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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
1 Corinthians 10



Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] γάρ joins to the preceding. He had been inculcating the necessity of self-subduing (ch. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and now enforces it in the particular departments of abstaining from fornication, idolatry, &c., by the example of the Jews of old.

οὐ θέλω, see reff.

οἱ πατ. ἡμῶν] He uses this expression, not merely speaking for himself and his Jewish converts, but regarding the Christian church as a continuation of the Jewish, and the believer as the true descendant of Abraham.

πάντες πάντες πάντες, each time with strong emphasis, as opposed to τοῖς πλείοσιν, 1 Corinthians 10:5. ALL had these privileges, as all of you have their counterparts under the Gospel: but most of them failed from rebellion and unbelief.

ὑπὸ τὴν νεφ. ἦσαν] The pillar of cloud, the abode of the divine Presence, went before them, and was to them a defence: hence it is sometimes treated of as covering the camp, e.g. Ps. 104:39, διεπέτασε νεφέλην εἰς σκέπην αὐτοῖς: and thus they would be under it. So also Wisdom of Solomon 10:17; Wisdom of Solomon 19:7,— ἡ τὴν παρεμβολὴν σκιάζουσα νεφέλη. See Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:20.

Verses 1-22

1–22.] He proceeds, in close connexion with the warnings which have just preceded, to set before them the great danger of commerce with idolatry, and enforces this by the example of the rebellions and rejections of God’s ancient people, who were under a dispensation analogous to and typical of ours (1–11); and by the close resemblance of our sacrament of the Lord’s Supper,—their eating of meats sacrificed,—and the same act among the heathen, in regard of the UNION in each case of the partakers in one act of participation. So that THEY COULD NOT EAT THE IDOL’S FEASTS WITHOUT PARTAKING OF IDOLATRY = VIRTUALLY ABJURING CHRIST (1 Corinthians 10:15-22).

Verse 2

2.] εἰς τ. ΄ωυς. ἐβαπτ., received baptism (lit. baptized themselves: middle, not passive, see var. read.) to Moses; entered by the act of such immersion into a solemn covenant with God, and became His church under the law as given by Moses, God’s servant,—just as we Christians by our baptism are bound in a solemn covenant with God, and enter His Church under the Gospel as brought in by Christ, God’s eternal Son: see Hebrews 3:5-6. Others (Syr., Beza) explain it ‘per Mosen,’ or (Calv., al.) ‘auspiciis Mosis,’ which εἰς will not bear,—not to mention that the formula βαπτίζω εἰς was already fixed in meaning, see reff.

ἐν τῇ ν. καὶ ἐν τῇ θ.] The cloud and the sea were both aqueous; and this point of comparison being obtained, serves the Apostle to indicate the outward symbols of their initiation into the church under the government of Moses as the servant of God, and to complete the analogy with our baptism. The allegory is obviously not to be pressed minutely: for neither did they enter the cloud, nor were they wetted by the waters of the sea; but they passed under both, as the baptized passes under the water, and it was said of them, Exodus 14:31, “Then the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and his servant Moses.” To understand, as Olsh., the sea and cloud, of water and the Spirit respectively, is certainly carrying the allegory too far: not to mention that thus the baptism by the Spirit would precede that by water.

Verse 3

3.] They had what answered to the one Christian sacrament, Baptism: now the Apostle shews that they were not without a symbolic correspondence to the other, the Lord’s Supper. The two elements in this Christian sacrament were anticipated in their case by the manna and the miraculous stream from the rock: these elements, in their case, as well as ours, symbolizing THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. The whole passage is a standing testimony, incidentally, but most providentially, given by the great Apostle to the importance of the Christian sacraments, as necessary to membership of Christ, and not mere signs or remembrances: and an inspired protest against those who, whether as individuals or sects, would lower their dignity, or deny their necessity.

βρῶμα πνευματικὸν κ. τ. λ.] The manna is thus called, from its being no mere physical production, but miraculously given by God—the work of His Spirit. Thus Isaac is called, Galatians 4:29, ὁ κατὰ πνεῦμα γεννηθείς, in opposition to Ishmael, ὁ κατὰ σάρκα γεννηθείς. Josephus calls the manna θεῖον βρῶμα καὶ παράδοξον, Antt. iii. 1. 6: and in Ps. 77:24, it is said ἄρτον οὐρανοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς.

We can scarcely avoid recognizing in these words a tacit reference to our Lord’s discourse, or at all events to the substanee of it,—John 6:31-58. “For the sense of πνευματικός, as ‘typical,’ ‘seen in the light of the spirit,’ cf. Revelation 11:8, ἥτις καλεῖται πνευματικῶς σόδομα.” Stanley.

