Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 10

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

For (γαρ). Correct text, not δε. Paul appeals to the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness in confirmation of his statement concerning himself in 1 Corinthians 9:26 and as a powerful warning to the Corinthians who may be tempted to flirt with the idolatrous practices of their neighbours. It is a real, not an imaginary peril.

All under the cloud (παντες υπο την νεφελην). They all marched under the pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:19) which covered the host (Numbers 14:14; Psalms 95:39). This mystic cloud was the symbol of the presence of the Lord with the people.

Verse 2

Were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (παντες εις τον Μωυσην εβαπτισαντο εν τη νεφελη κα εν τη θαλασση). The picture is plain enough. The mystic cloud covered the people while the sea rose in walls on each side of them as they marched across. B K L P read εβαπτισαντο (causative first aorist middle, got themselves baptized) while Aleph A C D have εβαπτισθησαν (first aorist passive, were baptized). The immersion was complete for all of them in the sea around them and the cloud over them. Moses was their leader then as Christ is now and so Paul uses εις concerning the relation of the Israelites to Moses as he does of our baptism in relation to Christ (Galatians 3:27).

Verse 3

The same spiritual meat (το αυτο πνευματικον βρωμα). Westcott and Hort needlessly bracket to αυτο. Βρωμα is food, not just flesh. The reference is to the manna (Exodus 16:13) which is termed "spiritual" by reason of its supernatural character. Jesus called himself the true bread from heaven (John 6:35) which the manna typified.

Verse 4

For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them (επινον εκ πνευματικης ακολουθουσης πετρας). Change to the imperfect επινον shows their continual access to the supernatural source of supply. The Israelites were blessed by the water from the rock that Moses smote at Rephidim (Exodus 17:6) and at Kadesh (Numbers 20:11) and by the well of Beer (Numbers 21:16). The rabbis had a legend that the water actually followed the Israelites for forty years, in one form a fragment of rock fifteen feet high that followed the people and gushed out water. Baur and some other scholars think that Paul adopts this "Rabbinical legend that the water-bearing Rephidim rock journeyed onwards with the Israelites" (Findlay). That is hard to believe, though it is quite possible that Paul alludes to this fancy and gives it a spiritual turn as a type of Christ in allegorical fashion. Paul knew the views of the rabbis and made use of allegory on occasion (Galatians 4:24).

And the rock was Christ (η πετρα δε ην ο Χριστος). He definitely states here in symbolic form the preexistence of Christ. But surely "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" (Hofmann). He does mean that Christ was the source of the water which saved the Israelites from perishing (Robertson and Plummer) as he is the source of supply for us today.

Verse 5

With most of them (εν τοις πλειοσιν αυτων). "A mournful understatement," for only two (Caleb and Joshua) actually reached the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30-32). All the rest were rejected or αδοκιμο (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Were overthrown (κατεστρωθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of καταστρωννυμ, old compound verb, to stretch or spread down as of a couch, to lay low (Euripides), as if by a hurricane. Powerful picture of the desolation wrought by the years of disobedience and wanderings in the desert by this verb quoted from Numbers 14:16.

Verse 6

Were our examples (τυπο ημων εγενηθησαν). More exactly, examples for us (objective genitive ημων, not subjective genitive, of us). The word τυπο (our types) comes from τυπτω, to strike, and meant originally the mark of a blow as the print of the nails (John 20:25), then a figure formed by a blow like images of the gods (Acts 7:43), then an example to be imitated (1 Peter 5:3; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9), or to be avoided as here, and finally a type in a doctrinal sense (Romans 5:14; Hebrews 9:24).

To the intent we should not lust after (εις το μη εινα ημας επιθυμητας). Purpose expressed by εις with the articular infinitive το εινα and the accusative of general reference with επιθυμητας (lusters) in the predicate.

Verse 7

Neither be ye idolaters (μηδε ειδωλολατρα γινεσθε). Literally, stop becoming idolaters, implying that some of them had already begun to be. The word ειδωλολατρης seems to be a Christian formation to describe the Christian view. Eating τα ειδωλοθυτα might become a stepping-stone to idolatry in some instances.

Drink (πειν). Short form for πιειν, sometimes even πιν occurs (Robertson, Grammar, p. 204).

To play (παιζειν). This old verb to play like a child occurs nowhere else in the N.T., but is common in the LXX and it is quoted here from Exodus 32:6. In idolatrous festivals like that witnessed by Moses when he saw the people singing and dancing around the golden calf (Exodus 32:18).

