corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians
1 Corinthians 10



Other Authors
Verse 1

A continuation of the exhortation to self-denial and caution, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Express prohibition of joining in the sacrificial feasts of the heathen, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. Particular directions as to the use of meat sacrificed to idols, 1 Corinthians 10:23-33.

At the close of the preceding chapter the apostle had exhorted his readers to self-denial and effort, in order to secure the crown of life. He here enforces that exhortation, by showing how disastrous had been the want of such self-control in the case of the Israelites. They had been highly favored as well as we. They had been miraculously guided by the pillar of cloud; they had been led through the Red Sea; they had been fed with manna from heaven, and with water from the rock; and yet the great majority of them perished, 1 Corinthians 10:1-5. This is a solemn warning to Christians not to give way to temptation, as the Israelites did, 1 Corinthians 10:6. That is, not to be led into idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:7, nor into fornication, 1 Corinthians 10:8, nor into tempting Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:9, nor into murmuring, 1 Corinthians 10:10. In all these points the experience of the Israelites was a warning to Christians; and therefore those who thought themselves secure should take heed lest they fall, 1 Corinthians 10:11, 1 Corinthians 10:12. God is merciful, and would not suffer them to be too severely tempted, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

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;

Moreover. The true reading is not ( הו ́) moreover, but ( דב ́ ס) for, which marks the connection with what precedes. ‘We must use self-denial and effort; for, brethren, our fathers, notwithstanding all they experienced, perished.' I would not have you ignorant, Romans 1:10; Romans 11:25 a formula used when something specially important is to be presented. That (not how that). All our fathers. The emphasis is on all. ‘All our fathers left Egypt; Caleb and Joshua alone entered the promised land.' All run, but one obtains the prize. The history of the church affords no incident better suited to enforce the necessity of guarding against false security, than that selected by the apostle. The Israelites doubtless felt, as they stood on the other side of the Red Sea, that all danger was over, and that their entrance into the land of promise was secured. They had however a journey beset with dangers before them, and perished because they thought there was no need of exertion. So the Corinthians, when brought to the knowledge of the gospel, thought heaven secure. Paul reminds them that they had only entered on the way, and would certainly perish unless they exercised constant self-denial. Our fathers. Abraham is our father, though we are not his natural descendants. And the Israelites were the fathers of the Corinthian Christians, although most of them were Gentiles. Although this is true, it is probable that the apostle, although writing to a church, many, if not most, of whose members were of heathen origin, speaks as a Jew to Jews; as he often addresses a congregation as a whole, when what he says has reference only to a part.

Were under the cloud, not underneath it, but under its guidance. Exodus 13:21. "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them; and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, to go by day and night." See Numbers 9:15, Numbers 9:23; Numbers 14:14. Deuteronomy 1:33. Psalms 78:14. etc. No more decisive evidence could have been given of their election as a people, than this supernatural guidance. The symbol of the divine presence and favor was before their eyes day and night. If any people ever had reason to think their salvation secure, it was those whom God thus wonderfully guided. They all passed through the sea. Would God permit those to perish for whom he had wrought so signal a deliverance, and for whose sake he sacrificed the hosts of Egypt? Yet their carcasses were strewed in the wilderness. It is not enough, therefore, to be recipients of extraordinary favors; it is not enough to begin well. It is only by constant self-denial and vigilance, that the promised reward can be obtained. This is the lesson the apostle intends to inculcate.

Verse 2

And were all baptized ‹14› unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

Baptized unto Moses, i.e. in reference to Moses, so as by baptism to be made his disciples. See 1 Corinthians 1:13. Romans 6:3. In the cloud and in the sea. The cloud and the sea did for them, in reference to Moses, what baptism does for us in reference to Christ. Their passage through the sea, and their guidance by the cloud, was their baptism. It made them the disciples of Moses; placed them under obligation to recognize his divine commission and to submit to his authority. This is the only point of analogy between the cases, and it is all the apostle's argument requires. One class of commentators says that they were immersed in the sea, and therefore it was a baptism; another says, the cloud rained upon them, and on that account they are said to have been baptized. Both suggestions are equally forced. For the people were baptized as much in the cloud as in the sea; but they were not immersed in the cloud nor sprinkled by the sea. There is no allusion to the mode of baptism. Neither is the point of analogy to be sought in the fact, that the cloud was vapor and the sea water. The cloud by night was fire. The point of similarity is to be found, not in any thing external, but in the effect produced. The display of God's power in the cloud and in the sea, brought the people into the relation of disciples to Moses. It inaugurated the congregation, and, as it were, baptized them to him, bound them to serve and follow him.

Verse 3

And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

As they had their baptism, so they had their eucharist; and they all had it. They all eat the same spiritual meat. They were all alike favored, and had therefore equal grounds of hope. Yet how few of them reached the promised rest!

The reference is here obviously to the manna, which the apostle calls spiritual meat. Why it is so called is very doubtful.

1. The word spiritual may mean, partaking of the nature of spirit, a sense attributed to the word in 1 Corinthians 15:44, where, "spiritual body" is assumed to mean a refined, aetherial body. The manna, according to this view, is called spiritual meat, because it was a refined kind of food; much in the way in which we use the word celestial as an epithet of excellence. This interpretation derives some support from Psalms 78:25 where the manna is called "angels' food." By Josephus, A. III. 1:6, it is called, "divine and wonderful food."

2. A second interpretation assumes that spiritual means having a spiritual import. "Spiritual meat" would then be equivalent to typical. ‘They eat of that bread which was the type of the true bread from heaven.' Neither of these views, however, is consistent with the scriptural use of the word. Spiritual neither means refined nor typical. In 1 Corinthians 15:44, "spiritual body" means a body adapted to the spirit as its organ.

3. Others give the word here its very common sense, pertaining to the spirit; as, in the preceding chapter, "carnal things" are things pertaining to the body, and "spiritual things" are things pertaining to the soul. The manna, according to this interpretation, was designed not only for the body, but for the soul. It was spiritual food; food intended for the spirit, because attended by the Holy Spirit and made the means of spiritual nourishment. This is a very commonly received interpretation. Calvin assumes it to be the only possible meaning of the passage, and founds on it an argument for his favorite doctrine, that the sacraments of the Old Testament had the same efficacy as those of the New. But this exalts the manna into a sacrament, which it was not. It was designed for ordinary food; as Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:15) says, "Thou gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth for them water out of the rock for their thirst." And our Lord represents it in the same light, when he said, "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead." John 6:49. He contrasts himself, as the true bread from heaven which gives life to the soul, with the manna which had no spiritual efficacy.

4. One of the most common meanings of the word spiritual in Scripture is, derived from the Spirit. Spiritual gifts and spiritual blessings are gifts and blessings of which the Spirit is the author. Every thing which God does in nature and in grace, he does by the Spirit. He garnished the heavens by the Spirit; and the Spirit renews the face of the earth. When therefore it is said, God gave them bread from heaven to eat, it means that the Spirit gave it; for God gave it through the Spirit. Thus God is said to renew and sanctify men, because the Spirit of God is the author of regeneration and sanctification. The manna therefore was spiritual food, in the same sense in which the special gifts of God are called spiritual gifts. That is, it was given by the Spirit. It was not natural food, but food miraculously provided. In the same sense, in the next verse, the water is called spiritual drink, because miraculously produced. In Galatians 4:29 the natural birth of Isaac is said to have been after the Spirit, because due to the special intervention of God. As the miraculous deliverance and miraculous guidance of the Israelites was their baptism, so their being miraculously fed was their Lord's Supper. They were as signal marks of the divine presence and favor as sacraments are to us. If their privileges did not prevent their perishing in the wilderness, ours will not save us. If the want of self-denial and vigilance destroyed them, it will destroy us.