Verse 4

4.] It is hardly possible here, without doing violence to the words and construction, to deny that the Apostle has adopted the tradition current among the Jews, that the rock followed the Israelites in their journeyings, and gave forth water all the way. Thus Rabbi Solomon on Numbers 20:2; “Per omnes quadraginta annos erat iis puteus” (Lightf.): and Schöttgen cites from the Bammidbar Rabba, “Quomodo comparatus fuit ille puteus (de quo Numbers 21:16)? Resp. Fuit sicut petra, sicut alveus apum, et globosus, et volutavit se, et ivit cum ipsis in itineribus ipsorum. Cum vexilla castra ponerent, et tabernaculum staret, illa petra venit, et consedit in atrio tentorii. Tunc venerunt Principes, et juxta illum steterunt, dicentes,’ Ascende, putee, &c.’ (Numbers 21:17) et ascendit.” See other testimonies in Schöttgen.

The only ways of escaping this inference are, (1) by setting aside the natural sense altogether, as Chrys. ( οὐ γὰρ ἡ τῆς πέτρας φύσις τὸ ὕδωρ ἠφίει, … ἀλλʼ ἑτέρα τις πέτρα πνευματικὴ τὸ πᾶν εἰργάζετο, τουτέστιν ὁ χριστός, ὁ παρὼν αὐτοῖς πανταχοῦ, καὶ πάντα θαυματουργῶν· διὰ γὰρ τοῦτο εἶπεν, ἀκολουθούσης. p. 203), Theophyl.,—or (2) by taking πέτρα = τὸ ἐκ τῆς πέτρας ὕδωρ, as Erasm., Beza, Grot., Estius, Lightf.—and so Calvin, who says: “Quomodo, inquiunt, rupes quæ suo loco fixa stetit, comitata esset Israelitas? Quasi vero non palam sit sub petræ voce notari aquæ fluxum, qui nunquam populum deseruit.” But against both of these we have the plain assertion, representing matter of physical fact, ἔπινον ἐκ πνευματικῆς ἀκολουθούσης πέτρας, they drank from a (or, after a preposition, the) [spiritual, or] miraculous rock which followed them: and I cannot consent to depart from what appears to me the only admissible sense of these words. How extensively the traditionary reliques of unrecorded Jewish history were adopted by apostolic men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apology of Stephen may bear witness.

ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ χριστός] But (distinction between what they saw in the rock and what we see in it: they drank from it and knew not its dignity: but the Rock was Christ. In these words there appear to be three allusions: (1) to the ideas of the Jews themselves: so the Targum on Isaiah 16:1; “Afferent dona Messiæ Israelitarum, qui robustus crit, propterea quod in deserto fuit RUPES ECCLESIA ZIONIS:” so also in Wisdom of Solomon 10:15 ff., the σοφία θεοῦ (see note on John 1:1) is said to have been present in Moses, to have led them through the wilderness, &c. That the MESSIAH, the ANGEL OF THE COVENANT, was present with the church of the Fathers, and that His upholding power was manifested in miraculous interferences for their welfare, was a truth acknowledged no less by the Jew than by the Christian. (2) To the frequent use of this appellation, A ROCK, for the God of Israel. See, inter alia, Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:18; Deuteronomy 32:30-31; Deuteronomy 32:37; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2, and passim; 2 Samuel 23:3, &c.; Psalms passim, and especially Psalms 78:20, compared with Psalms 78:35; see also Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8. Hence it became more natural to apply the term directly to Christ, as the ever-present God of Israel. (3) To the sacramental import of the water which flowed from the rock, which is the point here immediately in the Apostle’s mind. As well in sacramental import as in upholding physical agency, that rock was Christ. The miraculous (spiritual) food was (sacramentally) the flesh of Christ: the miraculous (spiritual) drink was the blood of Christ: so that the Jews’ miraculous supplies of food and drink were sacramentally significant of the Body and Blood of Christ, in kind analogous to the two great parts of the Christian Supper of the Lord.

In the contents prefixed to the chapters in the E. V., we read as the import of these verses, “The sacraments of the Jews are types of ours,” which though perhaps correctly meant, is liable to be erroneously understood; inasmuch as no sacramental ordinance can be a type of another, but all alike, though in different degrees of approximation, and by different representations, types of HIM, who is the fountain of all grace. The difference between their case and ours, is generally, that they were unconscious of the sacramental import, whereas we are conscious of it: “they knew not that I healed them,” Hosea 11:3; and in this particular case, that Christ has come to us “not by water only, but by water and blood,” 1 John 5:6; HIS DEATH having invested our sacramental ordinance with another and more deeply significant character. To enter more minutely into the import of the words, ‘the rock was Christ,’ would be waste of time and labour. The above reasons abundantly justify the assertion, without either pressing the verb ἦν beyond its ordinary acceptation, or presuming to fix on the Apostle a definiteness of meaning which his argument does not require. See in Meyer’s note an example of the proceeding which I blame.

Verse 5

5.] Howbeit with the more part of them (in fact the exceptions were Joshua and Caleb only) God was not well pleased.

κατεστρ. γὰρ] The very words of the LXX, see ref.

