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Song of Solomon
1 Corinthians 10 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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1 Corinthians 10
1 Corinthians 10:1
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;
Warnings against over confidence in relation to idolatry and other temptations.
He has just shown them, by his own example, the necessity for strenuous watchfulness and effort. In continuance of the same lesson, he teaches them historically that the possession of great privileges is no safeguard, and that the seductions, even of idolatry, must not be carelessly despised. Although the connection of the various paragraphs is not stated with logical precision, we see that they all bear on the one truth which he wants to inculcate, namely, that it is both wise and kind to limit our personal freedom out of sympathy with others. The reading "but" (
, morever) is probably a correction of the true reading (
, for), due to the failure to understand the whole train of thought.
I would not that ye should be ignorant.
This is a favourite phrase of St. Paul's (
1 Corinthians 12:1
2 Corinthians 1:8
1 Thessalonians 4:13
). The ignorance to which he refers is not ignorance of the facts, but of the
of the facts.
All our fathers.
He repeats the "all" five times, because he wishes to show that, though "all" partook of spiritual blessings, most (ver. 5) fell in spite of them. He says, "our fathers," not only because he was himself a Jew, but also because the patriarchs and the Israelites were spiritually the fathers of the Christian Church.
Were under the cloud.
The compressed Greek phrase implies that they
under it, and remained under its shadow. The "cloud" is the "pillar of cloud" (
), of which David says, "He spread a cloud
for a covering"
). The Book of Wisdom (10:17) calls it "a cover unto them by day," and (19:7) "a cloud shadowing the camp."
All passed through the sea
1 Corinthians 10:2
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
Were all baptized.
This reading, though well supported, may, perhaps, be a correction for the middle, "they baptized themselves,"
accepted baptism. The passing under the cloud (
) and through the sea, constituting as it did their deliverance from bondage into freedom, their death to Egypt, and their birth to a new covenant, was a general type or dim shadow of Christian baptism (compare our collect, "figuring thereby thy holy baptism"). But the typology is quite incidental; it is the moral lesson which is paramount.
By this "baptism" they accepted Moses as their Heaven-seat guide and teacher.
1 Corinthians 10:3
And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
And did all eat the same spiritual meat.
As the cloud and the Red Sea symbolized the waters of baptism, so the manna and the water of the rock symbolized the elements of the other Christian sacrament, the Lord's Supper. The manna might be called "a spiritual food," both because it was "angels' food" (
; Wisd. 16:20) and "bread from heaven" (
), and also because it was a type of "God's good Spirit," which he "gave to instruct them" (
). St. Paul only knows of
1 Corinthians 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
The same spiritual drink.
The water from the smitten rock might (
) be called a "spiritual" drink, both as being a miraculous gift (comp.
, where Isaac is said to be "born
after the spirit"
), and as being a type of that "living water" which "springs up into everlasting life" (
), and of the blood of Christ in the Eucharist (
). These "waters in the wilderness" and "rivers in the desert" were a natural symbol of the grace of God (
), especially as bestowed in the sacrament through material signs.
they were drinking
, implying a
Of that spiritual Rock that followed them;
of a spiritual following Rock.
This is explained
as a mere figure of speech, in which the natural rock which Moses smote is left out of sight altogether; and
as meaning that not the rock, but the water from the rock, followed after them in their wanderings (
). There can, however, be little or no doubt that St. Paul refers to the common Jewish Hagadah, that the actual material rock did follow the Israelites in their wanderings. The rabbis said that it was round, and rolled itself up like a swarm of bees, and that, when the tabernacle was pitched, this rock came and settled in its vestibule, and began to flow when the princes came to it and sang, "Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it" (
). It does not, of course, follow from this allusion that St. Paul, or even the rabbis, believed their Hagadah
other than a metaphorical sense.
The Jewish Hagadoth - legends and illustrations and inferences of an imaginative Oriental people - are not to be taken
au pied de la lettre.
