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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
1 Corinthians 10



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Verse 1

Moreover ( δέ )

But the correct reading is γάρ forintroducing an illustration of rejection by God, and thus connecting what follows with the close of the last chapter. It is possible that I may be rejected, for the Israelites were.


Strongly emphasized in contrast with most of them (A.V., many ) in 1 Corinthians 10:5. All enjoyed the privileges, but few improved them. The word is repeated five times.

Under the cloud

The cloudy pillar which guided the Israelites. It is sometimes spoken of as covering the host. See Psalm 105:39; 19:7; Numbers href="/desk/?q=nu+14:14&sr=1">Numbers 14:14.

Verse 2

Baptized unto Moses ( εἰς )

Rev., margin, into. See on Matthew 28:19; see on Romans 6:3. They were introduced into a spiritual union with Moses, and constituted his disciples.

Cloud - sea

The two together forming the type of the water of baptism. Bengel says: “The cloud and the sea are in their nature water.” The cloud was diffused and suspended water.

Verse 3

Spiritual meat

The manna, called spiritual because coming from heaven. See Psalm 78:25; John 6:31; and on Revelation 11:8; Revelation 2:17.

Verse 4

Drink - spiritual drink

Spiritual, like the meat, in being supernaturally given. The aorist tense denotes something past, yet without limiting it to a particular occasion. They drank at Rephidim (Exodus 17:6), but they continued to drink spiritual drink, for -

They drank ( ἔπινον )

The imperfect tense denoting continued action - throughout their journey.

That spiritual rock

For that read a. Paul appears to recall a rabbinic tradition that there was a well formed out of the spring in Horeb, which gathered itself up into a rock like a swarm of bees, and followed the people for forty years; sometimes rolling itself, sometimes carried by Miriam, and always addressed by the elders, when they encamped, with the words, “Spring up, O well!” Numbers 21:17. Stanley says: “In accordance with this notion, the Rock of Moses, as pointed out by the local tradition of Mt. Sinai, is not a cleft in the mountain, but a detached fragment of rock about fifteen feet high, with twelve or more fissures in its surface, from which the water is said to have gushed out for the twelve tribes. This local tradition is as old as the Koran, which mentions this very stone.”

Was Christ

Showing that he does not believe the legend, but only uses it allegorically. The important point is that Christ the Word was with His people under the old covenant. “In each case we recognize the mystery of a 'real presence”' (Ellicott). “God was in Christ” here, as from the beginning. The mosaic and the christian economies are only different sides of one dispensation, which is a gospel dispensation throughout. The Jewish sacraments are not mere types of ours. They are identical.

Verse 5

Many ( τοῖς πλείοσιν )

The A.V. misses the force of the article, the many. Hence Rev., correctly, most of them. All perished save Caleb and Joshua.

Overthrown ( κατεστρώθησαν )

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., were strewn down along (the ground). The word belongs mostly to later Greek, though found in Herodotos in the general sense of slaying. So Euripides: “He laid low his wife and child with one dart” (“Hercules Furens,” 1000). It is used of spreading a couch.

Verse 6

Examples ( τύποι )

See on 1 Peter 5:3. The word may mean either an example, as 1 Timothy 4:12, or a type of a fact or of a spiritual truth. Hebrews 9:24; Romans 5:14.

We should not lust ( μὴ εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἐπιθυμητὰς )

Lit., should not be desirers. Ἑπιθυμητής desirerlover, only here in the New Testament. Frequent in the classics. The sins of the Israelites are connected with those of the Corinthians.

Verse 7


Referring to the danger of partaking of the idol feasts.

To play ( παίζειν )

The merrymaking generally which followed the feast, not specially referring to the dancing at the worship of the golden calf. See Exodus 32:19.

Commit fornication

Lasciviousness was habitually associated with idol-worship. The two are combined, Acts 15:29. A thousand priests ministered at the licentious rites of the temple of Venus at Corinth.

Three and twenty thousand

A plain discrepancy between this statement and Numbers 25:9, where the number is twenty-four thousand. It may have been a lapse of memory.

Verse 9

Let us tempt Christ ( ἐκπειράζωμεν τὸν Χριστόν )

The compound word is very significant, “to tempt out ” ( ἐκ ); tempt thoroughly; try to the utmost. It occurs in three other places: Matthew 4:7; Luke 4:12; Luke 10:25; and, in every case, is used of tempting or testing Christ. Compare Psalm 77:18(Sept.). For Christ read Κύριον theLord.

Verse 10

Murmur ( γογγύζετε )

See on John 6:41.

The destroyer ( τοῦ ὀλοθρευτοῦ )

The destroying angel, who is called ὁ ὀλοθρεύων , Exodus 12:23.