Verse 8

Neither let us commit fornication (μηδε πορνευωμεν). More exactly, And let us cease practicing fornication as some were already doing (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 7:2). The connection between idolatry and fornication was very close (see Jowett, Epistles of Paul, II, p. 70) and see about Baal-Peor (Numbers 25:1-9). It was terribly true of Corinth where prostitution was part of the worship of Aphrodite.

In one day (μια ημερα). An item that adds to horror of the plague in Numbers 25:9 where the total number is 24,000 instead of 23,000 as here for one day.

Verse 9

Neither let us tempt the Lord (μηδε εκπειραζωμεν τον Κυριον). So the best MSS. instead of Christ. This compound occurs in LXX and in N.T. always about Christ (here and Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:12; Luke 10:25). Let us cease sorely (εκ-) tempting the Lord by such conduct.

And perished by the serpents (κα υπο των οφεων απωλλυντο). Vivid imperfect middle (cf. aorist middle απωλοντο in verse 1 Corinthians 10:10), were perishing day by day. The story is told in Numbers 21:6. The use of υπο for agent with the intransitive middle of απολλυμ is regular. Note the Ionic uncontracted genitive plural οφεων rather than οφων.

Verse 10

Neither murmur ye (μηδε γογγυζετε). Implying that some of them were murmuring. For this late picturesque onomatopoetic verb see on Matthew 20:11. The reference seems to be to Numbers 16:41 after the punishment of Korah.

By the destroyer (υπο του ολοθρευτου). This word, from ολοθρευω (late verb from ολεθρος, destruction) occurs only here, so far as known. The reference is to the destroying angel of Exodus 12:23 (ο ολοθρευων).

Verse 11

Now these things happened unto them (ταυτα δε συνεβαινον εκεινοις). Imperfect tense because they happened from time to time.

By way of example (τυπικως). Adverb in sense of τυπο in verse 1 Corinthians 10:6. Only instance of the adverb except in ecclesiastical writers after this time, but adjective τυπικος occurs in a late papyrus.

For our admonition (προς νουθεσιαν ημων). Objective genitive (ημων) again. Νουθεσια is late word from νουθετεω (see on Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) for earlier νουθετησις and νουθετια.

The ends of the ages have come (τα τελη των αιωνων κατηντηκεν). Cf. Hebrews 9:26 η συντελεια των αιωνων, the consummation of the ages (also Matthew 13:40). The plural seems to point out how one stage succeeds another in the drama of human history. Κατηντηκεν is perfect active indicative of κατανταω, late verb, to come down to (see on Acts 16:1). Does Paul refer to the second coming of Christ as in 1 Corinthians 7:26? In a sense the ends of the ages like a curtain have come down to all of us.

Verse 12

Lest he fall (μη πεση). Negative purpose with μη and second aorist active subjunctive of πιπτω.

Verse 13

Hath taken (ειληφεν). Perfect active indicative of λαμβανω.

But such as man can bear (ε μη ανθρωπινος). Except a human one. Old adjective meaning falling to the lot of man.

Above that ye are able (υπερ ο δυνασθε). Ellipsis, but plain. There is comfort in that God is faithful, trustworthy (πιστος).

The way of escape (την εκβασιν). "The way out" is always there right along with (συν) the temptation. This old word only here in N.T. and Hebrews 13:7 about death. It is cowardly to yield to temptation and distrustful of God.

Verse 14

Wherefore (διοπερ). Powerfully Paul applies the example of the Israelites to the perilous state of the Corinthians about idolatry. See on verse 1 Corinthians 10:7 for word ειδωλολατρεια.

Verse 15

As to wise men (ως φρονιμοις). No sarcasm as in 2 Corinthians 11:19, but plea that they make proper use of the mind (φρεν) given them.

Verse 16

The cup of blessing (το ποτηριον της ευλογιας). The cup over which we pronounce a blessing as by Christ at the institution of the ordinance.

A communion of the blood of Christ (κοινωνια του αιματος του Χριστου). Literally, a participation in (objective genitive) the blood of Christ. The word κοινωνια is an old one from κοινωνος, partner, and so here and Philippians 2:1; Philippians 3:10. It can mean also fellowship (Galatians 2:9) or contribution (2 Corinthians 8:4; Philippians 1:5). It is, of course, a spiritual participation in the blood of Christ which is symbolized by the cup. Same meaning for κοινωνια in reference to "the body of Christ."