St. Paul obviates the laying of any stress on the mere legend by the qualifying word, "a
And that Rock was Christ.
The writings of Philo, and the Alexandrian school of thought in general, had familiarized all Jewish readers with language of this kind. They were accustomed to see types of God, or of the Word (
), in almost every incident of the deliverance from Egypt and the wanderings in the wilderness. Thus in Wisd. 10:15 and Wisdom 11:4 it is Wisdom - another form of the
- who leads and supports the Israelites. The frequent comparison, of God to a Rock in the Old Testament (
1 Samuel 2:2
, etc.) would render the symbolism more easy, especially as in
we find, "Behold, I [Jehovah] will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb."
1 Corinthians 10:5
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
With many of them;
with most of them.
They were overthrown in the wilderness.
A quotation from the LXX. of
. All but Caleb and Joshua perished (
Numbers 26:64, 65
the word used is "they fell."
1 Corinthians 10:6
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.
If this rendering be adopted, perhaps "examples" is the best equivalent of the original
, as in
, "Walk so as ye have us for an example (
It may, however, mean "types,"
foreshadowing symbols, as in
, where Adam is the "figure" (
) of Christ. But, in spite of Alford's decisive rejection of it, the rendering, "Now in these things they proved to be figures of us," is at least equally probable. To the intent. Of course, the events had their own immediate instruction, but the example which they involved was the ulterior purpose of their being so ordained by the providence of God.
As they also lusted.
Numbers 11:4, 33
; and see
1 Corinthians 10:7
Neither be ye idolaters, as
some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
As were some of them.
As in the case of the golden calf, the worship of Moloch, Remphan, Baal-peor, etc. In the prominent instance of the calf worship, they (like the Corinthians) would have put forth sophistical pleas in their own favour, saying that they were not worshipping idols, but only paying honour to cherubic emblems of Jehovah.
The word is, perhaps, used euphemistically for the worst concomitants of a sensual nature worship (
), which resembled the depraved and orgiastic worship of
1 Corinthians 10:8
Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
This sin was not only an ordinary accompaniment of idolatry, but often a consecrated part of it, as in the case of the thousand
, or female attendants, in the temple of Aphrodite on Acro-Corinthus.
Three and twenty thousand.
The number given in
is twenty-four thousand. We cannot give any account of the discrepancy, which is, however, quite unimportant.
1 Corinthians 10:9
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
(see the note on ver. 4). Christ is here identified with the angel which went before the Israelites, whom they were specially warned not "to provoke," because "my Name is in him" (
Exodus 23:20, 21
). Another reading is "the Lord." "Christ" may have come in from a marginal gloss. On the other hand, since "Christ" is the more difficult reading, it was, perhaps, the more likely to be altered by copyists. The word for "tempt" means "tempt utterly," "tempt beyond endurance."
As some of them
Exodus 17:2, 7
Numbers 21:5, 6
perished by the serpents
, viz. the "fiery serpents" of the wilderness (
1 Corinthians 10:10
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Neither murmur ye
Numbers 14:2, 29
Numbers 16:41, 49
). The Corinthians
at this time murmuring against their teacher and apostle.
Of the destroyer.
All plagues and similar great catastrophes, as well as all individual deaths, were believed by the Jews to be the work of an angel whom they called Sammael (see
2 Samuel 24:16
; 2 Macc. 15:22). In the retribution narrated in
, etc., fourteen thousand seven hundred perished.
1 Corinthians 10:11
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.
by way of figure
; typically. The rabbis said, "Whatever happened to the fathers is a sign to their children." The thought is the same as in
, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." The example in this instance would come home more forcibly from the sickness and mortality then prevalent among the Corinthian Christians (
1 Corinthians 11:30
The ends of the world;
of the egos.
The expression is in accordance with the view which regarded the then epoch as "the close or consummation of the ages" (
1 Peter 4:7
, "The end of all things is at hand;"
1 John 2:18
, "It is the last time;"
1 Corinthians 10:12
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
Take heed lest he fall.
