Tuesday, June 6th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible Coke's Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tcc/ 1-corinthians-10.html. 1801-1803.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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1 Corinthians 10:1. Moreover, brethren,— It seems, from what is said in this chapter, as if the Corinthians had told St. Paul that the temptations and constraints they were under, of going to their heathen neighbours' feasts upon their sacrifices, were so many and so great, that there was no avoiding it; and therefore they might go to them without any offence to God, or danger to themselves. To which St. Paul answers, that eating of things which were known and acknowledged to be offered to idols, was partaking in the idolatrous worship; and therefore they were to prefer even the danger of persecution to such a compliance; for God would find a way for them to escape, 1 Corinthians 10:1-22. See Locke.
I would not that ye, &c.— St. Paul had just before expressed his ideas of the possibility of becoming a castaway, even under the highest dispensations of religion: here, he endeavours to excite in the Corinthians a sense of their danger in this respect, by reminding them that the Jewish, as well as the Christian church, had received great tokens of divine favour. Such were to the Jews their passage through the Red Sea, under the conduct of the miraculous cloud, Exodus 13:0 and their supernatural sustenance in the wilderness. Such, and analogous to these, are the Christian sacraments. As the former did not secure the Jew from apostacy, so neither will the latter the Christian. By baptized unto Moses, the Apostle means, "initiated into that kind of purification, which is proper to the law," here called Moses; as the Gospel-state is often expressed by the name of Christ, and the state of depraved nature by the name of Adam. See Heylin, and the next note.
1 Corinthians 10:2. And were all baptized unto Moses— The Apostle is here warning the Corinthians against the commission of some vices, from too great a dependance on their Christian privileges. And this he does by reminding them of the Israelites; many of whom, though they enjoyed similar privileges, yet by their sins fell under the displeasure of God. The like expression is used by our Apostle in speaking of Christian baptism, Gal 3:27 where he says, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ;" which in Act 8:16 is expressed by "being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus," that is, into his doctrine. Moses was a legislator appointed by God to introduce a new institution of his worship among the Jews. And in this respect, Hebrews 3:0 he is compared with Christ, though in a lower degree, as the Christian institution is of a more excellent and spiritual nature. Wherefore as baptism is the initiatory ordinance of the Christian profession, and the Israelites, at their passage through the Red Sea, were entering upon their new establishment, under the conduct of Moses; the Apostle calls what then happened to them, in a similar manner, by the word baptism. The character of legislator is given only to Christ and Moses, as each of them promulged a divine institution, though in many respects of a very different nature. And therefore persons were never baptized in the name of any other divine instructor. Hence the Apostle puts this question to the Corinthians, ch. 1 Corinthians 1:13. "Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" Some propose to read, All, even to Moses; that is to say, all, not excepting Moses, were baptized. See Heinsius, Ward, &
1 Corinthians 10:3-4. Spiritual meat—spiritual drink— It is not necessary to understand by the same meat and drink,—the same by which genuine Christians are supported; for that could not properly be said of any Israelites who were not true believers: but the meaning is, that they all, good and bad, shared the same miraculous supply of food and drink, which was πνευματικον, signifying somewhat spiritual. It is observable, that St. Paul, speaking of the Israelites, uses the word all five times in the compass of the foregoing verses; besides that, he carefully says the same meat, and the same drink, which we cannot suppose to be done by chance; but emphatically to signify to the Corinthians, (who probably presumed too much upon their baptism, and eating of the Lord's supper, as if that would recommend them to God) that though the Israelites, all to a man, ate the very same spiritual food, and drank the very same spiritual drink, yet they were not all to a man preserved; but many of them, notwithstanding, sinned, and fell under the avenging hand of God in the wilderness. The Jews have a tradition, that the water which issued from the rock in Horeb, Exo 17:6 followed the Israelites through the wilderness: it has been objected, however, that this stream did not constantly follow them; for in that case they would have had no temptation to have murmured for want of water, as we know they did at Kadesh in the circumstances so fatal to Moses; nor would they have had any occasion to buy water of the Edomites, as they proposed to do, Deuteronomy 2:6. To this Mr. Mede replies, That perhaps the streams from the first rock at Rephidim failed, for a further trial of their faith; and at Kadesh God renewed the like wonder: but that, likewise, might probably fail, when they came into the inhabited country of the Edomites, which was not till near the end of their wanderings. But it should be observed, that the Apostle does not speak of the real, but the spiritual rock; namely, Christ; whom that rock in the wilderness signified. The word was frequently bears this import; and instances of the like use of it every where abound in Scripture. This rock was indeed a striking representation of Christ, the rock of ages, the sure foundation of his people's hopes; from whom they derive those streams of blessings, whichfollow and minister to them through all this wilderness of mortal life, and will end, for every faithful soul, in rivers of pleasure at the right hand of God for ever. See Locke, Hammond, and Mede's Diatrib. on the place.