Verse 4

And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The water which they drank was spiritual, because derived from the Spirit, i.e. by the special intervention of God. They all drank ( ו ̓́ ניןם) of it once when first provided, and they continued to drink ( ו ̓́ ניםןם) of it, for it followed them. Whatever difficulties may be connected with the interpretation of this verse, two things are therein plainly taught. First, that the Israelites were constantly supplied in a miraculous manner with water; and secondly, that the source of that supply was Christ. The principal difficulties in the passage are, the declaration that the Rock followed the Israelites; and that the rock was Christ. How are these statements to be understood?

1. Some take the passage literally, and assume that the rock smitten by Moses actually rolled after the Israelites during all their journey. Such was the tradition of the Jews, as is abundantly proved by the quotations from their writings, by Wetstein, Schoettgen and Lightfoot.‹15› According to the local tradition, as old at least as the Koran, the rock smitten by Moses was not part of the mountain, but a detached rock, pierced with holes whence the water is said to have flowed. This view of the passage makes the apostle responsible for a Jewish fable, and is inconsistent with his divine authority. Those who adopt this interpretation do not suppose that the rock actually followed the Israelites, but that the apostle was misled by the tradition of his times.

2. Others say that by the rock following them is meant that the water out of the rock followed them. There is nothing unnatural in this. To say that the vines of France follow the people wherever they go, would be no violent figure to express the fact that the wine produced by those vines followed them. No man at least would be disposed to understand the expression literally. In Psalms 105:41 it is said, "He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in dry places like a river," which at least proves that the supply of water was very copious, and flowed to a considerable distance.

3. It is not necessary, however, to assume that either the rock or the water out of the rock followed them. The rock that followed them was Christ. The Logos, the manifested Jehovah, who attended the Israelites in their journey, was the Son of God who assumed our nature, and was the Christ. It was he who supplied their wants. He was to them the fountain of living waters. He was the spiritual rock of which they drank. The word spiritual may have the same general force here as in the preceding clauses.

The bread and water are called spiritual because supernatural. So the rock was a supernatural rock, though in a somewhat different sense. The manna was supernatural as to its origin; the rock, as to its nature. It is not uncommon for a word to be taken in the same connection in different, though nearly allied senses. Compare the use of this word spiritual in 1 Corinthians 2:15 and 1 Corinthians 3:1; and צטו ́ יסוי and צטוסוי ͂ in 1 Corinthians 3:17. But in what sense was the rock Christ? Not that Christ appeared under the form of a rock; nor that the rock was a type of Christ, for that does not suit the connection. The idea is not that they drank of the typical rock; it was not the type but the anti-type that supplied their wants. The expression is simply figurative. Christ was the rock in the same sense that he is the vine. He was the source of all the support which the Israelites enjoyed during their journey in the wilderness.

This passage distinctly asserts not only the preexistence of our Lord, but also that he was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He who appeared to Moses and announced himself as Jehovah, the God of Abraham, who commissioned him to go to Pharaoh, who delivered the people out of Egypt, who appeared on Horeb, who led the people through the wilderness, who dwelt in the temple, who manifested himself to Isaiah, who was to appear personally in the fullness of time, is the person who was born of a virgin, and manifested himself in the flesh. He is called, therefore, in the Old Testament, an angel the angel of Jehovah, Jehovah, the Supreme Lord, the Mighty God, the Son of God — one whom God sent — one with him, therefore, as to substance, but a distinct person. Our Lord said, Abraham saw his day, for he was before Abraham, John 8:58; John says, John 12:41, Isaiah beheld his glory in the temple; Paul says, the Israelites tempted him in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:9 and that Moses suffered his reproach, Hebrews 11:26; Jude 1:5, says, the Lord, or (as Lachmann, after the ancient MSS. and versions, reads) Jesus, saved his people out of Egypt. This truth early impressed itself on the mind of the Christian church, as appears from the prayer in the ancient Liturgies, O Adonai (Supreme Lord), et Dux Domus Israel, qui Mosi in igne flammeo rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina aquam dedisti, veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extracto.

Verse 5

But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

But, i.e. notwithstanding they had been thus highly favored. With many; literally, with the greater number. God was not well pleased, that is, he was displeased. The proof of his displeasure was that they were overthrown in the wilderness. Literally, they were strewed as corpses in the wilderness. Their pain through the desert could be traced by the bones of those who perished through the judgments of God.

Verse 6

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

These things were our examples; literally, our types. A type is an impression; any thing produced by blows; then an impression which has a resemblance to something else; then a model to which some other person or thing should be, or in point of fact would be, conformed. The Israelites and the facts of their history were our types, because we shall be conformed to them if we do not exercise caution. Our doom will correspond to theirs. They therefore stand as warnings to us. The particular thing against which their fate was designed to warn us, is lusting after evil. According to Numbers 11:4 the people lusted after, i.e. they inordinately longed for, the fleshpots of Egypt, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? God gave them their desire — "but while the flesh was yet between their teeth, he smote them with a great plague, and the place was called the ‘graves of lust,' for there they buried the people that lusted," Numbers 11:34. Comp. Psalms 78:27-31 and Psalms 105:14, Psalms 105:15. This was a perpetual warning against the indulgence of inordinate desires for forbidden objects. It was specially appropriate as a warning to the Corinthians not to desire participation in the sacrificial feasts of the heathen in which they had been accustomed to indulge.

Verse 7

Neither be ye idolaters, as (were) some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

The Corinthians were as much exposed to temptation on this subject as the Israelites had been, and were quite as liable to fall into idolatrous practices. The Israelites did not consider themselves as idolaters when they made the golden calf; they did not believe that the second commandment forbade the worship of the true God by images, and it was Jehovah whom they designed to worship. The feast was proclaimed as a feast to Jehovah, Exodus 32:6. They made the same excuse for the use of images as the Romanists now do; and the same in effect as that which the Corinthians made for their compliance with heathen usages. The latter did not consider the participation of the feasts in the idol's temple as an act of idolatry. As the Israelites perished for their sin, their excuse notwithstanding, so those who are in fact idolaters, whether they so regard themselves or not, must expect a like fate. It is not enough to make a thing right, that we think it to be so. Things do not change their nature according to our thoughts about them. Murder is murder, though man in his self-conceit and pride may call it justifiable homicide.

They sat down to eat and to drink, i.e. of the sacrifices offered to Jehovah in the presence of the golden calf, as a symbol of creative power — and rose up to play, i.e. to dance, as that amusement was, among the ancients, connected with their religious feasts. Homer, Od. .

Verse 8

Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

Idolatry and fornication have always been so intimately connected that the former seldom fails to lead to the latter. This was illustrated in the case of the Israelites. Numbers 25:1-9, "And the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab; and they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods …. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor." This was a God of the Moabites, who was worshipped by the prostitution of virgins. Idolatry and fornication were in that case inseparable. In Corinth the principal temple was dedicated to Venus, and the homage paid to her was almost as corrupt as that rendered to Baal-peor. How could the Corinthians escape this evil if they allowed themselves to attend the sacrificial feasts within her temple — under the pretense that an idol is nothing?

And were slain in one day three and twenty thousand. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, by Philo, Josephus and the Rabbis, the number is given as twenty-four thousand. Both statements are equally correct. Nothing depended on the precise number. Any number between the two amounts may, according to common usage, be stated roundly as either the one or the other. The infallibility of the sacred writers consists in their saying precisely what the Spirit of God designed they should say; and the Spirit designed that they should speak after the manner of men — and call the heavens solid and the earth flat, and use round numbers, without intemen in their circumstances would have spoken and written, and yet under such an influence as to make every thing they said correspond infallibly with the mind of the Spirit. When the hand of a master touches the organ we have one sound, and when he touches the harp we have another. So when the Spirit of God inspired Isaiah we had one strain, and when he inspired Amos, another. Moses and Paul were accustomed, like most other men, to use round numbers; and they used them when under the influence of inspiration just as they used other familiar forms of statement. Neither intended to speak with numerical exactness, which the occasion did not require. What a wonderful book is the Bible, written at intervals during a period of fifteen hundred years, when such apparitions of inaccuracy as this must be seized upon to impeach its infallibility!

