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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 Corinthians 10



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Verse 1

For (γαρgar). Correct text, not δεde Paul appeals to the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness in confirmation of his statement concerning himself in 1 Corinthians 9:26. and as a powerful warning to the Corinthians who may be tempted to flirt with the idolatrous practices of their neighbours. It is a real, not an imaginary peril.

All under the cloud (παντες υπο την νεπεληνpantes hupo tēn nephelēn). They all marched under the pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:19) which covered the host (Numbers 14:14; Psalm 105:39). This mystic cloud was the symbol of the presence of the Lord with the people.

Verse 2

Were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (παντες εις τον Μωυσην εβαπτισαντο εν τηι νεπεληι και εν τηι ταλασσηιpantes eis ton Mōusēn ebaptisanto en tēi nephelēi kai en tēi thalassēi). The picture is plain enough. The mystic cloud covered the people while the sea rose in walls on each side of them as they marched across. B K L P read εβαπτισαντοebaptisanto (causative first aorist middle, got themselves baptized) while Aleph A C D have εβαπτιστησανebaptisthēsan (first aorist passive, were baptized). The immersion was complete for all of them in the sea around them and the cloud over them. Moses was their leader then as Christ is now and so Paul uses ειςeis concerning the relation of the Israelites to Moses as he does of our baptism in relation to Christ (Galatians 3:27).

Verse 3

The same spiritual meat (το αυτο πνευματικον βρωμαto auto pneumatikon brōma). Westcott and Hort needlessly bracket to αυτοauto ρωμαBrōma is food, not just flesh. The reference is to the manna (Exodus 16:13.) which is termed “spiritual” by reason of its supernatural character. Jesus called himself the true bread from heaven (John 6:35) which the manna typified.

Verse 4

For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them (επινον εκ πνευματικης ακολουτουσης πετραςepinon ek pneumatikēs akolouthousēs petras). Change to the imperfect επινονepinon shows their continual access to the supernatural source of supply. The Israelites were blessed by the water from the rock that Moses smote at Rephidim (Exodus 17:6) and at Kadesh (Numbers 20:11) and by the well of Beer (Numbers 21:16). The rabbis had a legend that the water actually followed the Israelites for forty years, in one form a fragment of rock fifteen feet high that followed the people and gushed out water. Baur and some other scholars think that Paul adopts this “Rabbinical legend that the water-bearing Rephidim rock journeyed onwards with the Israelites” (Findlay). That is hard to believe, though it is quite possible that Paul alludes to this fancy and gives it a spiritual turn as a type of Christ in allegorical fashion. Paul knew the views of the rabbis and made use of allegory on occasion (Galatians 4:24).

And the rock was Christ (η πετρα δε ην ο Χριστοςhē petra de ēn ho Christos). He definitely states here in symbolic form the preexistence of Christ. But surely “we must not disgrace Paul by making him say that the pre-incarnate Christ followed the march of Israel in the shape of a lump of rock” (Hofmann). He does mean that Christ was the source of the water which saved the Israelites from perishing (Robertson and Plummer) as he is the source of supply for us today.

Verse 5

With most of them (εν τοις πλειοσιν αυτωνen tois pleiosin autōn). “A mournful understatement,” for only two (Caleb and Joshua) actually reached the Promised Land (Numbers 14:30-32). All the rest were rejected or αδοκιμοιadokimoi (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Were overthrown (κατεστρωτησανkatestrōthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of καταστρωννυμιkatastrōnnumi old compound verb, to stretch or spread down as of a couch, to lay low (Euripides), as if by a hurricane. Powerful picture of the desolation wrought by the years of disobedience and wanderings in the desert by this verb quoted from Numbers 14:16.

Verse 6

Were our examples (τυποι ημων εγενητησανtupoi hēmōn egenēthēsan). More exactly, examples for us (objective genitive ημωνhēmōn not subjective genitive, of us). The word τυποιtupoi (our types) comes from τυπτωtuptō to strike, and meant originally the mark of a blow as the print of the nails (John 20:25), then a figure formed by a blow like images of the gods (Acts 7:43), then an example to be imitated (1 Peter 5:3; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9), or to be avoided as here, and finally a type in a doctrinal sense (Romans 5:14; Hebrews 9:24).