Verse 11

Happened ( συνέβαινον )

The imperfect tense marks the successive unfolding of the events.

For ensamples ( τύποι )

The best texts read τυπικῶς byway of figure.

Admonition ( νουθεσίαν )

See on the kindred verb to warn, Acts 20:31.

Ends of the world ( τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων )

Lit., ends of the ages. So Rev. Synonymous with ἡ συντέλεια τῶν αἰώνων theconsummation of the ages, Hebrews 9:26. The phrase assumes that Christ's second coming is close at hand, and therefore the end of the world. Ellicott acutely remarks that the plural, ends, marks a little more distinctly the idea of each age of preparation having passed into the age that succeeded it, so that now all the ends of the ages have come down to them.

Are come ( κατήντηκεν )

See on Acts 26:7. Compare Ephesians 4:13; Philemon 3:11.

Verse 13

Temptation ( πειρασμὸς )

See on Matthew 6:13.

Common to man ( ἀνθρώπινος )

The word means what belongs to men, human. It occurs mostly in this epistle; once in Romans 6:19, meaning after the manner of men, popularly (see note). See James 3:7; 1 Peter 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 4:3. It may mean here a temptation which is human, i.e., incident or common to man, as A.V., or, inferentially, a temptation adapted to human strength; such as man can bear, Rev. The words are added as an encouragement, to offset the warning “let him that thinketh,” etc. They are in danger and must watch, but the temptation will not be beyond their strength.

A way to escape ( τὴν ἔκβασιν )

Rev., better, the way of escape. The word means an egress, a way out. In classical Greek, especially, of a way out of the sea. Hence, in later Greek, of a landing-place. Compare Xenophon: “The ford that was over against the outlet leading to the mountains” (“Anabasis,” iv. 3,20). For the sense of issue or end, see on Hebrews 13:7. The words with the temptation and the way of escape imply an adjustment of the deliverance to each particular case.

To bear

Not the same as escape. Temptation which cannot be fed must be endured. Often the only escape is through endurance. See James 1:12.

Verse 14


Notice the article: the idolatry, the temptation of which is constantly present in the idol-feasts.

Verse 15

Wise ( φρονίμοις )

See on wisdom, Luke 1:17; see on wisely, Luke 16:8. The warning against the sacrificial feasts and the allusion in 1 Corinthians 10:3suggest the eucharistic feast. An act of worship is sacramental, as bringing the worshipper into communion with the unseen. Hence he who practices idolatry is in communion with demons (1 Corinthians 10:20), as he who truly partakes of the Eucharist is in communion with Christ. But the two things are incompatible (1 Corinthians 10:21). In citing the Eucharist he appeals to them as intelligent (wise) men, concerning a familiar practice.

Verse 16

The cup of blessing ( τὸ ποτήριον τῆς εὐλογίας )

Lit., the blessing: the cup over which the familiar formula of blessing is pronounced. Hence the Holy Supper was often styled Eulogia (Blessing). For blessing, see on blessed, 1 Peter 1:3. It is the same as eucharistia (thanksgiving ), applied as the designation of the Lord's Supper: Eucharist. See 1 Corinthians 14:16; 1 Timothy 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:5. The cup is first mentioned, perhaps, because Paul wishes to dwell more at length on the bread; or possibly, because drinking rather than eating characterized the idol-feasts.

Communion ( κοινωνία )

Or participation. See on fellowship, 1 John 1:3; see on Acts 2:42; see on partners, Luke 5:10. The Passover was celebrated by families, typifying an unbroken fellowship of those who formed one body, with the God who had passed by the blood-sprinkled doors.

Verse 17

For ( ὅτι )

Better, seeing that. It begins a new sentence which is dependent on the following proposition: Seeing that there is one bread, we who are many are one body. Paul is deducing the mutual communion of believers from the fact of their communion with their common Lord. By each and all receiving a piece of the one loaf, which represents Christ's body, they signify that they are all bound in one spiritual body, united to Christ and therefore to each other. So Rev., in margin. Ignatius says: “Take care to keep one eucharistic feast only; for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup unto unity of His blood;” i.e., that all may be one by partaking of His blood (Philadelphia, 4).


Passing from the literal sense, the Lord's body (1 Corinthians 10:16), to the figurative sense, the body of believers, the Church.

Partake of ( ἐκ μετέχομεν )

Or partake from. That which all eat is taken from ( ἐκ ) the one loaf, and they eat of it mutually, in common, sharing it among them ( μετά ). So Ignatius: “That ye come together ἕνα ἄρτον κλῶντες breakingone loaf ” (Ephesians, 20).

Verse 18

d Showing that partaking of the idol-feasts is idolatry, by the analogy of the Israelite who, by partaking of the sacrifices puts himself in communion with Jehovah's altar.