Verse 9

Neither let us tempt Christ, ‹16› as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

To tempt is to try, either in the sense of attempting, or of putting to the test, with a good or evil intent. God is said to tempt his people, when he puts their faith and patience to the test for the sake of exercising and strengthening those graces, Hebrews 11:17. Satan and evil men are said to tempt others, when they put their virtue to the test with the design of seducing them into sin, Galatians 6:1. James 1:3. Matthew 4:1 etc. Men are said to tempt God when they put his patience, fidelity or power to the test. Acts 5:9. Matthew 4:7. Hebrews 3:9. It was thus the Israelites tempted him in the wilderness. They tried his forbearance, they provoked him. The exhortation is that we should not thus tempt Christ. This supposes that Christ has authority over us, that he is our moral governor to whom we are responsible, and who has the power to punish those who incur his displeasure. In other words, the passage assumes that we stand in the relation to Christ which rational creatures can sustain to God alone. Christ, therefore, is God. Whether the Corinthians are warned against tempting Christ by their impatience and discontent, as the Israelites did in the particular case here referred to; or whether they are cautioned against putting his fidelity to the test by running unnecessarily into danger (see Matthew 4:7), is uncertain. Probably the former.

As some of them also tempted. As Christ is mentioned in the immediate context, it is most natural to supply the pronoun him. ‘Let us not tempt Christ, as they tempted him. ‘This is not only the most natural explanation, but it is sustained by a reference to 1 Corinthians 10:4, and by the analogy of Scripture, as the Bible elsewhere teaches that the leader of the Israelites was the Son of God. It is only on theological grounds, that is, to get rid of the authority of the passage as a proof of our Lord's divinity, that others interpret the passage thus, ‘Let us not tempt Christ, as they tempted God.' It is only one form of the argument, however, which is thus met. For according to this view the passage still teaches that we sustain the relation to Christ which the Israelites sustained to God. And were destroyed of serpents. Numbers 21:6. The people provoked God by their complaints and by their regretting their deliverance out of Egypt. "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died." Similar judgments awaited the Corinthians if they exhausted the forbearance of the Lord.

Verse 10

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

To murmur is to complain in a rebellious spirit. The reference is to Numbers 14:2, "And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in the wilderness." Numbers 14:11, Numbers 14:12, "And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe the for all the signs which I have shown among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, etc." Numbers 14:27, "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me? … Their carcasses shall fall in the wilderness." Or the reference is to Numbers 16, in which the rebellion of Korah is related, and the subsequent murmuring of the people, Numbers 16:41, in consequence of which fourteen thousand and seven hundred were destroyed by a plague, Numbers 16:49. In both cases the offense and punishment were the same. Were destroyed of the destroyer, i.e. by an angel commissioned by God to use the pestilence as an instrument of destruction. Hence sometimes the destruction is referred to the pestilence, as in Numbers 14:14; sometimes to the angel, as here; and sometimes both the agent and the instrument are combined, as in 2 Samuel 24:16. See Acts 12:23.

Verse 11

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

All these happened (i.e. continued to happen) to them for ensamples. Literally, they were types, see 1 Corinthians 10:6. They were intended as historical pictures, to represent, as Calvin says, the effects of idolatry, fornication, murmuring, etc. And they are written, etc. They were recorded that we might have the benefit of these dispensations, so that we might be admonished to avoid the sins which brought such judgments upon them. Upon whom the ends of the world (literally, of the ages) are come. That is, upon us who live during the last ages. Duration is sometimes conceived of as one, and is therefore expressed by the singular בי ̓ ש ́ ם; sometimes as made up of distinct periods, and is then expressed by the plural בי ̓ ש ͂ םוע. Hence we have the expressions ףץםפו ́ כויב פןץ ͂ בי ̓ ש ͂ םןע, and פש ͂ ם בי ̓ ש ́ םשם, Matthew 24:3. Hebrews 9:26 both signifying the completion of a given portion of duration, considered either as one or as made up of several periods. Sometimes these expressions refer to the close of the Jewish dispensation, and indicate the time of Christ's first coming; sometimes they refer to the close of the present dispensation, and indicate the time of his second advent. Matthew 13:39, etc. See Ephesians 1:10, and Hebrews 1:1, for equivalent forms of expression. As in Hebrews 9:26, the completion of the ages means the end of the Jewish dispensation, so the ends of the ages may have the same meaning here. Or what, in this case, may be more natural, the meaning is that we are living during the last of those periods which are allotted to the duration of the world, or of the present order of things. One series of ages terminated with the coming of Christ; another, which is the last, is now passing.

Verse 12

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.

This indicates the design of the apostle in referring to the events above indicated in the history of the Israelites. There is perpetual danger of falling. No degree of progress we may have already made, no amount of privileges which we may have enjoyed, can justify the want of caution. Let him that thinketh he standeth, that is, let him who thinks himself secure. This may refer either to security of salvation, or against the power of temptation. The two are very different, and rest generally on different grounds. False security of salvation commonly rests on the ground of our belonging to a privileged body (the church), or to a privileged class (the elect). Both are equally fallacious. Neither the members of the church nor the elect can be saved unless they persevere in holiness; and they cannot persevere in holiness without continual watchfulness and effort. False security as to our power to resist temptation rests on an overweening self-confidence in our own strength. None are so liable to fall as they who, thinking themselves strong, heedlessly run into temptation. This probably is the kind of false security against which the apostle warns the Corinthians, as he exhorts them immediately after to avoid temptation.

Verse 13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God (is) faithful, 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).

No temptation, i.e. no trial, whether in the form of seductions or of afflictions, has taken you but such as is common to man; literally human, accommodated to human strength such as men are able to bear. ‘You have been subjected to no superhuman or extraordinary temptations. Your trials hitherto have been moderate; and God will not suffer you to be unduly tried.' This is the ordinary interpretation of this passage, and one which gives a simple and natural sense. It may, however, mean, ‘Take heed lest ye fall. The temptations which you have hitherto experienced are moderate compared to those to which you are hereafter to be subjected.' In this view, it is not so much an encouragement, as a warning that all danger was not over. The apostle is supposed to refer to those peculiar trials which were to attend "the last times." As these times were at hand, the Corinthians were in circumstances which demanded peculiar care. They should not run into temptation, for the days were approaching when, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. As, however, there is no contrast between the present and the future intimated in the passage, the common interpretation is the more natural one.

But God is faithful. He has promised to preserve his people, and therefore his fidelity is concerned in not allowing them to be unduly tempted. Here, as in 1 Corinthians 1:9, and every where else in Scripture, the security of believers is referred neither to the strength of the principle of grace infused into them by regeneration, nor to their own firmness, but to the fidelity of God. He has promised that those given to the Son as his inheritance, should never perish. They are kept, therefore, by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:4. This promise of security, however, is a promise of security from sin, and therefore those who fall into willful and habitual sin are not the subjects of the promise. Should they fall, it is after a severe struggle, and they are soon renewed again unto repentance. The absolute security of believers, and the necessity of constant watchfulness, are perfectly consistent. Those whom God has promised to save, he has promised to render watchful. Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, i.e. able to bear. This is the proof of his fidelity. But will with the temptation make a way of escape. This means either, that when the temptation comes, God will make a way of escape; or, that when God brings the temptation he will also bring the way of escape. In the latter sense God is regarded as the author of the temptation, in the former he is not. The latter is to be preferred on account of the ףץ ́ ם, with. ‘He will make with the temptation a way of escape,' i.e. he makes the one, he will make the other. The apostle James indeed says, "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man," James 1:3. To tempt there, however, means to solicit, or attempt to seduce into sin. In that sense God tempts no man. But he does often put their virtue to the test, as in the case of Abraham. And in that sense he tempts or tries them. What the apostle here says is, that when God thus tries his people it will not be beyond their strength, and that he will always make a way of escape that they may be able to bear it. This expresses the design of God in making a way of escape. (The genitive פןץ ͂ הץ ́ םבףטבי, etc., is the genitive of design).