The Corinthians, thinking that they stood, asserting that they all had knowledge, proud of the insight which led them to declare that "an idol is nothing in the world," were not only liable to underrate the amount of forbearance due to weaker consciences, but were also in personal danger of falling away. To them, as to the Romans, St. Paul means to say, "Be not highminded, but fear" (
1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God
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
But such as is common to man;
except such as is human
such as man can bear. The last verse was a warning; this is an encouragement. Having just heard what efforts even St. Paul had to make to run in the Christian race, and how terribly their fathers in the wilderness had failed to meet the requirements of God, they might be inclined to throw up every effort in despair. St. Paul, therefore, reminds them that these temptations were not superhuman, but were such as men
resisted, and such as
could resist. God is faithful He had called them (
1 Corinthians 1:9
), and since he knew "how to deliver the godly out of temptations" (
2 Peter 2:9
), he would surely perform his side of the covenant, and, if they did their parts, would stablish and keep them from evil (
2 Thessalonians 3:3
). Also. The mode of deliverance shall be ready simultaneously with the temptation. Away to escape; rather,
the way to escape.
The way to escape is different in different temptations, but for each temptation God would provide the
means of escaping it.
1 Corinthians 10:14
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
. As a result of the whole reasoning, which has been meant to inspire the weak with a more liberalizing knowledge, and the strong with a more fraternal sympathy.
. The word "dearly" should be omitted.
Flee from idolatry.
The original implies that they were to turn their backs on idolatry, and so fly from it.
1 Corinthians 10:15
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
The inherent disgracefulness of any tampering with idolatry.
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
An appeal to their own reason to confirm his argument (comp.
1 Corinthians 11:13
), perhaps with a touch of irony in the first clause (
1 Corinthians 4:10
2 Corinthians 11:19
). The word for "I say" is
, I affirm.
1 Corinthians 10:16
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?
The cup of blessing.
A translation of the name
), over which a blessing was invoked by the head of the family after the Passover. The name is here transferred to the chalice in the Eucharist, over which Christ "gave thanks" (
1 Corinthians 11:24
). There seems to be a close connection between the idea of "blessing" (
) and "giving thanks" (
), and here, as always, St. Paul and St. Luke resemble each other in their expressions.
The communion of;
a participation in.
By means of the cup we realize our share in the benefits wrought by Christ's precious blood shedding. The cup is at once a symbol and a medium.
The blood of Christ;
of which the wine is the sacramental symbol. By rightly drinking the wine, we spiritually partake of the blood of Christ, we become sharers in his Divine life.
, which was apparently passed from hand to hand, that each might break off a piece.
Is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
The best comment on the verse is
, in which our Lord taught that there could be no true spiritual life without the closest union with him and incorporation into his life.
1 Corinthians 10:17
many are one bread,
one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
We being many are one bread, and one body.
It is easy to see how we are "one
of which Christ is the Head, and we are the members. This is the metaphor used in
1 Corinthians 12:12, 13
. The more difficult expression, "
are one bread,"
is explained in the next clause. The meaning seems to be - We all partake of the loaf, and thereby become qualitatively, as it were, a part of it, as it of us, even as we all become members of Christ's one body, which that loaf sacramentally represents Some commentators, disliking the harshness of the expression, render it, "Because there is one bread, we being many are one body;" or, "For there is one bread. We being many are one body." But the language and context support the rendering of our version; and the supposed "physiology" is not so modern as to be at all surprising.
1 Corinthians 10:18
Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
Partakers of the altar.
It is better to render it "Have they not
communion with the altar?"
for the word is different from that in the last verse. The meaning is that, by sharing in the sacrifices, the Jews stood in direct association with the altar, the victims, and all that they symbolized (
). And St. Paul implied that the same thing is true of those who sympathetically partook of idol offerings.
1 Corinthians 10:19
What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
What say I then?
What is it, then, which I am maintaining (
That the idol is anything.
