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The First Letter Of Paul To The Corinthians: Chapter 10

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1I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, a Gk brothers that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty‐three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ a Other ancient authorities read the Lord to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

14Therefore, my dear friends, b Gk my beloved flee from the worship of idols. 15I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18Consider the people of Israel; c Gk Israel according to the flesh are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21You 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. 22Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

23“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. 25Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, 26for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord's.” 27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29I mean the other's conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else's conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.


a Gk brothers

a Other ancient authorities read the Lord

b Gk my beloved

c Gk Israel according to the flesh

Text Commentary view alone

10.1–13 :

Warning that the Corinthians are risking God's wrath (in eating food offered to idols). This step of his argument against eating food offered to idols is full of allusions to symbols and incidents from Israel's Exodus and wilderness traditions, but cites scripture only once, in v. 7 . (Biblical versions of these incidents are in Ex 13.21; 14.22; 16.4–35; 17.6; Num 20.7–11 .)

1–5 :

That Paul uses the distinctively Corinthian terms of “spiritual” people and things in vv. 3–4 and then abruptly cites God's displeasure with those who consume “spiritual” food and drink in v. 5 suggests that he is again borrowing and countering Corinthian language. The enlightened Corinthians appear to have assimilated the tradition of interpreting Exodus and wilderness incidents such as the cloud, and … the sea, and … spiritual food (manna), and … spiritual drink (water) from the spiritual rock spiritually as symbols of heavenly Wisdom or the know ledge she provides (see Wis 10.17–18; 11.4; 16.20–22; 19.7 ).

2 :

Baptized … in the cloud and in the sea, prob ably another symbol of immortality given by Wisdom, considering the Corinthian emphasis on “baptism for the dead” in 15.29 , and Paul's deemphasis on baptism in 1.14–17 .

4 :

And the rock was Christ, an intrusive, parenthetical comment by which again Paul attempts to replace the Corinthians' “Wisdom” with his own “Christ” as the agent of salvation (see 1.24 and 8.6 ).

5 :

Nevertheless, God was not pleased …, the focus shifts from the “ancestors” to “God,” and the tone from recitation of salvation to warning of judgment.

6–13 :

Paul develops this warning in five exhortations of “We must not/Do not … as some of [the ancestors] did” in vv. 6b–10 , framed in vv. 6a and 11 with parallel statements. (The biblical stories he alludes to are in Num 14.29–30; Ex 32.4–6; Num 25.1–9; Num 21.5–6; Num 16.13–14,41–49. )

7 :

That Paul actually cites scripture (Ex 32.6 ) only in connection with idolatry indicates that this is his majorconcern; see v. 14 .

12 :

Watch out …, completes the warning begun in v. 5 .

13 :

Perhaps realizing the severity of his criticism in vv. 5–12 , Paul interrupts the flow of his argument with this reassurance.

10.14–22 :

Prohibition of eating food offered to idols. Beginning with a plea to “Flee idolatry” and ending with a blunt warning about the consequences of banqueting in temples, Paul comes to the point of the argument begun in 8.1–13 . Picking up on 8.5 , he now explicitly counters the Corinthian “knowl edge” that “no idol/god in the world really exists” ( 8.4 ) by stressing the real communal relations involved when one dines in their temples, and he counters their claims about individual “authority/liberty” with a call for group solidarity in the new community centered on Christ.

16–17 :

This interpretation of the bread in the sense of communal sharing is unique in the New Testament. In the main point of his argument, Paul combines the body of Christ, represented by the bread, with “body” as a standard political symbol of how the people of a citystate, though many, are united.

19–21 :

Paul moves the focus from abstract principles of knowledge to concrete social practices—sacrificing and eating in temple banquets— and formulates his final prohibition in v. 21 in terms of the mutual exclusivity of solidarity with the Lord and solidarity with demons (gods/idols).

22 :

These rhetorical questions allude to the warning historical examples given in vv. 6–12 .

10.23–11.1 : Responsibility to others.

Paul begins and ends this final step of his argument against eating food sacrificed to idols by restating that one must seek the advantage of the other, not one's own, as he himself has tried to do ( 10.23–24; 10.31–11.1 ). In between he concedes ethical “liberty” on two matters that he views as relatively unimportant (vv. 25–27,28–29a ). On conscience, see 8.7n.

29b–30 :

Anticipationof possible objections.

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