1 Corinthians 10:5. But with many of them— But with the greater part of them.
1 Corinthians 10:6. Evil things— The fault of the Israelites here referred to seems to be, their longing after flesh, Numbers 11:0 which cost many of them their lives; and therefore that which he guards the Corinthians against must be, their great propensity to the pagan feasts upon their sacrifices. See Psalms 78:30-31. Locke and Clarke.
1 Corinthians 10:7. To play— Παιζειν signifies to dance: feasting and dancing usually accompanied the heathen sacrifices. See Hammond, Whitby, and Elsner.
1 Corinthians 10:8. Neither let us commit fornication— This was common at the many idolatrous feasts among the heathen; and it was the more proper for the Apostle to caution these Christians against it, as it was proverbially called "the Corinthian practice." See the Introduction to and Inferences on ch. 1.
1 Corinthians 10:9. Neither let us tempt Christ— To tempt signifies to disbelieve, after tokens sufficient to command our faith, and engage our obedience through grace. Though the word him be not in the second clause, (some of them also tempted) it seems plainly to be implied.
1 Corinthians 10:10. Of the destroyer— The Jews generally interpret this of him, whom they stile "The danger of death," under the name of Sammael. See Exodus 12:23.Hebrews 11:28; Hebrews 11:28. Locke and Hammond.
1 Corinthians 10:11. Now all these things happened, &c.— It is to be observed, that all these instancesmentionedbytheApostle, of the destruction which came upon the Israelites, who were in covenant with God, and partakers of those typical sacraments, were occasioned by their luxurious appetites about meat and drink, and by fornication and idolatry; sins to which the Corinthians had a great propensity, and against which he therefore the more carefully guards them. Τελη αιωνων, rendered the ends of the world, properly signifies the ends of the ages: that is, the concluding age, or the last dispensation of God to mankind; which we must assuredly conclude that it is, if we believe the Gospel to be true. See Locke.
1 Corinthians 10:13. Common to man, &c.— 'Ανθωπινος,— which may signify, proportionable to human strength, as well as frequent to human creatures. God encourages his people to hope for his presence and help in pressing danger. See ch. 1 Corinthians 1:9. Doddridge and Mintert.
1 Corinthians 10:16. The cup of blessing, &c.— The Jews used to conclude the feast whereon the paschal lamb was eaten, with a cup of wine. This they called the cup of blessing, and the cup of praising, because at the time of drinking it, they sung a hymn of praise. We should likewise recollect, that in the early ages of the world, when victims made so great a part of the religion, not only of the Jews, but even of the Gentiles, the sacrifice was followed by a religious feasting on the thing which had been offered; the partakers whereof were supposed to become partakers of the benefits of the sacrifice. Well, therefore, might theApostle argue against the Corinthians, who ate of the sacrifices of the Gentiles, and communicated with the Christians, as in the verse before us; whence we may collect, that the cup of blessing, &c. is not merely a general commemoration of Christ's death and passion; it is the spiritual communion of the blood of Christ. See Cudworth on the Sacrament.
1 Corinthians 10:17. For we, being many, &c.— This verse is still a further proof that the cup of blessing, &c. is not, as some would urge, merely a commemoration of a deceased benefactor; but a commemoration of Christ's death and passion. In this verse the Apostle alludes to the Jewish custom of having but one loaf at the passover, which was not divided, till broken in order to be distributed, he says, therefore, that the partaking of one bread, made the receivers of many to become one body:—A just inference, according to the idea that we have affixed to this rite; for then the communion of the body and blood of Christ helps to unite the spiritual and sincere receivers into one body, by an equal distribution of one common benefit; or, in the elegant words of the liturgy of the church of England, "Then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us."