Verse 6

6.] Now ( δέ transitional; the contrast being, between the events themselves, and their application to us) these things happened as figures (not ‘types’ as we now use the word, meaning by type and antitype, the material representation, and the ultimate spiritual reality,—but figures, as one imperfect ceremonial polity may figure forth a higher spiritual polity, but still this latter may not itself be the ultimate antitype) of us (the spiritual Israel as distinguished from the literal),—in order that we might not be (God’s purpose in the τύποι: of course an ulterior purpose, for they had their own immediate purpose as regards the literal Israel) lusters [the use of the substantive forcibly depicts the habit] after evil things (generally: no special reference yet to the Corinthian feasters, as Grot. supposes. So Theophyl. rightly: καθολικῶς περὶ πάσης κακίας λέγει, ἐπειδὴ καὶ πᾶσα κακία ἐξ ἐπιθυμίας. εἶτα καὶ κατʼ εἶδος τίθησι τὰς κακίας. Similarly Chrys.) as they also ( καί, i.e. supposing us to be like them) lusted. The construction ( ταῦταἐγενήθησαν) may be a verb substantive attracted into the plur. (or sing.) by the predicate,—one often found: so Herod. i. 93, ἡ μὲν περίοδος, … εἰσὶ στάδιοι ἕξ: and ii. 15, αἱ θῆβαι αἴγυπτος ἐκαλέετο: so in Latin, Ter. Andr(42) iii. 3. 23, ‘Amantium iræ amoris integratio est:’ see many other examples in Kühner, § 429: or, which is perhaps better, as in 1 Corinthians 10:11, where see note.

The rendering, ‘Now in these things they were figures of us’ (I know not by whom suggested, but I find it in Dr. Peile’s notes on the Epistles), is inconsistent both with the arrangement of the words,—in which ταῦτα has the primary emphasis,—and with ἐγενήθησαν, which should be ἦσαν.

Verse 7

7.] Now, the special instances of warning follow, coupled to the general by μηδέ in this negative sentence, as so often by καί in an affirmative one. Notice, that all four of these were brought about by the ἐπιθυμεῖν κακῶν, not distinct from it.

This first instance is singularly appropriate. The Israelites are recorded to have sat down and eaten and drunken at the idol feast of the golden calf in Horeb: the very temptation to which the Corinthians were too apt to yield. And as the Israelites were actually idolaters, doing this as an act of worship to the image: so the Corinthians were in danger of becoming such, and the Apostle therefore puts the case in the strongest way, neither be (become) ye idolaters.

παίζειν, צִחֵק, ‘choreas agere,’ ‘saltare accinentibus tympanis vel cantoribus:’ see reff., where the same word (or its cognate שִׂחֵק) occurs in the Heb. The dance was an accompaniment of the idol feast: see Hor. ii. 12. 19: ‘Quam nec ferre pedem dedecuit choris … sacro Dianæ celebris die.’

Verse 8

8.] Another prominent point in the sins of the Corinthian church.

εἰκοσιτρεῖς χ.] The number was twenty-four thousand, Numbers 25:9, and is probably set down here from memory. The subtilties of Commentators in order to escape the inference, are discreditable alike to themselves and the cause of sacred Truth. Of the principal ancient Commentators, Chrysostom and Theophyl. do not notice the discrepancy: Œcum. notices it, and says that some ancient copies εἰκοσιτέσσαρας ἔθεσαν here (so m tol syr-txt arm), but passes it without comment.

Although the sin of Baal-peor was strictly speaking idolatry, yet the form which it exhibited was that of fornication, as incident to idolatrous feasting, see Numbers 25:1-2. Thus it becomes even more directly applicable to the case of the Corinthians.

Verse 9

9.] ἐκπειρ.—tempt beyond endurance, ‘tempt thoroughly.’ Similarly ἐξαρνεῖσθαι, ‘to persist in denying,’ al., as Suidas, ἡ γὰρ ἐξ πρόθεσις, ἐπίτασιν δηλοῖ. See Musgr. on Eurip. Iph. Taur. 249, and cf. ἐκπληρόω, Acts 13:32. So also in Latin, ‘oro’ and ‘exoro,’ &c.

τὸν κύριον] There may be two views taken of the internal evidence concerning the reading here. On the one hand it may be said that χριστόν being the original reading, it was variously altered to κύριον or θεόν by those who found a difficulty in supposing that the Jews of old tempted Christ, or even by those who wished to obliterate this assertion of His præ-existence: and so De Wette, al. On the other it may be said, that κύριον being the original, it was variously explained in the margin χριστόν and θεόν, as is often the case: and so Meyer. On comparing these, it seems to me that the latter alternative is the more probable. The inference that τινες αὐτῶν ἐπείρασαν requires τὸν χριστόν as an object, is not a necessary one, and hardly likely to have produced the alteration, closely connected as τ. χρ. is with the verb in the first person. I have therefore with Meyer adopted the reading κύριον.

The tempting of the Lord was,—as on the other occasions alluded to Numbers 14:22, where it is said that they tempted God ten times,—the daring Him, in trying His patience by rebellious conduct and sin. Cf. the similar use of πειράζω, Acts 5:9; Acts 15:10. And he warns the Corinthians, that they should not in like manner provoke God by their sins and their partaking with idols. Chrys., Theophyl., and Œc(43) understand the temptation of God to be the seeking for signs: Theodoret, to be in danger arising from those who spoke with different tongues, ἐπείραζον δὲ κ. οἱ ταῖς διαφόροις κεχρημένοι γλώτταις, κατὰ φιλοτιμίαν μᾶλλον ἢ χρείαν ταύτας ἐπʼ ἐκκλησίας προσφέροντες.