To the intent we should not lust after (εις το μη ειναι ημας επιτυμηταςeis to mē einai hēmas epithumētas). Purpose expressed by ειςeis with the articular infinitive το ειναιto einai and the accusative of general reference with επιτυμηταςepithumētas (lusters) in the predicate.

Verse 7

Neither be ye idolaters (μηδε ειδωλολατραι γινεστεmēde eidōlolatrai ginesthe). Literally, stop becoming idolaters, implying that some of them had already begun to be. The word ειδωλολατρηςeidōlolatrēs seems to be a Christian formation to describe the Christian view. Eating τα ειδωλοτυταta eidōlothuta might become a stepping-stone to idolatry in some instances.

Drink (πεινpein). Short form for πιεινpiein sometimes even πινpin occurs (Robertson, Grammar, p. 204).

To play (παιζεινpaizein). This old verb to play like a child occurs nowhere else in the N.T., but is common in the lxx and it is quoted here from Ex 32:6. In idolatrous festivals like that witnessed by Moses when he saw the people singing and dancing around the golden calf (Exodus 32:18.).

Verse 8

Neither let us commit fornication (μηδε πορνευωμενmēde porneuōmen). More exactly, And let us cease practicing fornication as some were already doing (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 7:2). The connection between idolatry and fornication was very close (see Jowett, Epistles of Paul, II, p. 70) and see about Baal-Peor (Numbers 25:1-9). It was terribly true of Corinth where prostitution was part of the worship of Aphrodite.

In one day (μιαι ημεραιmiāi hēmerāi). An item that adds to horror of the plague in Numbers 25:9 where the total number is 24,000 instead of 23,000 as here for one day.

Verse 9

Neither let us tempt the Lord (μηδε εκπειραζωμεν τον Κυριονmēde ekpeirazōmen ton Kurion). So the best MSS. instead of Christ. This compound occurs in lxx and in N.T. always about Christ (here and Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:12; Luke 10:25). Let us cease sorely (εκek̇) tempting the Lord by such conduct.

And perished by the serpents (και υπο των οπεων απωλλυντοkai hupo tōn opheōn apōllunto). Vivid imperfect middle (cf. aorist middle απωλοντοapōlonto in 1 Corinthians 10:10), were perishing day by day. The story is told in Numbers 21:6. The use of υποhupo for agent with the intransitive middle of απολλυμιapollumi is regular. Note the Ionic uncontracted genitive plural οπεωνopheōn rather than οπωνophōn f0).

Verse 10

Neither murmur ye (μηδε γογγυζετεmēde gogguzete). Implying that some of them were murmuring. For this late picturesque onomatopoetic verb see note on Matthew 20:11. The reference seems to be to Numbers 16:41. after the punishment of Korah.

By the destroyer (υπο του ολοτρευτουhupo tou olothreutou). This word, from ολοτρευωolothreuō (late verb from ολετροςolethros destruction) occurs only here, so far as known. The reference is to the destroying angel of Exodus 12:23 (ο ολοτρευωνho olothreuōn).

Verse 11

Now these things happened unto them (ταυτα δε συνεβαινον εκεινοιςtauta de sunebainon ekeinois). Imperfect tense because they happened from time to time.

By way of example (τυπικωςtupikōs). Adverb in sense of τυποιtupoi in 1 Corinthians 10:6. Only instance of the adverb except in ecclesiastical writers after this time, but adjective τυπικοςtupikos occurs in a late papyrus.

For our admonition (προς νουτεσιαν ημωνpros nouthesian hēmōn). Objective genitive (ημωνhēmōn) again. ΝουτεσιαNouthesia is late word from νουτετεωnoutheteō (see note on Acts 20:31; note on 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and note on 1 Thessalonians 5:14) for earlier νουτετησιςnouthetēsis and νουτετιαnouthetia

The ends of the ages have come (τα τελη των αιωνων κατηντηκενta telē tōn aiōnōn katēntēken). Cf. Hebrews 9:26 η συντελεια των αιωνωνhē sunteleia tōn aiōnōn the consummation of the ages (also Matthew 13:40). The plural seems to point out how one stage succeeds another in the drama of human history. ΚατηντηκενKatēntēken is perfect active indicative of κατανταωkatantaō late verb, to come down to (see note on Acts 16:1). Does Paul refer to the second coming of Christ as in 1 Corinthians 7:26 ? In a sense the ends of the ages like a curtain have come down to all of us.

