Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
FELLOWSHIP IN THE
FORBORNE, SO AS
1. Moreover--The oldest manuscripts read "for." Thus the connection
with the foregoing chapter is expressed. Ye need to exercise
self-denying watchfulness notwithstanding all your privileges, lest ye
be castaways. For the Israelites with all their privileges were most of
them castaways through want of it.
ignorant--with all your boasted "knowledge."
our fathers--The Jewish Church stands in the relation of parent to the
all--Arrange as the Greek, "Our fathers were all under the
cloud"; giving the "all" its proper emphasis. Not so much as one of
so great a multitude was detained by force or disease
[BENGEL]. Five times the "all" is repeated, in the
enumeration of the five favors which God bestowed on Israel
Five times, correspondingly, they sinned
In contrast to the "all" stands "many (rather, 'the most') of them"
All of them had great privileges, yet most of them were
castaways through lust. Beware you, having greater privileges, of
sharing the same doom through a similar sin. Continuing the reasoning
"They which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the
under the cloud--were continually under the defense of the pillar
of cloud, the symbol of the divine presence
(Ex 13:21, 22;
passed through the sea--by God's miraculous interposition for them
2. And--"And so" [BENGEL].
baptized unto Moses--the servant of God and representative of the Old
Testament covenant of the law: as Jesus, the Son of God, is of the
Heb 3:5, 6).
The people were led to believe in Moses as God's servant by the miracle
of the cloud protecting them, and by their being conducted under him
safely through the Red Sea; therefore they are said to be "baptized
"Baptized" is here equivalent to "initiated": it is used in
accommodation to Paul's argument to the Corinthians; they, it is true,
have been "baptized," but so also virtually were the Israelites of old;
if the virtual baptism of the latter availed not to save them from the
doom of lust, neither will the actual baptism of the former save them.
There is a resemblance between the symbols also: for the cloud and sea
consist of water, and as these took the Israelites out of sight, and
then restored them again to view, so the water does to the baptized
understands "the cloud" and "the sea" as symbolizing the Spirit
and water respectively
Christ is the pillar cloud that screens us from the heat of God's
wrath. Christ as "the light of the world" is our "pillar of fire" to
guide us in the darkness of the world. As the rock when smitten sent
forth the waters, so Christ, having been once for all smitten, sends
forth the waters of the Spirit. As the manna bruised in mills fed
Israel, so Christ, when "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him," has become
our spiritual food. A strong proof of inspiration is given in this
fact, that the historical parts of Scripture, without the
consciousness even of the authors, are covert prophecies of the
3. same spiritual meat--As the Israelites had the water from the
rock, which answered to baptism, so they had the manna which
corresponded to the other of the two Christian sacraments, the Lord's
Supper. Paul plainly implies the importance which was attached
to these two sacraments by all Christians in those days: "an inspired
protest against those who lower their dignity, or deny their necessity"
[ALFORD]. Still he guards against the other
extreme of thinking the mere external possession of such privileges
will ensure salvation. Moreover, had there been seven sacraments, as
Rome teaches, Paul would have alluded to them, whereas he refers to
only the two. He does not mean by "the same" that the Israelites and
we Christians have the "same" sacrament; but that believing and
unbelieving Israelites alike had "the same" spiritual privilege of
the manna (compare
It was "spiritual meat" or food; because given by the power of
God's spirit, not by human labor [GROTIUS and
"born after the Spirit," that is, supernaturally.
"corn of heaven"
Rather, "spiritual" in its typical signification, Christ, the
true Bread of heaven, being signified
Not that the Israelites clearly understood the signification; but
believers among them would feel that in the type something more was
meant; and their implicit and reverent, though indistinct, faith was
counted to them for justification, of which the manna was a kind of
sacramental seal. "They are not to be heard which feign that the old
fathers did look only for transitory promises" [Article VII, Church of
England], as appears from this passage (compare
"the beasts" also are mentioned as having drunk. The literal water
typified "spiritual drink," and is therefore so called.
