate with the altar in partaking of the sacri­fice offered. A part of the sacrifice was consumed upon the altar; the remainder was divided between the priest and the offerer. (See Leviticus 7:15-19; Leviticus 8:31; Deuteronomy 12:18). [To eat of the sacrifices in the way prescribed by the law of Moses was to take part in the whole sacrificial service. Therefore Paul says that those who eat the sacrifices are in communion with the altar. They become worshipers of the God to whom the altar is dedicated. This is the import and effect of joining in those sacrificial feasts. The question is not as to the intention of the actor, 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 in a holy place was an act of Jewish worship. Therefore to partake of a heathen sacrifice as a sacrifice, and in a holy place, was of necessity an act of hea­then worship.]

Verse 19

1Co 10:19

1 Corinthians 10:19

What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is any­thing, or that an idol is anything?—He does not mean to say that the idol is anything or that which is offered to the idol is anything. [This however does not alter the case. For al­though there are no such beings as those whom the heathen conceive their gods to be, and though their sacrifices - are not what they consider them, still their worship is real idolatry, and has a destructive influence on the soul.]

Verse 20

1Co 10:20

1 Corinthians 10:20

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God:—The sacrifice made at the altar of the idol is sacrificed to demons, and the demon is a participator in that sacrifice. If Christians partake of that sacrifice they commune with demons to whom the sacrifice is made.

and I would not that ye should have communion with de­mons.—We are said to be in communion with those between whom and us there is congeniality of mind, community of in­terest, and friendly intercourse. In this sense we are in com­munion with our fellow Christians, with God, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And in this sense the worshipers of idols have fellowship with evil spirits. They are united to them so as to form one community, with a common character and a common destiny. Into this state of communion they are brought by sacrificing to them. It was of great importance for the Corin­thians to know that it did not depend on their intention whether they came into communion with demons. The hea­then did not intend to worship demons, and yet they did it; what would it avail to the reckless Corinthians, who attended the sacrificial feasts of the heathen, to say they did not intend to worship the idols? The question was not what they meant to do, but what was the import and effect of their conduct. A man may not intend to pollute his soul when he frequents the haunts of vice. The effect is altogether independent of his intention.

This principle also applies with all its force to the compli­ance of professed Christians with the religious services of churches that are using mechanical instruments of music in the worship of God. Whatever their intention may be, by the force of the act they become one with those in whose worship they join. We constitute with them and with the methods of their worship one communion.

Verse 21

1Co 10:21

1 Corinthians 10:21

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord,—[The cup of the Lord is that cup which brings into communion with the Lord.]

and the cup of demons:—[The cup of demons is the cup which brings into communion with demons.]

ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord,—[The table of the Lord is the Lord’s Supper at which the Lord presides and at which his people are his guests.]

and of the table of demons.—This would be to make them one. [The table of demons is the table at which demons pre­side, and at which all present are their guests. Here the apos­tle teaches that there is not merely an incongruity and incon­sistency in a man’s being the friend and guest of Christ and in being a guest and friend of demons, but the thing is impossi­ble. A man cannot eat at the table of demons without being brought under their power and influence; nor can he eat at the Lord’s table, without being brought into contact with him, either to his salvation or to his condemnation. If he should come thoughtlessly; without any desire to commune with Christ, he eats and drinks judgment to himself. But if he comes in faith with an humble desire to obey his Master and to seek his presence, he cannot fail to be welcomed and blessed.]

Verse 22

1Co 10:22

1 Corinthians 10:22

Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?—The compari­son here is to a wife who would provoke her husband to jeal­ousy by showing her affection for another man. Can we af­ford thus to treat Christ? [This illustration is the most effec­tive that can be borrowed from human relations, and is often employed in Scripture to set forth the heinousness of the sin of idolatry.]

are we stronger than he?—If we arouse his jealousy, he will destroy us. [As he has threatened to punish such transgres­sors, it is therefore madness and folly to expose ourselves to the fury of his indignation.]

