Study Notes on 1 Corinthians 10
1 Corinthians 10
The running theme from chapter 8 is still about idolatry and meat offered to idols. Apparently the Corinthians thought that since they were saved and did certain rituals that they could do whatever they wanted and God wouldn’t mind. Paul corrects that view from Old Testament examples.
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;
The cloud refers to the Lord in their presence and the sea of course was the Red Sea. See Exodus 13:20-22
Also interesting that he says, “all OUR fathers.”
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
The Israelites were saved by the blood of the lamb, Exodus 12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
“The blood delivered, the Spirit led, and the water identified them as children of God who were willing to follow God’s leader.” - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary
Baptism means to immerse, so in a way the Israelites were immersed in the red sea by being surrounded by it. Exodus 14:16 reads, But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
So the blood on the doorposts was a picture of Christ’s blood given for our salvation, going through the Red Sea was a picture of New Testament baptism. Baptism identifies us with Christ.
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
Meat means food. This refers to Manna that God sent down to the Israelites (Exodus 16:4). This pictured Jesus being the bread of life. See John 6:33; John 6:48-51.
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Great verse (also v 9) about the deity of Christ. Christ literally followed them and was with them.
The drink was the water that flowed from the Rock. See Exodus 17:5-6 the smitten Rock speaks of Christ crucified from whom the water of life comes. See John 4:14; John 6:35.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
ALL these persons were under the cloud - ALL passed through the sea - ALL were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea - ALL ate the same spiritual meat - ALL drank the same spiritual drink…
“The lesson is clear, common spiritual experiences do not prove a common spiritual relationship with God.” – Marvin McKenzie
This is a verse of warning that even those that have done the right things, gotten saved, been baptized, go to church, etc. it doesn’t mean you’re abiding in Christ. In doesn’t mean that you now have the freedom to go after idols or fornicate. God will punish sinners. He will chastise believers.
In the next chapter we see that God had even killed some of the Corinthians for being flippant about communion!
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
Great verse on why we have the Old Testament and how we should use the Old Testament. We have it for examples for us. To teach lessons, to tell us about the character of God.
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.
Exodus 32:2-6. This refers to idolatry, and the dancing and worship that accompanied idols.
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
God will punish believers! Sometimes with death.
Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Now this is one of those alleged contradictions. Numbers 25:9 says, “And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.” In one day 23,000 died, but in total 24,000 died.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
Long before Christ was born, the people tempted/tested Him! He was there.
The serpents are what happened in Numbers 21:5-9 when God sent snakes to punish them.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
They were openly ungrateful complainers. We see a lot of murmuring among the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Gospels (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7).
A verse I love is 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Perhaps “The Destroyer” refers to the Angel of Death or some other Angel, it could also simply refer to God’s judgments. Regardless we see punishment and chastisement from God. Exodus 12:23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Great verse on why we have the Old Testament and how to use it! All of these things, plus many more examples in Scripture are for our examples for our admonition/warning/instruction.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
A great verse to remind us to pay attention to our spiritual condition. Are we abiding with Christ? Are we walking with Him?
In context here we’re told to not be so self-assured or proud that because we have many blessings and have done the right things, that we can’t also fall into sin and be punished like the Israelites.
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.
God will make a way when we experience temptation. That doesn’t mean we will always take the way out; sometimes we will give in.
This verse does NOT mean that “God will never give us more than we can handle” as the saying goes. God gave Paul so much that he despaired of life, and Elijah requested to die at one point. So certainly we can go through awful times.
“Should an upright soul get into difficulties and straits, he may rest assured that there is a way out, as there was a way in; and that the trial shall never be above the strength that God shall give him to bear it.” – John Gill
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
Just like we read in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to flee fornication, here we read flee from idolatry. Don’t meddle with it, don’t study it, don’t partake in it, don’t try it, don’t understand it, don’t tolerate it. FLEE from it.
15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
Judge ye! We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), and we should judge. Is it wise to stay far from idolatry? Absolutely yes!
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?
17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Luke 22:17-20. So we partake of the communion of the Lord which is a sign of fellowship with Him. We do this to remember His death on the cross. More on this in the next chapter.
Each congregation as the body of the Lord with Christ as the Head should partake in the Lord’s Supper as a sign of remembrance.
18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
Israel after the flesh (Old Testament Israelites) as opposed to the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).
By eating of the sacrifices it shows you are partaking with that worship.
19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
20 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.
No, an idol in itself is nothing (see 1 Cor 8:4), yet…In some way demons are behind the idols. Demons encourage the idol worship and sacrificing to idols means sacrificing to devils.
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.
This can literally be done of course but this is a command to not do that. Don’t take communion to show fellowship with the Lord then seat and eat in the temple of an idol! James 3:8-12
22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
Do we attempt to resist God by provoking Him? Can we withstand His judgments?
23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
Much like we read back in 1 Corinthians 6:12. We have liberty in Christ but that doesn’t mean that everything should be done in certain circumstances. Love must come first!
24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
We should not live for ourselves but for others. John Gill says, “A man, in the use of things indifferent, should not seek the gratifying of his sensual appetite or other passions, what may be pleasing or profitable to himself; but should consult the profit and edification of others.”
25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
The meat market. Eat whatever you want but don’t ask if it had been sacrificed to idols. The sense of the passage is to do this especially if you’re with a weaker believer or someone that would sin against his conscience by eating meat sacrificed to idols (see v.29).
26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
All things belong to God quoted from Psalm 24:1. All food can be eaten.
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.
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 is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
Pretty clear right? If you want to eat with unbelievers, fine, and eat what is presented. But if it presented and said that it had been offered to idols, don’t touch it.
29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
Don’t touch it not for yourself that knows that idols are nothing, but for the guy that offered it or someone else watching you. We should not hurt the conscious of other people even by doing things we have liberty to do.
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
You can be sincere and devout but also do things that would cause the world to talk poorly of us. If meat offered to idols is presented, and then I pray over it and eat it, it looks hypocritical or deceitful to the world.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Great verse. Do ALL to the glory of God. This is a rule to help regulate our conscious and our behavior.
32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Forget our own pleasures, our own profit, in order to get people saved.