St. Paul repudiates an inference which he had already denied (
1 Corinthians 8:4
Has any intrinsic value, meaning, or importance. In itself, the idol offering is a mere dead, indifferent thing. Of itself, the idol is an
- a shadowy, unreal thing, one of the
; but in another aspect it was "really something," and so alone could the rabbis account for phenomena which seemed to imply the reality of infernal miracles ('Avoda Zarah,' fol. 54, 2; 55, 1; and see note in 'Life of St. Paul,' 2:74).
1 Corinthians 10:20
, 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.
. The word rejects the former hypothesis. "[No I do not admit that], but what I say is that," etc.
They sacrifice to devils, and not to God
. The word "demons" should be used, not" devils" (
). The argument is that, though the idol is nothing - a mere stock or stone - it is yet the material symbol of a demon (see
; Baruch 4:7). So Milton -
"And devils to adore for deities;
Then were they known to men by various names,
And various idols through the heathen world,...
The chief were those who, from the pit of hell,
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
Their seats long after next the seat of God,
Their altars by his altar, gods adored
Among the nations round."
Paradise Lost,' 1.
) St. Paul uses a word which, while it would not be needlessly offensive to Gentiles, conveyed his meaning. The Greeks themselves called their deities
, and St. Paul adopts the word; but to Jewish ears it meant, not "deities" or "demigods," but "demons."
1 Corinthians 10:21
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.
It is a
impossibility that you should.
The Lord's table.
This is the first instance in which this expression is used, and it has originated the name.
The table of devils
). In the fine legend of Persephone, she might have been altogether liberated from the nether world if she had eaten nothing since her sojourn there; but unhappily she
eaten something, though it was only the few grains of a pomegranate; and hence she must leave the upper air, and become the Queen of Hades.
1 Corinthians 10:22
Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?
," They have moved me to jealousy by that which is not God"). The expression, "a jealous God," is used in the second commandment with express reference to idolatry, as in
Exodus 34:14, 15
Are we stronger than he?
Can we, therefore, with impunity, kindle his anger against us? "He is... mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?" (
). Ver. 23 -
1 Corinthians 11:1
Directions about eating idol offerings, founded on these principles.
1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
All things are lawful for me
1 Corinthians 6:12
is not found in
, A, B, C, D. St. Paul repeats the assertion and its limitations, because he has now proved their force. He has shown that Christian liberty must be modified by considerations of expediency and edification in accordance with the feelings of sympathy and charity.
1 Corinthians 10:24
Let no man seek his own, but every man another's
But every man another's wealth.
The addition of the word "wealth" is very infelicitous. Rather, as in the Revised Version,
but each his neighbour's good
(comp. ver. 33 and
1 Corinthians 10:25
Whatsoever is sold in the shambles,
eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
Whatsoever is sold.
By this practical rule of common sense he protects the weak Christian from being daily worried by over scrupulosity. If a Christian merely bought his meat in the open market, no one could suspect him of meaning thereby to connive at or show favour to idolatry. It would, therefore, be needless for him to entertain fantastic scruples about a matter purely indifferent. The fact of its forming part of an idol offering made no
difference in the food.
rather food market.
Asking no question for conscience sake.
Do not trouble your conscience by scruples arising from needless investigation (
) about the food.
1 Corinthians 10:26
For the earth
the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
For the earth is the Lord's
). Consequently, "Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving" (
1 Timothy 4:4
). The text formed the ordinary Jewish "grace before meat."
The fulness thereof.
The plenitude of its created furniture - plants, animals, etc.
1 Corinthians 10:27
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.
Bid you to a feast.
It is assumed that the feast is to take place in a private house, not an idol temple (
1 Corinthians 8:10
Ye be disposed to go;
ye wish to go
, with an emphasis on the "wish," which, as Grotius says, perhaps implies that the
is not particularly commendable, although the apostle, in his large-hearted tolerance, does not actually blame it. The rabbis decided very differently. "If," said Rabbi Ishmael, "an idolater makes a feast in honour of his son, and invites all the Jews of his town, they eat of the sacrifices of the dead, even though they eat and drink of their own" ('Avodah Zarah,' fol. 18, 1). There are many passages of the Talmud which raise the suspicion that the rabbis are
running counter to the teaching of the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 10:28
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
the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
But if any man say unto you.