The bread which we break (τον αρτον ον κλωμεν). The loaf. Inverse attraction of the antecedent (αρτον) to the case (accusative) of the relative (ον) according to classic idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 488). Αρτος probably from αρω, to join or fit (flour mixed with water and baked). The mention of the cup here before the bread does not mean that this order was observed for see the regular order of bread and then cup in 1 Corinthians 11:24-27.

Verse 17

One bread (εις αρτος). One loaf.

Who are many (ο πολλο). The many.

We all (ο παντες). We the all, the whole number, ο παντες being in apposition with the subject

we (ημεις unexpressed).

Partake (μετεχομεν). Have a part with or in, share in. See on 1 Corinthians 9:12; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 5:13 (partaking of milk).

Of the one bread (του ενος αρτου). Of the one loaf, the article του referring to one loaf already mentioned.

One body (εν σωμα). Here the mystical spiritual body of Christ as in 1 Corinthians 12:12, the spiritual kingdom or church of which Christ is head (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23).

Verse 18

After the flesh (κατα σαρκα). The literal Israel, the Jewish people, not the spiritual Israel (Ισραηλ κατα πνευμα) composed of both Jews and Gentiles, the true children of faith (Romans 2:28; Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:7).

Communion with the altar (κοινωνο του θυσιαστηριου). Same idea in κοινωνο participators in, partners in, sharers in (with objective genitive). The word θυσιαστηριον is from late verb θυσιαζω, to offer sacrifice, and that from θυσια, sacrifice, and that from θυω, common verb to slay, to sacrifice (verse 1 Corinthians 10:20). The Israelites who offer sacrifices have a spiritual participation in the altar.

Verse 19

A thing sacrificed to idols (ειδωλοθυτον). See on Acts 15:29; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:4.

Idol (ειδωλον). Image of a god. See on Acts 7:41; Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 8:7.

Verse 20

But I say that (αλλ' οτ). The verb φημ (I say) must be repeated from verse 1 Corinthians 10:19 before οτ.

To demons, and not to God (δαιμονιοις κα ου θεω). Referring to LXX text of Deuteronomy 32:17. It is probable that by ου θεω Paul means "to a no-god" as also in Deuteronomy 32:21 επ' ουκ εθνε (by a no-people). This is Paul's reply to the heathen who claimed that they worshipped the gods represented by the images and not the mere wood or stone or metal idols. The word δαιμονια is an adjective δαιμονιος from δαιμων, an inferior deity, and with same idea originally, once in this sense in N.T. (Acts 17:18). Elsewhere in N.T. it has the notion of evil spirits as here, those spiritual forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12) that are under the control of Satan. The word δαιμονια, so common in the Gospels, occurs in Paul's writings only here and 1 Timothy 4:1. Demonology is a deep and dark subject here pictured by Paul as the explanation of heathenism which is a departure from God (Romans 1:19-23) and a substitute for the worship of God. It is a terrible indictment which is justified by the licentious worship associated with paganism then and now.

Verse 21

Ye cannot (ου δυνασθε). Morally impossible to drink the Lord's cup and the cup of demons, to partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons.

Of the table of the Lord (τραπεζης Κυριου). No articles, but definite idea. Τραπεζα is from τετρα (four) and πεζα (a foot), four-footed. Here

table means, as often, what is on the table. See Luke 22:30 where Jesus says "at my table" (επ της τραπεζης μου), referring to the spiritual feast hereafter. Here the reference is plainly to the Lord's Supper (Κυριακον δειπνον, 1 Corinthians 11:20). See allusions in O.T. to use of the table in heathen idol feasts (Isaiah 65:11; Jeremiah 7:18; Ezekiel 16:18; Ezekiel 23:41). The altar of burnt-offering is called the table of the Lord in Malachi 1:7 (Vincent).

Verse 22

Provoke to jealousy (παραζηλουμεν). The very word used in Deuteronomy 32:21 of the insolence of the old Israelites. Quoted in Romans 10:19. Such double-dealing now will do this very thing.

Stronger than he (ισχυροτερο αυτου). Comparative adjective followed by the ablative.

Verse 23

See on 1 Corinthians 6:12 for

lawful (εξεστιν) and

expedient (συμφερε).

Edify not (ουκ οικοδομε). Build up. Explanation of

expedient (συμφερε).