ὑπὸ τῶν ὄφεων, by the (well-known) serpents. The art. is so often omitted after a preposition, that wherever it is expressed, we may be sure there was a reason for it.

Verse 10

10.] γογγύζετε has been by Estius, Grot., al., and De Wette, understood of murmuring against their teachers, as the Israelites against Moses and Aaron, Numbers 14:2; Numbers 16:41. But not to mention that this was in fact murmuring against God, such a reference would require something more specific than the mere word γογγύζετε. The warning is substantially the same as the last, but regards more the spirit, and its index the tongue. Theophyl.: αἰνίττεται δὲ αὐτοὺς καὶ διὰ τούτου, ὅτι ἐν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς οὐκ ἔφερον γενναίως, ἀλλʼ ἐγόγγυζον λέγοντες πότε ἥξει τὰ ἀγαθά, καὶ ἕως πότε αἱ κακώσεις; similarly Chrys.

The destruction referred to must be that related Numbers 16:41 ff. when the pestilence (which though it is not so specified there, was administered on another occasion by a destroying angel, 2 Samuel 24:16-17, see also Exodus 12:23) took off 14,700 of the people. The punishment of the unbelieving congregation in Numbers 14, to which this is commonly referred, does not seem to answer to the expression ἀπώλοντο ὑπὸ τ. ὀλοθρευτοῦ, nor to the τινες, seeing that all except Joshua and Caleb were involved in it.

Verse 11

11.] τυπικῶς, see var. readd., by way of figure. Meyer cites from the Rabbis, ‘Quidquid evenit patribus, signum filiis.’

The plural συνέβαινον expresses the plurality of events separately happening: the singular ἐγράφη, their union in the common record of Scripture. Similarly 2 Peter 3:10, στοιχεῖαλυθήσονταιτὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔργα κατακαήσεται. See reff. and Winer, edn. 6, § 58. 3. a.

δέ conveys a slight opposition to συνέβαινον ἐκείνοις.

τὰ τέλη τ. αἰών.] = ἡ συντέλεια τοῦ αἰῶνος of reff. Matt., and τὸ ἔσχατον τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων of Hebrews 1:1, where see note: the ends of the ages of this world’s lifetime. So Chrys.; οὐδὲν ἄλλο λέγει ἢ ὅτι ἐφέστηκε λοιπὸν τὸ δικαστήριον τὸ φοβερόν.

The form νουθεσία belongs to later Greek. The classical word is νουθέτησις or νουθετία: see Lobeck on Phrynichus, p. 512.

κατήντ.] have reached. The ages are treated as occupying space, and their extent as just coincident with our own time. See a similar figure in ch. 1 Corinthians 14:36.

Verse 12

12.] ἑστάναι, viz. in his place as a member of Christ’s church, to be recognized by him at His coming for one of His. To such an one the example of the Israelites is a warning to take heed that he fall not, as they did from their place in God’s church.

Verse 13

13.] There are two ways of understanding the former part of this verse. Chrys., Theophyl., Grot., Est., Bengel, Olsh., De Wette, al., take it as a continuation, and urging of the warning of the verse preceding, by the consideration that no temptation had yet befallen them but such as was ἀνθρώπινος, ‘within the power of human endurance:’ but ‘major tentatio imminet,’ Beng.:—while Calvin, al., and Meyer regard it as a consolation, tending to shew them that βλεπέτω μὴ πέσῃ is within the limits of their power, seeing that their temptation to sin was nothing extraordinary or unheard of, but only ‘according to man:’ and they might trust to God’s loving care, that no temptation should ever befall them which should surpass their power to resist. This latter seems to me beyond doubt the correct view. For (1) in the parallel which they bring for the former sense, Hebrews 12:4, οὔ πω is distinctly expressed,—and would have been here also, had it been intended. Besides, in that case, οὔ πω, as having the primary emphasis, would have been prefixed, as in Hebrews 12:4; οὔπω πειρασμὸς ὑμᾶς εἴληφεν … Then again (2) this restricts the sense of πειρασμός to persecution, which it here does not mean, but solicitation to sin, in accordance with the whole context.

εἴληφενhas taken you, not ἔλαβεν, ‘took you,’ shews that the temptation was still soliciting them.

ἀνθρώπινος] not, as Piscator, al., and Olsh., originating with man, as opposed to other temptations originating with the devil, or even with God’s Providence: but, as Chrys.: ξύμμετρος,—opposed to ὑπὲρ ὃ δύνασθε, adapted to man.

πιστός] He has entered into a covenant with you by calling you: if He suffered temptation beyond your power to overcome you, He would be violating that covenant. Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:24, πιστὸς ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς, ὃς καὶ ποιήσει.

ὅς = ὅτι οὗτος.