1 Corinthians 10:21. Ye cannot drink the cup, &c.— There still remains one more sense of the Lord's supper, which is, that it was a foederal rite or covenant: this is grounded upon the Apostle's reasoning in this and the preceding verses: "Those who eat of the sacrifices, says he, are partakers of the altar: 1 Corinthians 10:18." Now a sacrifice at the altar, was a foederal rite or covenant; consequently the feast upon that sacrifice, became a foederal rite and covenant likewise. It is easy to shew that the demons were considered as present at the heathen sacrifices, and as partakers with the worshippers inthe common feast; and that by these means friendship, brotherhood, and familiarity, were imagined to be contracted between them, because they all ate at one table, and sat down at one board. The Lord's table, and the table of devils, therefore, being both foederal rites or covenants, the same person could not be a partaker of both; because no man can execute two foederal rites or covenants which mutually destroy each other. See Cudworth's "True notion of the Lord's supper," ch. 1 and 5 Elsner and Lowman's Heb. Ritual, p. 54.
1 Corinthians 10:22. Do we provoke the Lord, &c.?— This alludes to the idea under which idolatry is represented as a kind of spiritual adultery, which moved the jealousy of God; though every deliberate sin is, in effect, a daring of his omnipotent vengeance. See Doddridge and Locke.
1 Corinthians 10:23.— The Apostle here proceeds with another argument against things offered to idols, wherein he shews the danger which might be in it, from the scandal it might give, supposing the thing lawful in itself. He had formerly treated on this subject, (ch. 8) so far as to let them see, that there was no good or virtue in eating things offered to idols, notwithstanding they knew that idols were nothing, and they might think their free eating without scruple shewed that they knew their liberty in the Gospel,—that idols were in reality nothing, and therefore they slighted and disregarded them and their worship as nothing; but the Apostle informs them, that there might be great evil in eating,—by the offence it might give to weak Christians, who had not that knowledge. He here takes up the argument of offence again, and extends it to Jews and Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 10:32; shewing that it is not enough to justify us in any action, that the thing we do is in itself lawful, unless we seek in it the glory of God, and the good of others, 1 Corinthians 10:23, to ch. 1 Corinthians 11:1.
All things— The word all is here to be limited to such things as are the subject of the Apostle's discourse; and his meaning is,—"Supposing all these things be lawful; supposing it lawful to eat things offered unto idols; yet things that are lawful are not expedient: all things that are lawful for me, may not tend to the edification of others, and so ought to be forborne." See Locke and Doddridge.
1 Corinthians 10:24. Let no man seek his own— This precept cannot be taken in a strict and literal sense, but should be interpreted comparatively, so as to understand the Apostle as exhorting them not to seek their own advantage entirely, or not so much as that of others. Mr. Locke's paraphrase is, "No one must seek barely his own private particular interest alone, but let every one seek the good of others also."
1 Corinthians 10:25. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles— Herodotus informs us, that the Egyptians, when they had cut off the head of the victim, used to carry the carcase to market, and sell it to the Greeks, if they could find any to purchase; if not, they threw it into the river, judging it unlawful to eat it themselves. Though the Grecian priests had no such scruples, yet, as they had often more flesh of the sacrifices than they and their families could consume, it was natural for them to take this method of disposing of it to advantage; and at times of extraordinary sacrifice, it is probable the neighbouring markets might be chiefly supplied from their temples. See Doddridge and Raphelius.
1 Corinthians 10:26. For the earth is the Lord's, &c.— For as God is the great Creator, Proprietor, and Disposer, sovereign Lord and Governor of the whole earth, and of all its fruits and products, (Psalms 24:1.) so he has given them for the service of men; and all their rich variety, for necessity and chaste delight, are sanctified to the believer's use; insomuch, that he may lawfully eat of them under the Gospel dispensation, which has abolished the ceremonial distinctions of them, that were of a typical nature under the law, (see 1Ti 4:4) and in which Christ, as Mediator, is Lord of all.
1 Corinthians 10:29. For why is my liberty judged of— Some think that the meaning is, "Why should I use my liberty so, as to offend the conscience of any?"—Others think it is an objection in the mouth of the Corinthians, and to be thus understood: "But why should I suffer myself to be thus imposed upon, and receive law from any, where Christ has left me free?" Rather, perhaps, this and 1Co 10:30 are to be considered as comingin by way of parenthesis, to prevent the Corinthians from extending the former caution beyond what the Apostle designed by it; as if he had said, "as to what immediately lies between God and my own soul, why is my liberty to be judged, arraigned, and condemned at the bar of another man's conscience?—I am not in such cases to govern myself by the judgment and apprehension of others; nor have they any authority to judge or censure me for not concurring with them in their own narrow notions and declarations." See Doddridge, Locke, and Whitby.