Verse 14

This whole discussion arose out of the question whether it was lawful to eat the sacrifices offered to idols. Paul, while admitting that there was nothing wrong in eating of such meat, exhorts the Corinthians to abstain for the sake of their weaker brethren. There was another reason for this abstinence; they might be led into idolatry. By going to the verge of the allowable, they might be drawn into the sinful. There was great danger that the Corinthians, convinced that an idol was nothing, might be induced to join the sacrificial feasts within the precincts of the temples. The danger was the greater, because such feasts, if held in a private house, lost their religious character, and might be attended without scruple. To convince his readers, that if the feast was held in a temple, attendance upon it was an act of idolatry, is the object of this section. The apostle's argument is from analogy. Attendance on the Lord's Supper is an act of communion with Christ, the object of Christian worship, and with all those who unite with us in the service. From its very nature, it brings all who partake of the bread and wine into fellowship with Christ and with one another, 1 Corinthians 10:14-17. The same is true of Jewish sacrifices. Whoever eats of those sacrifices, is thereby brought into communion with the object of Jewish worship. The act is in its nature an act of worship, 1 Corinthians 10:18. The conclusion is too plain to need being stated — those who join in the sacrificial feasts of the heathen, join in the worship of idols. Such is the import of the act, and no denial on the part of those who perform it can alter its nature. It is not to be inferred from this mode of reasoning, that the objects of heathen worship are what the heathen suppose them to be. Because Paul argued that, as partaking of the Lord's Supper is an act of Christian worship, partaking of an idol-feast must be an act of heathen worship, it is not to be inferred that he regarded Jupiter or Juno as much real beings as Christ is. Far from it. What the heathen sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons; and therefore, to partake of their sacrifices under circumstances which gave religious significance to the act, brought them into communion with demons, 1 Corinthians 10:19, 1 Corinthians 10:20. The two things are incompatible. A man cannot be a worshipper of Christ and a worshipper of demons, or in communion with the one while in communion with the other. Going to the Lord's table is a renunciation of demons; and going to the table of demons is a renunciation of Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:21. By this conduct the jealousy of the Lord would be excited against them, as of old it was excited against the Jews who turned aside after false gods, 1 Corinthians 10:22.

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Wherefore, i.e. because such severe judgments came upon the idolatrous Israelites; because you, as well as they, are in danger of being involved in that sin; and because your distinguished privileges can protect you neither from the sin nor from its punishment any more than their privileges protected them. My dearly beloved. Paul addresses them in terms of affection, although his epistle is so full of serious admonition and warning. Flee from idolatry, i.e. avoid it by fleeing from it. This is the only safe method of avoiding sin. Its presence is malarious. The only safety is keeping at a distance. This includes two things; first, avoiding what is questionable; that is, every thing which lies upon the border of what is allowable, or which approaches the confines of sin; and secondly, avoiding the occasion and temptations to sin; keeping at a distance from every thing which excites evil passion, or which tends to ensnare the soul.

Verse 15

I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

Unto wise men; i.e. as to men of sense; men capable of seeing the force of an argument. Paul's appeal is not to authority, whether his own or that of the Scriptures. The whole question was, whether a given service came within the scriptural definition of idolatry. He was willing, as it were, to leave the decision to themselves; and therefore said, judge ye what I say, i.e. sit in judgment on the argument which I present. Should they differ from the apostle, that would not alter the case. The service was idolatrous, whatever they thought of it. But he takes this way of convincing them.

Verse 16

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

It is here assumed that partaking of the Lord's Supper brings us into communion with Christ. If this be so, partaking of the table of demons must bring us into communion with demons. This is the apostle's argument. It is founded on the assumption, that a participation of the cup is a participation of the blood of Christ; and that a participation of the bread is a participation of the body of Christ. So far Romanists, Lutherans, and Reformed agree in their interpretation of this important passage. They all agree that a participation of the cup is a participation of the blood of Christ; and that a participation of the bread, is a participation of the body of Christ. But when it is asked, what is the nature of this participation, the answers given are radically different. The Reformed answer, negatively, that it is "not after a corporal or carnal manner." That is, it is not by the mouth, or as ordinary food is received. Affirmatively, they answer that it is by faith, and therefore by the soul. This, of course, determines the nature of the thing partaken of, or the sense in which the body and blood of Christ are received. If the reception is not by the mouth, but by faith, men the thing received is not the material body and blood, but the body and blood as a sacrifice, i.e. their sacrificial virtue. Hence all Reformed churches teach (and even the rubrics of the Church of England), that the body and blood of Christ are received elsewhere man at the Lord's table, and without the reception of the bread and wine, which in the Sacrament are their symbols and the organs of communication, as elsewhere the word is that organ. Another point no less clear as to the Reformed doctrine is, that since the body and blood of Christ are received by faith, they are not received by unbelievers.

Romanists answer the above question by saying, that the mouth is the organ of reception; that the thing received is the real body and blood of Christ, into the substance of which the bread and wine are changed by the act of consecration; and consequently, that believers and unbelievers are alike partakers. Lutherans teach, that although the bread and wine remain unchanged, yet, as the body and blood of Christ are locally present in the sacrament, in, with, and under the bread and wine, the organ of reception is the mouth; the thing received is the real body and blood of Christ; and that they are received alike or equally by believers and unbelievers; by the latter, however, to their detriment and condemnation; by the former, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. Lutherans and Romanists further agree in teaching, that there is a reception of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper, which is elsewhere impossible.

These are the three great forms of doctrine which have prevailed in the Church on this subject; and this passage is interpreted by each party in accordance with their peculiar views. The passage decides no point of difference. If the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation can be elsewhere proved, then, of course, this passage must be understood in accordance with it. And if the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation can be established by other declarations of the Word of God, then this passage must be explained in accordance with that doctrine. But, if it can be clearly demonstrated from Scripture and from those laws of belief which God has impressed upon our nature, that those doctrines are false, then the passage must be understood as teaching a spiritual, and not a corporal participation of Christ's body and blood. All that the passage asserts is the fact of a participation, the nature of that participation must be determined from other sources.

The cup of blessing. The word ( וץ ̓ כןדו ́ ש), to bless, means,

1. To speak well of.

2. To praise and thank; as when we bless God.

3. To confer blessings, as when God blesses us.

In virtue of the second of these meanings, the word is used interchangeably with ( וץ ̓ קבסיףפו ́ ש), to give thanks. That is, the same act is sometimes expressed by the one word and sometimes by the other. In Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22, what is expressed by saying, having blessed, in Luke 22:17, Luke 22:19; and 1 Corinthians 11:25, is expressed by saying, having given thanks. And in the account of the Lord's Supper in Matthew and Mark, the one word is used in reference to the bread, and the other in reference to the cup. They therefore mean the same thing, or rather express the same act, for that act was both a benediction and thanksgiving; that is, it was an address to God, acknowledging his mercy and imploring his blessing, and therefore may be expressed either by the word benediction or thanksgiving. It is not necessary to infer that in these cases ( וץ ̓ כןדח ́ ףבע) having blessed is used in the restricted sense of ( וץ ̓ קבסיףפח ́ ףבע) having given thanks. This cannot be the fact, because the object of ( וץ ̓ כןדח ́ ףבע), at least in some of these passages, is not God, but the bread or the cup. The meaning is, ‘having blessed the bread.' The phrase, therefore, the cup of blessing, so far as the signification of the words is concerned, may be rendered either — the cup of thanksgiving (the eucharistical cup), or the cup of benediction, the consecrated cup. The latter is no doubt the true meaning, because the explanation immediately follows, which we bless. The cup, and not God, is blessed. To take the phrase actively, the cup which confers blessing is not only inconsistent with usage, but incompatible with the explanation which immediately follows. The cup of blessing is the cup which we bless. In the Paschal service the cup was called "the cup of blessing," because a benediction was pronounced over it. The idea of consecration is necessarily included. Wine, as wine, is not the sacramental symbol of Christ's blood, but only when solemnly consecrated for that purpose. Even our ordinary food is said to "be sanctified by the word of God and prayer," 1 Timothy 4:5, because it is set apart by a religious service to the end for which it was appointed. So the cup of blessing is the cup which, by the benediction pronounced over it, is "set apart from a common to a sacred use."