ποιήσει καὶ τὴν ἔκβ]. Then God makes the temptation too: arranges it in His Providence, and in His mercy will ever set open a door for escape.

τὴν ἔκβ.] the [way to] escape, i.e. which belongs to the particular temptation: τὴν ἀπαλλαγὴν τοῦ πειρασμοῦ, Theophyl.

τοῦ δύν.] in order that you may be able to bear (it): obs., not, ‘will remove the temptation:’ but, ‘will make an escape simultaneously with the temptation, to encourage you to bear up against it.’

Verse 14

14.] Conclusion from the above warning examples: IDOLATRY IS BY ALL MEANS TO BE SHUNNED not tampered with, but fled from.

φεύγετε ἀπό (‘fugiendo discedite a,’ Meyer) expressing even more strongly than the accus, with φεύγω, the entire avoidance. This verse of itself would by inference forbid the Corinthians having any share in the idol feasts; but he proceeds to ground such prohibition on further special considerations.

Verse 15

15.] An appeal to their own sense of what is congruous and possible,—as introducing what is to follow.

ὡς expresses an assumption on the Apostle’s part, that they are φρόνιμοι. De W. compares Plato, Alcib. i. 104, ὡς ἀκουσομένῳ λέγω.

λέγω and φημί both refer to what follows, 1 Corinthians 10:16-21.

ὑμεῖς is emphatic—be YE the judges of what I am saying.

Verses 15-22

15–22.] By the analogy of the Christian participation in the Lord’s Supper, and the Jewish participation in the feasts after sacrifices, joined to the fact that the heathens sacrifice to devils, he shews that the partaker in the idol feast is a PARTAKER WITH DEVILS which none can be, and yet be a Christian.

Verse 16

16.] The analogy of the Lord’s Supper, which, in both its parts, is a participation in Christ. The stress throughout to 1 Corinthians 10:20, is on κοινωνία, and κοινωνοί.

τὸ ποτήριον is the accus., by attr. corresponding to τὸν ἄρτον.

τὸ π. τῆς εὐλ.] i.e. ὃ εὐλογοῦντες κατασκευάζομεν (Œc(44)), as explained immediately by ὃ εὐλογοῦμεν,—over which we speak a blessing, the Christian form of the Jewish כּוֹם בְּרָכָה, the cup in the Passover over which thanks were offered after the feast,—in blessing of which cup, our Lord instituted this part of the ordinance: see Lightfoot in loc., and note on the history in Matthew 26. The rendering of Olsh., al., the cup which brings a blessing, is wrong, as being against this analogy.

ὃ εὐλογοῦμεν] which we bless, i.e. consecrate with a prayer of thanksgiving: not, as Erasmus, Beza, ‘quod cum gratiarum actione sumimus’ ( περὶ οὗ εὐχαριστοῦμεν). Observe, the first person plural is the same throughout: the blessing of the cup, and the breaking of the bread, the acts of consecration, were not the acts of the minister, as by any authority peculiar to himself, but only as the representative of the οἱ πάντες, the whole Christian congregation (and so even Estius, but evading the legitimate inference). The figment of sacerdotal consecration of the elements by transmitted power, is as alien from the apostolic writings as it is from the spirit of the Gospel.

κοινωνία] the participation (i.e. that whereby the act of participation takes place) of the Blood of Christ? The strong literal sense must here be held fast, as constituting the very kernel of the Apostle’s argument. The wine is the Blood, the bread is the Body, of Christ. (In what sense the Blood and the Body, does not belong to the present argument.) We receive into us, make by assimilation parts of ourselves, that wine, that bread: we become therefore, by participation of that Bread, one Bread, i.e. ONE BODY: hence the close and literal participation in and with Christ. If we are to render this ἐστιν, represents or symbolizes, the argument is made void. On the other band it is painful to allude to, though necessary to reprobate, the caricature of this real union with Christ which is found in the gross materialism of transubstantiation. See further on ch. 1 Corinthians 11:26-27.

ὃν κλῶμεν] probably already the breaking of the bread in the communion was part of the act of consecration, and done after the example of our Lord in its institution. See ch. 1 Corinthians 11:24; Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; Acts 20:11. For the rest, see above.

