Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Thinking That I Stand/1 Corinthians 10

Thinking I Stand

“At the back of this passage there lies the over-confidence of some of the Corinthian Christians. Their point of view was, ‘We have been baptized and we are therefore one with Jesus Christ; we have partaken of the Lord's Supper and therefore we have partaken of the body and blood of Christ; we are in Christ and Christ in us; therefore we are quite safe; we can eat meat offered to idols and take no harm; there is no possible danger for us.’ By recalling the example of Israel, Paul showed that being recipients of special privileges did not guarantee one's salvation. Thus, he showed that Israel had received a ‘baptism’ and a ‘supper’ just the same as the Corinthians had; nevertheless, the greater portion of them were lost”. (Willis, pp. 313-314)

1 Corinthians 10:1 “For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea”

“For”: “Paul appeals to the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness in confirmation of his statement concerning himself in 9:26f., and as a powerful warning to the Corinthians who may be tempted to flirt with the idolatrous practices of their neighbors. It is a real, not an imaginary peril” (Robertson, p. 151). “It is possible that I may be rejected, for the Israelites were” (Vincent, p. 238). “Our fathers”: In the previous chapter Paul had given an illustration from the games. “Many a Greek must have looked long and hard at some beaten athlete, sitting by himself in dejection while the victor has the applause and attention of the masses. And many a Jew must have wondered about the loss of thousands in the desert” (McGuiggan, p. 132). “Were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea”: Notice the stress on the word "all" in these verses. 

1 Corinthians 10:2 “and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea”

Indicating that baptism is an immersion. “With a wall of water on each side and a cloud over them (and or behind them), the Israelites were buried from the sight of the Egyptians” (McGarvey, p. 97). “Unto Moses”: “As Moses was Israel's deliverer, so Christ is theirs” (Fee, p. 445). As in the case of our baptism, the baptism of the Israelites accomplished a deliverance from the land of bondage. “This Israelite baptism separated the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt just as Christian baptism separates one from sin” (Willis, p. 317). Compare with Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21. Baptism is a burial (Romans 6:4), and baptism is an act of faith. Entering the parted sea took a lot of faith in Moses' words. Likewise, our baptism is that final step of trust in God before salvation is obtained. It constitutes the line between a professed believer and a true believer (Acts 2:41). Also let’s not over look the fact that Paul believed in the historical accuracy of the Exodus record.

1 Corinthians 10:3 “and did all eat the same spiritual food”

“Same”: “All received and enjoyed the identical spiritual blessings” (Lenski, p. 391). Same is a powerful word in this context.  No Israelite could complain that they weren't given the same advantages as Joshua or Caleb (those who made it). Likewise, all Christians today undergo the same baptism; they partake of the 'same elements, they have the same mediator, they read from the same Bible. Therefore, whose fault is it, if one fails to make it to heaven? “Spiritual food”: This refers to the manna. It is called "spiritual food" because of its miraculous origin (Exodus 16; Psalm 78:25; John 6:31 “He gave them bread out of heaven to eat”). 

1 Corinthians 10:4 “and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ”

“Spiritual drink”: The water that God miraculously provided (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-13). “They drank”: “The imperfect tense denoting continued action – throughout their journey” (Vincent, p. 239).  “And the rock was Christ”: In the case that someone in Corinth objected to Paul’s material here, by saying, “But they perished because they didn't have Christ – we do, so we don't need to worry.” Paul responds, “Who do you think kept them alive all those years?” Conclusion of this section: Privileges, yes even spiritual privileges, do not guard one against falling into sin. 

1 Corinthians 10:5 “Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness”

“Most of them”: “In fact, with the entire generation of military age, twenty years old and upward, that came out of Egypt (apart from Caleb and Joshua) Numbers 14:20-24;28-35; Deuteronomy 1:34-40” (F.F. Bruce, p. 92). 

