1 Corinthians 10
In this chapter the apostle prosecutes the argument at the close of the
I. Warns the Corinthians against security, by the example of the Jews,
who, notwithstanding their profession and privileges, were terribly
punished of God for their many sins, their history being left upon
record for the admonition of Christians,
1 Corinthians 10:1-14.
II. He resumes his former argument
(1 Corinthians 8:1-13),
about eating things offered to idols; and shows that it was utterly
inconsistent with true Christianity, that it was downright gross
idolatry, to eat them as things offered to idols; it is having
fellowship with devils, which cannot consist with having fellowship
1 Corinthians 10:15-22.
III. He lets them yet know that though they must not eat of things
sacrificed to idols as such, and out of any regard to the idol, yet
they might buy such flesh in the markets, or eat it at the table of
heathen acquaintances, without asking any questions; for that the
heathens' abuse of them did not render the creatures of God unfit to be
the food of his servants. Yet liberty of this kind must be used with a
due regard to weak consciences, and no offence given by it t Jew nor
Gentile, nor to the church of God,
1 Corinthians 10:23-33.
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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;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of
that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were
overthrown in the wilderness.
In order to dissuade the Corinthians from communion with idolaters, and
security in any sinful course, he sets before them the example of the
Jews, the church under the Old Testament. They enjoyed great
privileges, but, having been guilty of heinous provocations, they fell
under very grievous punishments. In these verses he reckons up their
privileges, which, in the main, were the same with ours.
I. He prefaces this discourse with a note of regard: "Moreover,
brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant. I would not have
you without the knowledge of this matter; it is a thing worthy both of
your knowledge and attention. It is a history very instructive and
monitory." Judaism was Christianity under a veil, wrapt up in types and
dark hints. The gospel was preached to them, in their legal rites and
sacrifices. And the providence of God towards them, and what happened
to them notwithstanding these privileges, may and ought to be warnings
II. He specifies some of their privileges. He begins,
1. With their deliverance from Egypt: "Our fathers, that is, the
ancestors of us Jews, were under the cloud, and all passed through
the sea. They were all under the divine covering and conduct." The
cloud served for both purposes: it sometimes contracted itself into a
cloudy pillar, shining on one side to show them their way, dark on the
other to hide them from their pursuing enemies; and sometimes spread
itself over them as a mighty sheet, to defend them from the burning sun
in the sandy desert,
They were miraculously conducted through the Red Sea, where the
pursuing Egyptians were drowned: it was a lane to them, but a grave to
these: a proper type of our redemption by Christ, who saves us by
conquering and destroying his enemies and ours. They were very dear to
God, and much in his favour, when he would work such miracles for their
deliverance, and take them so immediately under his guidance and
2. They had sacraments like ours.
(1.) They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the
(1 Corinthians 10:2),
or into Moses, that is, brought under obligation to Moses's law and
covenant, as we are by baptism under the Christian law and covenant. It
was to them a typical baptism.
(2.) They did all eat of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the
same spiritual drink, that we do. The manna on which they fed was
a type of Christ crucified, the bread which came down from heaven,
which whoso eateth shall live forever. Their drink was a stream
fetched from a rock which followed them in all their journeyings in the
wilderness; and this rock was Christ, that is, in type and figure. He
is the rock on which the Christian church is built; and of the streams
that issue from him do all believers drink, and are refreshed. Now all
the Jews did eat of this meat, and drink of this rock, called here a
spiritual rock, because it typified spiritual things. These were great
privileges. One would think that this should have saved them; that all
who ate of that spiritual meat, and drank of that spiritual drink,
should have been holy and acceptable to God. Yet was it otherwise:
With many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown
in the wilderness,
1 Corinthians 10:5.
Note, Men may enjoy many and great spiritual privileges in this world,
and yet come short of eternal life. Many of those who were baptized
unto Moses in the cloud and sea, that is, had their faith of his
divine commission confirmed by these miracles, were yet overthrown in
the wilderness, and never saw the promised land. Let none presume upon
their great privileges, or profession of the truth; these will not
secure heavenly happiness, nor prevent judgments here on earth, except
the root of the matter be in us.
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6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should
not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
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
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed,
and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted,
and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were
destroyed of the destroyer.
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.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest
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.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
The apostle, having recited their privileges, proceeds here to an
account of their faults and punishments, their sins and plagues, which
are left upon record for an example to us, a warning against the like
sins, if we would escape the like punishments. We must not do as they
did, lest we suffer as they suffered.