Verse 17

17.] Because we, the (assembled) many, are one bread (by the assimilation of that one bread partaken: not ‘one loaf’), one Body (by the κοινωνία of the Body of Christ, of which that bread is the vehicle); for the whole of us partake of that one bread. Meyer and De Wette and many other Commentators take εἷς ἄρτος alone, ‘there is one bread;’ and impugn the interpretation given above by saying that it is evidently not so, because the following clause uses ἄρτος in its literal sense. But it is for that very reason, that I adhere to the interpretation given. By partaking of that bread, we become, not figuratively but literally, one bread: it passes into the substance of our bodies, and there is in every one who partakes, a portion of himself which is that bread. The bread which was before, is now ἡμεῖς. But that loaf, broken and blessed, is the medium of κοινωνία of the Body of Christ; we then, being that one bread, are one Body; for we all partake of that one bread. So that there is no logical inversion, and no arguing (Meyer) from the effect to the cause. The argument is a very simple and direct one;—the bread is the Body of Christ; we partake of the bread: therefore we partake of the Body of Christ. Of these propositions, the conclusion is implied in the form of a question in 1 Corinthians 10:16; the minor stated in the latter clause of 1 Corinthians 10:17; its connexion with the major producing the conclusion given in the former clause ὅτιἐσμέν. The major itself, τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου, is suppressed, as axiomatic. The above remarks shew also the untenableness of the rendering of Calv., Beza, Bengel, al.,—“because there is one bread (antecedent), we being many are one body” (consequent): for this would parenthesize 1 Corinthians 10:17, and take it altogether out of the argument, giving it a sense which, as occurring here, would be vapid—“obiter hoc dicit, ut intelligant Corinthii, externa quoque professione colendam esse illam unitatem quæ nobis est cum Christo,” Calv. Meyer objects to rendering ἐκ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρτου μετέχομεν, we partake of that one bread: saying rightly that μετέχω is always found with a gen. or an acc., never with ἐκ. He would render, for we all, by means of that one bread, partake (viz. in the one Body: so μετέχ. is absol. 1 Corinthians 10:30). This is exceedingly harsh, besides as it seems to me (see above) confusing the whole argument: and we may safely say would not have been thus expressed by the Apostle, leaving the most important words to be supplied from the context,—but would have been οἱ γὰρ πάντες ἐν τῷ ἑνὶ ἄρτῳ τοῦ ἑνὸς σώματος μετέχομεν. The usage of ἐκ, too, would, though perhaps barely allowable, be very harsh, especially when it is remembered that the ἄρτος is not (by the hypothesis) the ultimate, but only the mediate object of participation. None of the examples given in Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 230, which Meyer quotes for his sense of ἐκ, seem to justify it. They apply mostly to the subjective source, ἐκ προνοίας, or the circumstances originating, ὡς ἐκ τούτων,—not to the medial instrument, which it appears to me would require διὰ. (In a subsequent edn. Meyer seems to have slightly modified his view, rendering, for from the one bread we all receive a portion.)

Verse 18

18.] Another example of κοινωνία, from the Jewish feasts after sacrifice.

τ. ἰσρ. κατὰ σάρκα] (= τ. ἰσρ. τὸν κατὰ σάρκα: so we have τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα, Ephesians 6:5), the actual material Israel, as distinguished from ὁ ἰσρ. κατὰ πνεῦμα, see Romans 2:29; Galatians 4:29; and ὁ ἰσρ. τοῦ θεοῦ, Galatians 6:16.

οἱ ἐσθ. τ. θυσ.] viz. those parts of the sacrifices which were not offered; see on ch. 1 Corinthians 8:1.

The parts to be offered are specified, Leviticus 3:3; the practice of eating the remainder of the meat sanctioned and regulated, ib. Leviticus 7:15-18.

κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσ.] partakers with the altar (in a strict and peculiar sense,—the altar having part of the animal, the partaker another part; and by the fact of the religious consecration of the offered part, this connexion becomes a religious connexion. The question has been raised, and with reason, why the Apostle did not say κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ? Meyer answers,—because the Jew was already in covenant with God, and the Apostle wished to express a closer connexion, brought about by the sacrifice in question:—De Wette,—because he was unwilling to ascribe so much to the mere act of sacrifice, see Hebrews 10:1 ff.: and to this latter view I incline, because, as De W. remarks, θεοῦ would have suited the analogy better than θυσιαστηρίου, but Paul avoids it, and evidently is reluctant to use it. But to carry this view further, and suppose with Rückert that he would not concede to the ἰσρ. κατὰ σάρκα any κοινωνία θεοῦ, is (Meyer) contradicted by Romans 9:4-5. Still the inference lies open, to which our Saviour’s saying points, Matthew 23:20-21. The altar is GOD’S altar).

Verse 19

19.] τί οὖν φημι; what am I then assuming? so Xen. Anab. i. 14. 4, τί οὖν κελεύω ποιῆσαι;

ὅτι εἰδωλόθ. τί ἐστιν] that a thing sacrificed to an idol is any (real) thing (so sacrificed)? (i.e. has any real existence as a thing sacrificed? The accentuation τι ἔστιν; would come nearer to the sense of ch. 1 Corinthians 8:4, ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ,—‘that there is any (such thing as an) offering to an idol?’ and in a matter so ambiguous it is impossible to decide between the two) or that an idol is any thing (real? e.g. that Jupiter is Jupiter in the sense of a living power)?—(Not so:—this ellipsis of the negative, taken up by ἀλλά, is found in classical Greek: e.g. Xen. Mem. i. 2. 2, πῶς οὖν αὐτὸς ὢν τοιοῦτος ἄλλους ἂν ἀσεβεῖςἐποίησεν; ἀλλʼ ἔπαυσε μὲν τούτων πολλούς, ἀρετῆς ποιήσας ἐπιθυμεῖν, &c. See Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 37.) But (I say) that the things which they (i.e. the Gentiles) sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God ( δαιμ., not ‘false-gods,’ nor in the sense in which it is used in the mouth of idolaters themselves, Acts 17:18, and Xen. Mem. i. 1. 1, deities (see Stanley’s note, in which this idea is ingeniously combined with the Christian sense given below),—but, as always in LXX and N. T. when used by worshippers of the true God, ‘DEVILS,’ ‘evil spirits.’ The words are from Deut. (ref.), see also Psalms 95:5 (Baruch 4:7, θύσαντες δαιμονίοις κ. οὐ θεῷ). Heathendom being under the dominion of Satan ( ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου), he and his angels are in fact the powers honoured and worshipped by the heathen, however little they may be aware of it): but (the inference being suppressed ‘and ye therefore by partaking in their sacrifices would be partakers with devils: but’) I would not have you become partakers with devils ( τῶν generic).