Why they Fell: 10:6-10

“Thus he sets in motion the following section in which he will specify the reasons for Israel's failure” (Fee, pp. 449-450). “The fall of the Israel of the Exodus was due to the very temptations now surrounding the Corinthian church – to the allurements of idolatry and its attendant impurity (6ff), and to the cherishing of discontent and presumption (9f). Demanding my rights. We are not safe ground. 

1 Corinthians 10:6 “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted”

“Were our examples”: “These events are examples to us, warning us” (Nor). This reveals that the Old Testament examples are ever relevant, therefore preaching from the Old Testament fills a very important purpose, because man remains the same and is prone to commit the same mistakes, and God still feels the same way about all these sins. 

“To the intent”: “To keep us from” (Wms)“Not lust after evil things”: “To keep us from setting our hearts on evil things” (Fee p. 452). “As they also lusted”: “Instead of rejoicing in the spiritual blessings which God extended to them they constantly lusted after ‘evil things’” (Lenski, p. 396). It was not that they always "lusted" after things that were inherently evil. “They were tired, they said, of manna day after day (Numbers 11:4), and they lusted after meat, flesh to eat. Was eating meat so important that they would insult and tempt God? (Numbers 11:4-5). Should men recently rescued from age old slavery and on their way to freedom whine over the loss of flesh to eat? Do you think the Corinthians should have been listening?” (McGuiggan, p. 134).

1 Corinthians 10:7 “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”

“Neither be ye idolaters”: “Lit., stop becoming idolaters, implying that some of them had already begun to be” (Robertson, pp.152-153). “As it is written”: Exodus 32:4, this refers to the infamous "golden calf" incident. “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play”: Paul fixes his attention, not on the construction of the calf, but on the "feast" which attended the worship of it. The Corinthians were not arguing for the right to construct or worship idols, rather, simply for the right to attend the feasts in the various idol temples. In response, Paul cites the worship of the golden calf, and labels as "idolatry", the feast which attended it's worship. 

1 Corinthians 10:8 “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand”

“Fornication”: Often regular part of idolatry, and a very real temptation for the Corinthians (6:9,12-18). “A thousand priests ministered at the licentious rites of the temple of Venus at Corinth” (Vincent, p. 240). “In one day”: Any questions about how God feels about fornication? The specific event of fornication cited, was the result of the Israelites attending an "idol feast", in which they "ate and bowed down to their gods" (Numbers 25:2). 23,000 Israelites died in one day, and the whole thing started when the people of God accepted an invitation to attend a feast dedicated to the worship of a specific god (Numbers 25:2 “For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods”). This is exactly the "liberty" that some Corinthians are claiming.

1 Corinthians 10:9 “Neither let us make trial of the Lord, as some of them made trial, and perished by the serpents”

“Make trial of the Lord”: That is, “to see how far His patience will stretch or question if He means what He says” (F.F. Bruce, p. 92). “To tempt out, tempt thoroughly; try to the utmost” (Vincent, p. 240). See Psalm 95:8; Numbers 14:22. “To try thoroughly, to the utmost – as though one would see how far God's indulgence will go” (Gr. Ex. N.T., p. 860). “The continual practice of things which are questionable may become the occasion of our presuming too far upon the forbearance of God, of our attempting to see how far we can go without falling, or of testing God, to learn how far He will let us go without punishment or reproof.” (Erdman, p. 103) “And perished by the serpents”: This is recorded in Numbers 21:4-6. The food that God had provided miraculously was labeled “miserable food” (Numbers 21:5), yet the Holy Spirit tells the truth about it (Exodus 16:31). 

1 Corinthians 10:10 “Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer”

“Murmur”: Complaining was a frequent problem in the wilderness (Exodus 15:24; 16:2ff; 17:3; Numbers 11:1; 14:2ff; 16:11,41; Deuteronomy 1:27; Psalm 106:25). “Perished by the destroyer”: Exodus 12:23; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Hebrews 12:28. Probably referring to an angel that inflicted the punishment. This verse is probably referring to the rebellion of Korah, recorded in Numbers 16, especially verse 41. “People murmur when they think that justice has not been given to their claim, when they believe that they have been deprived of their legitimate rights. Complaining to God because of His restrictions over our conduct implies that we know better what we need that He does; it charges God will placing unnecessary restrictions on our freedom” (Willis, p. 327).