I. Several of their sins are specified as cautions to us; as,
1. We should shun inordinate desires after carnal objects: Not lust
after evil things, as they lusted,
1 Corinthians 10:6.
God fed them with manna, but they must have flesh,
They had food for their supply, but, not content with this, they asked
meat for their lusts,
Carnal desires get head by indulgence, and therefore should be observed
and checked in their first rise: if once they prevail, and bear sway in
us, we know not whither they will carry us. This caution stands first,
because carnal appetites indulged are the root and source of much sin.
2. He warns against idolatry
(1 Corinthians 10:7):
Neither be you idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written,
The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. The sin
of the golden calf is referred to,
They first sacrificed to their idol, then feasted on the sacrifices,
and then danced before it. Though only eating and drinking are
mentioned here, yet the sacrifice is supposed. The apostle is speaking
to the case of the Corinthians, who were tempted to feast on the
heathen sacrifices, things offered to idols, though they do not seem to
have been under any temptation to offer sacrifice themselves. Even
eating and drinking of the sacrifices before the idol, and as things
sacrificed, was idolatry, which, by the example of the Israelites, they
should be warned to avoid.
3. He cautions against fornication, a sin to which the inhabitants of
Corinth were in a peculiar manner addicted. They had a temple among
them dedicated to Venus (that is, to lust), with above a thousand
priestesses belonging to it, all common prostitutes. How needful was a
caution against fornication to those who lived in so corrupt a city,
and had been used to such dissolute manners, especially when they were
under temptations to idolatry too! and spiritual whoredom did in many
cases lead to bodily prostitution. Most of the gods whom the heathens
served were represented as patterns of lewdness; and much lewdness was
committed in the very worship of many of them. Many of the Jewish
writers, and many Christians after them, think that such worship was
paid to Baal-Peor; and that fornication was committed with the
daughters of Moab in the worship of that idol. They were enticed by
these women both to spiritual and corporal whoredom; first to feast on
the sacrifice, if not to do more beastly acts, in honour of the idol,
and then to defile themselves with strange flesh
which brought on a plague, that in one day slew twenty-three thousand,
besides those who fell by the hand of public justice. Note,
Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge, in whatever external
relation they may stand to him, and whatever outward privileges he may
bestow upon them. Let us fear the sins of Israel, if we would shun
4. He warns us against tempting Christ (as some of them tempted, and
were destroyed of serpents,
1 Corinthians 10:9),
or provoking him to jealousy,
1 Corinthians 10:22.
He was with the church in the wilderness; he was the angel of the
covenant, who went before them. But he was greatly grieved and provoked
by them in many ways: They spoke against him and Moses, Wherefore
have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for
which reason God sent fiery serpents among them
by which many of them were stung mortally. And it is but just to fear
that such as tempt Christ under the present dispensation will be left
by him in the power of the old serpent.
5. He warns against murmuring: Neither murmur you as some of them
also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer
(1 Corinthians 10:10),
by a destroying angel, an executioner of divine vengeance. They
quarrelled with God, and murmured against Moses his minister, when any
difficulties pressed them. When they met with discouragements in the
way to Canaan, they were very apt to fly in the face of their leaders,
were for displacing them, and going back to Egypt under the conduct of
others of their own choosing. Something like this seems to have been
the case of the Corinthians; they murmured against Paul, and in him
against Christ, and seem to have set up other teachers, who would
indulge and soothe them in their inclinations, and particularly in a
revolt to idolatry. Rather let them feast on idol sacrifices than bear
the reproach, or expose themselves to the ill-will, of heathen
neighbours. Such conduct was very provoking to God, and was likely to
bring upon them swift destruction, as it did on the Israelites,
Note, Murmuring against divine disposals and commands is a sin that
greatly provokes, especially when it grows to such a head as to issue
in apostasy, and a revolt from him and his good ways.