1 Corinthians 10:30. For, if I, &c.— For, if I eat or partake with thanksgiving.
1 Corinthians 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat— "Therefore on the whole, to conclude this discourse, since no one particular rule can be laid down to suit all the diversities of temper and apprehension which may arise; instead of uncharitable contentions with each other, or any thingwhich looks like mutual contempt, let us take all the pains we can to meet as in the centre of real religion. See to it then, that whether ye eat or drink, or whatever else ye do, in the common as well as sacred actions of life, ye do all to the glory of God; pursuing the credit of the Gospel, and the edification of the church, that God may be honoured in the happiness of his creatures, and more universallyacknowledged as the author of all good." See Doddridge, and more on this subject in the Inferences.
1 Corinthians 10:32. Neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles— As these are both opposed to the church of God, it is reasonable to conclude, that the Apostle speaks of unconverted Jews and Greeks, and refers to the danger there might be of prejudicing them against Christianity, by the indulgencies against which he cautions them. See Doddridge, Calmet, and on the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 10:1.
Inferences.—The design of the Apostle in this chapter is, to press upon Christians the great obligations they are under to walk worthy of their holy vocation; to be solicitous above all things to promote the glory of God, and the salvation of man; to bring over unbelievers to the acknowledgment of the truth, and to prevent, as far as possible, those who believe from being offended and discouraged in their duty, or by any means tempted and seduced into sin.
The greatest temptation in the Apostle's days was, that of relapsing into idolatry; either directly into gross acts of this sin, through fear of persecution; or consequentially into the snare of a defiled conscience, by presumptuously misunderstanding the true bounds of what was lawful and innocent. Against both these he exhorts the Corinthians in the chapter before us,—against falling into direct idolatry through fear of persecution, he cautions them, 1Co 10:13-21 against the next danger,—the falling consequentially into the snare of a defiled conscience, by presumptuously misunderstanding the true bounds of what is lawful and innocent,—he cautions them in the remaining part of the chapter.
The words contained in the 31st verse, hold forth a doctrine of the highest importance in religion. By the glory of God is originally meant, 1. His essence, person, or majesty. 2. The manifestation of his perfections or attributes in the external exercise of them towards his creatures. And hence, 3. The return and acknowledgment which his creatures make again to God, for this manifestation of his goodness to them.
To give glory to God, is to promote his honour in the world, or to contribute what we can towards the keeping up in our own and all men's minds a just sense of him, and a regard to him. And this is done particularly by worshipping him with constant and perpetually-returning acts of solemn public devotion:—By thanks particularly returned for special mercies or benefits received, whereby we profess our sense of God's being the author of them;—by the acknowledgment of his government and supreme dominion in the world;—by confession of past offences, with true humiliation, and a just sense of the unworthiness and ungratefulness of sin;—and by actual repentance and forsaking of sin, accompanied with real, constant, habitual amendment of heart and life. In short, whatever tends to the true honour of religion, and to the establishment of holiness, virtue, and goodness among men, this is one of those things which truly promote the glory of God.
Hence then we see what is required of men to practise, in the several cases and circumstances of life, in order to their satisfying the precept in question.—He that will in all things promote the glory of God, must not only be constant in acts immediately and directly religious; but he must also resolve, in the strength of divine grace, against being at any time guilty of any action which is irreligious. Whoever is sincerely desirous of doing all things to the glory of God, as he will be heartily sorry for all his own sins and offences, so he will really endeavour, as much as in him lieth, to prevent the sins of others. He will avoid every thing which may lead them into sin. He will set them an example of holiness and virtue in the practice of his own life: he will recommend to them, in his discourse upon all fair occasions, the excellency and the reasonableness of religion: he will rejoice to see virtue, righteousness, and universal love prevail and prosper in the world; will wish, with Moses, that all the Lord's people were prophets, and contribute all in his power towards enabling them to be such.
But further, in all great actions,—actions of moment in the main course of human life, though they may not be directly religious, he ought expressly to intend the glory of God, as his chief and main end: for whatever is therefore chosen from sincere and pure motives, because it tends to the promoting of holiness, virtue, and goodness, is in the Scripture sense done for the glory of God; and whatever is in like-manner avoided, because it has a tendency to evil, is avoided for the glory of God.