Verse 19-20

19, 20.] The inference from the preceding analogies would naturally be, that Paul was then representing the idols as being in reality what the heathen supposed them to be—and the eater of meats offered to them, as partaking with the idol. This objection he meets,—but with the introduction of a new fact to their consideration—that the things which the heathen sacrifice, they sacrifice really to devils.

Verse 21

21.] Reason of the οὐ θέλω,—sententiously expressed without γάρ.

οὐ δύνασθε applies of course to the real spiritual participation of the table of the Lord so as to profit by it: to moral possibility. The ποτήριον δαιμονίων is said as corresponding to the cup of which mention has been already made, not as Grot., al., and De Wette fancy, referring to the libation at an idol feast.

τράπεζα is said by Pollux vi. 12 (Suicer) to be used in the sense of τὰ σιτία τὰ ἐπʼ αὐτῶν τῶν τραπεζῶν τιθέμενα. Compare the description in Herod. iii. 18, of the ἡλίου τράπεζα,—Polyb. iv. 35. 4, ὥστε περὶ τὸν βωμὸν κ. τὴν τράπεζαν τῆς θεοῦ κατασφαγῆναι τοὺς ἐφόρους ἅπαντας,—and ref. Isa.

From this passage probably, the τράπεζα κυρίου became an expression current in all ages of the Christian Church: see Suicer in voc.

Verse 22

22.] Or are we provoking (is it our wish to provoke, that He may assert His power) the Lord (Christ) to jealousy (by dividing our participation between Him and devils)?—see ref. Deut., which evidently is before the Apostle’s mind:—are we stronger than He (are we then such, that we can afford to defy His power to punish)?

Verse 23

23.] He recurs to the plea of ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12;—reasserts his modification of it, with a view, after what has passed since, to shew its reasonableness, and to introduce the following directions.

οἰκοδομεῖ] viz. the Christian body: tend to build up the whole, or the individual parts, of that spiritual temple, God’s οἰκοδομή.

Verse 23

23–11:1.] Now that he has fully handled the whole question of partaking in idol feasts, and prepared the way for specific directions as about a matter no longer to be supposed indifferent, he proceeds to give those directions, accompanying them with their reasons, as regards mutual offence or edification.

Verse 24

24.] Further following out of οἰκοδομεῖ. This ought to be our object: the bringing on one another to perfection, not the pleasing ourselves, see Romans 15:2-3. In the second clause, ἕκαστος must be supplied from μηδείς (hence it has found its way into the rec.): so Plato, Rep. ii. p. 366 D, οὐδεὶς ἑκὼν δίκαιος, ἀλλʼ … ψέγει τὸ ἄδικον,—i.e. ἕκαστος ψέγει. See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 458.

Verse 25

25.] The key to understanding this and the following verse is, to remember that συνείδησις is used in each case of the conscience of the person spoken of, i.e. in the two first cases, that of the reader,—in the third, as explained by the Apostle, that of the weak brother: see there. Every thing which is being sold (offered for sale) in the flesh-market ( μάκελλον is adopted from the Latin. It was also used by the Rabbis, in the form מקולין. See Stanley, and examples in Wetst.), eat, making no enquiry (whether it is meat offered to idols or not), on account of your conscience (to be joined with ἐσθίετε μηδ. ἀνακ., not with ἀνακρίνοντες only,—as is shewn by the parallel below, 1 Corinthians 10:28,—where the reason given is joined to ἐσθίετε). The meaning being,—‘eat without enquiry, that your conscience may not be offended,’ If you made enquiry, and heard in reply, that the meat had been offered to idols, your conscience would be offended, and you would eat διὰ προσκόμματος to yourselves. De Wette, al., understand τὴν συν., all through, of the conscience of another, and apply to all the explanation of 1 Corinthians 10:29. But as Meyer well observes, no reader could possibly refer τὴν συνείδ. to any one but himself, no other person having been mentioned, until 1 Corinthians 10:28, where ἐκεῖνον τὸν μηνύσαντα is introduced, and τὴν συνείδησιν is to be referred (but even then not without special explanation given) to the new subject.

Verse 26

26.] The principle on which such an eating ought to rest: that all is GOD’S, and for our use: and where no subjective scruple is cast in, all to be freely partaken of: see 1 Timothy 4:4.

