Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 10:14 - 10:22

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 10:14 - 10:22


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

D. A dissuasive from partaking of idol feasts, as involving a fellowship with idolatry, and therefore hostile to all fellowship with Christ in His supper

1Co_10:14-22

14     Wherefore, my dearly [om. dearly] beloved, flee from idolatry. 15I speak as towise men; judge ye what I say. 16The cup of [the, ôῆò ] blessing which we bless, Isaiah 2 it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, Isaiah 1 it17not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many [Because we, the many, ïß ðïëëïß ἐóìåí ] are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers ofthat one bread. 18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of thesacrifices, partakers [common participants, êïéíùíïß ] of the altar? 19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing [that that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing, or that the20idol is any thing]? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [they sacrifice,4 they sacrifice to demons, om. Gentiles] and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship [be communicants, êïéíùíïὺò ãßíåóèáé with devils. 21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1Co_10:13. [Having enforced the duty of renouncing their rights and restricting their liberty by a reference to his own example of self-denial and its motives, he now returns to his main subject, from which he digressed at the commencement of chap. 9, viz., participating in the sacrificial feasts of the heathen. “But whereas before he dwelt only on the scandal to others, he now in accordance with the train of thought, begun in 1Co_9:23, dwells chiefly on the evils to themselves. And the sense of this evil is enhanced by the recollection incidentally introduced in 1Co_10:3, of the only Christian institution which bore any resemblance to these feasts.” Stanley].—Wherefore, äéüðåñ shows that the following exhortation is deduced from what goes before. And this may be either the whole paragraph from 1Co_10:1, as: ‘in view of the judgments inflicted upon Israel and recorded for your warning, flee,’ etc.; or it may be what directly precedes, as: ‘since the faithfulness of God pledges to you the results of such watchfulness,’ etc.; or: ‘since ye have a God so faithful, therefore shun whatsoever would cut you off from His fellowship.’—What is expressed generally in 1Co_10:12, is now resumed with particular reference to the case in hand.—flee from idolatry.—By this he enjoins the avoidance of every thing, which, however remotely, would imply participation in idol worship. The preposition ‘from’ ( ἀðü ) adds force, q. d., ‘keep yourselves aloof from.’ [“The only safety is in keeping at a distance. This includes two things; first, avoiding whatever is questionable; and, secondly, avoiding the occasions and temptations to sin.” Hodge]. The use of the simple accusative as the object of ‘flee,’ would not, however, necessarily indicate that they had been already involved in idolatry (comp. 2Ti_2:22). For what follows it appears that he had in mind attendance at idolatrous festivals.—The address—my dearly beloved—imparts to the exhortation an urgent and affectionate tone.