spiritual Rock that followed them--rather, "accompanied
them." Not the literal rock (or its water) "followed" them, as ALFORD explains, as if Paul sanctioned the Jews'
tradition (Rabbi Solomon on
that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the
Israelites from place to place (compare
But Christ, the "Spiritual Rock"
(Ps 78:20, 35;
De 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37;
"Followed" implies His attending on them to minister to
them; thus, though mostly going before them, He, when occasion
required it, followed "behind"
He satisfied all alike as to their bodily thirst whenever they needed
it; as on three occasions is expressly recorded
(Ex 15:24, 25; 17:6;
and this drink for the body symbolized the spiritual drink from the
Spiritual Rock (compare
Joh 4:13, 14;
5. But--though they had so many tokens of God's presence.
many of them--rather, "the majority of them"; "the whole part." All
except Joshua and Caleb of the first generation.
not--in the Greek emphatically standing in the beginning of the
sentence: "Not," as one might have naturally expected, "with the more
part of them was," &c.
God--whose judgment alone is valid.
for--the event showed, they had not pleased God.
overthrown--literally, "strewn in heaps."
in the wilderness--far from the land of promise.
6. were--Greek, "came to pass as."
our examples--samples to us of what will befall us, if we also with
all our privileges walk carelessly.
lust--the fountain of all the four other offenses enumerated, and
therefore put first
(Jas 1:14, 15;
A particular case of lust was that after flesh, when they pined for the
fish, leeks, &c., of Egypt, which they had left
(Nu 11:4, 33, 34).
These are included in the "evil things," not that they are so in
themselves, but they became so to the Israelites when they lusted after
what God withheld, and were discontented with what God provided.
7. idolaters--A case in point. As the Israelites sat down (a
deliberate act), ate, and drank at the idol feast to the calves
in Horeb, so the Corinthians were in danger of idolatry by a like act,
though not professedly worshipping an idol as the Israelites
(1Co 8:10, 11; 10:14, 20, 21;
He passes here from the first to the second person, as they alone (not
he also) were in danger of idolatry, &c. He resumes the first person
some--The multitude follow the lead of some bad men.
play--with lascivious dancing, singing, and drumming round the calf
8. fornication--literally, Fornication was generally, as in this case
associated at the idol feasts with spiritual fornication, that is,
idolatry. This all applied to the Corinthians
(1Co 5:1, 9; 6:9, 15, 18;
Balaam tempted Israel to both sins with Midian
1Co 8:7, 9,
"stumbling-block," "eat . . . thing offered unto
. . . idol."
three and twenty thousand--in
"twenty and four thousand." If this were a real discrepancy, it would
militate rather against inspiration of the subject matter and
thought, than against verbal inspiration. The solution
is: Moses in Numbers includes all who died "in the plague"; Paul, all
who died "in one day"; one thousand more may have fallen the
next day [KITTO, Biblical
Cyclopædia]. Or, the real number may have been between
twenty-three thousand and twenty-four thousand, say twenty-three
thousand five hundred, or twenty-three thousand six hundred; when
writing generally where the exact figures were not needed, one writer
might quite veraciously give one of the two round numbers near the
exact one, and the other writer the other [BENGEL]. Whichever be the true way of reconciling the
seeming discrepant statements, at least the ways given above prove they
are not really irreconcilable.
9. tempt Christ--So the oldest versions,
IRENÆUS (264), and
good manuscripts read. Some of the oldest manuscripts read
"Lord"; and one manuscript only "God." If "Lord" be read, it will mean
Christ. As "Christ" was referred to in one of the five privileges of
so it is natural that He should be mentioned here in one of the five
corresponding sins of that people. In
it is "spake against God" (whence probably arose the alteration
in the one manuscript,
"God," to harmonize it with
As either "Christ" or "Lord" is the genuine reading, "Christ" must be
"God." Compare "Why do ye tempt the Lord?"
(Ex 17:2, 7.
with Isa 45:22, 23).
Israel's discontented complainings were temptings of Christ
especially, the "Angel" of the covenant
(Ex 23:20, 21; 32:34;
Though they drank of "that Rock . . . Christ"
they yet complained for want of water
(Ex 17:2, 7).