Which we bless. This is the explanation of the preceding clause. The cup of blessing is the cup which we bless; which can only mean the cup on which we implore a blessing; that is, which we pray may be blessed to the end for which it was appointed, viz. to be to us the communion of the blood of Christ. That is, the means of communicating to us the benefits of Christ's death. Just as we bless our food when we pray that God would make it the means of nourishing our bodies. The other interpretations of this clause are unnatural, because they require something to be supplied which is not in the text. Thus some say the meaning is, "taking which," or "holding which in our hands," or "over which," we give thanks. All this is unnecessary, as the words give a perfectly good sense as they stand ( ן ̔̀ וץ ̓ כןדןץ ͂ לום), which (cup) we bless. This passage, therefore, seems to determine the meaning of such passages as Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22, "Having blessed (viz. the bread) he brake it." The bread or cup was the thing blessed. Comp. Luke 9:16, where it is said our Lord, "having taken the five loaves and the two fishes, and having looked up to heaven, he blessed them." This also shows that "having given thanks" in such connections means "having with thanksgiving implored the blessing of God." The cup therefore is blessed by the prayer, in which we ask that God would make it answer the end of its appointment.

Is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? That is, is it not the means of participating of the blood of Christ? He who partakes of the cup, partakes of Christ's blood. This, of course, is true only of believers. Paul is writing to believers, and assumes the presence of faith in the receiver. Thus baptism is said to wash away sin, and the word of God is said to sanctify, not from any virtue in them not as an external rite or as words addressed to the outward ear; not to all indiscriminately who are baptized or who hear the word; but as means of divine appointment, when received by faith and attended by the working of his Spirit. The believing reception of the cup is as certainly connected with a participation of Christ's blood, as the believing reception of the word is connected with an experience of its life-giving power. The whole argument of the apostle is founded on this idea. He wishes to prove that partaking of the sacrificial feasts of the heathen brought men into real communion with demons, because participation of the Lord's supper makes us really partakers of Christ. The word ךןיםשםי ́ ב, communion, means participation, from the verb ךןיםשםו ́ ש, to partake of; in Hebrews 2:14, it is said, Christ took part of flesh and blood. Romans 15:17, the Gentiles took part in the spiritual blessings of the Jews. Hence we have such expressions as the following: participation of his Son, 1 Corinthians 1:9; participation of the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 13:13. Philippians 2:1; participation of the ministry, 2 Corinthians 8:4; of the gospel, Philippians 1:5; of sufferings, Philippians 3:5. Of course the nature of this participation depends on the nature of its object. Participation of Christ is sharing in his Spirit, character, sufferings and glory; participation of the gospel is participation of its benefits; and thus participation of the blood of Christ is partaking of its benefits. This passage affords not the slightest ground for the Romish or Lutheran doctrine of a participation of the substance of Christ's body and blood. When in Philippians 1:9, it is said, "We are called into the fellowship or participation of his Son," it is not of the substance of the Godhead that we partake. And when the Apostle John says, "We have fellowship one with another," i.e. we are ( ךןיםשםןי ́) partners one of another, 1 John 1:7, he does not mean that we partake of each other's corporeal substance. To share in a sacrifice offered in our behalf is to share in its efficacy; and as Christ's blood means his sacrificial blood, to partake of his blood no more means to partake of his literal blood, than when it is said his blood cleanses from all sin, it is meant that his literal corporeal blood has this cleansing efficacy. When we are said to receive the sprinkling of his blood, 1 Peter 1:1, it does not mean his literal blood.

The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? That is, by partaking of the bread we partake of the body of Christ. This is but a repetition of the thought contained in the preceding clause. The cup is the means of participation of his blood; the bread the means of participation of his body. The body of Christ cannot here mean the church, because his blood is mentioned in the same connection, and because in the institution of the Lord's supper the bread is the symbol of Christ's literal, and not of his mystical body. To partake of his body, is to partake of the benefits of his body as broken for us. Which we break. This is in evident allusion to the original institution of the sacrament. Our Lord "took bread, and having given thanks, he brake it and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you." 1 Corinthians 11:24. The whole service, therefore, is often called the "breaking of bread." Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7. The custom, therefore, of using a wafer placed unbroken in the mouth of the communicant, leaves out an important significant element in this sacrament.

Verse 17

For we (being) many are one bread, (and) one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

Literally rendered this verse reads: Since it is one bread, we the many are one body; for we are all partakers of one bread. We are not said to be one bread; but we are one body because we partake of one bread. The design of the apostle is to show that every one who comes to the Lord's supper enters into communion with all other communicants. They form one body in virtue of their joint participation of Christ. This being the case, those who attend the sacrificial feasts of the heathen form one religious body. They are in religious communion with each other, because in communion with the demons on whom their worship terminates. Many distinguished commentators, however, prefer the following interpretation. "For we, though many, are one bread (and) one body." The participation of the same loaf makes us one bread, and the joint participation of Christ's body makes us one body. This is, to say the least, an unusual and harsh figure. Believers are never said to be one bread; and to make the ground of comparison the fact that the loaf is the joint product of many grains of wheat is very remote. And to say that we are literally one bread, because by assimilation the bread passes into the composition of the bodies of all the communicants, is to make the apostle teach modern physiology.

In the word ךןיםשםי ́ ב communion, as used in the preceding verse, lies the idea of joint participation. ‘The bread which we break is a joint participation of the body of Christ; because ( ן ̔́ פי) it is one bread, so are we one body.' The thing to be proved is the union of all partakers of that one bread. Instead of connecting this verse with the 16th, as containing a confirmation of what is therein stated, many commentators take it as an independent sentence introducing a passing remark. ‘The Lord's supper brings us into communion with Christ. Because this is the case, we are one body and should act accordingly.' But this not only breaks the connection, but introduces what is not in the text. The idea is, ‘Partaking of the sacrament is a communion, because we the many all partake of one bread.'

Verse 18

Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

Israel after the flesh, i.e. the Jews, as a nation, as distinguished from Israel after the Spirit, or the spiritual Israel or true people of God. As Israel was a favorite term of honor, Paul rarely uses it for the Jews as a people without some such qualification. Comp. Romans 2:28; Romans 9:8. Galatians 4:29; Galatians 6:16.