Verse 12

Lest he fall (μη πεσηιmē pesēi). Negative purpose with μηmē and second aorist active subjunctive of πιπτωpiptō f0).

Verse 13

Hath taken (ειληπενeilēphen). Perfect active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō

But such as man can bear (ει μη αντρωπινοςei mē anthrōpinos). Except a human one. Old adjective meaning falling to the lot of man.

Above that ye are able (υπερ ο δυναστεhuper ho dunasthe). Ellipsis, but plain. There is comfort in that God is faithful, trustworthy (πιστοςpistos).

The way of escape (την εκβασινtēn ekbasin). “The way out” is always there right along with (συνsun) the temptation. This old word only here in N.T. and Hebrews 13:7 about death. It is cowardly to yield to temptation and distrustful of God.

Verse 14

Wherefore (διοπερdioper). Powerfully Paul applies the example of the Israelites to the perilous state of the Corinthians about idolatry. See note on 1 Corinthians 10:7 for word ειδωλολατρειαeidōlolatreia f0).

Verse 15

As to wise men (ως προνιμοιςhōs phronimois). No sarcasm as in 2 Corinthians 11:19, but plea that they make proper use of the mind (πρενphren) given them.

Verse 16

The cup of blessing (το ποτηριον της ευλογιαςto potērion tēs eulogias). The cup over which we pronounce a blessing as by Christ at the institution of the ordinance.

A communion of the blood of Christ (κοινωνια του αιματος του ΧριστουKoinéōnia tou haimatos tou Christou). Literally, a participation in (objective genitive) the blood of Christ. The word κοινωνιαKoinéōnia is an old one from κοινωνοςKoinéōnos partner, and so here and Philemon 2:1; Philemon 3:10. It can mean also fellowship (Galatians 2:9) or contribution (2 Corinthians 8:4; Philemon 1:5). It is, of course, a spiritual participation in the blood of Christ which is symbolized by the cup. Same meaning for κοινωνιαKoinéōnia in reference to “the body of Christ.”

The bread which we break (τον αρτον ον κλωμενton arton hon klōmen). The loaf. Inverse attraction of the antecedent (αρτονarton) to the case (accusative) of the relative (ονhon) according to classic idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 488). ΑρτοςArtos probably from αρωarō to join or fit (flour mixed with water and baked). The mention of the cup here before the bread does not mean that this order was observed for see the regular order of bread and then cup in 1 Corinthians 11:24-27.

Verse 17

One bread (εις αρτοςheis artos). One loaf.

Who are many (οι πολλοιhoi polloi). The many.

We all (οι παντεςhoi pantes). We the all, the whole number, οι παντεςhoi pantes being in apposition with the subject we (ημειςhēmeis unexpressed).

Partake (μετεχομενmetechomen). Have a part with or in, share in. See 1 Corinthians 9:12; Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 5:13 (partaking of milk).

Of the one bread (του ενος αρτουtou henos artou). Of the one loaf, the article τουtou referring to one loaf already mentioned.

One body (εν σωμαhen sōma). Here the mystical spiritual body of Christ as in 1 Corinthians 12:12., the spiritual kingdom or church of which Christ is head (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:23).

Verse 18

After the flesh (κατα σαρκαkata sarka). The literal Israel, the Jewish people, not the spiritual Israel (Ισραηλ κατα πνευμαIsraēl kata pneuma) composed of both Jews and Gentiles, the true children of faith (Romans 2:28; Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:7).

Communion with the altar (κοινωνοι του τυσιαστηριουKoinéōnoi tou thusiastēriou). Same idea in κοινωνοιKoinéōnoi participators in, partners in, sharers in (with objective genitive). The word τυσιαστηριονthusiastērion is from late verb τυσιαζωthusiazō to offer sacrifice, and that from τυσιαthusia sacrifice, and that from τυωthuō common verb to slay, to sacrifice (1 Corinthians 10:20). The Israelites who offer sacrifices have a spiritual participation in the altar.