Though also eating the same spiritual meat (Christ, "the true manna,"
"the bread of life"), they yet murmured, "Our soul loatheth this light
bread." In this case, being punished by the fiery serpents, they were
saved by the brazen serpent, the emblem of Christ (compare
The Greek for "tempt" means, tempt or try, so as to
wear out the long-suffering of Christ (compare
Ps 95:8, 9;
The Corinthians were in danger of provoking God's long-suffering by
walking on the verge of idolatry, through overweening confidence in
10. some of them . . . murmured--upon the death of Korah and his
company, who themselves were murmurers
(Nu 16:41, 49).
Their murmurs against Moses and Aaron were virtually murmurs against
Ex 16:8, 10).
Paul herein glances at the Corinthian murmurs against himself, the
apostle of Christ.
destroyed--fourteen thousand seven hundred perished.
the destroyer--THE same destroying angel sent by God as in
and 2Sa 24:16.
11. Now . . . these things . . .
ensamples--resuming the thread of
The oldest manuscripts read, "by way of example."
the ends of the world--literally, "of the ages"; the New Testament
dispensation in its successive phases (plural, "ends") being the
winding up of all former "ages." No new dispensation shall appear till
Christ comes as Avenger and Judge; till then the "ends," being many,
include various successive periods (compare
As we live in the last dispensation, which is the consummation of all
that went before, our responsibilities are the greater; and the greater
is the guilt, Paul implies, to the Corinthians, which they incur if
they fall short of their privileges.
12. thinketh he standeth--stands and thinks that he stands
[BENGEL]; that is, stands "by faith
. . . well pleasing" to God; in contrast to
"with many of them God was not well pleased"
fall--from his place in the Church of God (compare
"fell"). Both temporally and spiritually
Our security, so far as relates to God, consists in faith; so far as
relates to ourselves, it consists in fear.
13. Consolation to them, under their temptation; it is none but such as
is "common to man," or "such as man can bear," "adapted to man's powers
of endurance" [WAHL].
Isa 27:3, 8;
"God is faithful" to the covenant which He made with you in calling you
To be led into temptation is distinct from running into
it, which would be "tempting God"
way to escape--
The Greek is, "the way of escape"; the appropriate way of
escape in each particular temptation; not an immediate escape, but one
in due time, after patience has had her perfect work
(Jas 1:2-4, 12).
He "makes" the way of escape simultaneously with the temptation which
His providence permissively arranges for His people.
to bear it--Greek, "to bear up under it," or "against it." Not,
He will take it away
14. Resuming the argument,
1Co 8:9, 10.
flee--Do not tamper with it by doubtful acts, such as eating idol
meats on the plea of Christian liberty. The only safety is in
wholly shunning whatever borders on idolatry
(2Co 6:16, 17).
The Holy Spirit herein also presciently warned the Church against the
idolatry, subsequently transferred from the idol feast to the Lord's
Supper itself, in the figment of transubstantiation.
15. Appeal to their own powers of judgment to weigh the
force of the argument that follows: namely, that as the partaking of
the Lord's Supper involves a partaking of the Lord Himself, and the
partaking of the Jewish sacrificial meats involved a partaking of the
altar of God, and, as the heathens sacrifice to devils, to partake of
an idol feast is to have fellowship with devils. We cannot divest
ourselves of the responsibility of "judging" for ourselves. The
weakness of private judgment is not an argument against its use, but
its abuse. We should the more take pains in searching the infallible
word, with every aid within our reach, and above all with humble prayer
for the Spirit's teaching
If Paul, an inspired apostle, not only permits, but urges, men to
judge his sayings by Scripture, much more should the fallible
ministers of the present visible Church do so.
To wise men--refers with a mixture of irony to the Corinthian boast
Here you have an opportunity of exercising your "wisdom" in judging
"what I say."
16. The cup of blessing--answering to the Jewish "cup of blessing,"
over which thanks were offered in the Passover. It was in doing so that
Christ instituted this part of the Lord's Supper
Lu 22:17, 20).
we bless--"we," not merely ministers, but also the congregation.
