John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. Now - That ye may not become reprobates, consider how highly favoured your fathers were, who were God's elect and peculiar people, and nevertheless were rejected by him. They were all under the cloud - That eminent token of God's gracious presence, which screened them from the heat of the sun by day, and gave them light by night. And all passed through the sea -God opening a way through the midst of the waters. Exodus 13:21; Exodus 14:22
Verse 2. And were all, as it were, baptized unto Moses -initiated into the religion which he taught them. In the cloud and in the sea - Perhaps sprinkled here and there with drops of water from the sea or the cloud, by which baptism might be the more evidently signified.
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Verse 3. And all ate the same manna, termed spiritual meat, as it was typical, 1. Of Christ and his spiritual benefits: 2. Of the sacred bread which we eat at his table. Exodus 16:15.
Verse 4. And all drank the same spiritual drink - Typical of Christ, and of that cup which we drink. For they drank out of the spiritual or mysterious rock, the wonderful streams of which followed them in their several journeyings, for many years, through the wilderness. And that rock was a manifest type of Christ - The Rock of Eternity, from whom his people derive those streams of blessings which follow them through all this wilderness. Exodus 17:6.
Verse 5. Yet - Although they had so many tokens of the divine presence. They were overthrown - With the most terrible marks of his displeasure.
Verse 6. Now these things were our examples - Showing what we are to expect if, enjoying the like benefits, we commit the like sins. The benefits are set down in the same order as by Moses in Exodus; the sins and punishments in a different order; evil desire first, as being the foundation of all; next, idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:7,14; then fornication, which usually accompanied it, 1 Corinthians 10:8; the tempting and murmuring against God, in the following verses. As they desired - Flesh, in contempt of manna. Numbers 11:4
Verse 7. Neither be ye idolaters - And so, "neither murmur ye," 1 Corinthians 10:10. The other cautions are given in the first person; but these in the second. And with what exquisite propriety does he vary the person! It would have been improper to say, Neither let us be idolaters; for he was himself in no danger of idolatry; nor probably of murmuring against Christ, or the divine providence. To play - That is, to dance, in honour of their idol. Exodus 32:6.
Verse 8. And fell in one day three and twenty thousand - Beside the princes who were afterwards hanged, and those whom the judges slew so that there died in all four and twenty thousand. Numbers 25:1,9.
Verse 9. Neither let us tempt Christ - By our unbelief. St. Paul enumerates five benefits, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; of which the fourth and fifth were closely connected together; and five sins, the fourth and fifth of which were likewise closely connected. In speaking of the fifth benefit, he expressly mentions Christ; and in speaking of the fourth sin, he shows it was committed against Christ. As some of them tempted him -This sin of the people was peculiarly against Christ; for when they had so long drank of that rock, yet they murmured for want of water. Numbers 21:4, &c
Verse 10. The destroyer - The destroying angel. Numbers 14:1,36
Verse 11. On whom the ends of the ages are come - The expression has great force. All things meet together, and come to a crisis, under the last, the gospel, dispensation; both benefits and dangers, punishments and rewards. It remains, that Christ come as an avenger and judge. And even these ends include various periods, succeeding each other.
Verse 12. The common translation runs, Let him that thinketh he standeth; but the word translated thinketh, most certainly strengthens, rather than weakens, the sense.
Verse 13. Common to man - Or, as the Greek word imports, proportioned to human strength. God is faithful - In giving the help which he hath promised. And he will with the temptation -Provide for your deliverance.
Verse 14. Flee from idolatry - And from all approaches to it.
Verse 16. The cup which we bless - By setting it apart to a sacred use, and solemnly invoking the blessing of God upon it. Is it not the communion of the blood of Christ - The means of our partaking of those invaluable benefits, which are the purchase of the blood of Christ. The communion of the body of Christ - The means of our partaking of those benefits which were purchased by the body of Christ - offered for us.
Verse 17. For it is this communion which makes us all one. We being many are yet, as it were, but different parts of one and the same broken bread, which we receive to unite us in one body.
Verse 18. Consider Israel after the flesh - Christians are the spiritual "Israel of God." Are not they who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar - Is not this an act of communion with that God to whom they are offered? And is not the case the same with those who eat of the sacrifices which have been offered to idols?
Verse 19. What say I then - Do I in saying this allow that an idol is anything divine? I aver, on the contrary, that what the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils. Such in reality are the gods of the heathens; and with such only can you hold communion in those sacrifices.
Verse 21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils - You cannot have communion with both.
Verse 22. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy - By thus caressing his rivals? Are we stronger than he - Are we able to resist, or to bear his wrath?
Verse 23. Supposing this were lawful in itself, yet it is not expedient, it is not edifying to my neighbour.
Verse 24. His own only, but another's welfare also.
Verse 25. The apostle now applies this principle to the point in question. Asking no questions - Whether it has been sacrificed or not.
Verse 26. For God, who is the Creator, Proprietor, and Disposer of the earth and all that is therein, hath given the produce of it to the children of men, to be used without scruple. Psalms 24:1
Verse 28. For his sake that showed thee, and for conscience' sake - That is, for the sake of his weak conscience, lest it should be wounded.
Verse 29. Conscience I say, not thy own - I speak of his conscience, not thine. For why is my liberty judged by another's conscience - Another's conscience is not the standard of mine, nor is another's persuasion the measure of my liberty.
Verse 30. If I by grace am a partaker - If I thankfully use the common blessings of God.
Verse 31. Therefore - To close the present point with a general rule, applicable not only in this, but in all cases, Whatsoever ye do - In all things whatsoever, whether of a religious or civil nature, in all the common, as well as sacred, actions of life, keep the glory of God in view, and steadily pursue in all this one end of your being, the planting or advancing the vital knowledge and love of God, first in your own soul, then in all mankind.
Verse 32. Give no offence - If, and as far as, it is possible.
Verse 33. Even as I, as much as lieth in me, please all men.