II. The apostle subjoins to these particular cautions a more general
(1 Corinthians 10:11):
All these things happened to them for ensamples, and were written
for our admonition. Not only the laws and ordinances of the Jews,
but the providences of God towards them, were typical. Their sins
against God, and backslidings from him, were typical of the infidelity
of many under the gospel. God's judgments on them were types of
spiritual judgments now. Their exclusion from the earthly Canaan
typified the exclusion of many under the gospel out of the heavenly
Canaan, for their unbelief. Their history was written, to be a standing
monitor to the church, even under the last and most perfect
dispensation: To us, on whom the end of the world is come, the
concluding period of God's gracious government over men. Note, Nothing
in scripture is written in vain. God had wise and gracious purposes
towards us in leaving the Jewish history upon record; and it is our
wisdom and duty to receive instruction from it. Upon this hint the
apostle grounds a caution
(1 Corinthians 10:12):
Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Note,
The harms sustained by others should be cautious to us. He that thinks
he stands should not be confident and secure, but upon his guard.
Others have fallen, and so may we. And then we are most likely to fall
when we are most confident of our own strength, and thereupon most apt
to be secure, and off our guard. Distrust of himself, putting him at
once upon vigilance and dependence on God, is the Christian's best
security against all sin. Note, He who thinks he stands is not likely
to keep his footing, if he fears no fall, nor guards against it. God
has not promised to keep us from falling, if we do not look to
ourselves: his protection supposes our own care and caution.
III. But to this word of caution he adds a word of comfort,
1 Corinthians 10:13.
Though it is displeasing to God for us to presume, it is not pleasing
to him for us to despair. If the former be a great sin, the latter is
far from being innocent. Though we must fear and take heed lest we
fall, yet should we not be terrified and amazed; for either our trials
will be proportioned to our strength, or strength will be supplied in
proportion to our temptations. We live indeed in a tempting world,
where we are compassed about with snares. Every place, condition,
relation, employment, and enjoyment, abounds with them; yet what
comfort may we fetch from such a passage! For,
1. "No temptation," says the apostle, "hath yet taken you,
but such as is common to man, what is human; that is, such as you
may expect from men of such principles as heathens, and such power; or
else such as is common to mankind in the present state; or else such as
the spirit and resolution of mere men may bear you through." Note, The
trials of common Christians are but common trials: others have the like
burdens and the like temptations; what they bear up under, and break
through, we may also.
2. God is faithful. Though Satan be a deceiver, God is true. Men
may be false, and the world may be false; but God is faithful, and our
strength and security are in him. He keepeth his covenant, and will
never disappoint the filial hope and trust of his children.
3. He is wise as well as faithful, and will proportion our burden to
our strength. He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are
able. He knows what we can bear, and what we can bear up against;
and he will, in his wise providence, either proportion our temptations
to our strength or make us able to grapple with them. He will take care
that we be not overcome, if we rely upon him, and resolve to approve
ourselves faithful to him. We need not perplex ourselves with the
difficulties in our way when God will take care that they shall not be
too great for us to encounter, especially.
4. When he will make them to issue well. He will make a way to
escape, either the trial itself, or at least the mischief of it.
There is no valley so dark but he can find a way through it, no
affliction so grievous but he can prevent, or remove, or enable us to
support it, and in the end overrule it to our advantage.
IV. And upon this argument he grounds another caution against idolatry:
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. Observe,
1. How he addresses them: My dearly beloved. It is out of
tender affection to them that he presses this advice upon them.
2. The matter of his advice: "Flee idolatry; shun it, and all
approaches towards it." Idolatry is the most heinous injury and affront
to the true God; it is transferring his worship and honour to a rival.
3. The ground of this advice: "Seeing you have such encouragement to
trust God, and to be faithful, do you approve yourselves men, be not
shaken by any discouragements your heathen enemies may lay before you.
God will succour and assist, help you in your trials, and help you out
of them; and therefore be not guilty of any idolatrous compliances."
Note, We have all the encouragement in the world to flee sin and prove
faithful to God. We cannot fall by a temptation if we cleave fast to
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15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
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.
18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the
sacrifices partakers of the altar?
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.
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
22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?
In this passage the apostle urges the general caution against idolatry,
in the particular case of eating the heathen sacrifices as such, and
out of any religious respect to the idol to whom they were
I. He prefaces his argument with an appeal to their own reason and
judgment: "I speak to wise men, judge you what I say,
1 Corinthians 10:15.
You are great pretenders to wisdom, to close reasoning and argument; I
can leave it with your own reason and conscience whether I do not argue
justly." Note, It is no dishonour to an inspired teacher, nor
disadvantage to his argument, to appeal for the truth of it to the
reason and consciences of his hearers. It comes upon them with the
greater force when it comes with this conviction. Paul, an inspired
apostle, would yet, in some cases, leave it with the Corinthians to
judge whether what he taught was not conformable to their own light and
II. He lays down his argument from the Lord's supper: The cup 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? Is
not this sacred rite an instrument of communion with God? Do we not
therein profess to be in friendship, and to have fellowship, with him?