The minister "blesses" (that is, consecrates with blessing) the
cup, not by any priestly transmitted authority of his own, but as
representative of the congregation, who virtually through him bless the
cup. The consecration is the corporate act of the whole Church. The act
of joint blessing by him and them (not "the cup" itself, which,
as also "the bread," in the Greek is in the accusative), and the
consequent drinking of it together, constitute the communion, that is,
the joint participation "of the blood of Christ." Compare
"They who eat . . . are partakers" (joint communicants). "Is"
in both cases in this verse is literal, not represents. He who
with faith partakes of the cup and the bread, partakes really but
spiritually of the blood and body of Christ
(Eph 5:30, 32),
and of the benefits of His sacrifice on the cross (compare
In contrast to this is to have "fellowship with devils"
ALFORD explains, "The cup . . . is the
[joint] participation (that is, that whereby the act of participation
takes place) of the blood," &c. It is the seal of our living union
with, and a means of our partaking of, Christ as our Saviour
It is not said, "The cup . . . is the blood," or "the
bread . . . is the body," but "is the communion
[joint-participation] of the blood . . . body." If the bread
be changed into the literal body of Christ, where is the sign of the
sacrament? Romanists eat Christ "in remembrance of Himself." To
drink literal blood would have been an abomination to Jews,
which the first Christians were
(Le 17:11, 12).
Breaking the bread was part of the act of consecrating it, for
thus was represented the crucifixion of Christ's body
The distinct specification of the bread and the wine disproves the
Romish doctrine of concomitancy, and exclusion of the laity from the
17. one bread--rather, "loaf." One loaf alone seems to have been used
in each celebration.
and one body--Omit "and"; "one loaf [that is], one body." "We,
the many (namely, believers assembled; so the Greek), are one
bread (by our partaking of the same loaf, which becomes assimilated to
the substance of all our bodies; and so we become), one body"
(with Christ, and so with one another).
we . . . all--Greek, "the whole of us."
18. Israel after the flesh--the literal, as distinguished from the
(Ro 2:29; 4:1; 9:3;
partakers of the altar--and so of God, whose is the altar; they
have fellowship in God and His worship, of which the altar is the
19, 20. What say I then?--The inference might be drawn from the
analogies of the Lord's Supper and Jewish sacrifices, that an idol is
really what the heathen thought it to be, a god, and that in eating
idol-meats they had fellowship with the god. This verse guards against
such an inference: "What would I say then? that a thing sacrificed to an
idol is any real thing (in the sense that the heathen regard it), or
that an idol is any real thing?" (The oldest manuscripts read the words
in this order. Supply "Nay") "But [I say] that the things which the
Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils (demons)." Paul here
introduces a new fact. It is true that, as I said, an idol has no
reality in the sense that the heathen regard it, but it has a reality in
another sense; heathendom being under Satan's dominion as "prince of
this world," he and his demons are in fact the powers worshipped
by the heathen, whether they are or are not conscious of it
"Devil" is in the Greek restricted to Satan; "demons" is the
term applied to his subordinate evil spirits. Fear, rather than love,
is the motive of heathen worship (compare the English word "panic,"
from PAN, whose human form with horns and cloven
hoofs gave rise to the vulgar representations of Satan which prevail
now); just as fear is the spirit of Satan and his demons
20. I would not that ye . . . have fellowship with
devils--by partaking of idol feasts
21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord--really and spiritually; though
ye may outwardly
cup of devils--in contrast to the cup of the Lord. At idol feasts
libations were usually made from the cup to the idol first, and then the
guests drank; so that in drinking they had fellowship with the idol.
the Lord's table--The Lord's Supper is a feast on a table, not a
sacrifice on an altar. Our only altar is the cross, our only sacrifice
that of Christ once for all. The Lord's Supper stands, however, in the
same relation, analogically, to Christ's sacrifice, as the Jews'
sacrificial feasts did to their sacrifices (compare
"altar . . . table of the Lord"), and the heathen idol feasts
to their idolatrous sacrifices
The heathen sacrifices were offered to idol nonentities, behind which
Satan lurked. The Jews' sacrifice was but a shadow of the substance
which was to come. Our one sacrifice of Christ is the only substantial
reality; therefore, while the partaker of the Jew's sacrificial feast
partook rather "of the altar"
than of GOD manifested fully, and the heathen
idol-feaster had fellowship really with demons, the communicant in the
Lord's Supper has in it a real communion of, or fellowship in, the body
of Christ once sacrificed, and now exalted as the Head of redeemed
22. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?--by dividing our fellowship
between Him and idols
Is it our wish to provoke Him to assert His power?
is before the apostle's mind [ALFORD],
are we stronger?--that we can risk a contest with Him.