1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come”

They were written”: “Thus indicating their divinely ordained reason for being in Scripture.  In this sentence one captures a sense of Paul's view that both the historical events and the inscripturated narrative are not simply history or isolated texts in Scripture; rather, behind all these things lies the eternal purposes of the living God, who knows the end from the beginning” (Fee, p. 458). “For our admonition”: “To serve as a caution to us” (TCNT). “Upon whom the ends of the ages are come”: The Corinthians were living in a time when all the past purposes of God expressed in the Old Testament were realizing their fulfillment (Mark 1:15; Luke 10:23; 24:25; Acts 3:24), a time period when prophecy and fulfillment had met. God still feels the same way about fornication, idolatry, grumbling, and pushing our "rights". The events recorded in the Old Testament were all recorded for a definite purpose. To teach anything, they must have been recorded accurately, and then preserved. 

1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”

“Thinketh he standeth”: “Who imagines that he is standing so securely” (Mon). No “once saved always saved here”. Some of the Corinthians considered themselves "secure", seeing that they had been baptized, were partaking in the Lord's Supper and had Christ. Yet the Corinthians would have complained, “You don't realize how tough it is to live in this environment”. To this Paul responds with a classic verse:

1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it”

“Temptation”: “No temptation has come your way” (Phi). “A temptation is any inducement to sin” (Lenski, p. 403). “Taken you”: “Has seized, and holds one in its grasp” (Gr. Ex. N.T., p. 862). “The verb is in the perfect tense denoting that the temptation is one which lingers” (Willis, p. 331). “Such as man can bear”: “But such as in common to man” (NASV). No generation can complain, “But living the Christian life is much harder for us, than it was for our parents”. Every generation faces the same type of temptations. The Corinthians were facing the same temptations that the Israelites had years before. Some temptations “linger” and must be continually resisted. A bad or tough environment is never an excuse to sin (Genesis 39).

“Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able”: Notice what Paul does not say.  “God will not suffer you to be tempted”. All Christians will face temptation, for God has never promised that He will remove trials, rather He monitors them, and you can be assured, that whatever trial or temptation you find yourself faced with, is within your ability to resist. “But will with the temptation make also the way of escape”: In every temptation, a way to resist it exists.

God never places us in a no-win situation in which the only way out is to commit sin. There are no “greater sin”/“lesser sin” moral dilemmas. There is always a non-sinful way to endure a trial. One will never be faced with a temptation that requires “superhuman” effort to endure. Every time we sin, we have demonstrated a lack of faith in God, for we refused to look for or take the way of escape. Sin is always our fault. Since a way of escape always exists in every temptation, we can never blame anything or anyone else for our own moral failures. Unfortunately, many want the way of escape to be easy and effortless. When it comes to temptation, many are waiting for some “feeling” to overwhelm them, which will magically remove all desire to give in. A way of escape, when it comes to idolatry, is given in the next verse. “Flee!”

Is it Lawful? 1 Corinthians 6:12

  • Doesn’t say I can’t do it?
  • Galatians 5:19
  • Categories… whatever else is…
  • Honesty with the warnings: Prov. 20; 23; 1 Timothy 5  “a little” and for medical not recreational reasons.

People Who were Into Rights

  • 1 Corinthians 8
  • No concern for others.
  • Causes other to stumble.
  • Their “substance” far more important than the souls of others
  • Romans 14
  • Unwilling to sacrifice at all – or adjust.
  • Unconcerned with Paul’s real rights – 1 Corinthians 9
  • Found themselves in sin – 1 Corinthians 10:12
  • Thinks he stands – they thought they stood on safe ground – in their grumbling, etc
  • God understands – not He does not.

Mark Dunagan |
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017