Are not they which eat of the sacrifices. With the Jews, as with other nations, only a portion of most sacrifices was consumed upon the altar; the residue was divided between the priest and the offerer. Leviticus 7:15; Leviticus 8:31. Deuteronomy 12:18. To eat of the sacrifices in the way prescribed in the Law of Moses, was to take part in the whole sacrificial service. "Thou must eat them before the Lord thy God, in the place which the Lord my God shall choose." Deuteronomy 12:18. Therefore the apostle says that those who eat of the sacrifices are partakers of the altar; that is, they are in communion with it. They become worshippers of the God to whom the altar is dedicated. This is the import and the effect of joining in these sacrificial feasts. The question is not as to the intention of the actors, but as to the import of the act, and as to the interpretation universally put upon it. To partake of a Jewish sacrifice as a sacrifice and in a holy place, was an act of Jewish worship. By parity of reasoning, to partake of a heathen sacrifice as a sacrifice, and in a holy place, was of necessity an act of heathen worship. As all who attended the Jewish sacrifices, to which none but Jews were admitted, professed to be Jews and to be the joint-worshippers of Jehovah, and as they could not be in communion with the altar without being in communion with each other, therefore all who attended the sacrificial feasts of the heathen brought themselves into religious communion with idolaters. It need hardly be remarked that this passage gives no ground for the opinion that the Lord's supper is a sacrifice. This is not the point of comparison. The apostle's argument does not imply that, because the Jewish and heathen feasts were sacrificial feasts, therefore the Christian festival had the same character. The whole stress lies on the word ךןיםשםי ́ ב. ‘Because participation of Christian ordinances involves communion with Christ, participation of heathen ordinances involves communion with devils.'

Verse 19

What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

This is evidently intended to guard against a false inference from this mode of reasoning. It was not to be inferred from what he had said, that he regarded the professed objects of heathen worship as having the same objective existence as the God whom Jews and Christians worshipped; or that he considered the heathen sacrifices as having any inherent power. The idol was nothing, and that which was offered to the idol was nothing. This however does not alter the case. For although there are no such beings as those whom the heathen conceive their gods to be, and although their sacrifices are not what they consider them, still their worship is real idolatry, and has a destructive influence on the soul. How this is, is explained in the following verse.

Verse 20

But (I say), that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

That is, ‘I do not say the gods of the heathen have a real existence, that there are any such persons as Jupiter or Minerva; but I do say that the heathen worship is the worship of demons.' This verse presents two questions for consideration. First, in what sense does Paul here use the word הבילן ́ םיב translated devils; and secondly, in what sense can it be truly said that the heathen worship devils.

The words הבי ́ לשם and הבילן ́ םיןם were used by the Greeks for any deity or God, or spirit, and generally for any object of reverence or dread. The only case in the New Testament where they have this sense is Acts 17:18, ("He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods.") Elsewhere they always mean fallen angels. Our translators have not adhered to the distinction which in the New Testament is constantly made in the use of the words היב ́ גןכןע and הבילן ́ םיןם. They translate both terms by the word devil, and hence, when the latter occurs in the plural form, they render it devils. The former, however, is never applied in Scripture (except in its appellative sense of accuser) to any other being than Satan. He is the Devil, and the Scriptures never speak of more than one. By devils, therefore, in this case are to be understood demons, or the fallen angels or evil spirits. That this is the sense in which the Greek word is to be here taken is plain,

1. Because it is its only scriptural sense. The passage in Acts 17:18, being the language of Athenians, proves nothing as to the usage of Jews speaking Greek.

2. In the Septuagint we have precisely the words used by the apostle, and in the same sense. Deuteronomy 32:17. See also Psalms 95:5, where the Septuagint version is, ן ̔́ פי נב ́ םפוע ןי ̔ טוןי ̀ פש ͂ ם וטםש ͂ ם הבילן ́ םיב, all the gods of the heathen are devils. It can hardly be doubted that the apostle meant to use the word in its established scriptural sense. Comp. also Revelation 9:20.

3. The classical sense of the word does not suit the context. Paul had just said that the heathen gods were nothing; to admit now that there were deities in the Grecian sense of the word הבילן ́ םיןם would be to contradict himself. We must understand the apostle, therefore, as saying on the one hand, that the gods of the heathen were imaginary beings; and on the other, that their sacrifices were really offered to evil spirits.

In what sense, however, is this true? The heathen certainly did not intend to worship evil spirits. Nevertheless they did it. Men of the world do not intend to serve Satan, when they break the laws of God in the pursuit of their objects of desire. Still in so doing they are really obeying the will of the great adversary, yielding to his impulses, and fulfilling his designs. He is therefore said to be the God of this world. To him all sin is an offering and an homage. We are shut up to the necessity of worshipping God or Satan; for all refusing or neglecting to worship the true God, or giving to any other the worship which is due to him alone, is the worshipping of Satan and his angels. It is true therefore, in the highest sense, that what the heathen offer they offer to devils. Although their gods have no existence, yet there are real beings, the rulers of the darkness of this world, wicked spirits in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12), on whom their worship terminates.

And I would not that ye have fellowship with devils. By fellowship or communion, the apostle means here what he meant by the same term in the preceding verses. We are said to have fellowship with those between whom and us there are congeniality of mind, community of interest, and friendly intercourse. In this sense we have fellowship with our fellow Christians, with God and with his Son. And in this sense the worshippers of idols have fellowship with evil spirits. They are united to them so as to form one community, with a common character and a common destiny. Into this state of fellowship they are brought by sacrificing to them; that is, by idolatry, which is an act of apostasy from the true God, and of association with the kingdom of darkness. It was of great importance for the Corinthians to know that it did not depend on their intention whether they came into communion with devils. The heathen did not intend to worship devils, and yet they did it; what would it avail, therefore, to the reckless Corinthians, who attended the sacrificial feasts of the heathen, to say that they did not intend to worship idols? The question was not, what they meant to do, but what they did; not, what their intention was, but what was the import and effect of their conduct. A man need not intend to burn himself when he puts his hand into the fire; or to pollute his soul when he frequents the haunts of vice. The effect is altogether independent of his intention. This principle applies with all its force to compliance with the religious services of the heathen at the present day. Those who in pagan countries join in the religious rites of the heathen, are just as much guilty of idolatry, and are just as certainly brought into fellowship with devils, as the nominal Christians of Corinth, who, although they knew that an idol was nothing, and that there is but one God, yet frequented the heathen feasts. The same principle also applies to the compliance of Protestants in the religious observances of Papists. Whatever their intention may be, they worship the host if they bow down to it with the crowd who intend to adore it. By the force of the act we become one with those in whose worship we join. We constitute with them and with the objects of their worship one communion.

Verse 21

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

The cup of the Lord is that cup which brings us into communion with the Lord, 1 Corinthians 10:16; the cup of devils is that cup which brings us into communion with devils. The reference is not exclusively or specially to the cup of libation, or to the wine poured out as an offering to the gods, but to the cup from which the guests drank at these sacrificial feasts. The whole service had a religious character; all the provisions, the wine as well as the meat, were blessed in the name of the idol, and thereby consecrated to him, in a manner analogous to that in which the bread and the wine on the Lord's table were consecrated to him; comp. 1 Samuel 9:12, 1 Samuel 9:13. The table of the Lord is the table at which the Lord presides, and at which his people are his guests. The table of devils is the table at which devils preside, and at which all present are their guests. What the apostle means to say is, that there is not merely an in congruity and inconsistency in a man's being the guest and friend of Christ and the guest and friend of evil spirits, but that the thing is impossible. It is as impossible as that the same man should be black and white, wicked and holy at the same time. In neither case is this attendance an empty, ineffective service. A man cannot eat of the table of demons without being brought under their power and influence; nor can we eat of the table of the Lord, without being brought into contact with him, either to our salvation or condemnation. If we come thoughtlessly, without any desire after communion with Christ, we eat and drink judgment to ourselves. But if we come with a humble desire to obey our divine master and to seek his presence, we cannot fail to be welcomed and blessed. Compare, in reference to this verse, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

Verse 22

Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Jealousy is the feeling which arises from wounded love, and is the fiercest of all human passions. It is therefore employed as an illustration of the hatred of God towards idolatry. It is as when a bride transfers her affections from her lawful husband, in every way worthy of her love, to some degraded and offensive object. This illustration, feeble as it is, is the most effective that can be borrowed from human relations, and is often employed in Scripture to set forth the heinousness of the sin of idolatry. Deuteronomy 32:21. Psalms 78:58 and elsewhere. Or do we provoke, i.e. is it our object to provoke the Lord to jealousy. The Corinthians ought not to attend these feasts unless they intended to excite against themselves in the highest measure the displeasure of the Lord. And they ought not thus to excite his anger, unless they were stronger than he. By the Lord is to be understood Christ, as the context requires. It was the Lord's table that was forsaken, and the same Lord that was provoked thereby to jealousy. Here again, the relation in which Christians stand to Christ, is said to be analogous to that in which the Israelites stood to Jehovah. Christ is therefore our Jehovah. He is our husband, to whom our supreme affection is due, and who loves us as a husband loves his wife. "Thy maker is thy husband, Jehovah is his name," Isaiah 54:5; see Ephesians 5:25-31.