Verse 23

1Co 10:23

1 Corinthians 10:23

all things are lawful;—[This is limited to things indiffer­ent, not having a moral quality.] The reference here is to chapter eight, where he insisted that, as the idol was nothing, he who could eat without offense to others was at liberty to do so.

but not all things are expedient.—Here he is referring to the sacrifices made at the altars of the false gods, and as the gods are nothing the altars are nothing, and a man might eat at them without injury to himself; but it was not expedient for Christians to do so, lest weak Christians and the heathen world should be encouraged to worship the idol.

All things are lawful; but not all things edify.—Eating meat at the altar of an idol may be lawful, but will not build up or strengthen the weak, which is the chief concern of the Chris­tian. When we lead a weak brother into sin, or encourage one in sin to remain in it, we sin against Christ who died to save the weak and lost.

Verses 23-26

1Co 10:23-26


1 Corinthians 10:23-26

1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, Repeats what was said in 1 Corinthians 6:12. See notes there. God made everything for a purpose and everything is right when it serves the purpose for which it was made. The context here is concerned with the eating of meats offered to idols, and since meat was made for the stomach (1 Corinthians 6:13), the eating of meat (when not improperly used, as in sacrifice to idols) is right and acceptable. It is wrong only when eaten contrary to its creative purpose. but all things edify not. - But not everything is constructive (BV). While it is lawful to eat meat (that is its creative design), the eating of it does not always build up in fact it may tear down (1 Corinthians 8:10-12). When the eating is not constructive, it is better to forego it (forego a lawful thing) than to destroy a weak brother - it is better to surrender one’s rights in lawful but indifferent things than to fail to promote spiritual growth in the body of Christ or in any of its members. Thus even our liberty must be used to the glory of God and the up-building of brethren.

1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no man seek his own, - Let no one be so concerned with his own interest, profit, or advantage that he destroys his neighbor in the pursuit of his liberty. Since this is in the context of eating meats offered to idols, it means that no one should insist on practicing his liberties in situations where it would have an ill effect on his neighbor’s spiritual welfare that is, not being done for the glory of God and the edification of his neighbor (Romans 15:2-3). but every man another’s wealth. - But each his neighbor’s good (ASV). In practicing his liberties, one should not have a selfish attitude. He should be more concerned with another’s good (that which will profit him or be to his advantage in edification) than with his own pleasure. Or as Robertson (WP) puts it, "This is loving your neighbor as yourself by preferring your neighbor’s welfare to your own (Philippians 2:4)." When the heart of the matter is reached, there is no higher way to serve oneself than to do that which glorifies God and edifies His people.

1 Corinthians 10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, - Whatever is sold in the meat market (RSV). that eat, Eat without troubling your conscience. The offering of meat to an idol does not change its quality or render it unusable as food. Meat bought in the marketplace has no further connection with idols or idolaters. The wrong is not in eating the meat (see note on v. 19) but in eating it in such a way as to recognize idols or become one with the idolaters in the act (1 Corinthians 10:16-18). asking no question--As to whether the meat had been offered as a sacrifice to idols or not. for conscience sake:--Since the meat was not polluted (even if it should have been the leftover remains of a sacrifice), the eating of it should not be a question of conscientious scruples - it should in no way violate the conscience when eaten. There was therefore no need for scruples and thus no need to trace the history of the meat or to investigate its background.

1 Corinthians 10:26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.—The earth and all its contents belong to the Lord (Moffett). Quoted from Psalms 24:1. The earth (and in fact the whole universe) and every material thing in it is the Lord’s by virtue of creation and maintenance, and this includes the meats offered to idols. The meat, since it was not eaten in honor to the idol, could be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4). The Lord made everything (Genesis 1:1). It is therefore His (1 Corinthians 6:20; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 50:10-12; Haggai 2:8; Ezekiel 18:4). But He has entrusted the earth and its contents into our care, making us His stewards; stewards who must give an account of their stewardship. We may freely use everything for its creative purpose (1 Corinthians 3:21-23), which is to use it to His glory ­ that is, we must use it according to His will. The creative purpose of meat is for food (1 Corinthians 6:13). But God made nothing with which to honor idols.

