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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
1 Corinthians 10

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

1 Corinthians 10:1-4. 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; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

You see, then, dear brethren, that the possession of privileges is not everything. Paul would not have us to be ignorant that all those, who were with Moses in the wilderness, had privileges of a very high order. Did they not all pass through the Red Sea, and so escape from their powerful and cruel foes? Did they not all drink of water which gushed forth from the flinty rock? Were they not all fed with manna from heaven? Yet their privileges did not save them, for while they had the five privileges mentioned in these four verses, they fell into the five great sins of which we are about to read; and so, their privileges, instead of being a blessing to them, only increased their condemnation.

1 Corinthians 10:5-6. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, —

Or, warnings, for just as they were overthrown in the wilderness, so may we be, notwithstanding all the gospel privileges which we enjoy, if we are not true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. If the life of Christ is not in our souls, all the privileges of the Church of God cannot save us. “These things were our examples,” —

1 Corinthians 10:6-11. To the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.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. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; —

The apostle has told us that before, but he tells it to us again, to warn us, by these beacons, lest we come to a similar destruction to that which befell those ancient unbelievers.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12. And they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

We also are to take heed lest we fall, especially those of us who think we are standing securely. You have seen how terrible was the fate of those unbelievers in the wilderness, who never entered into Canaan, but left their carcases in the desert; now Paul urges us, with such beacons to warn us, to take heed lest we also fall as they did.

1 Corinthians 10:13. 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.

O Lord, fulfill thy gracious purpose unto thy servants! Hold thou us up, lest we fall. We are very weak; keep us, for thy dear Son’s sake! Amen.


Verses 1-14

1 Corinthians 10:1-4. 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; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The history of Israel in coming out of Egypt was a very instructive type of the history of the visible Church of Christ. They were in slavery in Egypt as all men are in bondage to sin and Satan. They were brought out of Egypt as all the redeemed are delivered by the almighty grace of God. With a high hand and an outstretched arm, the Lord brought Israel out of the house of bondage; and, by a very wonderful baptism, “in the cloud and in the sea,” they commenced their career as God’s separated people. Then they all shared in the same spiritual ordinances: “They did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink.” Yet, for all that, they were not all God’s people. They were so nominally, and visibly; but they were not all really so. And, as there was a mixed multitude that came up out of Egypt, together with the true seed of promise, so is there an alien element in every church at this present day. Among those who have been baptized into Christ, there are still some who, while they eat the spiritual meat and drink the spiritual drink, yet for all that have not been brought into true communion with Christ, and do not in reality know the Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:5. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

There was no evidence of faith in many of them, and “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Is it not a sad thing that, in a people so highly favored as they were, there should have been so large a proportion of those who had not the faith which renders men pleasing unto God? So they did literally come out into the wilderness to die there, and they never entered into the rest of God.

1 Corinthians 10:6. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we —

We professed Christians,— we, church-members,—

1 Corinthians 10:6. Should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

They gave way to their carnal appetites; they craved for meat when God had already given them angels’ food. Now, if we act like this, we cannot be pleasing unto God.

1 Corinthians 10:7. 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.

That is, to go through those unclean rites and ceremonies before their idols which are here called, “play.” Ah, dear friends, may God keep us from the worship of anything which we can see with our eyes, or hear with our ears! Stay we never become idolaters! You know, we can very easily make idols of our children; we can make idols of our own persons, we can make idols of our talents, of our respectability, and so forth. But, oh! it matters not what the idol is; it is no more pleasing to God if it be of silver and gold than if it were of the mud of the river. No: “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them.”

1 Corinthians 10:8. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

Fornication in God’s people is peculiarly black and filthy. In the ordinary man of the world, it is evil enough; but when a man professes to be a Christian, he must flee from even the very thought of it, and keep himself chaste, for his body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Oh, may none of us ever come anywhere near to this great evil, but in purity of heart may we walk before our God!

1 Corinthians 10:9. Neither let me tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

I cannot stay to mention the many ways in which we can tempt Christ; but we can readily do so still. What a dreadful doom it was to be destroyed by serpents! Yet is it not very wonderful that, in connection with this great sin, and its awful punishment, the brazen serpent was lifted high, that whosoever looked to it might live? And now, if any have tempted Christ by presumptuous sin, by their delay, or by their infidelity, let them bless God that they are not yet destroyed of serpents, because Christ has been lifted up even as the serpent of brass was exalted above the camp of Israel.