Is it not a token whereby we professedly hold communion with Christ,
whose body was broken, and blood shed, to procure remission of our
sins, and the favour of God? And can we be in alliance with Christ, or
friendship with God, without being devoted to him? In short, the Lord's
supper is a feast on the sacrificed body and blood of our Lord,
epulum ex oblatis. And to eat of the feast is to partake of the
sacrifice, and so to be his guests to whom the sacrifice was offered,
and this in token of friendship with him. Thus to partake of the Lord's
table is to profess ourselves his guests and covenant people. This is
the very purpose and intention of this symbolical eating and drinking;
it is holding communion with God, and partaking of those privileges,
and professing ourselves under those obligations, which result from the
death and sacrifice of Christ; and this in conjunction with all true
Christians, with whom we have communion also in this ordinance.
Because the bread is one, we, being many, are one body, for we are
made partakers of one bread, or loaf
(1 Corinthians 10:17),
which I think is thus more truly rendered: "By partaking of one broken
loaf, the emblem of our Saviour's broken body, who is the only true
bread that came down from heaven, we coalesce into one body, become
members of him and one another." Those who truly partake by faith have
this communion with Christ, and one another; and those who eat the
outward elements make profession of having this communion, of belonging
to God and the blessed fraternity of his people and worshippers. This
is the true meaning of this holy rite.
III. He confirms this from the Jewish worship and customs: Behold
Israel after the flesh: are not those who eat of the sacrifices
partakers of the altar, that is, of the sacrifice offered upon it?
Those who were admitted to eat of the offerings were reckoned to
partake of the sacrifice itself, as made for them, and to be sanctified
thereby; and therefore surely to worship God, and be in alliance or
covenant with him, even the God of Israel, to whom the sacrifice was
made: this was a symbol or token of holding communion with him.
IV. He applies this to the argument against feasting with idolaters on
their sacrifices, and to prove those that do so idolaters. This he
1. By following the principle on which they would argue it to be
lawful, namely, that an idol was nothing. Many of them were nothing at
all, none of them had any divinity in them. What was sacrificed to
idols was nothing, no way changed from what it was before, but was
every whit as fit for food, considered in itself. They indeed seem to
argue that, because an idol was nothing, what was offered was no
sacrifice, but common and ordinary food, of which they might therefore
eat with as little scruple. Now the apostle allows that the food was
not changed as to its nature, was as fit to be eaten as common food,
where it was set before any who knew not of its having been offered to
an idol. But,
2. He proves that the eating of it as a part of a heathen sacrifice
(1.) A partaking with them in their idolatry. It was having
fellowship with devils, because what the Gentiles sacrificed they
sacrificed to devils; and to feast with them upon these sacrifices was
to partake in the sacrifice, and therefore to worship the god to whom
it was made, and have fellowship or communion with him just as he who
eats the Lord's supper is supposed to partake in the Christian
sacrifice; or as those who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of what
was offered on their altar. But heathens sacrificed to devils:
"Therefore do not feast on their sacrifices. Doing it is a token of
your having fellowship with the demons to whom they are offered. I
would not have you be in communion with devils."
(2.) It was a virtual renouncing of Christianity: You cannot drink
the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: you cannot be partakers of
the Lord's table, and the table of devils,
1 Corinthians 10:21.
To partake of this Christian feast was to have communion with Christ:
to partake of the feasts made in honour of the heathen idols, and made
of things sacrificed to them, was to have communion with devils. Now
this was to compound contraries; it was by no means consistent.
Communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could never be had at
once. One must be renounced, if the other was maintained. He who held
communion with Christ must renounce that with devils; he who held
communion with devils must by that very deed renounce communion with
Christ. And what a manifest self-contradiction must that man's conduct
be that would partake of the Lord's table, and yet partake of the table
of demons! God and mammon can never be served together, nor fellowship
be at once had with Christ and Satan. Those who communicate with devils
must virtually renounce Christ. This may also intimate that such as
indulge themselves in gluttony or drunkenness, and by so doing make
their own table the table of devils, or keep up fellowship with Satan
by a course of known and wilful wickedness, cannot partake truly of the
cup and table of the Lord. They may use the sign, but do not the thing
signified thereby. For a man can never be at once in communication with
Christ and his church and yet in fellowship with Satan. Note, How much
reason have we to look to it that every sin and idol be renounced by
us, when we eat and drink at the Lord's table.