Verse 24

1Co 10:24

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbors good. Spiritual good is under consideration, and he warns them to let no man seek his own good to the disregard of his neigh­bor’s good. In neglecting his neighbor’s good, he destroys his own. Spiritual good is unlike material good, the more we seek the good of others, the more we promote our own. The more we look to our own good to the neglect of others, the more we destroy our own good. The more we divide our blessings with others, the more our own blessings grow.

Verse 25

1Co 10:25

1 Corinthians 10:25

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles,—[In the public meat market.] Of the sacrifices made to idols, the part given to the officiating priest was sometimes sold in the meat mar­ket; the devotees bought this meat. Sometimes an animal was consecrated to a certain god when slaughtered that it might be sold to the devotees of that god. Certain stalls in the market place were consecrated to a certain god, and its de­votees patronized that stall. [But with the Christian it was different. If he merely bought his meat in the open market, no one could suspect him of meaning thereby to connive at or show favor to idolatry. It would, therefore, be needless for him to entertain fantastic scruples about matters purely indif­ferent; for when thus sold it was wholly disassociated from the rites of idolatrous sacrifice, and one so using it could not be suspected of doing so as an act of worship.]

eat, asking no question for conscience sake;—[He was not to trouble his conscience by scruples arising from needless in­vestigation about the food.]

Verse 26

1Co 10:26

1 Corinthians 10:26

for the earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof.—”For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:4). The intelli­gent Christian, then, may eat of it as the Lord’s.

Verse 27

1Co 10:27

1 Corinthians 10:27

If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast,— The Christian was not forbidden to retain his friendship among the heathen, nor was he forbidden association with them.

and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.—[If a heathen friend should ask him to a meal in a private house and not in a sacri­ficial feast in an idol temple, he was not to trouble himself to ask whether the meat that was served was a part of the idol sacrifice, for such a dining was in no sense an act of worship.]

Verses 27-30

1Co 10:27-30


1 Corinthians 10:27-30

1 Corinthians 10:27 If any of them that believe not The unbelieving pagans or idolaters. This shows that a Christian is not required to break all social ties with those of the world, providing his association with them does not connect him with sin or in some way violate a principle of the Christian system. bid - Invite. you to a feast, If he invites you to eat with him. It seems certain in view of what he said in 1 Corinthians 8:10 that Paul here means a private meal in the home and not a public banquet in the idol’s temple. In the temple the meal would have been presumed by Christians (or at least many of them) to be in honor of the idol. And because of this presumption (even when the one eating in the temple knew better), eating in the idol’s temple was off limits for the Christian (1 Corinthians 8:10-12). and ye be disposed to go; - And you wish to go (Goodspeed). That is, if it is your desire to accept his invitation. whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. See note on v. 25.

1 Corinthians 10:28 But if any man say unto you, - It seems obvious that Paul means anyone who believed that it was wrong to eat meats sacrificed to idols ­ that is, this person must have believed that in some respect the eating of the sacrifice connected the eater with the worship of idols. Hence, I conclude that he was a weak brother. (It could have been, however, a pagan who would erroneously reason, "You Christians say that idols are nothing, and yet here you are eating meat sacrificed to our deities, the very eating of which is in full recognition of them as real entities." This would not, of course, be true of an in­ formed Christian. But how one could eat a sacrificed meat only as food, with no connotations of worship attached, would be even harder to explain to a pagan than it was to a weak Christian.) This is offered in sacrifice unto idols,--This has been offered in sacrifice (ASV). While the eating of the meat was not wrong per se, there are three situations covered by Paul in which it becomes wrong: (1) When it is being done in the context of worship (1 Corinthians 10:16-18); (2) when it is a violation of conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7); (3) when eating leads a weak brother to sin (1 Corinthians 8:13). Since the eating is here prohibited, one of these three situations must obtain. I think (while the other two are not totally absent) the context leaves no doubt but that it is the third. eat not for his sake that shewed it, Let it alone, on account of the man who told you (Goodspeed). That is, refrain from eating out of consideration for the one who warned you that it was sacrifice meat. and for conscience sake: - The conscience of him who pointed this out (1 Corinthians 10:29), not that of the eater. for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof: Omitted by most modern translations for lack of sufficient textual support. It may have been inserted from v. 26 (see notes there) by an early copier.

