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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 10

 

 

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Verses 1-13

1 Corinthians 10:1-13. From this exposition of his own willingness to waive his rights for the sake of others, closing with the solemn warning that the goal might be missed after all, Paul returns to his main theme, the meats offered to idols. He does not handle it directly in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 but it is clearly in his mind. He begins by recalling the case of the Hebrews in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:13), pointing the warning he draws from it by the reminder that their own fathers (for the readers, though Gentile, belong to the true Israel, Galatians 6:16) possessed in a sense the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist; and yet the majority were destroyed, how grave a warning! They were all (five times in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4) under the cloud (Psalms 105:39, cf. Exodus 13:21) and passed through the Red Sea, and thus baptized themselves for Moses in the water of cloud and sea. They ate the same food and drank the same drink, both manna and the water from the rock being endowed with a spiritual quality. For the rock which followed them was a spiritual, not merely a material rock; it was the preexistent Christ, with whom they were thus brought into a communion similar to that enjoyed by Christians in the Eucharist. Paul is here giving us a piece of rabbinism. We have a double narrative of the smiting of the rock (Exodus 17, Numbers 20:2-13). The localities being different and the identity of the rock being assumed, the legend of the water-bearing rock that followed them easily originated. It was confirmed by combining with this the Song of the Well (Numbers 21:16-18) and explaining that the well was bidden spring from the wilderness to Mattanah. Such a rock belonged to the supernatural order, and from the thought that it was animated by an angel, Paul easily advanced to the identification with Christ. Yet God was angered with most of them so that all, except Joshua and Caleb, strewed the sands of the desert. Let them profit by the example and not lust after the flesh of sacrifice as the Hebrews did after the flesh-pots of Egypt (Numbers 11); or be idolaters, as they went on from feasting to idolatrous dancing and revelry (Exodus 32:6); or guilty of impurity (so constantly associated with idolatry) which led to the death of 23,000 (Numbers 25:1-9, actually 24,000); or presume on God's forbearance as those who were destroyed by serpents (Numbers 21:4-6); or murmur as those smitten by the angelic destroyer (Numbers 16:41-50). The record is for their benefit who live where this age and the age to come meet (the terminal point of one is immediately followed by the initial point of the other, hence the plural "ends"). Let them beware of over-confidence in their stability. So far only human temptations have befallen them such as man can bear; how terrible the prospect were they to be plied with superhuman temptations; but God will protect them from this, giving with the temptation the issue, that they may hold out.


Verses 14-22

1 Corinthians 10:14-22. Paul now deals directly with the problem of idol sacrifice. He appeals to the analogy of the Supper. The Eucharistic cup brings the worshipper into fellowship with Christ's blood, the loaf into fellowship with His body. Participating in the one loaf the many worshippers become one. So the eating of the Israelite sacrifices effects communion with the altar (so Philo, not OT). Let these analogies be applied. Neither the sacrifice nor the idol are real. But the sacrifices are offered to the demons not to God (Deuteronomy 32:17), and thus bring the participants into fellowship with demons. This involves an intolerable incompatibility; they cannot combine the Lord's cup and table with those of the demons. What madness to rouse the Lord's jealousy by giving Him such a rival (Deuteronomy 32:21)! are "the strong stronger than He?


Verses 23-33

1 Corinthians 10:23 to 1 Corinthians 11:1. From the meal in the idol's temple Paul passes to the question as it arose in daily life. He repeats that while all might be lawful all was not expedient (1 Corinthians 6:12) or tended to edify. Each must study his brother's interest rather than his own. What was exposed for sale in the meat market might be freely bought without question as to its antecedents, for it belonged to God. If they accepted a heathen's invitation (Paul does not encourage them to do so), they should similarly eat without question. But if anyone volunteers the information that certain food has been offered in sacrifice, they should abstain. Perhaps the weak brother is the informer, though he would not be likely to accept the invitation or be in a position to make this definite statement. It may quite well be a heathen, possibly the host who would best know the origin of the meat. If so, he saves his Christian guest from violating his principles. He assumes that he will have a conscientious objection to such food. The Christian may really have no such scruples, and could, therefore, take the meat freely. But the heathen would inevitably regard him as untrue to his convictions and playing fast and loose with religion. And this will prejudice him against Christianity, but it may also blunt his own conscience to see conscience thus apparently flouted. Another's conscience must not be made the measure of one's own, nor can one be censured for eating food over which thanks has been pronounced. All must be done to God's glory without placing a hindrance before the Jews, heathen, or Christians, just as Paul seeks the profit of others for their salvation, so they should make him their pattern, as he makes Christ his own.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-corinthians-10.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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