1 Corinthians 10:3–4
and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
(a) Spiritual food. The heavenly manna provided by the Lord (Ex. 16:4, 15).
(b) Spiritual drink. The water supernaturally supplied by the Lord (Num. 20:11).
(c) Spiritual rock. God’s presence was with the Israelites in the wilderness as evidenced by his supernatural provision.
The Israelites were not left to their own devices or they would have surely died within weeks. Their miraculous escape from Egypt and through the Red Sea and the wilderness showed that God was with them. In a sense, Christ was with them, for Christ is known as “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
1 Corinthians 10:8
Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.
Paul is not laying law on the Corinthians. He’s reminding them of what happened to the unbelieving children of Israel in the wilderness. His purpose is explained in verse 6: “These things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” Paul is not saying, “Sin and you’re out of the kingdom.” He’s saying, “Have nothing to do with sin.” In context, he’s warning them to beware the temptations associated with pagan temples (see 1 Cor. 10:14).
1 Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
(a) These things happened to them as an example. The children of Israel allowed themselves to be seduced by idolatry and the consequences were awful. Corinth was an idol-worshipping city. Similar temptations were everywhere. “Learn from the mistakes of the Israelites and flee from idolatry” (see 1 Cor. 10:14).
(b) The ends of the ages. The age of temple-based worship was coming to an end.
There are different kinds of ending in scripture and different words to describe them. An ordinary sort of ending is a telos-ending, while the culmination of a grand plan is a sunteleia-ending. It’s the former word here. Paul is not talking about the consummation of the old covenant (which had already happened; see see entry for Heb. 9:26), nor is he talking about the consummation of the new covenant (which was far in the future; see entry for Matt. 13:40). He is talking about the end of the temple-based worship. “Moses is fizzing out because Christ has come.” For fourteen-centuries the Jews had worshipped at the temple. The temple had been the very heart of their religion. But not for much longer. It was the end of an era.
1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
The attractions of sin are sometimes hard to resist. If we’re relying on our own strength and resolve to keep us pure, there’s a chance we will stumble. As the old proverb says, pride goes before a fall (see Pro. 16:18). Only the grace of God can empower us to say no to ungodliness and live righteously (Tit. 2:12).
1 Corinthians 10:14
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
(a) My beloved. Like the other epistle writers, Paul often referred to his Christian readers as beloved. The original word (agapētos) means dearly loved, esteemed, favorite and is closely related to a verb (agapaō) that means to be well pleased or fond of or contented. This word captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child. See entry for Rom. 1:7
(b) Flee from idolatry. When it came to idolatry, a Corinthian Christian would have two questions. First, is it okay to purchase meat from the market given that meat had probably been offered to idols? Paul’s answer was, “it depends” (see entry for 1 Cor. 8:9). Second, is it okay to attend idol festivals? Here Paul drew a firm line: flee from idolatry.
We don’t flee from idolatry because Paul said so or because it upsets God. We flee because idolatry is an inferior and destructive way to live. In many societies even today, idol feasts are a cultural tradition. In reality, they are a form of devil worship (1 Cor. 10:20). The children of the light have no business engaging in deeds of darkness (1 Cor. 1:21). We’re supposed to demolish demonic strongholds, not endorse them.
1 Corinthians 10:16
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
(a) The cup of blessing refers to the cup that is drunk during the Lord’s Supper or communion. See entry for Luke 22:20.
(b) The bread we partake of represents Christ’s body, broken so that we might be made whole. See entry for Communion.
1 Corinthians 10:17
Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
The body; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.
1 Corinthians 10:19
What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
An idol is a thing of stone and wood that can’t see, hear or breathe (see entry for 1 Cor. 8:4). But behind these idols and temples are demonic powers (see next verse).
1 Corinthians 10:20
No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
Idol festivals are a form of devil worship. What does a child of the Most High have in common with low-life demons? (2 Cor. 6:15–18)?
God’s plan is for the church to be a beacon in a dark world, but how can we shine if we’re hiding in the dark? Since we are children of the light, we should not act as though we belong to the darkness (1 Th. 5:5).
1 Corinthians 10:21
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
What fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement has the temple of God with idols (2 Cor. 6:16)? Grace is not a license to sin and sup with demons. Grace is the power of God to say no to superstition and bondage.
1 Corinthians 10:22
Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
Provoke the Lord to jealousy. Those under the old covenant had a revelation of God as a jealous God (e.g., Ex. 20:5). But jealousy is a work of the flesh and not the spirit (Gal 5:20). Since it is not possible for God to be jealous or envious (1 Cor. 13:4), Paul’s tone should be read as one of incredulity. “Participating in idol-worship is insane. Are we trying to make God crazy-mad?!”
Further reading: “Is God a jealous god?”