Verse 24

Let no man seek his own (μηδεις το εαυτου ζητειτω). This is Paul's rule for social relations (1 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 6:2; Romans 14:7; Romans 15:2; Philippians 2:1) and is the way to do what is expedient and what builds up.

His neighbour's good (το του ετερου). Literally, "the affair of the other man." Cf. τον ετερον in Romans 13:8 for this idea of ετερος like ο πλησιον (the nigh man, the neighbour) in Romans 15:2. This is loving your neighbour as yourself by preferring your neighbour's welfare to your own (Philippians 2:4).

Verse 25

In the shambles (εν μακελλω). Only here in N.T. A transliterated Latin word macellum, possibly akin to μαχερια and the Hebrew word for enclosure, though occurring in Ionic and Laconian and more frequent in the Latin. It occurs in Dio Cassius and Plutarch and in the papyri and inscriptions for "the provision market." Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 276) says: "In the Macellum at Pompeii we can imagine to ourselves the poor Christians buying their modest pound of meat in the Corinthian Macellum (1 Corinthians 10:25), with the same life-like reality with which the Diocletian maximum tariff called up the picture of the Galilean woman purchasing her five sparrows."

Asking no questions for conscience sake (μηδεν ανακρινοντες δια την συνειδησιν). As to whether a particular piece of meat had been offered to idols before put in the market. Only a part was consumed in the sacrifices to heathen gods. The rest was sold in the market. Do not be over-scrupulous. Paul here champions liberty in the matter as he had done in 1 Corinthians 8:4.

Verse 26

This verse gives the reason for Paul's advice. It is a quotation from Psalms 24:1 and was a common form of grace before meals.

Fulness (πληρωμα). Old word from πληροω, to fill, here that with which a thing is filled, whatever fills the earth.

Verse 27

Biddeth you (καλε υμας). To a general banquet, but not to a temple feast (1 Corinthians 8:10) which is prohibited. If a pagan invites Christians to their homes to a banquet, one is to act like a gentleman.

Verse 28

But if any man say unto you (εαν δε τις υμιν ειπη). Condition of third class. Suppose at such a banquet a "weak" brother makes the point to you: "This hath been offered in sacrifice" (τουτο ιεροθυτον εστιν). Hιεροθυτον, late word in Plutarch, rare in inscriptions and papyri, only here in N.T.

Eat not (μη εσθιετε). Present imperative with μη prohibiting the habit of eating then. Pertinent illustration to the point of doing what is expedient and edifying.

That shewed it (τον μηνυσαντα). First aorist active articular participle (accusative case because of δια) from μηνυω, old verb, to point out, to disclose. See Luke 20:37.

Verse 29

For why is my liberty judged by another conscience? (ινα τ γαρ η ελευθερια μου κρινετα υπο αλλης συνειδησεωσ;). Supply γενητα (deliberative subjunctive) after τ. Paul deftly puts himself in the place of the strong brother at such a banquet who is expected to conform his conscience to that of the weak brother who makes the point about a particular piece of meat. It is an abridgment of one's personal liberty in the interest of the weak brother. Two individualities clash. The only reason is love which builds up (1 Corinthians 8:2 and all of chapter 1 Corinthians 10:1). There is this eternal collision between the forces of progress and reaction. If they work together, they must consider the welfare of each other.

Verse 30

Paul carries on the supposed objective to his principle of love. Why incur the risk of being evil spoken of (βλασφημουμα) for the sake of maintaining one's liberty? Is it worth it? See Romans 14:6 where Paul justifies the conscience of one who eats the meat and of one who does not. Saying grace over food that one should not eat seems inconsistent. We have this very word blaspheme in English.

Verse 31

To the glory of God (εις δοξαν θεου). This is the ruling motive in the Christian's life, not just having his own way about whims and preferences.

Verse 32

Give no occasion of stumbling (απροσκοπο). Late word and in papyri, only three times in N.T. (here; Philippians 1:10; Acts 24:16). See on Acts 24:16. Here in active sense, not tripping others by being a stumbling-block, as in Sirach 32:21, but passive in Acts 24:16.

Verse 33

Mine own profit (το εμουτου συμφερον). Old word from συμφερω, to bear together, and explains use of verb in verse 1 Corinthians 10:23.

That they may be saved (ινα σωθωσιν). First aorist passive subjunctive of σωζω, to save, with ινα purpose clause with same high motive as in 1 Corinthians 9:22. This is the ruling passion of Paul in his dealings with men.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.