Verse 23

The apostle having, in the preceding paragraph, proved that eating of the sacrifices offered to idols under circumstances which gave a religious character to the act, was idolatry, comes to state the circumstances under which those sacrifices might be eaten without scruple. He begins by reverting to the general law of Christian liberty stated with the same limitations as in 1 Corinthians 6:12. The right to use things offered to idols, as well as other things in themselves indifferent, is limited by expediency. We should be governed in this matter by a regard to the good of others, and to our own edification, 1 Corinthians 10:23, 1 Corinthians 10:24. If the meat of sacrifices be sold in the market, 1 Corinthians 10:25, or found at private tables, it may be eaten without any hesitation, 1 Corinthians 10:27. But if any one at a private table, from scruples on the subject, should apprise us that a certain dish contained part of a sacrifice, for his sake, and not for our own, we ought to abstain, 1 Corinthians 10:28. We should not make such a use of our liberty as to cause our good to be evil spoken of, 1 Corinthians 10:29. The general rule of action, not only as to meats and drinks, but as to all other things is, first, to act with a regard to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31; and secondly, so as to avoid giving offense (i.e. occasion for sin) to any class of men, 1 Corinthians 10:32. In this matter Paul presents himself as an example to his fellow-believers, 1 Corinthians 10:33.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

The apostle had already, in 1 Corinthians 6:12, and in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, conceded that eating of the sacrifices offered to idols, was, in itself, a matter of indifference. But the use of things indifferent is limited by two principles; first, a regard to the welfare of others; secondly, regard to our own welfare. The word ( ףץלצו ́ סוי) is expedient expresses the one of these ideas, and ( ןי ̓ ךןהןלוי ͂) edifieth the other. All things are not expedient or useful to others; and all things are not edifying to ourselves. The latter phrase might indeed have reference to others as well as to ourselves — but as contrasted with the former clause, it appears to be used here with this restricted application. In this view it agrees with the clause, "I will not be brought under the power of any thing," in 1 Corinthians 6:12.

Verse 24

Let no man seek his own, but every man another's (wealth).

That is, let every man, in the use of his liberty, have regard to the welfare of others. The maxim is indeed general. It is not only in the use of things indifferent, but in all other things we should act, not, in exclusive regard to our own interests, but also with a view to the good of others. Self, in other words, is not to be the object of our actions. The context, however, shows, that the apostle intended the maxim to be applied to the subject under discussion. Another's wealth, i.e. another's weal or welfare, according to the old meaning of the word wealth.

Verse 25

Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, (that) eat, asking no question for conscience' sake:

The general principle that sacrifices might be eaten under any circumstances which deprived the act of a religious character, is here, and in what follows, applied to particular cases. Meat, when exposed for public sale in the market, lost its character as a sacrifice, and might be eaten with impunity. The word לב ́ ךוככןם is a Latin word which passed into the Greek, and means a meat market.

Eat, asking no questions for conscience' sake. This clause admits of three interpretations.

1. It may mean, ‘When you go to the market, buy what you want, and make no matter of conscience about the matter. You need have no conscientious scruples, and therefore ask no questions as to whether the meat had been offered to idols or not.' This is the simplest and most natural interpretation. These verses contain the conclusion of the whole discussion. An idol is nothing; the sacrifices are nothing sacred in themselves; but as the heathen are really worshippers of evil spirits, to join in their worship by eating their sacrifices as sacrifices, is idolatry; but to eat them as meat is a matter of indifference; therefore do not make it a matter of conscience. This interpretation is confirmed by the following verse, which assigns the reason why we need have no scruples in the case.

2. Or, the meaning may be, Ask no questions, for fear of awakening scruples in your own mind. A man might eat with a good conscience of meat which he knew not was a sacrifice, when he would have serious scruples if informed that it had been offered to an idol. Therefore it was wise, for his own sake, to ask no questions. Paul, however, would not advise men to act blindfold. If a man thought it wrong to eat meat offered to idols, it would be wrong for him to run the risk of doing so by buying meat in the markets where sacrifices were exposed for sale.

3. Others say the apostle means to caution the strong against instituting such inquiries, for fear of giving rise to scruples in others. In favor of this view it is urged, that throughout the whole discussion the object of the apostle is to induce the strong to respect the conscientious scruples of the weak. And in 1 Corinthians 10:29 he says expressly, that he means the conscience of others.

The former of these considerations has not much weight, for we have here general directions suited to all classes. Having shown in the preceding paragraph, that it was idolatrous to eat of these sacrifices under certain circumstances, it was perfectly natural that he should tell both the strong and the weak when they might be eaten without scruple. As to the second argument, it is rather against man in favor of this interpretation. For if, when he means the conscience of another, he expressly says so, the inference is, that when he makes no such explanation, he means the man's own conscience. Besides, the following verse gives the reason why we need not have any scruples in the case, and not why we should regard the scruples of others.

Verse 26

For the earth (is) the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.

This was the common form of acknowledgment among the Jews before meals. It was the recognition of God as the proprietor and giver of all things, and specially of the food provided for his children. The words are taken from Psalms 24:1. The fullness of the earth is that by which it is filled; all the fruits and animals with which it is replenished; which were created by God, and therefore good. Nothing, therefore, can in itself be polluting, if used in obedience to the design of its creation. And as the animals offered in sacrifice were intended to be food for man, they cannot defile those who use them for that purpose. This is the reason which the apostle gives to show that, so far as God is concerned, the Corinthians need entertain no scruples in eating meat that had been offered to idols. It was a creature of God, and therefore not to be regarded as unclean. Comp. 1 Timothy 4:4, where the same doctrine is taught, and for the same purpose.

Verse 27

If any of them that believe not bid you (to a feast), and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience' sake.

As the sacrifices lost their religious character when sold in the market, so also at any private table they were to be regarded not as sacrifices, but as ordinary food, and might be eaten without scruple. The apostle did not prohibit the Christians from social intercourse with the heathen. If invited to their tables, they were at liberty to go.

Verse 28

But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience' sake: for the earth (is) the Lord's, and the fullness thereof:

This is an exception. They might without scruple eat any thing set before them. But if any of the guests apprised them that a particular dish contained meat which had been offered to an idol, out of regard to the conscientious scruples of him who made the intimation, they should abstain. But, on the contrary, if any one. That is, any of your fellow-guests. The only person likely to make the suggestion was a scrupulous Christian. For his sake that showed it and for conscience' sake; the latter clause is explanatory. ‘On account of him making the intimation, i.e. on account of his conscience.' Though it is right to eat, and though you know it to be right, yet, to avoid wounding or disturbing the conscience of your weaker brother, it is your duty to abstain. The union of the most enlightened liberality with the humblest concession to the weakness of others, exhibited in this whole connection, may well excite the highest admiration. The most enlightened man of his whole generation, was the most yielding and conciliatory in all matters of indifference.