Remember our Lords’ words to Nicodemus: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

1 Corinthians 10:10. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

It is a dreadful habit to get into,— that of complaining against God. Occasional murmuring is doubtless sinful, but habitual murmuring becomes a very great evil. I am afraid that there are some who cavil at God’s providence, and cavil at his Word, till they come to be cavillers and nothing else; and what good is a man who can do nothing else but carp, and cavil, and criticize? O beloved, “neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

1 Corinthians 10:11. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples:

They were like a ‘book in which we might read our own history in large characters. We see ourselves foreshadowed in them, and we read our happiness or our misery in their behaviour.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12. And they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

For if he begins to think that he stands, it may be that it is nothing but his own imagination; there may be no real standing about it. And there is no surer sign of the falsity of a man’s estimate of himself than the fact that it is a high one. He that thinks himself good has not begun to be good, for the door of the palace of wisdom is humility, and the gate of the temple of virtue is lowliness of mind.

1 Corinthians 10:13-14. 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. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

I should like to see this verse put over the top of every “sacramental” table in every “church” in England: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” If this text were properly understood, every crucifix would be broken to pieces, and the altars themselves would be cleared away to make room for what should be there,— the table of the Lord; and we should have no more worship of visible things, which is idolatry. O ye who are the dearly-beloved of God, flee from it! Keep as far from it as ever you can. I remember reading of a man of God who was the rector of a certain parish, and who had in the church a very ancient sad famous painted window of which he was somewhat proud. In the design there was a representation of the Godhead,— the Father was there, and oh, how blasphemous! — he was represented as an aged man; and, one day, this clergyman, who had seen no evil in the window, heard a rustic explaining to a companion that that was the God whom they worshipped. The rector did not deliberate for a moment, but he threw a stone right through that part of the painted window. I suppose that was an offence against the law of man, but certainly it was not against the law of God. He would never have that figure replaced on any account whatever, and I think that he did well: “Dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” Put it out of your sight; do not tamper with it, but hate it with a perfect hatred. In God’s eyes, it is one of the most fearful of sins. He has said, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,” and he will have nothing to come between us and the pure and simple worship of his invisible self.


Verse 15

1 Corinthians 10:15-19. I Speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

After they had offered the beasts as sacrifices to their idols, it was the custom to sell the carcases in the shambles. Christian men, going into the market to buy meat, and asking no questions, bought and ate portions of these sacrifices, and they did no wrong whatever. But there were some in the church who were very tender of conscience, and who said, “If we eat meat which has been offered to idols, we thereby become partakers with the idolaters.” Paul therefore writes:—

1 Corinthians 10:20-21. 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. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils:

It cannot be; there must be a separation between these two things. We cannot have any delight in idol-worship, and yet worship the Christ of God.

1 Corinthians 10:21-28. Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devil. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. 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. 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:

So, you see, you may eat the meat if you like, for the idol is nothing at all; but, still, if you are told that it is meat that has been offered to idols, and that you by eating of it seem to join in the worship of idols, abstain from doing it, not for your own sake, but for the sake of the man who might be caused to stumble through you. This is a safe rule with regard to Christian behaviour in many other things. There may be things lawful in drink as well as in meat, which a man may take without sinning; but if he knows that his example leads others astray, then let him take heed that he does not set such an example. An example which is an excuse for drunkenness is not a good one; therefore, let none of us set it before the eyes of men. If any man say to you, “This meat has been offered in sacrifice to idols,” “eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

1 Corinthians 10:29. Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

That man may not be able to do it without injury to himself, but I may, and I have liberty so to do; but yet, as a Christian man, I am to consider his want of power, and I am not to use my liberty lest I do harm to my brother.

1 Corinthians 10:30-31. For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

And if anything you might do would not glorify God, do not do it.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 11:1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

This exposition consisted of readings from John 9, and 1 Corinthians 10:15-33, and 1 Corinthians 11:1.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/1-corinthians-10.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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