Now there is no considerable action in any man's life, no action of consequence and importance in the world, but which, even though it has not any direct relation to religion, yet some way or other has, on the whole, a tendency to promote the cause of virtue or of vice. Such, for instance, is a man's choosing his profession, or manner of life in the world. Whatever profession,—though not directly unlawful,—leads men into many and strong temptations to sin, will always, if possible, be avoided by a man who is sincerely desirous of doing all things to the glory of God. Every innocent profession may equally and indifferently be chosen by any good man; but yet, even in that choice, his main and ultimate end will be the exercise of right and truth. Profit, reputation, and the like, may very innocently and very justly be aimed at, by men in any business or employment whatever; but then these things must always be desired, with a due subordination to the interests of holiness and virtue, which is the glory of God, and the only true and final happiness of men.—Whoever, in the great lines and main course of his life, aims merely or principally at worldly ends,—in the attainment of those ends, he has his peculiar, his only reward.
Once more, as in all great actions a good Christian ought actually, so in all, even the smallest and most inconsiderable actions of life, he ought habitually to intend the glory of
God. The royal prophet, in Psalms 148:2; Psa 148:14 represents all, even the irrational, nay, the very inanimate creatures, as glorifying God by fulfilling his word, by acting regularly according to the nature that he had given them. Much more then may even the most common actions of men be justly said to be done to the glory of God, when they are done, from gracious principles, decently and soberly, regularly and innocently, as becomes Christians,—such as have upon their minds, even when they are not directly thinking of it, an habitual regard to God and religion. In a journey, to a diligent man, and one whose mind is really bent upon his journey's end, every thing he does, as well as his actual travelling, tends truly to the same end. His rest, and sleep, his stops and refreshments, nay, his very digressions, still tend uniformly towards enabling him to arrive at his intended home. And thus likewise, in the course of a religious life, to a man sincerely virtuous and truly holy, every action of his life promotes the glory of God; every thing he does, is sanctified by a habit of piety; his worldly business and employments, by justice and charity running uniformly through all the parts of it;—the common actions of his life by decency and inoffensiveness, and all his relaxations by genuine simplicity and right intention. In a word, whatever he is doing, he still always habitually remembers the end; and therefore, while in this spirit, through the grace of God, he never does amiss.
The uses naturally arising by way of reflection from what has been said, are as follow:
1. We may learn hence, how severe a reproof those persons justly deserve, who, far from doing all things, as the Apostle directs, to the glory of God, do on the contrary, by profaneness, unrighteousness, and debauchery, directly dishonour him whom they profess to serve; bringing a reproach and infamy upon our most holy religion, and causing the name of God and the doctrine of Christ to be, through their means, blasphemed in the world.
2. Those deserve, in the next place, to be rebuked sharply, who, though they do not dishonour God by acts directly irreligious, yet are careless and negligent in matters of religion: not much regarding whether truth or error prevails in the world; not being solicitous to do honour to their religion, and to promote the spreading of the Gospel of Christ, by shewing its reasonableness, by preserving its simplicity and purity, and by exhibiting its beauty to all mankind.
3. After these, such are the objects of censure, who have indeed a zeal for religion, but not according to knowledge; placing the main stress of religion in forms and ceremonies unworthy of God, or in opinions and notions, which either through their obscurity, or their disagreement with the everlasting Gospel and the divine perfections, hinder instead of promoting the glory of God.
4. Even the best of men have need to be admonished and put in remembrance, that they stir up the gift of God which is in them, that so they may be more and more diligent in all their actions, to do every thing to the glory of God; not with a superstitious anxiety, or a burdensome preciseness in things of little moment, but with a cheerful application of every occurrence of life to the promoting of truth and right, of holiness and virtue among men:—Rejoicing in the glory of God, and in the establishment of his kingdom of righteousness, as that wherein consists the happiness of mankind, both in this world, and in that which is to come.
Lastly, we may learn hence to comfort and satisfy the minds of weak Christians, who, not having a right notion what the glory of God is, are not able to assure themselves that they are true promoters of it.—A Christian's duty, of doing all things to the glory of God, signifies plainly and simply this—"That he ought always to prefer the interests of religion, holiness, and virtue, and to promote and establish them in himself and in the minds of his fellow-creatures, at all times and in all places, before all worldly considerations whatsoever."
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Apostle returns to the subject of eating the sacrifices offered to idols.