Partakers of the altar ( κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου )

An awkward phrase. Rev., better, bringing out the force of κοινωνοὶ communers:have not they - communion with the altar? The Israelite who partook of the sacrifices (Leviticus 8:31) united himself with the altar of God. Paul says with the altar rather than with God, in order to emphasize the communion through the specific act of worship or sacrifice; since, in a larger sense, Israel after the flesh, Israel regarded as a nation, was, in virtue of that fact, in fellowship with God, apart from his partaking of the sacrifices. Possibly, also, to suggest the external character of the Jewish worship in contrast with the spiritual worship of Christians. Philo calls the Jewish priest κοινωνὸς τοῦ βώμου partakerof the altar.

Verse 20

Devils ( δαιμονίοις )

See on Mark 1:34. Used here, as always in the New Testament, of diabolic spirits. Δαιμόνιον the neuter of the adjective δαιμόνιος divineoccurs in Paul's writings only here and 1 Timothy 4:1. It is used in the Septuagint, Deuteronomy 32:17, to translate the Hebrew word which seems, originally, to have meant a supernatural being inferior to the gods proper, applied among the Assyrians to the bulldeities which guarded the entrances to temples and palaces. Among the Israelites it came to signify all gods but the God of Israel. Compare Isaiah 65:11, where Gad (good fortune, probably the star-God Jupiter) is rendered in the Septuagint τῷ δαιμονίῳ thedemon. See Rev, O.T. Also Psalm 96:5(Sept. 95), where elilim things of nought, A.V. idols, is rendered by δαιμόνια demonsi0.

Verse 21

The cup of devils

Representing the heathen feast. The special reference may be either to the drinking-cup, or to that used for pouring libations.

The Lord's table

Representing the Lord's Supper. See 1 Corinthians 11:20sqq. The Greeks and Romans, on extraordinary occasions, placed images of the gods reclining on couches, with tables and food beside them, as if really partakers of the things offered in sacrifice. Diodorus, describing the temple of Bel at Babylon, mentions a large table of beaten gold, forty feet by fifteen, standing before the colossal statues of three deities. Upon it were two drinking-cups. See, also, the story of “Bel and the Dragon,” vv. 10-15. The sacredness of the table in heathen worship is apparent from the manner in which it is combined with the altar in solemn formulae; as ara et mensa. Allusions to the table or to food and drink-offerings in honor of heathen deities occur in the Old Testament: Isaiah 65:11; Jeremiah 7:18; Ezekiel 16:18, Ezekiel 16:19; Ezekiel 23:41. In Malachi 1:7, the altar of burnt-offering is called “the table of the Lord.”

Verse 22

Do we provoke - to jealousy ( ἢ παραζηλοῦμεν )

The A.V. does not translate ἢ orand thus breaks the connection with what precedes. You cannot be at the same time in communion with the Lord and with demons, or will you ignore this inconsistency and provoke God? For the verb, see on Romans 10:19.

Are we stronger

The force of the interrogative particle is, surely we are not stronger.

Verse 24

Another's wealth ( τὸ τοῦ ἑτέρου )

Lit., that which is the other's. Wealth, inserted by A.V. is used in the older English sense of well-being. See on Acts 19:25. The A.V. also ignores the force of the article, the other. Rev., much better, his neighbor's good.

Verse 25

The shambles ( μακέλλω )

Only here in the New Testament. It is a Latin word, which is not strange in a Roman colony like Corinth. In sacrifices usually only a part of the victim was consumed. The rest was given to the priests or to the poor, or sold again in the market. Any buyer might therefore unknowingly purchase meat offered to idols.

Asking no question

As to whether the meat had been used in idol sacrifice. See on 1 Corinthians 2:14.

Verse 26

The earth is the Lord's, etc.

The common form of Jewish thanksgiving before the meal. For fullness, see on Romans 11:12.

Verse 28

Any man

Some fellow-guest, probably a gentile convert, but, at all events, with a weak conscience.

Shewed ( μηνύσαντα )

See on Luke 20:37It implies the disclosure of a secret which the brother reveals because he thinks his companion in danger

Verse 30

By grace ( χάριτι )

Better, as Rev., in margin, with thankfulness: with an unsullied conscience, so that I can sincerely give thanks for my food. Compare Romans 14:6; 1 Timothy 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:5.

Am I evil-spoken of ( βλασφημοῦμαι )

In the gospels this word, of which blaspheme is a transcript, has, as in the Septuagint, the special sense of treating the name of God with scorn. So Matthew 9:3; Matthew 26:65; John 10:36. In the epistles frequently as here, with the classical meaning of slandering or defaming.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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