23. All things are lawful for me, &c.--Recurring to the Corinthian
he repeats his qualification of it. The oldest manuscripts omit both
times "for me."
edify not--tend not to build up the spiritual temple, the
Church, in faith and love. Paul does not appeal to the apostolic
which seems to have been not so much regarded outside of Palestine, but
rather to the broad principle of true Christian freedom, which does not
allow us to be governed by external things, as though, because we
can use them, we must use them
Their use or non-use is to be regulated by regard to edification.
Ro 15:1, 2).
25. shambles--butchers' stalls; the flesh market.
asking no question--whether it has been offered to an idol or not.
for conscience' sake--If on asking you should hear it had been offered
to idols, a scruple would arise in your conscience which was needless,
and never would have arisen had you asked no questions.
26. The ground on which such eating without questioning is justified
is, the earth and all its contents ("the fulness thereof,"
Ps 20:1; 50:12),
including all meats, belong to the Lord, and are appointed for our use;
and where conscience suggests no scruple, all are to be eaten
(Ro 14:14, 20;
1Ti 4:4, 5;
27. ye be disposed to go--tacitly implying, they would be as well not
to go, but yet not forbidding them to go
[GROTIUS]. The feast is not an idol feast, but a
general entertainment, at which, however, there might be meat that had
been offered to an idol.
for conscience' sake--(See on
28. if any man--a weak Christian at table, wishing to warn his brother.
offered in sacrifice unto idols--The oldest manuscripts omit "unto
idols." At a heathen's table the expression, offensive to him, would
naturally be avoided.
for conscience' sake--not to cause a stumbling-block to the
conscience of thy weak brother
for the earth is the Lord's, &c.--not in the oldest manuscripts.
29. Conscience . . . of the other--the weak brother introduced in
for why is my liberty judged off another man's conscience?--Paul
passes to the first person, to teach his converts by putting himself as
it were in their position. The Greek terms for "the other" and
"another" are distinct. "The other" is the one with whom
Paul's and his Corinthian converts' concern is; "another" is
any other with whom he and they have no concern. If a guest know
the meat to be idol meat while I know it not, I have "liberty" to eat
without being condemned by his "conscience"
[GROTIUS]. Thus the "for," &c., is an argument
"Eat, asking no questions." Or, Why should I give occasion by the rash
use of my liberty that another should condemn it [ESTIUS], or that my liberty should cause the destruction
of my weak brother?" [MENOCHIUS]. Or, the words
are those of the Corinthian objector (perhaps used in their letter, and
so quoted by Paul), "Why is my liberty judged by another's conscience?"
Why should not I be judged only by my own, and have liberty to do
whatever it sanctions? Paul replies in
Your doing so ought always to be limited by regard to what most tends
"to the glory of God" [VATABLUS,
CONYBEARE and HOWSON]. The
first explanation is simplest; the "for," &c., in it refers to "not
thine own" (that is, "not my own," in Paul's change to the first
person); I am to abstain only in the case of liability to offend
another's conscience; in cases where my own has no
scruple, I am not bound, in God's judgment, by any other conscience
than my own.
30. For--The oldest manuscripts omit "For."
by grace--rather, "thankfully" [ALFORD].
I . . . be partaker--I partake of the food set before me.
evil spoken of--by him who does not use his liberty, but will eat
nothing without scrupulosity and questioning whence the meat comes.
give thanks--which consecrates all the Christian's acts
1Ti 4:3, 4).
the picture of worldly men. The godly may "eat and drink," and it shall
be well with him
(Jer 22:15, 16).
to the glory of God--
--which involves our having regard to the edification of our
32. Give none offence--in things indifferent
for in all essential things affecting Christian doctrine and practice,
even in the smallest detail, we must not swerve from principle,
whatever offense may be the result
Giving offense is unnecessary, if our own spirit cause it; necessary,
if it be caused by the truth.
33. I please--I try to please
(1Co 9:19, 22;
not seeking mine own--
many--rather as Greek, "THE many."