Who is the "any man" is left undefined. Perhaps some "weak" Christian is meant, who happens to be a fellow guest.
This is offered in sacrifice unto idols.
The true reading is probably,
, sacred sacrifice, not
, idol sacrifice. Perhaps there is a touch of delicate reserve in the word, implying that the remark is made at the table of heathens, who would be insulted by the word
, sacrificed to
Whoever the interlocutor is supposed to be - heathen host or Christian guest - the mere fact of attention being drawn to the food as forming part of a heathen sacrifice is enough to make it your duty to give no overt sanction to idolatry. In that case, therefore, you ought to refuse it. It will be seen how gross was the calumny which asserted that St. Paul taught men to be
about eating things offered to idols. He only taught indifference in cases where idolatry could not be directly involved in the question. He only repudiates the idle superstition that the food became
by such a consecration when the eater was unaware of it. In later times, when the eating of such offerings was deliberately erected into a test of apostasy, he would have used language as strong against every semblance of compliance as any which was used by St. John himself or by Justin Martyr. Difference of time and circumstances necessarily involves a difference in the mode of viewing matters which in
For the earth is the Lord's.
It is doubtful whether the repetition of this clause is genuine. It is omitted by all the best uncials.
1 Corinthians 10:29
Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another
Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other.
You may be well aware that
intend no sanction of idolatry, but if the other
that you do, you wound his conscience, which you have no right to do. Your own conscience has already decided for itself.
For why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
These words explain why he said "conscience not thine own." The mere fact that another person
that we are doing wrong does not furnish the smallest proof that we
doing wrong. We stand or fall only to our own Master, and our consciences are free to form their own independent conclusion. Perhaps in this clause and the next verse we have an echo of the arguments used by the Corinthian "liberals," who objected to sacrifice themselves to the scruples of the weak. The independence of conscience is powerfully maintained in
1 Corinthians 10:30
For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
For if I.
The "for" should be omitted. There is no copula in the best manuscripts.
The word may also mean "with thankfulness" (comp.
. "He that eateth, to the Lord he eateth,
for he giveth God thanks
1 Timothy 4:3
, "Meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving;" compare our phrase," saying
). Another view of these clauses interprets them to mean "You should refrain because, by net doing so, you give occasion to others to judge you" - a rule which has been compared with
, "Let not your good be evil spoken of." Whichever view be taken, it is clear that
St. Paul sided with the views of the "strong," but
with those of the "weak." He pleaded for some concession to the scrupulosity of ever morbid consciences, he disapproved of a defiant, ostentatious, insulting liberalism. On the other hand, he discouraged the miserable micrology of a purblind and bigoted superstition, which exaggerated the importance of things external and indifferent. He desiderated more considerateness and self denial on the one side; and on the other, a more robust and instructed faith, he would always tolerate the scruples of the weak, but would not suffer either weakness or strength to develop itself into a vexatious tyranny.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
. There is much grandeur in the sweeping universality of the rule which implies that all life, and every act of life, may be consecrated by holy motives.
To the glory of God.
Not to the glorification either of your own breadth of mind or your over-scrupulosity of conscience, but "that God in all things may be glorified" (
1 Peter 4:11
1 Corinthians 10:32
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Give none offence.
Of course St. Paul means "give no offence in unimportant, indifferent matters" (comp.
). "Offence" means "occasion of stumbling." The word only occurs in
. Nor to the Gentiles; rather,
nor to the Greeks.
1 Corinthians 10:33
Even as I please all
, not seeking mine own profit, but the
of many, that they may be saved.
That they may be saved.
All the sympathy, tolerance, forbearance, which I try to practise has this one supreme object.
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