Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 10:1 - 10:13

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 10:1 - 10:13

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See 1Co_9:23 ff for the passage quote with footnotes.

1Co_10:1-5. The illustration derived from Grecian life is followed up by one taken from Jewish history. The thought set forth and established is the same just considered, viz., the, necessity of earnest self-denial for a participation in the Gospel salvation. Having expressed his own anxiety lest, with all his labors for others, he himself should fail of approval, he proceeds to substantiate his apprehension by referring to the case of the fathers. The connection is indicated by ãÜñ [which is the correct reading, and not äÝ , as in the Rec. See Crit. notes].—For I would not that ye should be ignorant, brethren.—The logic is: ‘there is reason to fear that I may become a castaway; for the early history of our nation proves that however close may be the relation sustained by men toward God, and however glorious the promises made to them, it is nevertheless possible for such to be rejected at the last.’ In this respect he holds up the people of the ancient covenant as a warning to those of the new, showing, first, the rich experiences of Divine favor enjoyed by the former, in which he beholds a type of those dispensed under the N. T.; and, secondly, how the majority did nevertheless fall at last beneath the Divine judgments, by yielding to temptations, complying with their impious passions, and resisting God. By the expression: ‘I would not that you be ignorant,’ in which he does not so much remind his readers of something well known, as open up before them something new and for them significant (comp. Rom_1:13; Rom_11:25), he calls their attention directly to what he has to say, and presses it on their earnest consideration. Grammatically it points primarily to facts, familiar even to the heathen converts, which he brings out in 1Co_10:1-4; but, in reality, to the significance of these facts for the case in hand, viz., that of a number ( ðÜíôåò ) participating equally in gracious relations to God, the greater portion ( ïἱ ðëåßïíåò ) through their misconduct fell short of salvation (comp. 1Co_9:24, ðÜíôåò åἶò )—that all our fathers.—‘Our fathers’—this is not said from the Jewish stand-point (Meyer), but the expression squares with the true Apostolic view of the relation subsisting between the people of the O. T. and the N. T. The Israelites were the spiritual ancestors of the Christians (comp. Rom_4:12; Rom_11:17).—were under the cloud.—The cloud was the symbol and medium of the Divine presence for Israel (Exo_3:21), which spread itself over the people, protecting them while on their march; hence the term ὑðü : under (comp. Psa_105:39). Beneath this marvellous covering and shield the wonderful passage through the Red Sea was effected (Exodus 14).—and all passed through the sea.—Both acts taken together, as accomplishing the critical deliverance of the people from a hostile power, are regarded by the Apostle as a type of baptism.—and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.—The cloud is, in a measure, taken together with the water (not symbolically of the Spirit) as the element into which they entered, and wherein they became, as it were, submerged, in order thence to emerge again. According to the true reading, he says, ἐâáðôßóáíôï (Mid.): they baptized themselves, inasmuch as in the baptism of adults there is a voluntary entering into the Divine bestowments of grace and a free surrender to them. As Melancthon says: fiducia verbi Mosis commiserant se aquis.—The words, ‘unto Moses,’ cannot mean sub auspiciis Mosis, but as always with the verb ‘baptize’ they denote the relation or fellowship into which they entered with Moses, who, as the servant of the Lord, was the mediator of the Divine manifestations. With this there is connected the obligation to follow him faithfully as the leader given unto them by the Lord, and legitimated by Him (Exo_14:31).

From the type of baptism which introduces into a fellowship of the redeemed, he proceeds to the type of the Lord’s Supper, which was the confirmation and seal of the former, viz., the factof the feeding upon the manna miraculously sent, and the drinking of the rock, by which means the preservation of the ransomed people was secured. “This connecting of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the two sacraments in the N.T., whose O. T. analogies Paul here adduces, is exceedingly noteworthy. It is a testimony in favor of the Protestant view of the duality of the sacraments.” Neander.—and did all eat the same spiritual food.—The “spiritual food” or manna (Exo_16:13 ff.) is distinguished from all earthly food, either because of some supernatural quality in it, or because of its supernatural origin. Here unquestionably we are to suppose the latter. The epithet ‘spiritual’ denotes that the food came from the Spirit—was produced by a Divine miraculous power (comp. Exo_16:14). [“It is here employed in special reference to its descent from heaven and its designation in Psa_78:24-25 as “the bread of heaven” and “angels’ food.” Stanley. “Thus, also, Isaac is called, Gal_4:29, ‘he born after the Spirit,’ in opposition to Ishmael, who is spoken of as ‘born after the flesh.’ ” Alford. Wordsworth, however, quoting from Bp. Fell, says: “the food and drink are called ‘spiritual’ because they are Christ’s body and blood in types.”—Why may not all the significations given be recognized? Scriptural phraseology has a fulness of meaning which ordinary language has not; for there was more “in the mind of the Spirit” who inspired it than the writers themselves even knew]. If we assume a supernatural quality in the “food” and the “drink,” we must also suppose that they were at the same time aliment for the Spirit; but this thought is the less tenable from the fact that we cannot admit the referring of the ôï áὐôü to the believers of the N. T., as if it meant, ‘the same with ourselves,’ nor allow the identification of these objects with the elements in the Lord’s Supper, as Calvin does. The expression ‘the same’ is rather to be joined with the word ‘all,’ which accordingly holds the emphatic place, and is five times repeated. They all united in partaking of the same gifts—a fact, however, which did not prevent the majority from incurring a terrible retribution. In the phrase—they did all drink of the same spiritual drink—(to which also most of the above remarks apply), Paul has in mind the occurrence mentioned in Exo_18:6, also Num_20:10. To this an explanation is appended [“and it was needed, because the tradition to which it refers is not found in the O. T.” Stanley].—For they drank of that spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ.—The imp. ἔðéíïí , were drinking, was intended to denote their continuous drinking all through the entire march in the wilderness. In the previous sentence we have the aor. ἔðéïí , signifying the simple fact of drinking.—But what do these statements import? Certainly not that the term ‘rock’ stands for the water flowing from the rock [Lightfoot, Meade], which the Israelites conducted along by their side in channels, or took with them in leathern bags, or which in some way did not further fail them, which water meant Christ; or that the rock was a symbol of Christ, as of one out of whom streams of living water flow. In such a case it would have read, not “was Christ,” but, “is Christ.” According to a Rabbinical tradition, the rock followed the children of Israel throughout their journey. [Stanley says that “this tradition maintained that there was a well formed out of the spring in Horeb, which gathered itself up into a rock, ‘like a swarm of bees,’ and followed the people for forty years, sometimes rolling along of itself, and sometimes carried by Miriam; and always addressed by the elders when they encamped, in the words of Num_21:17 : “Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it”]. Meyer thinks that Paul fastened on this tradition to convey the idea that it was Christ who, in the form or apparition of this wonderful rock followed the host; as indeed also the Targum on Isa_16:1, and the Book of Wis_10:15 ff; Wis_11:4, assert that the Messias, the Wisdom, was by the side of the people for a protection in the wilderness. But, however, we may reject some of the absurd details only of that tradition, still it must ever be considered a monstrous supposition—at any rate, one in no wise hinted at in the Scripture, that the Messiah, or the angel Jehovah did in reality accompany the Israelites in the form of a rolling rock. Christ, the preëxistent Messiah, the Lord who went with the people on their march, as the proper source of this wonderful drink, which, according to the bodily sight, streamed out of the natural, rock, is called in contrast with this a spiritual rock—a rock of a supernatural kind, which carried in itself a divine power. “The miracle of bringing water out of the rock, happened not once, but at least twice (Exo_17:6; Num_20:11). It was therefore not one particular rock which was concerned in the miracle; but as often as a like necessity occurred, there on the spot was also the water-yielding rock again.” Now since every rock could render the same service by the same influence, so it appeared as if the rock accompanied the Israelites. The material rock, in this case, is non-essential; the water-giving power is the chief thing. This power was God’s, that same God who has manifested Himself to us in Jesus Christ. And He is called the Rock that followed them, because it was through His agency that the several rocks, one after the other, acquired the same water-yielding power.” Burger. In like manner, substantially, Abarbanel [Wordsworth, Hodge. But Alford detects here a typical allusion to Christ in the sacraments of the New Testament].—Observe also the preposition used; it is not ἁðï , but ἐê , which is not causal, as if it meant thro’ the operation of, but it denotes the origin and source from which a thing comes. They drank out of a Spiritual Rock, which was Christ [Wordsworth]. Comp. Osiander, who, moreover, in the drink, as well as in the food, assumes the presence of a super senuous element along with the sensuous, by which these objects become so much more real types of that offered in the holy Eucharist. To this we would not object. The analogy abides the same: on both sides there is a food and drink of supernatural origin—a bestowment of divine life, nourishing and refreshing the human life, which, in the agency of the Rock that accompanied Israel in the wilderness, even Christ, ensures refreshment from itself, primarily to theearthly life; a shadow ( óêéÜ ) of the refreshment furnished to our spiritual life out of the fulness of the incarnate and now glorified Christ, who has finished the work of a spiritual redemption. We must here hold fast to what our Lord said respecting the contrast between the Old and the New Testament manna (Joh_6:49 ff.). “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread that cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.”

To these lofty experiences of God’s gracious manifestations, of which all were partakers, the following words form a powerful contrast.—but with the greater part of them God was not well pleased.i.e., they forfeited God’s favor and failed of the promised salvation. The proof of this—for they were overthrown in the wilderness.—On êáôáóôñþèçóáí comp. Num_14:16. [The identical language of the Septuagint]. (Heb_3:17, ἔðåóïí ). The word ðëåßïíåò , the greater part, comprehends more than those who were destroyed by the particular judgments, of which he afterwards speaks. It denotes the entire older generation, who, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, must have died in the wilderness, and thus failed of the promised land.

1Co_10:6-11. Now. äÝ , transitional. He here begins the application to his readers, by exhibiting the occurrences of the Old Testament in the form of ôýðïé ,—these things. ôáῦôá , i.e., the judgments implied in the word “over-thrown,”—judgments which they incurred in consequence of their God-provoking conduct,—and which he proceeds to illustrate in particular instances.—And these were intended to teach Christians what they would suffer under like circumstances.—happened as figures of us.—The word ôýðïò , whence our type, in the more definite, theological sense, means not simply an image, in general, to which the antitype ( ἀíôßõðïò ) corresponds; but it is used to express any event, institution or person that, by a divine appointment, foreshadows, upon a lower stage of theocratic life, events, institutions or persons belonging to a higher sphere. Here, however, the word is taken in a purely ethical sense, and means example of warning, figures.—The plural åãåíÞèçóáí is here used because ôῦðïé .—“Figures of us”—i.e., of our lot in like conditions. This construction is analogous to that in 1Co_10:11; hence it is not to be supposed that the subject of the verb is the ‘the fathers,’ understood, and that we are to take ôáῦôá as the accusative, meaning ‘in respect to these things,’ including here the manifestations of divine grace, as well as of judgment.—[A view of which, Alford says, “I know not by whom suggested, but I find it in Dr. Peile’s notes on the Epistles”].

The divine intent in furnishing these examples is thus stated—[“of course an ulterior purpose, for they had their own immediate purpose as regards the literal Israel.” Alford.]—in order that we might not be lusters after evil things.—Here we had better understand all manner of evil lusts, rather than the specific inordinate lust of pleasure (as Grotius). And so the following phrase,—as they lusted,—is not to be explained simply by the event recorded in Num_11:4. but by the manifold exhibitions of wicked passions made by Israel at that time. ἝðéèõìçôÞò means one who is habitually governed by desire. The word occurs also in Num_11:34. Under “evil things” we are to include whatever is a violation of duty or a denial of love to the Lord or to the brethren. Of this sort was the eating of things offered unto idols ( åἱäùëüèõôὰ ) by the Corinthians. “The lusting of the Israelites after flesh was a wicked caprice involving contempt of God’s provisions.” Osiander.—Under this general head he next selects a particular instance, which is introduced by ìçäÝneither—a particle which does not necessarily connect matters coördinate.—become ye idolaters, as were some of them.i.e., by partaking of things sacrificed to idols at the altar feasts, which was a species of idolatry. This is what the record in Exo_32:6 refers to. There we have an account of the worship of the golden calf, and of the offering of sacrifices, accompanied by sensual indulgences. In this clause, of course, Paul could not include himself; hence the second person, ‘become ye,’ Neander. By “some of them,” Osiander thinks that Paul intended the choristers, perhaps the stiffest of them who lead off in the dance and song, and were afterwards slain by the Levites. It has been finely observed that as the Israelites, so also the Corinthians did not regard their conduct as actual idolatry, but both were on their way to it.—as it is written, The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.—The word ðáßæåéí , to play, here refers to those lively dances which occurred at heathen festivals (comp. Exo_32:18 ff.). [And many of these dances, as is well known, were directly designed to provoke the most licentious passions—dances, of which many of those now practiced in fashionable society are the direct lineal descendants. Hence the close connection between idolatry and fornication, which appears all through this epistle. Hammond, however, has a long note, which goes to prove that ðáéæåéí was used to denote not only dances, but all manner of wanton lecherous sport, just as kindred words are used in many modern languages to express the same thing]. Idolatry ought, moreover, to be regarded as more than the fountain, for we may say, with Osiander, that it is the vilest fruit of an intensified sensualism.—Neither let us commit fornication as some of them committed.—Participation in superstitious practices led easily to the commission of that sin, from which he now proceeds to dissuade them—going back to the use of the first person—“let us.

This, indeed, was also a part of heathen worship, especially in the Corinthian temples, devoted to Artemis and Aphrodite; but it might also lead to idolatry, as was the case in the instance just alluded to (Numbers 25), where the Moabitish women enticed the men, whom they had seduced, to idol festivals and so betrayed them into idolatry—a danger to which the Corinthians were much exposed (comp. chap. 5 and 6).—And fell in one day three and twenty thousand.—The number given in Num_25:9, and also by Philo, Josephus and Rabbins, is twenty-four thousand. The discrepancy is, perhaps, best accounted for by supposing a failure of memory. Besser says: “Twenty-four thousand, yet not perhaps ‘destroyed in one day.’ ” [Hodge says: “Both statements are equally correct. Nothing depended on the precise number. Any number between the two amounts may, according to common usage, be stated roundly as either the one or the other”]. The feebly authorized ôÝóóáñåò is an emendation; other attempts at harmonizing are arbitrary (comp. Meyer and Osiander).—How indefinite the word ôéíåò , some is, and how it may be used to comprise a great multitude, is shown from this passage.—Neither let us tempt. ἐêðåéñÜæùìåí ; ἐê is here intensive; it is found also in Mat_4:7, tempt beyond endurance.Christ, as some of them also tempted.—The allusion here is to the event recorded in Num_21:4, where the people becoming weary of their journey, reproached Moses for bringing them out of Egypt, and expressed disgust at the manna. To tempt God means to put God to the proof to see how far His patience would go, and whether He would suffer men’s unbelief and impatience to pass unpunished; or it may denote an impatient demand on God to help in some extraordinary way, and a conditioning of faith upon the result (comp. ðåéñÜæåéí , Deu_6:16; Exo_17:2; Exo_17:7; Psa_78:18 ff.; Act_5:9; Act_15:10). According to Meyer, it expresses the discontent of the Israelites at their condition in the wilderness; he takes Paul’s warning as aimed at the dissatisfaction of his readers with their oppressed circumstances during the time of their waiting for the second coming of the Lord. But there is nothing in the context which indicates this; but rather the contrary. Possibly Paul might have had in mind the sacrificial feasts and the desire of the Corinthians for enjoying them, inasmuch as in this there was manifested a disgust at what the Lord had furnished to them in their Christian state, akin to the loathing of the manna by the Israelites. In such conduct he might discover a tempting of the Lord, a trial of His patience. “The Israelites demanded that God should appoint them a mode of life suited to their liking, that He would restore them the flesh pots of Egypt. In like manner the Corinthians seemed to demand of the Lord that He would allow them their old heathenish enjoyments.” Neander. Or, he regards them as putting God’s grace and power to the test, in that they were exposing themselves to the danger of a relapse, and so raised the question, whether He would preserve them by increased bestowments of His grace—in which case then we should find in the Old Testament precedent a challenging of God’s power and goodness, as to whether He could nourish His people with something else besides the manna in the wilderness (Osiander, Stanley). The first of these explanations squares best with the circumstances presented in Num_21:4, where the disgust of the Israelites at that which God had provided, was such a ‘temptation’ as the Apostle speaks of. [“It was a daring Him, in trying His patience by rebellious conduct and sin.” Alford; so also Hodge]. Other attempts at explanation need not here to be taken into account, as they are too forced.—The verb ‘tempted’ takes for its object the pronoun ‘Him’ implied—though Winer takes it as absolute—and by this we may very well understand ‘Christ’ (comp. 1Co_10:4; Exo_23:20; Isa_63:9 ff.). If we adopt the reading êýñéïí , then still Christ might readily be understood by the term, although the relation to the Old Testament would be satisfied if we took it to mean God. [Hence whichever of the two readings we adopt, we have in this verse strong evidence of the fact that Paul regarded the Jehovah of the Old Testament as none other than Christ Himself, the Eternal Word, who in various ways—in natural phenomena and in the form of an angel, manifested Himself to the Fathers of the ancient dispensations, and was the real Ruler and Guide of Israel].—and perished.—If we adopt the reading ἀðþëëõòôï , then the Imperfect here would denote the progression of the fact: ‘They were being destroyed’ (Meyer). Yet the reading ἀðþëïíôï , is more strongly supported [and is adopted in all the later critical editions].—by the serpents,—[i.e., the well-known serpents; “The article is so often omitted after a preposition, that wherever it is expressed we may be sure there was a reason for it.” Alford].—The last warning is against murmuring—a sin of which the Israelites were frequently guilty (Num_21:4; Exo_16:8; Num_14:1 ff; Numbers 36 ff; Num_16:41).—Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured.—The particular instance here referred to, must be inferred from the judgment pointed to;—and perished by the destroyer.—The ὀëïè ñåõôÞò or ὀëïèñåýùí , destroyer, appears in Exo_12:23, and it denotes the organ of the Divine retribution—the angel executing it; but this is not to be regarded as an evil angel (comp. 1Ma_15:22 ff.). Since only some are particularized as murmuring (be the number greater or less), likewise their destruction by an extraordinary judgment, the event alluded to cannot be the one narrated in Numbers 14. In that case the whole congregation rose in rebellion, and the judgment inflicted was the gradual dying out of the whole elder generation (unless we restrict the affair to the ten spies, who were the cause of that uprising, and who died of a plague before the Lord, Num_14:36 ff.). More suitable to our text is the circumstance mentioned in Numbers 16, where 14,700 persons were snatched away by a sudden visitation (Num_16:49). Primarily the murmuring here was against Moses and Aaron, because of the destruction of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, with their company, which was charged upon these servants of the Lord. But, in fact, it was a murmuring against God from whom the judgment came [a judgment “which though it is not so specified there, was administered on another occasion by a destroying angel, 2Sa_24:16-17.” Alford].—In its application to the Corinthians, we are not to suppose that the murmuring they were cautioned against was on account of inferior spiritual gifts, or because of the restriction of their pleasures through the regulations demanded in the Christian life, or at their general condition as Christians; but rather it was the opposition which they were disposed to manifest against the teachers given them by God, and especially against Paul, an opposition which struck directly at the Lord Himself (Osiander and others). To make the parallel perfect, we must suppose the murmuring occasioned by Divine retributions, such as that hinted at in 1Co_11:30 : “On this account many are weak and sickly, and some sleep.”—These references to the Old Testament he concludes as he began,—Now these things were befalling. óõíÝ âáéíïí , [the plural verb, where the Gr. idiom would require the singular, “expresses the plurality of events separately happening”]; and the imperfect (were befalling) hints at the constant repetition of the case (Osiander and Meyer).—them typically, ôõðéêῶò as above ôýðïé , not in the theological sense, but ‘for example,’ i.e., in such a way as by a Divine intent to indicate what would befall God’s people in like circumstances under the new dispensation. This point is more definitely brought out in the following statement.—and are written, ἐãñÜöç , singular, expresses the union of these transactions in the record of Scripture as one complete whole.—for our admonition.—Here is the purpose of the sacred narrative as ordained by God (comp. 1Co_4:14).—unto whom.—The relative refers to ‘our’ ( ἡìῶí ), and introduces an allusion to the near approach of the great judicial crisis, thus confirming his warning.—have come, or ‘into whose life-time have entered, and even now exist’ (perf.),—the ends of the ages, ôὰ ôÝëç ôῶí áἰþíùí . By this phrase the same is meant which is elsewhere termed óõíôÝëåéá ôῶí áἰþíùí , “the consummation of the ages” (Heb_9:26); or ôïῦ áἰùíïò , “of the age” (Mat_13:39); also briefly ôὸ ôÝëïò , “the end” (1Co_1:8; 1Co_15:24; Mat_25:3; et al.); or ðÜíôùí ôὸ ôÝëïò , “the end of all things” (1Pe_4:7). The “ages” here are the great world-periods preceding the manifestation of Christ, and out-goings of which mark the incoming manifestation. The áἰὼí ïὐôïò , the present age, is contemplated in its progressive unfolding through manifold periods, whose exit finally leads to the last decisive crisis which passes over to the áßὼí ìÝëëùí , the future age. Now the Apostle regards his time as the time of this grand crisis—accordingly as a time of severe trials for the faithful, in which it became them to be on their guard, and for which it was important for them to prepare with earnest self-denial; and he presses it upon the Corinthians not to expose themselves to the extreme of danger by indulging in a false security. “Paul had always good reason for considering the final catastrophe as near at hand, although he held the last time to be much shorter than it really was to be. Christianity is the goal and end of all earlier revelations, and no new one follows it. Hence the Christian is justified in considering himself as the terminus to which all the earlier developments of revelation point and conduct onwards.” Neander.—Next there follows a caution, to which a word of encouragement is annexed for despairing minds.

1Co_10:12-13. Wherefore, ὥóôå [lit.: so that, is used with the Imp. or Subj. to introduce an inference from what precedes. (Winer P. III, § XLI. 5, note 1)]. Here it fitly leads in the practical exhortation deduced from the foregoing discussion. ‘Since these events which teach us how those who stand in so close a relation to God and partake of such exalted privileges, may incur fearful judgments by their evil conduct, have been recorded in accordance with God’s purposes as warnings for us who live in this last most critical period of trial, and are going on to the final judgment—let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,i.e., beware how he indulges in a false security. The verbs ‘to stand’ and ‘to fall,’ taken from the phraseology of the ring, admit of a twofold interpretation. 1. The former: to stand fast in goodness and in faith; and the latter: to be betrayed into sin. 2. The former: to abide in the possession of salvation, to be sure of a gracious state; and the latter: to forfeit salvation. The second interpretation best suits the connection, and it presupposes the first. [Hodge puts the case more forcibly. The security cautioned against “may refer either to security of salvation, or against the power of temptation. The two are very different, and rest generally on very different grounds. False security of salvation commonly rests on the ground of our belonging to a privileged body (the Church), or to a privileged class (the elect). Both are equally fallacious. Neither the members of the Church nor the elect can be saved unless they persevere in holiness; and they cannot persevere in holiness without continued watchfulness and effort. False security as to our power to resist temptation rests on an overweening self-confidence in our own strength. None so liable to fall as they who, thinking themselves strong, run into temptation. This probably is the kind of false security against which the Apostle warns the Corinthians, as he exhorts them immediately after to avoid temptation”].—Though the Romish interpreters think they find evidence here against Luther’s doctrine of a fides specialis, according to which a Christian can with the greatest assurance be confident of his own justification and of his perseverance in it unto the end, yet they are opposed alike by the experience of Paul himself (2Ti_1:12; 2Ti_4:8; 2Ti_4:18), and of many a Christian after him who has enjoyed that certitudo fidei which, as a general thing, the Corinthians could not possess from want of firmness.—no temptation ðåéñáóìüò ; this denotes either an ordeal, especially by means of sufferings and persecutions, to which the verb “to bear” may refer; or, temptation, i. e., enticement to sin, to which the connection with what precedes, and the hortatory intent of the whole paragraph would point. Both meanings coalesce in the thought that their Christian character had been put to the proof by painful circumstances, as well as by sinful enticements, so as to show whether faith was strong; love, of the right kind; and hope, firm.—has taken you but such as is human.—All apology in reference to the temptations they had hitherto experienced, though not now existing, and all despair in regard to the severer trials before them, Paul here meets by the statement that what they had thus far encountered was altogether ‘human’ ἀíèñþðéíïé , i.e., either: proceeding from men (such as the fascinations of the surrounding heathen life), in contrast perhaps with the properly demonic temptations of the last evil time which was to precede the revelation of Christ; or: suited to man, to his power of endurance, in contrast with the fascinations of a more dangerous sort, for overcoming which supernatural grace is required. [Hodge prefers the latter as the more natural and so the common interpretation. Ol shausen, the former]. For their encouragement in the future he points to the fidelity of God—but God is faithfuli.e., true to His calling and covenant, consistent in His love and purpose (1Co_1:9), which would appear wholly-unreliable if he allowed temptations to befall His people that transcended their powers of endurance or resistance,—who, ὅò for ὅôé ïõ ̇͂ ôïò , because He,will not suffer you to be tempted beyond what ye are able.—This expression seems to sustain the second interpretation given to ‘human’ above,—showing that a moderate temptation is meant by it. Compare the expression, Hos_11:4; 2Sa_7:14. Besides, it must be said that every temptation, though coming primarily from men, is to be ascribed to Satan as the ultimate cause (comp. 1Co_7:5; Eph_6:12), [and men and devils are alike under the control of the Almighty, who permits or restrains at pleasure, and to the degree that He sees fit.] The limit of permission is the ability to endure which God Himself has conferred. And this implies that with the later, severer temptations God will cause the strength of His chosen to increase (Neander). The same is true in respect to the time the temptation will last, of which he finally speaks.—but will with the temptation make also the escape ἔêâáóéò literally means escape, the passing out from, the ἀðáëëáãὴ ôïῦ ðåéñáóìïῦ of Theoph.; but here it denotes the way of escape, or the end (= ôὸ ôÝëïò êõñßïõ , Jam_5:11). The ‘with’ ( óõí ) cannot indicate contemporaneousness; but it implies only that the escape is connected with the temptation, that the latter will never be without the former. The use of the verb “make” in relation to temptation does not conflict with that of “suffer,” inasmuch as the Divine permission involves a direct providence. Even the tempting cause stands under the Divine sovereignty, and in its action is dependent on God. The emphasis lies upon ôὴí ἔêâáóéí .—in order that ye may be able to bear (it),— ôïῦ äýíáóèáé ὑðåíåãêåῖí .—This clause may be taken either as interpreting “escape,” showing that it will consist in the ability to endure; but this does not comport with the idea of an escape: or it maybe construed as an objective clause as rendered above, intimating that the result would be such as will comport with the designs of a faithful God. The verb ὑðåíåãêåῖí , to bear, suggests the idea of a burden carried, and very appropriately, inasmuch as all temptation is for the believer as an oppressive weight, or that of a hostile attack under which one has to hold out, to endure.


[1. A sound belief in the doctrine of the saints’ perseverance is ever accompanied with a conviction of the possibility of failure and of the absolute necessity of using our utmost endeavor in order to final success. No experiences of Divine favor in the past, no circumstances, however advantageous, furnish such a guarantee of salvation as to warrant spiritual repose. There is no perseverance without conscious and determined persevering, and the requisite effort can be put forth only under the influence alike of hope and fear. And he who apprehends no danger of being ultimately a castaway through neglect or transgression, will lack the motive necessary to urge him triumphantly to the goal].

2. The spirit of the true Christian agonistes as contrasted with that of the false one. “This poor life entire for an eternal crown,”—so A. Knapp pithily describes L. Hofacker’s spirit; and this is the spirit of every true Christian warrior. In view of the crown of life, he hesitates at no sacrifice, is ready for all self-denial, does violence to his own nature, and never grows weary of mortifying the flesh through the might of the Holy Spirit (Rom_8:13; Gal_5:24; Col_3:6). Such as desire to belong to Christ, yet are ever yielding to their natural inclinations, and deal tenderly with the flesh even though the spiritual life may suffer thereby, and they in consequence are detained in the heavenly race, are put to shame by men of this world, who for the sake of temporal gain or renown, willingly strain every nerve and incur the most painful privations, yea, even hold life cheap in order to attain their end (Luk_15:8). Those who do not earnestly contend against whatever endangers their heavenly crown, and strive not with all their might to overcome the obstacles in their way, and so become weak and uncertain in their warfare, or who covertly entertain that which they ought to oppose, opposing it only for the sake of appearances, resemble pugilists who spend their blows in the air. Especially shameful is it for a person who is called to give others direction and encouragement in the holy warfare not to engage earnestly in it himself, and to shrink from the requisite self-denial and to tire in the race and grow lukewarm in the fight, so as to appear like the herald, who, having proclaimed the terms of the conflict to others, has been found himself unworthy of the prize (1Co_9:24-27).

3. Carnal security, its fatal character. The reason of lukewarmness in temper, of deficiency in self-denying earnestness, of abandonment to all manner of impure inclinations, of entanglement in ungodly objects, and worldly lusts, of idolatrous cleaving to the creature even to the lowest self-debasement, of strife with God and His providence both in disgust at the gifts He sends, and in murmurs at His judgments—the ground of all such bad conduct in those who would still be Christians, lies most frequently in a false security, in the vain conceit that there can be no failure—that the goal of salvation will certainly be reached, because a person has once been received into the fellowship of believers. All such false security in His people, God has taken pains to counteract from the beginning, and in their history He has furnished warnings against it for all time to come. In the judgments which befell that earlier generation, so distinguished for the marvellous bestowments of His grace—judgments inflicted because of repeated offences against their covenant God, a threatening has been issued to the Church of the New Covenant of a similar fate in like circumstances, according to the abiding law of the Divine rule (1Co_10:1-11).

4. Frowardness and false security readily give place to despair when severe temptations arise. As in opposition to the former, we must point to the Divine retributions in order to awaken a salutary fear; so in opposition to the latter we must point to the truth of God and the steadfastness of His love. God never ceases from His work of grace, and will not fail to furnish needful assistance to honest fighters; and He will moderate the measure and duration of the temptation according to the strength He has afforded; so that at the right moment He puts an end to the trial, in order that those who are tempted may be able to endure in the conflict (1Co_10:12-13).

5. Burger:—A person may be endowed with all the seals and tokens of Divine grace, and yet through personal infidelity be lost (1Co_10:15).

6. In Christ all the threads of the history of the Divine revelation run together. He is the true and sole manifestation of the eternal God. In the midst of the ages He entered into the human race, and took upon Himself personally our nature, in order to perfect the work of redemption and carry out the purposes of God’s holy love, and prepare the way for the final judgment of the world, in which He as judge will determine the lot of every man in accordance with the manner in which he has treated the Divine grace proffered him in His word and works. But this whole work He has prepared and foreshadowed under the older dispensation alike in the promise, and in the law, and in the manifoldness of His operations and providences, whereby both are led, established and confirmed in life, and secured against unbelief and disobedience. As the messenger of Jehovah, on whom Jehovah’s name is written, who bears imprinted on Himself the Jehovah-character, and carries the image of the unchangeable, holy, merciful and true covenant God stamped in every word and deed, He is Israel’s deliverer from bondage, his protector and helper in extremest necessities, his wondrous guardian and supporter in want which no natural means may relieve, who out of His own fulness furnishes him the life-sustaining manna, who pours out for him the life-refreshing water, who bears with him in unspeakable patience, but also at the same time exercises toward him a judicial severity. And what He does, ordains, or controls through His own personal manifestation, He has previously indicated both through individuals and their doings, and through manifold ordinances, administrations and judgments, intended for the instruction, for the comfort and warning of us in these last days.


Starke:1Co_9:24. The running includes: 1. a turning from sin; 2. a turning to the goal, i.e., God (Act_26:18); 3. the exercise of the powers of the new man in the obedience of faith and the mortification of the sinful life; 4. the refraining from all hinderances, such as the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life—and indeed not simply from what is evidently sinful in itself, but also from things otherwise lawful, by which a person may either injure himself or put a stumbling-block in the way of others.—Ordinarily only one person obtains the prize; but in Christianity we can all obtain it, even though one may run faster than the other, provided only that we are steadfast. For as the faith is the same for all, so also is the race; although the degrees of glory attained may be various.—In the race no account is made of what man does in his own strength, or of his own will (Rom_9:16); but if God chooses to draw us by His word, and we resist not, then He grants the ability to come to Christ, and to follow Him, and to run with patience the race set before us (Heb_12:1 ff.).—Hed.:—If they who run fail of the prize, what hope can those have who sit still, or fall back, or stop in the way? Ah! the obtaining of salvation is no child’s play. Earned indeed was it without our labor; and now the prize being there, we must strive for it. Earnestness, earnestness, fear and trembling (Php_2:12) are necessary to reach the spot where the crown is put on the victor’s brow (2Ti_2:5).—Standing and running both belong to the true Christian—standing, as opposed to falling; running, as opposed to idleness and standing still, and to unfaithfulness in falling back (1Co_16:13; Heb_12:1).—We should press to God through all things, and rest in nothing but in God (Mat_11:29).—With beginners Christianity is only a walk—they go step by step; but with the experienced it is a race.

1Co_9:25. A Christian is bound to refrain from whatever obstructs his course, and to use all means for increasing his spiritual strength. The particular things to be avoided must be determined by each one for himself.—A person must be converted to God before he can have peace with God, and the pledge of salvation in his own soul, and can with a watchful eye avoid whatever may disturb his peace or injure his neighbor, and therefore ought to be denied.—The hope of an eternal crown keeps us from carnal gratification, and is a great incentive to perseverance (Rom_2:7).

1Co_10:26-27. Luther:—As a combatant who swerves from his course must fail of his goal, or in fighting makes false strokes, and wastes his strength in the air, so is it with all who would do good works without faith; for they are altogether uncertain as to how they stand with God: hence all their doings are mis-runs, mis-strokes and mis-doings.—The faith which works by love hits the foe squarely; since faith allows not of despair, nor love admits a false security.—He instructs best who teaches by example.—He who is void of spiritual life, runs by his own strength, and so runs into error and sinks at last.—What we venture on in the name of Jesus, and at His bidding, obtains the crown. What we do apart from Him, is lost work.—How many air-strokes and mis-strokes are given by those who have not the mind and weapons of Paul!—air-strokes in preaching, in the supposed vindication of truth, in prayer, and the like, under the idea that the foe has been finely hit or utterly laid low, and that a good work has been well done (1Ti_6:3 f.)!—Something of the old Adam still clings to the best of Christians: hence they have to fight with themselves daily, and as Christ did towards Peter (Mat_16:23) show the devil the door.—The flesh must obey the spirit, and for this, discipline and self-crucifixion are necessary. Woe to those who take the covenant of God into their mouth and hate discipline (Rom_2:17-23)!

1Co_10:1 : The pillar of cloud is a type of Christ, a token of God’s gracious presence, for in Christ the Father’s glory dwelleth (Joh_1:14).—The cloudy pillar was to the Egyptians a horror; to the Israelites a comfort: so is Christ to the godless an object of dread: to the faithful a source of consolation. The cloudy pillar departed not from the people day nor night; Christ is with us evermore. 1Co_10:2; Baptism is a token of God’s grace and beneficence, just as was the passage through the Red Sea; it slays the old man and makes the new man live. Pharaoh dies but Israel survives. As God, by His miraculous favors, assured the Israelites of His gracious presence and aid, so is holy baptism a strong seal of the divine promise, and a sure witness of divine grace. As the Israelites were pledged by their deliverance to believe in Moses’ doctrine, go are we pledged by baptism to believe the word of Christ and follow His commands. 1Co_10:3. The manna was a type of Christ: 1. as to its source—Christ was the bread from heaven; 2. as to the place where it was given—the wilderness is an image of this troubled life; 3. as to the mode of gathering it—we must seek Him early; 4. as to its enjoyments—the true Israelite enjoying Christ, with all His blessings; 5. as to the taste—Christ, the bread of life, surpasses the most delicious and refreshing food; 6. as to the punishment which follows upon contempt; 7. as to the provision made for remembrance—Christ has ordained a holy supper as His enduring memorial (Joh_6:31-35). 1Co_10:4; The rock is a type of Christ, the Rock of our salvation, and the foundation of His Church (1Pe_2:6), who, smitten by His sufferings, has poured out for us the water of life. 1Co_10:5. Hed.: The manna, the gushing rock, and the pillar of cloud could not hinder the destruction of Israel. Where was the failure? It was in obedience to the truth, and in that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. So also may those who have been made partakers of God’s grace, in Christ, be finally lost, if they do not remain steadfast in such grace through faith. 1Co_10:6. Where sin is there punishment ensues; on pleasure follows pain. The terrible histories of Holy Writ ought to serve as the perpetual preachers of repentance, and stand as abiding monuments of the ever-burning wrath of God. If evil lusts were not sin, God never would have said: Thou shalt not covet (Rom_7:7).

1Co_10:7. It is an abomination to confer on a miserable creature the honor which belongs to God alone.—Most banquets, and especially marriage feasts, among Christians of the present day are a very subtle, yet really wicked idolatry; and an evidence of such an inward apostasy from God as would justify our calling the participants godless, i.e., persons standing in no covenant of faith and love with God (1Co_10:31; Tit_2:12).

1Co_10:8. The regenerate do, indeed, at times, feel the excitements of impure lusts; but they allow not themselves to be betrayed thereby; they sigh over the evil, resist it by the grace of God, and try to quench the spark, and pray for forgiveness (Gal_5:16-24).—Whoredom is a three-fold sin—against God, whose temple is desecrated; against our neighbor, who is partly offended and partly disgraced by it; and against ourselves, by the violation of our conscience and the defilement of our body.

1Co_10:9. Let us not step out of our calling and scorn the means ordained for our temporal and eternal welfare. For Christ means to rule us, and not to be ruled by us.

1Co_10:10. Those who murmur against pious government and faithful preachers, sin not against man, but against Christ Himself. What do people mean by complaining that God does not do rightly by them? If they only considered how far they fail of acting in accordance with God’s will, what reason would not every one find to complain of himself! Complain against your own sin, otherwise God will begin to complain of you. What can follow then but ruin and damnation (Lam_3:39)!

1Co_10:11. We are more fortunate than the ancients; for we not only have the same commands of God which they had, but also their examples for our instruction, exhortation, warning and comfort. Many other advantages have we also; they have the shadow, we have the substance (Col_2:17); they were servants, we are children (Rom. 13:15); they were under the yoke, we are free (Act_15:10); they were taught by Moses, we are taught by Christ (Heb_1:1 f.).

1Co_10:12. Hedinger: How easy to fall! Watch, pray, trust neither the foe nor thyself. But many think that they are standing, even though they have not yet arisen, but are lying buried in the filth of sin. Prove thyself!—If we are imagining ourselves firm and strong, then have we the most reason to fear our weakness and our inability. Distrust of one’s self is the ground of the Christian’s strength.—We shun many a fall by lying beautifully low upon the earth (Pro_28:26). Shunning all hinderances to good, and all temptations to evil, and industriously using the means which serve for our confirmation. It is a very common temptation with young converts to trust themselves too much and not to be rightly observant; and hence they are easily entrapped by the treacheries of sin, and betrayed into a fall; therefore this warning is very needful for them.

1Co_10:13. Hed.:—Those temptations are called human which do not require us to resist unto blood (Heb_12:4), and which do not yet amount to the fiery darts of the devil (Eph_6:16; 2Co_12:7). Among the temptations of Satan are to be reckoned all those severe trials which believing souls are constrained to endure under the divine permission; although Satan is not altogether quiet in those human temptations which spring from original sin, and from evil examples and seductions. Besides these, there are yet divine temptations, wherein God puts our faith to the proof (Genesis 32), purifies and confirms us through all measures of suffering (1Pe_1:7; 1Pe_1:9; 1Pe_1:12 f.; Jam_1:3; Heb_11:11), and also for our good delivers us to Satan that he may sift us (Luk_22:31), and thereby prove that Satan can avail nothing against us (sixth petition in the Lord’s Prayer). Why do ye then complain, ye tenderlings? The cross is not so great but that the strength to bear it is greater; the cross carries us, and not we the cross; for in the cross there is power, and there is none in us. With the cross comes power, and with the power the cross.

Berlenburger Bible. 1Co_9:24. Genuine Christianity is a real race-course, but the proper running on it is no rambling. If people learn that they can be made happy by the Gospel, and observe that a good thing may be made out of Christ, they will devote themselves to Him outwardly, and run after a certain fashion. Many do this in a more exact sense when they taste the good word of God a little, and submit to repentance, and begin a pious and honorable life. Many continue earnestly in prayer, and in all manner of good practices, their life long; but yet maintain their own secret designs. But because they run in their sinful nature, and not in their divine nature, they never reach the goal. The Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself ran the race, is the Judge and Rewarder of those who run it after Him; and besides, He gives unto them strength and courage for running. All may reach it, provided they are only earnest in their endeavors. Why should we run without such a hope? But the realization of it takes place only in the birth, and in breaking through the strait gate into the new divine life, and this demands the deepest earnestness and death-struggle, in which body and soul may often perish before the gate of life is reached and found open. All power which is capable of furthering our right race towards a sure prize, must be obtained from Christ by the prayer of faith. Ho, by His Spirit, extends to us His hand, and leads us by this secret way. Observe well where your desires run, in order that, under a fair show, you may not after all be seeking your own ends. We must not only run so as merely to imagine that we may succeed; but we must earnestly strive actually to succeed. Spiritual running consists in the eager stretching and straining of the spirit after the promises of God in Christ Jesus; from this there follows an earnest pressing forward to the new birth, together with all needful watchfulness, fidelity and diligence in the daily obedience of faith, and mortification of the sinful man. Above all is it necessary to keep one’s self disentangled. Besides, the soul must abide unwearied in its endeavors to rise to the highest good; and even when it would fain stand still, or sink down, must it rally again in daily repentance, through the power of God, and hasten zealously along its course. It is the selfish and treacherous carnal understanding which often plants itself in the way, and perverts the powers of the soul to such things as not only bring no reward, but also hinder our obtaining one.

1Co_9:25. He who means to race makes himself light, and lays aside needless incumbrances. If the heart stands open to the Lord, and to His Spirit, free from all inordinate delight in and cleaving to visible, things, and to itself, then it is strong in the Lord and filled by Him; and all powers of darkness, and the hidden might of sin are bound and cast out by Jesus Christ, the Lord of victory.—Not that suffering and striving earn salvation; but the great Awarder of the prizes deems no one worthy who does not value that which is precious and dear to him above everything else.—The prize is Jesus, in His Spirit, the great mystery of godliness. Those who rightly win it have an eternal satisfaction therein. We can only stand before the Father in the Son. But of Him can we become partakers only in the new birth, by which He is formed in the human heart. Therefore must the lovers of Jesus direct their aim and desire only toward Him; in Him will the hungry soul alone delight itself; therefore do all its energies go out after Him, for whom it counts all things but loss, that it may win Christ and be found in Him (Php_3:8-9). Draw us and we will run after thee! Confirm those whom Thou hast drawn, and give us ever new power that we may never be weary in pressing forward to this prize until it has been obtained.

1Co_9:26. Ordinarily there is a lack of clear knowledge and certainty as to what is the true prize, and what the way to it. The path to life is confusedly and wrongly apprehended, and a person’s own choices often get mingled in with it. One falls upon this and that outward duty, engages zealously in prayer his life long, reads all good books he can get, exercises himself outwardly in good works, mortifications, alms-giving, mean clothing, and thinks thus to force salvation by his own running and striving, whether he has Christ already or not; this is to run uncertainly.—Beatings of the air are the strokes which are not given by the Spirit in the soul. Those persons only beat the air who do not hit the foe whom they ought to ward off. They are very zealous about others; but have no just perceptions of themselves; they will engage in outward lip-devotion, and forget at the same time the inward prayer of the Spirit, and earnest striving against all sin; they will busy themselves in studying and speaking about Divine things, or even in disputing about and criticising others, and prefer this to actual fighting themselves; or they will cease from warfare because nature recoils from a complete extermination; or they will devote themselves to the society of other pious persons, and entirely forget their own duties; or they will rest content with keeping up simply fair appearances. And even when one has begun in right earnest, what numerous beatings of the air often take place in the conflicts of the heart, which the Spirit of Wisdom discloses afterwards to each one when ho comes truly to seek God! In gene