1. He reminds the Corinthians of the distinguished privileges, and fatal overthrow of the Israelites in the wilderness. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, led by divine protection, covered from the heat by day, and cheered by the light of fire by night; preferred amid the watery walls, and safely traversing the ocean's bed; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea, sprinkled with some drops from the cloud; or from sprays of the dashing waves; and were all brought under the Mosaical law, as we by baptism are visibly admitted into the church of Christ, and devoted to his service: and did all eat the same spiritual meat, the manna which fell around their tents, the figure of Christ, the true bread which came down from heaven, on whom his believing people sacramentally feed to the end of time; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. Through all the desart the living streams gushed forth to slake their thirst; and that divine Redeemer, whom the rock, the fountain of living waters, and the streams from Lebanon prefigured—he, by his gracious presence, was in the midst of them, as he is still in the hearts of all his believing people. But, though all enjoyed these distinguishing privileges, with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness; and, for their disobedience and rebellions, were not suffered to enter into the land of promise, the type of the heavenly Canaan; but their carcases fell in the desart. Note; It is not outward privileges enjoyed, but inward grace possessed, which alone can bring us to the eternal inheritance, and the rest which remaineth for the people of God.
2. From their examples, the Apostle warns the Corinthians not to be secure, notwithstanding their distinguished privileges, lest, imitating their sins, they should be exposed to like punishment. (1.) He cautions them against the indulgence of their appetites. Dissatisfied with the manna, the Israelites lusted after flesh to eat. Against such luxury they must beware, and particularly avoid the idol feasts or sacrifices, which could not but have the most fatal consequences. Note; To please the palate, how many have plunged both body and soul into hell! (2.) He warns them against idolatry, such as the Israelites committed, when, having offered their sacrifices to the calf, they sat down to feast upon them, and, according to the heathen custom, rose up to dance around the calf, to do him honour; but they severely suffered for their abominations, Exodus 10:28. (3.) He admonishes them against fornication, such as the Jews committed with the daughters of Moab, and to which they were led at their idol feasts; the dire consequence of which was, that in one day three-and-twenty thousand were cut off by the immediate judgement of God. With such an instance of divine vengeance before them, they had need tremble for themselves in a city so abandoned to lewdness as Corinth was, knowing that none of their privileges could protect them, if they sinned, but that whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (4.) He warns them against all dishonourable distrust of the power and grace of Christ to carry them through their difficulties, remembering the vengeance inflicted upon those of old, who tempted and provoked God by their unbelief, Num 21:6 and were destroyed by the fiery serpents. Note; When unbelief prevails, then the old serpent, the devil, resumes his dominion over the soul. (5.) He cautions them against all discontent under their sufferings or trials, and to beware of those who would instigate them to murmur against him, and against the other ministers of Christ for what they delivered from him. Thus murmured the Israelites against Moses and Aaron, on account of the difficulties which they apprehended, and were destroyed by the angel's hand. These things were all recorded for the admonition of the church; and what befel God's professing people of old, should be a warning to us at present, who live under the last dispensation which God will ever grant, that, having their fearful punishment in view, we might avoid the like provocations. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth secure and immoveable, take heed lest, puffed up with high imaginations of his own sufficiency, he fall, as the Israelites did of old. Note; (1.) The falls of others should be our warnings. (2.) Distrust of ourselves, and dependance upon the power and grace of the Redeemer, are our great liability.
3. He encourages the truly pious among them, under all their trials, to trust and not be afraid. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man, such as you might expect from the world around; or such as is incident to human nature; or at least, none so grievous but you may well bear up under it. But however severe your temptations may be, God is faithful to his promises, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it; and if you trust in him, he will support you while it lasts, and in his good time give you deliverance from it; so that you shall neither be drawn into sin, nor faint under your sufferings. Note; (1.) We must not think our trials singular, and murmur, however severe they may be: others have felt the same before us. (2.) God's faithfulness to his promises should be the anchor of our hope. (3.) Our Redeemer is mighty; we may safely trust him. (4.) God knows best what afflictions we need, and how long we should be exercised with them. To him let us always refer ourselves, casting our care upon him.
2nd, From the foregoing premises the Apostle returns to urge the necessity of shunning idolatry, in its most distant approaches, knowing the dreadful consequences of it on the one hand, and the divine assistance promised on the other. He therefore, with warm affection, warns them as dearly beloved, to flee from idolatry; and, as to wise men, whether really possessed of spiritual wisdom, or vainly puffed up with their fancied high attainments, he appeals to them for the reasonableness of what he advanced.
