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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 10

Verse 1

1Co 10:1. The main lesson in several verses of this chapter, is that it is not enough just to get a good start in the service to Christ, but it must be followed by a faithful life to the end. Emphasis should be placed on the little word all in these verses. Since all of the fathers had the same start, whereas they did not all reach Canaan, the lesson mentioned is set forth. The fathers means the early ancestors of the Jewish nation who started from Egypt, to go toward the country that had been promised to Abraham and his descendants. The cloud was what guided them, and the sea was the Red Sea, through which all passed "without the loss of one."

Verse 2

1Co 10:2. Notice that both the cloud and the sea were required to accomplish the baptism. That is because the word means a complete burial or envelopment. The sea at their sides and the cloud over the top made a literal surrounding. They are said to have been baptized unto Moses because he was their leader, even as Jesus is the leader of Christians unto whom they are baptized.

Verse 3

1Co 10:3-4. The meat they ate was literal but had a typical or spiritual significance, because it had to be provided by miracle; it refers to the manna and quails recorded in Exodus 16. The drink also was literal water but had to be produced by miracle (Exo 17:6). The rock at Horeb from which the drinking water was drawn was a type of Christ who is the Rock of Ages.

Verse 5

1Co 10:5. For they were overthrown in the wilderness is stated as the proof that God was displeased with them.

Verse 6

1Co 10:6. These things refers to the judgments sent upon the Israelites, and they were to serve as punishments for them, and a warning for Christians not to lust after evil things as they lusted.

Verse 7

1Co 10:7. The idolatry referred to is recorded in Exodus 32. Verse 6 of that chapter says the people "rose up to play," which is the passage Paul quotes in our present verse. And verse 19 of the chapter in Exodus says when Moses came in sight, the people were dancing. The word play in our verse is from PAIZO which Thayer defines, "to play, sport, jest; to give way to hilarity," and he explains it to mean, "by joking, singing, dancing." It is significant that Paul connects idolatry with the playing, which we now have learned included dancing. That is a serious conclusion, and we are sure the idea is from the truth that in promiscuous dancing, the participants are devoted to the goddess of lust.

Verse 8

1Co 10:8. The case of fornication referred to is recorded in Numbers 25. The occasion of it was the failure of Balaam to curse Israel in his speeches. Afterward, however, he gave Balak some advice by which the men of Israel were induced to commit fornication with the girls of Moab; this is mentioned in Rev 2:14. The secular history of the event is recorded in Josephus, Antiquities, Book 4, Chapter 6, Sections 6-9. It was especially appropriate to warn the Corinthians against fornication, in view of the immorality that was so common in that city.

Verse 9

1Co 10:9. We know when this temptation took place by the fiery serpents that Paul mentions in connection with it. The case is in Num 21:5-6, and consisted in the complaints of the people "against God, and against Moses." Christ was not specifically known to the Israelites, but He was with God in all of the dealings with man. If Christians utter words of opposition against Christ, as those Israelites did against Moses and God, it is regarded as a temptation which Paul is warning against.

Verse 10

1Co 10:10. Murmur is from GOGGUZO, which Thayer defines, "to murmur, mutter, grumble, say anything in a low tone," and he explains it at this place to mean, "those who discontentedly complain." The instance Paul refers to is in Num 14:1-4. The word is used of members of the church who manifest an unfavorable attitude toward things in general, yet will not specify anything they can show to be unscriptural.

Verse 11

1Co 10:11. These things means the same as the phrase in verse 6, namely, the judgments sent on the Israelites for their sins. They were thus punished on account of their own deserts, and the account of them is written for the benefit of us who are living in the Christian Dispensation; we should profit by their mistakes and the punishment inflicted on them. Ends of the world. The last word is from AION and means "age." The word is plural, so the phrase means "the ends of the ages." God has given the world three ages or dispensations, and the Christian Dispensation is here declared to be the last one. The theory that Christ will come and set up another age (the Millennial age) is therefore false, and implies that Paul did not tell the truth here.

Verse 12

1Co 10:12. This verse is good general advice, appropriate for all people in all ages. No one is in as much danger of falling as the man who is too sure of himself. (Paul showed the opposite attitude in chapter 9:27.) The Corinthians were so puffed up over their spiritual gifts and other advantages; they had that overconfident feeling, so the admonition was peculiarly needed for them.

Verse 13

1Co 10:13. The Bible does not teach that God will do something for the salvation of one man that He will not, do for another under the same circumstances, therefore this verse does not justify the theory known as "Special Providence." The plan of salvation is completely offered in the New Testament (Col 2:10), and all of the human race have equal access to it. The other passages showing this truth are too numerous to be cited here. No miracle is promised as an escape from temptation that has not been provided for in the Gospel. If such a favor were intended by this passage, Paul certainly would not have written chapter 9:27, for he would have expected the Lord to provide such an escape for him that he should not become a "castaway." Will with the temptation, etc. In the management of the universe, if it is God's will to bring about some conditions that might be too trying for a Christian, then He will so regulate those conditions that nothing will be beyond the protection offered the Christian in the written Word.

Verse 14

1Co 10:14. Idolatry was frequently mingled with immorality, both of which were common in Corinth. In chapter 6:18 Paul exhorts the brethren to "flee" from the latter, and in this verse he urges the same action toward the former. To flee from a thing means more than merely not partaking; it means to run as from a poisonous adder.