V. He warns them, upon the whole, against such idolatry, by signifying
to them that God is a jealous God
(1 Corinthians 10:22):
Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? It
is very probable that many among the Corinthians made light of being at
these heathen feasts, and thought there was no harm in it. But the
apostle bids them beware. The reason with which the second commandment
is enforced is, I am a jealous God. God cannot endure a rival in
matter of worship; nor give his glory, nor suffer it to be given, to
another. Those who have fellowship with other gods provoke him to
And, before this be done, persons should consider whether they are
stronger than he. It is a dangerous thing to provoke God's anger,
unless we could withstand his power. But who can stand before him
when he is angry?
This should be considered by all who continue in the love and liking of
sin, and in league with it, while yet they profess to keep up communion
with Christ. Is not this the way to provoke his jealousy and
indignation? Note, Attention to the greatness of God's power should
restrain us from provoking his jealousy, from doing any thing to
displease him. Shall we rouse almighty wrath? And how shall we
withstand it? Are we a match for God? Can we resist his power, or
control it? And, if not, shall we arm it against us, by provoking him
to jealousy? No, let us fear his power, and let this restrain us from
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23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not
expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify
24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no
question for conscience sake:
26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
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 showed it, and for
conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness
29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why
is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for
that for which I give thanks?
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do
all to the glory of God.
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.
In this passage the apostle shows in what instances, notwithstanding,
Christians might lawfully eat what had been sacrificed to idols. They
must not eat it out of religious respect to the idol, nor go into his
temple, and hold a feast there, upon what they knew was an
idol-sacrifice; nor perhaps out of the temple, if they knew it was a
feast held upon a sacrifice, but there were cases wherein they might
without sin eat what had been offered. Some such the apostle here
I. He gives a caution against abusing our liberty in lawful things.
That may be lawful which is not expedient, which will not edify. A
Christian must not barely consider what is lawful, but what is
expedient, and for the use of edification. A private Christian should
do so even in his private conduct. He must not seek his own only,
but his neighbour's wealth. He must be concerned not to hurt his
neighbour, nay, he must be concerned to promote his welfare; and must
consider how to act so that he may help others, and not hinder them in
their holiness, comfort, or salvation. Those who allow themselves in
every thing not plainly sinful in itself will often run into what is
evil by accident, and do much mischief to others. Every thing lawful in
itself to be done is not therefore lawfully done. Circumstances may
make that a sin which in itself is none. These must be weighed, and the
expediency of an action, and its tendency to edification, must be
considered before it be done. Note, The welfare of others, as well as
our own convenience, must be consulted in many things we do, if we
would do them well.