Verse 19

A thing sacrificed to idols (ειδωλοτυτονeidōlothuton). See Acts 15:29; note on 1 Corinthians 8:1, note on 1 Corinthians 8:4

Idol (ειδωλονeidōlon). Image of a god. See note on Acts 7:41; note on Acts 15:20; note on 1 Corinthians 8:4; and note on 1 Corinthians 8:7.

Verse 20

But I say that (αλλ οτιall' hoti). The verb πημιphēmi (I say) must be repeated from 1 Corinthians 10:19 before οτιhoti

To demons, and not to God (δαιμονιοις και ου τεωιdaimoniois kai ou theōi). Referring to lxx text of Deuteronomy 32:17. It is probable that by ου τεωιou theōi Paul means “to a no-god” as also in Deuteronomy 32:21 επ ουκ ετνειep' ouk ethnei (by a no-people). This is Paul‘s reply to the heathen who claimed that they worshipped the gods represented by the images and not the mere wood or stone or metal idols. The word δαιμονιαdaimonia is an adjective δαιμονιοςdaimonios from δαιμωνdaimōn an inferior deity, and with same idea originally, once in this sense in N.T. (Acts 17:18). Elsewhere in N.T. it has the notion of evil spirits as here, those spiritual forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12) that are under the control of Satan. The word δαιμονιαdaimonia so common in the Gospels, occurs in Paul‘s writings only here and 1 Timothy 4:1. Demonology is a deep and dark subject here pictured by Paul as the explanation of heathenism which is a departure from God (Romans 1:19-23) and a substitute for the worship of God. It is a terrible indictment which is justified by the licentious worship associated with paganism then and now.

Verse 21

Ye cannot (ου δυναστεou dunasthe). Morally impossible to drink the Lord‘s cup and the cup of demons, to partake of the Lord‘s table and the table of demons.

Of the table of the Lord (τραπεζης Κυριουtrapezēs Kuriou). No articles, but definite idea. ΤραπεζαTrapeza is from τετραtetra (four) and πεζαpeza (a foot), four-footed. Here table means, as often, what is on the table. See Luke 22:30 where Jesus says “at my table” (επι της τραπεζης μουepi tēs trapezēs mou), referring to the spiritual feast hereafter. Here the reference is plainly to the Lord‘s Supper (Κυριακον δειπνονKuriakon deipnon 1 Corinthians 11:20). See allusions in O.T. to use of the table in heathen idol feasts (Isaiah 65:11; Jeremiah 7:18; Ezekiel 16:18.; Ezekiel 23:41). The altar of burnt-offering is called the table of the Lord in Malachi 1:7 (Vincent).

Verse 22

Provoke to jealousy (παραζηλουμενparazēloumen). The very word used in Deuteronomy 32:21 of the insolence of the old Israelites. Quoted in Romans 10:19. Such double-dealing now will do this very thing.

Stronger than he (ισχυροτεροι αυτουischuroteroi autou). Comparative adjective followed by the ablative.

Verse 23

See note on 1 Corinthians 6:12 for lawful (εχεστινexestin) and expedient (συμπερειsumpherei).

Edify not (ουκ οικοδομειouk oikodomei). Build up. Explanation of expedient (συμπερειsumpherei).

Verse 24

Let no man seek his own (μηδεις το εαυτου ζητειτωmēdeis to heautou zēteitō). This is Paul‘s rule for social relations (1 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 6:2; Romans 14:7; Romans 15:2; Philemon 2:1.) and is the way to do what is expedient and what builds up.

His neighbour‘s good (το του ετερουto tou heterou). Literally, “the affair of the other man.” Cf. τον ετερονton heteron in Romans 13:8 for this idea of ετεροςheteros like ο πλησιονho plēsion (the nigh man, the neighbour) in Romans 15:2. This is loving your neighbour as yourself by preferring your neighbour‘s welfare to your own (Philemon 2:4).