1 Corinthians 10:29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: I mean his conscience, not yours (Williams). This has reference to 1 Corinthians 10:27-28 where one has been invited to a feast and while eating the meat is informed by a weak brother that it has been sacrificed to idols. The guest has no scruples about eating it (he was eating what was set before him with no questions asked), but he was to refrain from further eating out of respect for the weak brother’s conscience (1 Corinthians 10:28). for why is my He puts himself in the place of the guest who was warned about the meat. liberty judged of another man’s conscience? - Why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience (NASV)? One’s liberty should not be judged (that is, the practice of his liberty should not be condemned) by another man’s conscience, but it often is (and it will continue to be so as long as there are weak Christians), but I doubt that Paul is here defending his freedom, as many commentators think. It seems to me that he raises a rhetorical question (and another one in v. 30) but leaves his readers to supply the answer from 1 Corinthians 10:31. Why should his actions be regulated by another’s conscience? Because his highest desire was to glorify God - to use his liberty for God’s glory rather than to satisfy personal appetites. To use his freedom in such a way as to violate the conscience of another would not be to God’s glory.

1 Corinthians 10:30 For if I by grace be a partaker, If I partake with thankfulness (ASV). While visiting in homes for a I am often asked by the host to "say grace for the food." What he means is to thanks for it. This is Paul’s meaning. He is expressing the manner by which he (substituting himself for the guest at a feast who is informed that the meat he is eating has been sacrificed to idols, 1 Corinthians 10:28-29) received the meat, namely, with gratitude to God (cf. Romans 14:6). He is recognizing God, not idols, as the source of all things. why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Why should I let myself be denounced for eating what I thank God for (Beck)? This is a second rhetorical question, requiring the same answer as the first (see note on 1 Corinthians 10:29). While the meat was holy (because it had been received with thanksgiving, 1 Timothy 4:4), he could not eat it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) because of what this exercise of liberty would do to his weak brother.

Verse 28

1Co 10:28

1 Corinthians 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:—If a fellow Christian, one of the weak brethren, being scrupulous himself about such things, thinks that he ought to warn the other of what he chances to know, he is not to eat.

Verse 29

1Co 10:29

1 Corinthians 10:29

conscience, I say, not thine own, but the others;—Not for the sake of his own conscience, which could eat without injury, knowing that the idol is nothing; but for the sake of the weak brother or the unbeliever who sits at meat with him. He is not to eat lest the weak brother be encouraged to eat in worship to the idol.

for why is my liberty judged by another conscience?—Why should he make such a use of his liberty as to give offense when no good end will be served by his eating?

Verse 30

1Co 10:30

1 Corinthians 10:30

If I partake with thankfulness, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?—In this Paul seeks to in­duce the strong to respect the scruples of the weak. They might eat of sacrificial meat at private tables with freedom, so far as they themselves were concerned; but why, he asks, should they do it so as to give offense, and cause the weak to stumble and speak evil of them?

Verse 31

1Co 10:31

1 Corinthians 10:31

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.—All that Christians do should be done to the glory of God, and his glory is never enhanced by our destroying his weak children to gratify ourselves. Jesus pleased not himself, but gave up all to save men and so glorify God. He is our great exemplar. We must glorify God by sacrificing self for the good of others.