II. He tells them that what was sold in the shambles they might eat
without asking questions. The priest's share of heathen sacrifices
was thus frequently offered for sale, after it had been offered in the
temple. Now the apostle tells them they need not be so scrupulous as to
ask the butcher in the market whether the meat he sold had been offered
to an idol? It was there sold as common food, and as such might be
bought and used; for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness
(1 Corinthians 10:26),
and the fruit and products of the earth were designed by him, the great
proprietor, for the use and subsistence of mankind, and more especially
of his own children and servants. Every creature of God is good, and
nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is
sanctified by the word of God and prayer,
1 Timothy 4:4,5.
To the pure all things are pure,
Note, Though it is sinful to use any food in an idolatrous manner, it
is no sin, after such abuse, to apply it, in a holy manner, to its
III. He adds that if they were invited by any heathen acquaintances to
a feast, they might go, and eat what was set before them, without
(1 Corinthians 10:27),
nay, though they knew things sacrificed to idols were served up
at such entertainments, as well as sold in the shambles. Note, The
apostle does not prohibit their going to a feast upon the invitation of
those that believed not. There is a civility owing even to infidels and
heathens. Christianity does by no means bind us up from the common
offices of humanity, nor allow us an uncourteous behaviour to any of
our own kind, however they may differ from us in religious sentiments
or practices. And when Christians were invited to feast with infidels
they were not to ask needless questions about the food set before them,
but eat without scruple. Needless enquiries might perplex their minds
and consciences, for which reason they were to be avoided. Any thing
fit to be eaten, that was set before them at a common entertainment,
they might lawfully eat. And why then should they scrupulously enquire
whether what was set before them had been sacrificed? It is to be
understood of civil feasting, not religious; for the latter among the
heathens was feasting upon their sacrifices, which he had condemned
before as a participation in their idolatrous worship. At a common
feast they might expect common food; and they needed not to move
scruples in their own minds whether what was set before them was
otherwise or no. Note, Though Christians should be very careful to know
and understand their duty, yet they should not, by needless enquiries,
IV. Yet, even at such an entertainment, he adds, if any should say it
was a thing that had been offered to idols, they should refrain: Eat
not, for his sake that showed it, and for conscience' sake. Whether
it were the master of the feast or any of the guests, whether it were
spoken in the hearing of all or whispered in the ear, they should
refrain for his sake who suggested this to them, whether he were an
infidel or an infirm Christian; and for conscience' sake, out of regard
to conscience, that they might show a regard to it in themselves, and
keep up a regard to it in others. This he backs with the same reason as
the former: For the earth is the Lord's. There is food enough
provided by our common Lord, of which we maya eat without scruple. The
same doctrine may be variously improved, as here: "The earth is the
Lord's, therefore you may eat any thing without scruple that is set
before you as common food; and yet, because the earth is the Lord's,
eat nothing that will give offence, lay a stumbling-block before
others, and encourage some in idolatry, or tempt others to eat when
they are not clear in their own mind that it is lawful, and so sin, and
wound their own consciences." Note, Christians should be very cautious
of doing what may thus prejudice the consciences of others, and weaken
their authority with them, which is by all means to be kept up.
V. He urges them to refrain where they will give offence, while yet he
allows it lawful to eat what was set before them as common food, though
it had been offered in sacrifice. "Another man's conscience is no
measure to our conduct. What he thinks unlawful is not thereby made
unlawful to me, but may be a matter of liberty still; and as long as I
own God as a giver of my food, and render him thanks for it, it is very
unjust to reproach me for using it." This must be understood abstracted
from the scandal given by eating in the circumstance mentioned. Though
some understand it to mean, "Why should I, by using the liberty I have,
give occasion to those who are scandalized to speak evil of me?"
According to that advice of the apostle
Let not your good be evil spoken of. Note, Christians should
take care not to use their liberty to the hurt of others, nor their own
VI. The apostle takes occasion from this discourse to lay down a rule
for Christians' conduct, and apply it to this particular case
(1 Corinthians 10:31,32),
namely, that in eating and drinking, and in all we do, we should aim at
the glory of God, at pleasing and honouring him. This is the
fundamental principle of practical godliness. The great end of all
practical religion must direct us where particular and express rules
are wanting. Nothing must be done against the glory of God, and the
good of our neighbours, connected with it. Nay, the tendency of our
behaviour to the common good, and the credit of our holy religion,
should give direction to it. And therefore nothing should be done by us
to offend any, whether Jew, or Gentile, or the church,
1 Corinthians 10:32.
The Jews should not be unnecessarily grieved nor prejudiced, who have
such an abhorrence of idols that they reckon every thing offered to
them thereby defiled, and that it will pollute and render culpable all
who partake of it; nor should heathens be countenanced in their
idolatry by any behaviour of ours, which they may construe as homage or
honour done to their idols; nor young converts from Gentilism take any
encouragement from our conduct to retain any veneration for the heathen
gods and worship, which they have renounced: nor should we do any thing
that may be a means to pervert any members of the church from their
Christian profession or practice. Our own humour and appetite must not
determine our practice, but the honour of God and the good and
edification of the church. We should not so much consult our own
pleasure and interest as the advancement of the kingdom of God among
men. Note, A Christian should be a man devoted to God, and of a public
VII. He presses all upon them by his own example: Even as I please
all men (or study to do it) in all things (that I lawfully
can), not seeking my own profit, but that of many, that they may be
1 Corinthians 10:33.
Note, A preacher may press his advice home with boldness and authority
when he can enforce it with his own example. He is most likely to
promote a public spirit in others who can give evidence of it in
himself. And it is highly commendable in a minister to neglect his own
advantage that he may promote the salvation of his hearers. This shows
that he has a spirit suitable to his function. It is a station for
public usefulness, and can never be faithfully discharged by a man of a
narrow spirit and selfish principles.