Verse 25

In the shambles (εν μακελλωιen makellōi). Only here in N.T. A transliterated Latin word macellum, possibly akin to μαχεριαmaceria and the Hebrew word for enclosure, though occurring in Ionic and Laconian and more frequent in the Latin. It occurs in Dio Cassius and Plutarch and in the papyri and inscriptions for “the provision market.” Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 276) says: “In the Macellum at Pompeii we can imagine to ourselves the poor Christians buying their modest pound of meat in the Corinthian Macellum (1 Corinthians 10:25), with the same life-like reality with which the Diocletian maximum tariff called up the picture of the Galilean woman purchasing her five sparrows.”

Asking no questions for conscience sake (μηδεν ανακρινοντες δια την συνειδησινmēden anakrinontes dia tēn suneidēsin). As to whether a particular piece of meat had been offered to idols before put in the market. Only a part was consumed in the sacrifices to heathen gods. The rest was sold in the market. Do not be over-scrupulous. Paul here champions liberty in the matter as he had done in 1 Corinthians 8:4.

Verse 26

This verse gives the reason for Paul‘s advice. It is a quotation from Psalm 24:1 and was a common form of grace before meals.

Fulness (πληρωμαplērōma). Old word from πληροωplēroō to fill, here that with which a thing is filled, whatever fills the earth.

Verse 27

Biddeth you (καλει υμαςkalei humas). To a general banquet, but not to a temple feast (1 Corinthians 8:10) which is prohibited. If a pagan invites Christians to their homes to a banquet, one is to act like a gentleman.

Verse 28

But if any man say unto you (εαν δε τις υμιν ειπηιean de tis humin eipēi). Condition of third class. Suppose at such a banquet a “weak” brother makes the point to you: “This hath been offered in sacrifice” (τουτο ιεροτυτον εστινtouto hierothuton estin). ιεροτυτονHierothuton late word in Plutarch, rare in inscriptions and papyri, only here in N.T.

Eat not (μη εστιετεmē esthiete). Present imperative with μηmē prohibiting the habit of eating then. Pertinent illustration to the point of doing what is expedient and edifying.

That shewed it (τον μηνυσανταton mēnusanta). First aorist active articular participle (accusative case because of διαdia) from μηνυωmēnuō old verb, to point out, to disclose. See Luke 20:37.

Verse 29

For why is my liberty judged by another conscience? (ινα τι γαρ η ελευτερια μου κρινεται υπο αλλης συνειδησεωσhina ti gar hē eleutheria mou krinetai hupo allēs suneidēseōs̱). Supply γενηταιgenētai (deliberative subjunctive) after τιti Paul deftly puts himself in the place of the strong brother at such a banquet who is expected to conform his conscience to that of the weak brother who makes the point about a particular piece of meat. It is an abridgment of one‘s personal liberty in the interest of the weak brother. Two individualities clash. The only reason is love which builds up (1 Corinthians 8:2 and all of chapter 1 Corinthians 13:1-13). There is this eternal collision between the forces of progress and reaction. If they work together, they must consider the welfare of each other.

Verse 30

Paul carries on the supposed objective to his principle of love. Why incur the risk of being evil spoken of (βλασπημουμαιblasphēmoumai) for the sake of maintaining one‘s liberty? Is it worth it? See note on Romans 14:6 where Paul justifies the conscience of one who eats the meat and of one who does not. Saying grace over food that one should not eat seems inconsistent. We have this very word blaspheme in English.

Verse 31

To the glory of God (εις δοχαν τεουeis doxan theou). This is the ruling motive in the Christian‘s life, not just having his own way about whims and preferences.


Verse 32

Give no occasion of stumbling (απροσκοποιaproskopoi). Late word and in papyri, only three times in N.T. (here; Philemon 1:10; Acts 24:16). See note on Acts 24:16. Here in active sense, not tripping others by being a stumbling-block, as in Sirach 32:21, but passive in Acts 24:16.

Verse 33

Mine own profit (το εμουτου συμπερονto emoutou sumpheron). Old word from συμπερωsumpherō to bear together, and explains use of verb in 1 Corinthians 10:23.

That they may be saved (ινα σωτωσινhina sōthōsin). First aorist passive subjunctive of σωζωsōzō to save, with ιναhina purpose clause with same high motive as in 1 Corinthians 9:22. This is the ruling passion of Paul in his dealings with men.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 26th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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