Verse 27

27.] The same maxim applied to their conduct at a banquet given by a heathen. A miscellaneous banquet, and not a sacrificial feast, is meant. At such, there might be meat which had been offered to idols. Grot, says well on θέλετε πορεύεσθαι, “Admonet tacite, melius forte facturos, si non eant: ire tamen non prohibet: supra, cap. 1 Corinthians 5:10.”

On ( διὰ τ. συνείδ., see above, 1 Corinthians 10:25.

Verse 28

28.] Who is the person supposed to say this? not, as Grot., al., think, the host, of whom τις could hardly be said, but it would stand ἐὰν δὲ ὑμῖν εἴπῃ: nor, as Chrys., Theophyl., al., and De Wette,—some heathen guest, by whom De W. imagines it said maliciously, or to put the Christian to the proof,—for his συνείδησις would hardly be so much taken into, account in the matter; but, as Neander, Pfl. u. Leit. p. 399, and Meyer,—some weak Christian, wishing to warn his brother.

ἱερόθυτον is apparently placed advisedly, to represent what would be said at a heathen’s table. De W. supposes it on this very account to be a correction: but surely this is giving a corrector credit for more fineness of discrimination than they ordinarily shew. Much more probable is it, that the unusual and apparently incorrect ἱερό θυτον should give place to the ordinary and more exact term.

διʼ ἐκ. τ. μην] On account of the man who informed you, and ( καί specifying the particular point or points to which the more general preceding clause applies: as, τῶνδε εἵνεκα, καὶ γῆς ἱμέρῳκαὶ μάλιστα τῷ χρηστηρίῳ πίσυνος ἐών, καὶ τίσασθαι θέλων … Herod. i. 73. See Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 145) conscience: i.e. to spare the informer being wounded in his conscience.

Verse 29

29.] Explanation of the last διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν, as meaning not your own, but that of the informer. True to his interpretation (see above), De W. supposes τοῦ ἑτέρου not to refer to τὸν μηνύσαντα, but to ‘your weak Christian brother;’ but then how very harsh and clumsy are the various references to understood persons;—and how simple, on the other interpretation, is the reference in each case of τὴν συν. to the subject of the clause.

ἵνα τί γάρ] For why is my freedom judged by a conscience not mine own?—i.e. ‘Why should I be to treated (hazard by my actions such treatment) that the exercise of my Christian freedom, eating as I do and giving thanks, should become matter of condemnation to another, who conscientiously disapproves of it?’ If (no copula) I partake thankfully ([not, as E. V., ‘by grace’] dat. of the manner, cf. Soph. Antig. 616, σοφίᾳ γὰρ ἔκ του κλεινὸν ἔπος πέφανται,—and Bernhardy, Syntax, p.101), why am I to be spoken ill of for that for which I give thanks? These words have been misunderstood. It has been generally supposed that the Apostle is impressing a duty, not to give occasion for the condemnation of their liberty by another’s conscience. But the ground on which he is here arguing, is the unfitness, absurdity, injustice to oneself and the cause of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31, of so acting as to be condemned for that in which a man not only allows himself, but for which he gives thanks to God. The sentiment is the same as in Romans 14:16, μὴ βλασφημείσθω ὑμῶν τὸ ἀλαθόν.

The emphasis is each time on ἐγώ.

Verse 31

31.] This εἴτε οὖν …, passing from the special to the general, is not without reference to the last verse, in which the hypothesis is, that the Christian and thankful act of the believer is marred by the condemnatory judgment of his weak brother. All such hindrances to God’s glory they are to avoid; and in all things, eating or drinking, or any other particular of conduct ( τι, any thing, the stress being on ποιεῖτε,—whether ye eat or drink, or do any thing; not as E. V. whatever ye do,— ὁτιοῦν), the glory of God is to be the aim, self-regard being set aside: and so,—

Verse 31

31–11:1.] General conclusion of this part of the Epistle,—enforced by the example of himself.

Verse 32

32.] all offence is to be avoided (it being understood that this refers to ἀδιάφορα, for in other things, both Jews and Greeks must be offended, see ch. 1 Corinthians 1:23), whether to Jews or Heathens (both these out of the Church), or to the Church of God (their own brethren).

Verse 33

33.] His own course of conduct:—As I in all things (accus. of that on which the subject acts, or over which the quality predicated extends, as in ἀλγῶ τὴν κεφαλήν;—so τοῦ πάντʼ εὐδαίμονος ὄλβου, Soph. Œd. Tyr. 1197. See Kühner, ii. 222. 4) please (‘am pleasing:’ as Meyer well remarks, not the result, but the practice on Paul’s part; for πᾶσιν ἀρέσκειν τὸν συμβουλεύοντα κ. τὰ κοινὰ πράττοντα ἀδύνατον, Demosth. 1481. 4).

ἐμαυτοῦ and τῶν πολλῶν are opposed: see 1 Corinthians 10:24.

ἵνα σωθ., his great aim and end;—so ch. 1 Corinthians 9:22.


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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