Verse 15

1Co 10:15. The original for wise means one who is intelligent, a man who is capable of forming logical conclusions. Paul believed the Corinthian brethren were able to "see the point" in all of the present reasoning.

Verse 16

1Co 10:16. In chapter 8 Paul deals with the subject of meat that had been offered in sacrifie to idols. He shows that the mere eating of such meat was not wrong in itself, but that when it was used as a religious performance it constituted a form of idolatry; fellowship (or communion) with idols. On the same principle, to partake of the cup and bread in the Lord's Supper means to have fellowship with the blood and body of Christ. Note that Paul does not call the cup and bread "The Communion," as a familiar but careless saying puts it. In truth, the term is not to be found in a single passage in the New Testament, much less is it applied to the Lord's Supper which is only a part of the communion or general service to Christ under the Gospel system of salvation. Bless is from EULOGEO, and Thayer's first definition is, "to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers; to ask God's blessing on a thing," hence it does not mean to confer some miraculous quality on the cup and bread.

Verse 17

1Co 10:17. One bread means that Christians have only one use for bread as a religious act, and that is to represent the body of Christ that was given for the salvation of man. When it is partaken of for that purpose, all who do so are acting as sharers of the same blessing of salvation through Christ.

Verse 18

1Co 10:18. Ancient Israel not only offered certain articles in sacrifice upon the altar, but the roper ones ate of a part of those animals. In doing so they became participants of the altar service. On the same principle, when disciples eat of the bread in view of the body of Christ, they receive benefits of His body.

Verse 19

1Co 10:19. In chapter 8:4 Paul had said that an idol was "nothing," and yet he showed that if a man participated in the sacrifices offered to the idol, it made him guilty of a real sin, that of idolatry. In the present passage he sees that a wrong impression as to the importance of the idols, might have been made of his comparison to the body and blood of Christ. He wishes to prevent such an erroneous conclusion, which he does with this introductory question. It is as if he would say, "Do you think I have changed my mind, and am granting to the idols some important existence?"

Verse 20

1Co 10:20. In answer to the foregoing question, the apostle affirms that the beings to whom the Gentiles offer their sacrifices are only devils, a word coming from DAIMONION. Thayer defines the word, "a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men . . . evil spirits or the messengers and ministers of the devil." He then adds historically, "According to a Jewish opinion which passed over to the Christians, the demons are the gods of the Gentiles an the authors of idolatry." With this view of the subject in mind, the idolatrous worship is considered as fellowship with devils.

Verse 21

1Co 10:21. The thought of this verse is that people cannot be in fellowship with the Lord and with devils at the same time, which Christ taught in Mat 6:24.

Verse 22

1Co 10:22. To be jealous means to be fearful of losing something that may be obtained by another. Paul implies that men might give their devotion to idols and thereby cause God to be jealous, which would actually take place according to Exo 20:5. The Corinthians may not have been doing it for that purpose, but Paul shows them that their conduct implies it.

Verse 23

1Co 10:23. All things is said with regard to questions on which there is no specific legislation from the Lord, some of which will be considered soon. To be expedient means to be profitable; a thing might not be wrong, but if it would not benefit anyone it would not be expedient.

Verse 24

1Co 10:24. There is no original word for wealth. The verse means that no man should be selfish, but should seek to bring happiness to others.

Verse 25

1Co 10:25. The shambles was a market where they sold meat and other provisions of food. Meat that had been offered in service to idols was taken to these markets for sale. Paul means they need not have any conscientious scruples about partaking of food that might have been purchased at these markets.

Verse 26

1Co 10:26. All articles that are suitable for food have been created by the Lord and no restrictions need be made as to their use. The law of Moses did make some regulations against certain creatures, but that was for the purpose of ceremonial training and not because of any literal unfitness in them. That law passed away and now "every creature of God is good" (1Ti 4:4).

Verse 27

1Co 10:27. Them that believe not mean one's personal friends who are not members of the church. To a feast is not in the original but is implied by the rest of the verse. Asking no question means the same as the phrase in verse 25.

Verse 28

1Co 10:28. Eat not . . . for the earth is the Lord's, etc. See the comments on verse 26 for the last phrase. That phrase shows that it would be right in itself to eat of any food, yet he should not eat for the sake of one who thinks it is wrong.

Verse 29

1Co 10:29. Paul explains that it is the other man's conscience he means, not the one who would otherwise eat. For why, etc., means as if Paul said, "Why do I give you this instruction? Answer, because my liberty is to be controlled by the other man's conscience with reference to these un-legislated questions."

Verse 30

1Co 10:30. This verse means the same as the preceding one.

Verse 31

1Co 10:31. In regulating one's liberty on these matters of eating and drinking so as not to offend a weak brother, it will redound to the glory of God.

Verse 32

1Co 10:32. Give none offence means not to do anything that might cause another to stumble or sin. Some things would be regarded wrong in the eyes of the Jews that would not offend the Gentiles, and vice versa. Also, there might be matters on which neither would have any scruples as far as their nationality is concerned, yet would be objectionable to the brethren. Paul means for the disciples to have regard for the conscience of all these classes.

Verse 33

Verse 33. This is the same as 1Co 9:19-23.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.