The clause, "For the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof," at the end of this verse, is not found in the best manuscripts, and therefore omitted in all the critical editions of the Greek Testament. They seem to be here entirely out of place. In 1 Corinthians 10:26 they assign the reason why the Corinthians might eat without scruple whatever was sold in the market. But here they have no connection with what precedes. The fact that the earth is the Lord's is no reason why we should not eat of sacrificial meat out of regard to a brother's conscience. There is little doubt, therefore, that it should be omitted.

inthians, and he exhorts them to imitate him, as he did Christ, who is the ultimate standard.

Verse 29-30

Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another (man's) conscience? For it I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

As in the preceding 1 Corinthians 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:27 the word conscience refers to one's own conscience, to prevent its being so understood in 1 Corinthians 10:28, Paul adds the explanation, ‘Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other's.' That is, ‘I do not mean your conscience, but the conscience of the man who warned you not to eat.' For why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? These and the words following admit of three interpretations.

1. If connected with the preceding clause, they must give the reason why Paul meant "the conscience of the other." ‘Conscience I say, not one's own, but of the other; for why is my liberty (or conscience) to be judged by another man's conscience? if I eat with thanksgiving (and with a good conscience, why am I blamed?)' The obvious objection to this interpretation is, that it exalts a subordinate clause into the principal matter. It was plain enough that Paul did not mean the man's own conscience, and therefore it is unnecessary to take up two verses to prove that he did not. Besides, this interpretation makes the apostle change sides. He has from the beginning been speaking in behalf of the weak. This interpretation makes him here speak almost in terms of indignation in behalf of the strong, who certainly need no advocate. They did not require to be told that their liberty was not to be restricted by the scruples of the weak.

2. A much better sense is obtained by connecting this passage with the 28th verse. ‘Do not eat out of regard to the conscience of your brother; for why should my (your) liberty be judged (i.e. condemned) by another conscience; why should I be blamed for what I receive with thanksgiving?' That is, why should I make such a use of my liberty as to give offense? This brings the passage into harmony with the whole context, and connects it with the main idea of the preceding verse, and not with an intermediate and subordinate clause. The very thing the apostle has in view is to induce the strong to respect the scruples of the weak. They might eat of sacrificial meat at private tables with freedom, so far as they themselves were concerned; but why, he asks, should they do it so as to give offense, and cause the weak to condemn and speak evil of them.

3. This passage is by some commentators regarded as the language of an objector, and not as that of the apostle. The strong, when told not to eat on account of the conscience of a weak brother, might ask, ‘Why is my liberty judged by another's conscience — why should I be blamed for what I receive with thanksgiving?' (The דב ́ ס, according to this view, is not for, but intensive, י ̔ םבפי ́ דב ́ ס, why then.) This gives a very good sense, but it is not consistent with the following verse (which is connected with 1 Corinthians 10:30 by ןץ ̓͂ ם, and not by הו ́). Paul does not go on to answer that objection, but considers the whole matter settled. The second interpretation is the only one consistent alike with what precedes and with what follows. ‘Do not eat when cautioned not to do so; for why should you so use your liberty as to incur censure? Whether therefore you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God.' Why is my liberty judged ( ךסי ́ םופבי), i.e. judged unfavorably or condemned. If I by grace am a partaker; literally, if I partake with thanksgiving. The word קב ́ סיע, grace, is here used in the sense of gratia, thanks, as in the common phrase to say grace. See Luke 6:32, 1 Timothy 1:12, etc.

Verse 31

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

This may mean either, ‘Do all things with a view to the glory of God.' Let that be the object constantly aimed at; or, ‘Do all things in such a way that God may be glorified.' There is little difference between these modes of explanation. God cannot be glorified by our conduct unless it be our object to act for his glory. The latter interpretation is favored by a comparison with 1 Peter 4:11, "That God in all things may be glorified." See Colossians 3:17. All the special directions given in the preceding discussion are here summed up. ‘Let self be forgotten. Let your eye be fixed on God. Let the promotion of his glory be your object in all you do. Strive in every thing to act in such a way that men may praise that God whom you profess to serve.' The sins of the people of God are always spoken of as bringing reproach on God himself. Romans 2:24. Ezekiel 36:20, Ezekiel 36:23. It is by thus having the desire to promote the glory of God as the governing motive of our lives, that order and harmony are introduced into all our actions. The sun is then the center of the system. Men of the world have themselves for the end of their actions. Philosophers tell us to make the good of others the end; and thus destroy the sentiment of religion, by merging it into philanthropy or benevolence. The Bible tells us to make the glory of God the end. This secures the other ends by making them subordinate, while at the same time it exalts the soul by placing before it an infinite personal object. There is all the difference between making the glory of God (the personal Jehovah) the end of our actions, and the good of the universe, or of being in general, that there is between the love of Christ and the love of an abstract idea. The one is religion, the other is morality.

Verse 32

Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

Give none offense, i.e. give no occasion to sin. An offense is something over which then stumble. The exhortation is to avoid being the cause of sin to others, 1 Corinthians 8:9. Romans 14:13, Romans 14:21. They were to be thus careful with respect to all classes of men, Christians and non-Christians. The latter are divided into the two great classes, the Jews and Gentiles. The church of God, i.e. his people. Those whom God has called out of the world to be his peculiar possession. They are therefore distinguished as the ךכחפןי ́, the called, or, collectively considered, the ו ̓ ךךכחףי ́ ב, the church. The first great principle of Christian conduct is to promote the glory of God; the second is to avoid giving offense, or causing men to sin. In other words, love to God and love to men should govern all our conduct.

Verse 33

Even as I please all (men) in an (things), not seeking mine own profit, but the (profit) of many, that they may be saved.

What he urged them to do, he himself did. His object was not his own advantage, but the benefit of others. He therefore, in all things allowable, accommodated himself to all men, that they might be saved. "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." 1 Corinthians 9:22.

The principle which the apostle here avows, and which he so strenuously recommends in the preceding chapters, is one which has often been lamentably perverted. On the plea of becoming all things to all men, Christians are tempted into sinful conformity with the habits and amusements of the world. On the same plea the church of Rome adopted heathen festivals, ceremonies and rites, until the distinction between Paganism and Christianity was little more than nominal. Heathen temples were called churches; pagan gods were baptized as saints, and honored as before. Modern Rome, in the apprehension of the people, is almost as polytheistic as ancient Rome. In like manner Romish missionaries accommodate themselves to such a degree to heathen ideas and forms, that the difference between what they call Christianity and the religion of the country is almost lost. Even Protestant missionaries are often perplexed how to decide between what is to be tolerated and what prohibited of the previous usages and ceremonies of their converts. That the principle on which Paul and the other apostles acted in reference to this matter, is radically different from that adopted by the church of Rome, is apparent from their different results. Rome has become paganized. The apostle so acted as to preserve the church from every taint of either Paganism or Judaism. The rules which guided the apostles may be easily deduced from the conduct and epistles of Paul.

1. They accommodated themselves to Jewish or Gentile usages only in matters of indifference.

2. They abstained from all accommodation even in things indifferent, under circumstances which gave to those things a religious import. They allowed sacrifices to be eaten; but eating within a temple was forbidden.

3. They conceded when the concession was not demanded as a matter of necessity; but refused when it was so regarded. Paul said circumcision was nothing and uncircumcision was nothing; yet he resisted the circumcision of Titus when it was demanded by the Judaizers.

4. The object of their concessions was not to gain there nominal converts, nor to do away with the offense of the cross, Galatians 4:11, but to save men. No concession therefore, whether to the manners of the world or to the prejudices of the ignorant, can plead the sanction of apostolic example, which has not that object honestly in view.

5. It is included in the above particulars that Paul, in becoming all things to all men, never compromised any truth or sanctioned any error.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:4". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology