Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 10

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1 Corinthians 10

Supplemental Commentary:

III:  ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS  7, 1 -- 11, 1 (continued)

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

10, 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.

Confraternity Bible:

Warning from 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.

The 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.