1 Corinthians 10:25
Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake;
(a) The meat market. The idol temples of first-century Greece routinely sold the meat that had been offered as sacrifices. Was it okay for a Christian to eat such meat? Paul addressed this question in 1 Corinthians 8:7–12, but he returns to it briefly here.
(b) Without asking questions for conscience’ sake. Since you wouldn’t buy meat if it troubled your conscience, he is talking about the conscience of others.
Perhaps you have the view that meat is meat and God doesn’t really care what we eat (see 1 Cor. 8:8). Like Paul, you are free to eat whatever is put in front of you. But you know that not everyone shares your revelation. What if a dinner guest is deeply troubled by eating meat that came to the market via a pagan temple? “Was this meat offered to idols?” For you, this is a non-issue, but for them it’s a biggie. In this instance, ignorance is the best policy. “I don’t know. I didn’t ask.” For similar reasons, it wise not to ask questions when you eat at the house of an unbeliever (1 Cor. 10:27).
1 Corinthians 10:26
FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.
The meat from the market may have been offered to idols, but everything belongs to the Lord. “Food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat” (1 Cor. 8:8). Whatever you eat, give thanks to the Lord who owns the earth and all the meat on it (1 Cor. 10:30).
1 Corinthians 10:27
If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.
For conscience’ sake. Jesus ate with sinners despite the cost to his reputation because he wanted to show all people the love and acceptance of God. If you eat with an unbeliever, you have an opportunity to do the same. People are more important than minor meat matters.
1 Corinthians 10:28
But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;
(a) Do not eat it. If your host makes a point of saying that your meat had been offered to the god of this or the goddess of that, don’t eat it. Even though it’s just meat to you, to them it’s part of something that you want no part of (1 Cor. 10:20).
(b) For conscience’ sake. For the sake of your host’s conscience.
If your host draws a line in the sand – “This meat has been specially blessed by Artemis” – it’s time to pick a side. “I want nothing to do with idols and demons.” Let them know by your actions that they are in bondage while you are free.
1 Corinthians 10:29
I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?
(a) The other man’s. A man who brags about food being offered to idols is captive to idolatry. His conscience won’t let him treat meat as merely food to be received with thanks from the Creator of all.
(b) My freedom to eat what I want giving thanks to the Creator (see 1 Cor 8:8, 10:30).
(c) Judged by another. Your unbelieving host knows you are a believer, so he tests you by giving you food that has been offered to idols. “The Jews refuse to eat pork, but what about you Christians?” You inform your host that you are free to eat and free not to eat. “Would you eat this meat that came from the temple?” In this case you choose not to eat to show him that in your eyes idol food is nothing special. “I eat for the glory of God” (see verse 31).
(d) Conscience. The original word it is made up of two words that loosely translate as “with knowledge.” Your conscience knows when you have crossed the line and missed the mark. From where does your conscience acquire the knowledge of right and wrong? For some, this knowledge is defined by cultural norms. For others, it may come from some religious code such as the Law of Moses. But ultimately any definition of right and wrong is grounded in the character of God. See entry for Conscience.
1 Corinthians 10:30
If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
(a) If I partake. If I eat meat that may or may not have come from temples.
(b) With thankfulness. When we eat we give thanks to the Lord, for the earth is his and all the food in it (see 1 Cor. 10:26).
(c) Why am I slandered. Some people judged Paul on what he ate. His response was he did everything for the glory of God (see next verse).
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
The glory of God. All questions of conscience come down to this: do my actions bring honor and glory to God? Things that glorify God: eating what he provides with thanksgiving (see previous verse). Things that don’t glorify God: flaunting our freedom to eat in such a way that it causes others to stumble (1 Cor.8:12).
1 Corinthians 10:32
Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;
Give no offense. Here we have three views on eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. A Jew would have nothing to do with idol meat, a Gentile had been eating it all of his life, and a believer would be free to eat it as long as his freedom didn’t cause others to stumble.
1 Corinthians 10:33
just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.
They may be saved. The apostles preached for a verdict. Like Jesus who encouraged people to repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15), the apostles encouraged their listeners to repent, believe the good news, and be saved (Acts 4:12, 11:14, 17:30, 1 Th. 2:16, 1 Tim. 2:4, 1 John 3:23).
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- 1 Corinthians 10:3-4
- 1 Corinthians 10:8
- 1 Corinthians 10:11
- 1 Corinthians 10:12
- 1 Corinthians 10:14
- 1 Corinthians 10:16
- 1 Corinthians 10:17
- 1 Corinthians 10:19
- 1 Corinthians 10:20
- 1 Corinthians 10:21
- 1 Corinthians 10:22
- 1 Corinthians 10:25
- 1 Corinthians 10:26
- 1 Corinthians 10:27
- 1 Corinthians 10:28
- 1 Corinthians 10:29
- 1 Corinthians 10:30
- 1 Corinthians 10:31
- 1 Corinthians 10:32
- 1 Corinthians 10:33