Verses 31-33

1Co 10:31-33


1 Corinthians 10:31-33

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, --This is the conclusion toward which he has been building. Every action, whether it is to eat, drink, work, play, serve, worship, communicate, or study is to be an act that glorifies God. The whole of life must be devoted to doing His will. Although the guest of this context (1 Corinthians 10:28-30) had the liberty to eat what was set before him and the weak did not have the right to force the conviction of his conscience upon another (Romans 14), he could not exercise his liberty to the glory of God after the weak brother informed him that the meat had been a sacrificial offering to idols. To eat it with the knowledge he now had would violate the weak brother’s conscience. This he could not do and still honor God in the eating. He thus refrained, not because of his own conscience but because of the conscience of the weak brother. It was the right thing to do in this situa­ tion. do all to the glory of God. - God is glorified when man does right; He is dishonored when he does wrong. This can be illustrated by two sons. Each was about 23 years old. One was a thief; the other a deputy sheriff. The thief was caught; the deputy was among the law enforcement officers who apprehended him with a vast amount of stolen goods. The thief was arrested and put in prison; the deputy was honored (the sheriff said he was the greatest asset that had ever happened to the sheriff’s department in that county). Now the parents became indirectly involved. Those of the thief were covered with hurt and shame; those of the deputy with pride and honor. The thief had done wrong and brought shame and sorrow to his parents; the deputy had done right and brought honor and delight to his. (I can personally testify as to the honor brought to the parents of the deputy, for he was my son.) So it is with God and His people. When they follow the principle of doing all things to His glory they bring honor to Him and to His cause. This means that they must do right, fill their creative purpose, in all things. Because man is a creature of God, his supreme duty is to live for God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This is his fundamental reason for being. To fail to fill the purpose for which one is made is to dishonor God by violating a trust, by dethroning Him (to replace God with self as the ruler of his life), by despising Scriptural morality and ethics, and by polluting the holy. We are the Lord’s (Romans 14:7-9) and everything we do must be done for Him, for His glory, either directly or indirectly (1 Peter 4:11).

1 Corinthians 10:32 Give none offence, - That is, give offence to no one, believer or unbeliever. Or to say it another way, do not put an occasion of stumbling (in indifferent matters) in anyone’s path over which he may trip and fall into sin. We are to try to save people from sin, not cause them to fall into it. neither to the Jews, - The Jews in general, not believing Jews, since they are given as an additional class in the church of God, which would embrace all believers, both Jews and Greeks. nor to the Gentiles, - Greeks or all unbelieving non-Jews. Members collectively or individually. Paul means by this term all the people of God (1 Timothy 3:15; John 3:5; Galatians 3:26-27). God has no adopted (that is, born-again) children outside His family and His family, in the NT sense, is the church. The modern religious world does not mean by the church what Paul meant. They use a Bible term, but use it to describe something (denominationalism or a fragment of it) that is unknown to the Scriptures. But if they spoke as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11), that is, call Bible things by Bible names, they would speak themselves out of existence. The Bible knows absolutely nothing of a Christian outside the church or a church that is not made up of all Christians.

1 Corinthians 10:33 Even as I please all men in all things, - He himself is an example for them to follow in giving no offence (1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). He freely sacrificed his own liberties for the benefit of others. This verse is concerned only with indifferent things. When it came to the gospel message which he proclaimed, he could not and would not bend to the right or to the left for any man, not even for another apostle or those who seemed to be pillars in the church (Galatians 1:10; Galatians 2:5-16). not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, - See 1 Corinthians 10:24 and the note there. that they may be saved. - So that he might be an instrument in their salvation rather than in their condemnation.

Verse 32

1Co 10:32

1 Corinthians 10:32

Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God:—The Christian is to do nothing that encourages a Jew or Gentile to remain in sin, and to stay away from God, or that would lead the weakest mem­ber of the household of faith to stumble or go into sin. [Love to God and love to men should govern all our conduct.]

Verse 33

1Co 10:33

1 Corinthians 10:33

even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many,—As showing how far this method of action may rightly be carried, Paul’s own course is given as an example for them to follow. [He sacri­ficed his personal comfort, and personal liberty of action; but he never sacrificed any important principle, or compromised the liberty of others. (Galatians 2:5). With him to please others is what he chose in love to do instead of pleasing himself; he did not sacrifice to it the pleasing of God. We may also be liberal with that which is our own to give. When Peter, in becoming as a Jew to the Jews (Galatians 2:11-14), abandoned his previous habit of eating with Gentile converts, he both made a serious compromise of principle and went far to impose the burden of the law upon those who were free from it. Hence Paul’s rebuke.]

that they may be saved.—The chief consideration with Paul was to save men and honor God. In this he was following in the footsteps of Jesus, who gave up heaven with the glory he had with the Father, and came to earth, and suffered and died to save men. Paul drank of the same spirit, was willing to suffer the loss of all things of earth, and make himself the ser­vant of all if thereby he might save men.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/1-corinthians-10.html.
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