1 Corinthians 10
III: ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS 7, 1 -- 11, 1
4. Against Overconfidence 10, 1-13
10, 1-11: Warning
from Old Testament. St. Paul shows that although the Jews were the objects of God's special favor through miracles
which were types of the supernatural gifts given to Christians, some fell away. Christians should take heed lest they
fall. Note that in comparisons the illustration is sometimes described in words that apply strictly only to what is
being illustrated; so here baptized and spiritual.
1. Under the cloud: the Jews were guided by a cloud
(Ex. 13, 21; 14, 19). Passed through the sea: through the waters of the Red Sea the
Jews passed safely from the bondage of Pharaoh to the promised land, as Christians pass through the waters of Baptism from
the bondage of sin to the kingdom of God. 2. In Moses: these miracles caused
the Jews to identify themselves with Moses as their leader, as Baptism identifies us with Christ who is God.
3. The manna (Ex. 16, 15) and the water from the rock (Ex. 17, 6; Num. 20,
11) fed the bodies of the Jews in the journey to the home God was giving them, as the Eucharist nourishes our souls on the
way to our heavenly home. 4. The spiritual rock: the real source of these
favors was not the material rock (for instance) but the spiritual rock, the Christ pre-existent as the Second Person of the
Blessed Trinity. God is called Rock in the Hebrew text of Deut. 32, 4.15-18; Isa. 17, 10; etc., as
the solid support of His people. 5. Of those over twenty at the time of leaving Egypt
only Josue and Caleb lived to enter the Promised Land (Num. 14, 29 f; 26, 63-65). 7.
Sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play: refers to Ex. 32, 6 when some of the Israelites ate food
that had been sacrificed to the golden calf and engaged in religious dances before it. 8.
Fornication: probably refers to the sins with the daughters of Moab when twenty-four thousand were killed (Num. 25,
1.9). The difference in number may arise from a fault in copying, common in numbers. Some think Paul is still
speaking of the idolatry (often called fornication) referred to in the previous verse. The Vulgate gives the number
slain on that occasion as twenty-three thousand; but the more probable reading in Ex. 32, 28 is three thousand.
9. Tempt Christ: they provoked Christ (cf. 10, 4) by lack of confidence, and were
bitten by the "fiery" (poisonous) serpents (Num. 21, 5 f). 10. Of the numerous
occasions when the Jews murmured (cf. Heb. 3, 10.17) this probably refers to Num. 16 when Core,
Dathan, and Abiron rebelled and were swallowed up by the earth. According to Wisd. 18, 25 this punishment was
effected by a destroyer, i.e., by an angel, as in the slaying of the firstborn (Ex. 12, 29).
11. Final age of the world: i.e., the Messianic period, inaugurated here now and consummated
eternally in heaven.
10, 12-13: Application. Temptation is never beyond our strength of resistance;
God always gives sufficient grace.
5. Discussion of Idol Offerings Resumed 10, 14 -- 11, 1
14-22a: The Table of the Lord. Paul refers here to those cases where the eating of food offered to idols
is directly connected with idolatrous worship. 14-16. This shows clearly that the
Christians have a sacrificial communion, by comparison with the sacrifice of the Jews (v.18) and with that of the pagans (v.19);
and that this communion is the body and blood of Christ. We bless: Christians consecrate through and in union
with the priest. 17 f. Eating a common food which becomes our body and blood gives
us to some extent one common body and blood. So also the sacrifice of the Jews eaten in part by the votary and consumed
in part at least symbolically (as through burning) by God brought union with God. Israel according to the flesh
refers to the unconverted Jews as opposed to the Christians who have inherited the things promised to the Jews.
19 f. Cf. 8, 4-6. 20. They sacrifice to devils
and not to God: (Deut. 32, 17) worship of man-made gods was itself evil and accompanied with many evil practices,
and the devil is the leader of the forces of evil. Thus the pagans, who tried in sacrificial banquets to unite themselves
with their gods, became one with the devil. 21. Table: i.e., altar (Council
of Trent; Ez. 34, 16; etc.). 22. Provoking to jealousy: by diverting
devotion. Are we stronger than he, to oppose Him?
10, 22b-30: Practical Directions. 22b.
Cf. 6, 12. 23 f. No man can seek his own interests without considering
those of his neighbor. 25-27. It is not necessary to inquire at the market
or at the home of a pagan whether or not the food has been offered to idols, because God has made everything good.
28 f. If someone mentions that the food has been sacrificed he implies either that the meal is being
considered as sacrificial or that he believes it wrong for a Christian to eat it. 29b.
A conscience which judges rightly will not be condemned, just because someone may erroneously consider the action wrong.
30. A sincere grace before and after meals implies that the one who eats does not consider his eating
as displeasing to God.
10, 31 -- 11, 1: Give No Offense. 31.
An indifferent action is meritorious when done with at least a virtual intention of glorifying God.
Old Testament 1 For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud,
and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized in Moses, in the cloud and in the sea. 3 And all ate the same
spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink (for they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them, and
the rock was Christ). 5 Yet with most of them God was not well pleased, for "they were laid low in the desert."
6 Now these things came to pass
as examples to us, that we should not lust after evil things even as they lusted. 7 And do not become idolators, even
as some of them were, as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Neither let us
commit fornication, even as some of them committed fornication, and there fell in one day twenty-three thousand. 9 Neither
let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents. 10 Neither murmur, as some of them murmured,
and perished at the hands of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as a type, and they were written
for our correction, upon whom the final age of the world has come.
Application 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take
heed lest he fall. 13 May no temptation take hold of you but such as man is equal to. God is faithful and will
not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able
to bear it.
Table of the Lord 14 Therefore, beloved, flee from the worship of idols. 15 I am speaking as to
men of sense; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the sharing of the blood
of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? 17 Because the bread
is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread. 18* Behold Israel according to the flesh,
are not they who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19* What then do I say? That what is sacrificed
to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20* No; but I say that what the Gentiles sacrifice, "they sacrifice
to devils and not to God"; and I would not have you become associates of devils. 21* You cannot drink the cup of the
Lord and the cup of devils; you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord and of the table of devils. 22 Or are we
provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Practical Directions All things are lawful, but not all things
are expedient. 23 All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own interests, but those
of his neighbor. 25 Anything that is sold in the market, eat, asking no question for conscience' sake. 26
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you, and you wish to
go, eat whatever is set before you, and ask no question for conscience' sake. 28 But if someone says, "This has been
sacrificed to idols," do not eat of it, for the sake of him who told you and for conscience' sake--- 29 I mean the other's
conscience, not thine. For why should my liberty be called to judgment by another's conscience? 30 If I partake
with thanksgiving, why am I ill spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
Give No Offense 31 Therefore,
whether you eat or drink, or do anything else, do all for the glory of God. 32 Do not be a stumbling-block to Jews and
Greeks and to the church of God, 33 even as I myself in all things please all men, not seeking what is profitable to myself
but to the many, that they may be saved.
18-21: To partake of the sacrifice among the
Jews was a means of union with God. The eating of things sacrificed to false gods, to devils (Deut. 32, 17),
by analogy implied union with them. This was not befitting one who had been united to Christ in the Eucharist.