1. He instances in the case of the Lord's supper. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? Do we not therein profess to hold communion with Christ in all his saving blessings? Do we not therein acknowledge our obligations to him, as bought with a price, to glorify him in our bodies and our spirits, which are his? The bread, or loaf, which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Does not our feeding upon it signify our communion with him who is the living bread? And do we not hereby profess our solemn devotedness to him, and union with each other? For we, being many, are one bread, as the different corns of wheat are moulded into one loaf, and intimately, united in one body, of which Christ is the living head; for we are all partakers of that one bread, feasting together upon the sacrifice of Christ, herein shadowed forth; partakers of all the benefits obtained by his one oblation once offered; and thereby united to him in love, and to one another.
2. The case is the same with regard to the Jewish sacrifices. Behold Israel after the flesh, in their observance of the ritual services; are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? When they feast upon the remainder of the peace-offerings, they profess communion with, and subjection to that God, on whose altar they offered their sacrifice.
3. He applies what he had said to the point in hand. What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is sacrificed to idols is any thing? No, I have declared the contrary, chap. 8: The idol is nothing, and the meat in its nature not altered. But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. The demons whom they worship, are wicked and fallen spirits, with whom, in these sacrifices, they maintain communion, and to whom they pay divine honours. And I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils, as by parity of reason, considering the foregoing cases, you must, if you feast with the idolaters on their sacrifices. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, the symbol of his blood, and the cup of devils, the libations consecrated to these daemons; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils; there is an utter inconsistency in such a conduct; Christ and Belial can have no communion. To feast, therefore, in idol temples, is to renounce Christianity, its sacraments, and privileges. Do we provoke the Lord Jesus to jealousy, by such idolatry, in direct opposition to his holy law? Exodus 20:3-5. Are we stronger than he? and do we defy the wrath of the Almighty? Surely destruction must be the consequence. Note; When we have to do with a jealous God, how careful should we be that no idol in our hearts, as well as no outward object of idolatry, rob him of his peculiar honour!
3rdly, The Apostle,
1. In general warns them against every abuse of their Christian liberty. All things are lawful for me, and these meats offered to idols are not thereby defiled; but all things are not expedient. There are circumstances, in which it would be duty to abstain from what is in its own nature innocent and indifferent: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not; and therefore, if eating these sacrifices gave offence to a weak brother, it would be then my duty to abstain, however clear I might be in the lawfulness of the thing. And this is a rule applicable to many other cases; therefore, generally, let it be your practice that no man seek his own will, humour, or benefit; but every man another's wealth, ready to deny himself, in order to promote the advantage and edification of others.
2. He shews in what particular instances the meat offered to idols might be safely eaten. (1.) If it was exposed in the public market to be sold, then they need not make any inquiries, for conscience sake, whence it came, but buy, and use it for common food. For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; and all the creatures are good, when used to his glory. (2.) If any heathen acquaintance bid you to a feast, and you have any inducement or obligation to go, whatever the table affords may be eaten without scruple; but if any person at the table suggests, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not, for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake, bearing your testimony thereby against all such impious honours offered to daemons, and keeping your conscience void of offence. For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; and he has provided sufficiency of other food, without our dishonouring him by the least thing which might seem to countenance idolatrous worship. Abstain for conscience sake, I say, not thine own, but of the other, who informed you, and might be grieved or stumbled by your example.
3. He answers an objection which might be raised. For why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? His conscience is not to be the rule of my conduct. For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? In answer, he replies, that the following rules must be applied to all particular circumstances. Some understand the Apostle, not as speaking in the person of an objector, but as declaring what he did in such a case; and intimating how imprudent it would be to give others occasion to pass a wrong judgement upon him; for however lawful it might be for him to eat the meat which had been offered to idols, yet he was, for the sake of his influence and usefulness, to take care, that his good might not be evil spoken of, Rom 14:16 and therefore he would abstain: two general rules he prescribes,
[1.] Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, making that the ultimate end of all your actions.
[2.] Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God. Do nothing which should grieve or stumble them; particularly, avoid the meat offered to idols, which the Jews abominated, and might prove a snare to the weaker Gentile converts. And what he recommended to them, he practised himself: even as I please all men in all things, as far as I lawfully can, not seeking mine own profit, humour, or inclination, but the profit of many, that they may be saved; solicitous, by every means, to win souls to the adored Redeemer, and to lead them in the ways of everlasting life.