1Co_10:15-21. As to wise men I speak.—In proof of the fact which occasioned the above exhortation, viz., that they by participating in idolatrous feasts, were taking part in idol worship—a proceeding which was one with the worship of devils, and wholly inconsistent with the Christian profession, he appeals to their own insight and good sense, which placed them in a position to judge for themselves of the correctness of what he was about to say. In so doing he at the same time gives them to perceive his own strong conviction of its truth, which he held to be so palpable that he could safely entrust it with their decision. The ‘as’ merely indicates the point of view from which he considered them.—judge ye ὑìåῖò , is emphatic: ‘ye yourselves.’ Whether in this winning manner there lurks a delicate slant at their lack of judgment, some touch of sarcasm, is a question which we will not now discuss.—That participation in idol altar-feasts involved participation in idol worship, is shown, first, from the analogy of the Lord’s supper. He starts with the cup, while that which naturally follows is connected with the bread. [‘This mention of the cup first, before the bread, both here and at 1Co_10:21, is remarkable. Why was this? 1. Perhaps there was more danger of those immoral and lascivious consequences, against which he is writing, from excesses in the wine at the idolatrous feasts, than in the meats. 2. The Apostle has thus shown the essential independence of the cup as a necessary-part of the Holy Communion, and supplies a caution against Romish error. 3. Each of the elements is variously put first in the Holy Scripture, to show their, equal dignity and the equal necessity of receiving each.’ Wordsworth].—The cup ôὸ ðïôÞñéïí is undoubtedly accusative, corresponding to ôὸí ἄñôïí by attraction (comp. Mat_21:42). Of course the contents are intended.—of blessing;—so called, either from its effects, as it brings a blessing [so Olshausen]; or, preferably, from the act which immediately precedes, so that the words—which we bless—are epexegetical of it. By this we may understand the thanksgiving alluded to in (1Co_11:24; Mat_26:27), and interpret: ‘which we receive with thanksgiving’—an interpretation which transcends the meaning of åὐëïãïῦìåí ; or the consecration (comp. Lev_9:16), and then interpret: ‘which we set apart by prayer to a holy use’—an act which certainly included thanksgiving. The expression is derived from the observance of the Passover, when the third cup which went round was called äְáְּøְëָä . ëּåֹí The subject of the verb ‘we,’ denotes the whole congregation, which unitedly consecrated the cup by prayer and thanksgiving. [“Observe the first person plural is the same throughout; the blessing of the cup and the breaking of the bread—acts of consecration, were not the acts of the minister, as by any authority peculiar to himself, but only as representative of the whole congregation ( ïἱ ðÜíôåò ). And so even Estius, but evading the legitimate inference. The figment of a sacerdotal consecration of the elements by transmitted power, is as alien from the Apostolic writings as it is from the spirit of the Gospel.” Alford. And Stanley also comments to the same effect.]—is it not the communion. êïéíùíßá is not the precise equivalent of ‘communication’ [as the Rheims version translates it, and as some insist on rendering it, in support of a sacramental theory]; even in Heb_13:16; Rom_15:26; 2Co_9:13, it may denote participation, which, however, is certainly not without communication. But the word here is used by metonymy for the means of communicating or participating (comp. Joh_11:25). [So Hodge: “The means of participating.” Alford translates “participation.” Calvin: “It is that connection which we have with the blood of Christ, when He ingrafts all of us together into His body, that He may live in us and we in Him.” Tyndale and Cranmer give “partaking.” But the E. V. seems to hit the meaning best: “communion of,” which implies a fellowship, a common sharing in the blood of Christ, according to the meaning of the root, êïéíüò , common, whence êïéíùíÝù , to have a thing in common, to have a share of a thing. This derivation shows that the idea of fellowship in the partaking is prominent in the word. It ever denotes a social act. And this idea is essential to the argument of the Apostle.] The strong literal sense of the verb “is,” must also be retained. This is not employed in a symbolic sense, as though it meant signifies; but it simply affirms the fact. The eating of the bread is the communion. This is required by the argument. [“If we render ἐóôéí , symbolizes, the argument is made void.” Alford. So Hodge: “He who partakes of the cup, partakes of Christ’s blood.” But it may be asked here: ‘in what sense?’ This, of course, is not here explained. But it is in some real, veritable way predicable of all who partake. Otherwise the parallel with the idolatrous act rebuked, would not be sustained. Paul means to show that as by means of the sacrament we truly come into communion with Christ, so in the idolatrous feasts, whether a person intends it or not, he does worship the idol. Hodge, however, says: “This of course is true only of believers.” But if the fact of communion turned upon the presence or absence of faith, the participant at the idol feast might fairly reply, ‘I am not guilty of idolatry in this, for I eat without faith in the idol.’ And this was precisely what Paul designed to preclude by asserting the veritableness of the communion in drinking of the cup.] But does this view lead to the doctrine of a substantial identification of the wine with the blood of Christ, of a union of the elements with the matter of the sacrament (res sacramenti)? The Apostle is treating primarily of the participation of individuals in that to which the thing they partake of refers; or, in other words, of the fact that they, through that of which they partake, come into fellowship with that particular religious sphere to which the thing partaken of belongs. Here in the instance before us, it is with the blood of Christ, the ground and seal of the New Covenant; in the other case with idols, the sphere of a devilish heathenism; hence with devils themselves. Meanwhile, if nothing else hindered, we might suppose a real communion between the wine and the blood, since êïéíùíßá may be variously interpreted according to different analogies.—of the blood of Christ.i.e., the blood shed on the cross, not His bloody death, as may be seen from the parallel term, “the body.” It is the blood of the covenant by which the forgiveness of sins and the whole salvation it includes is purchased (comp. 1Co_11:25; Mat_26:28), [the blood which has in itself also the Eternal Life, and to partake of which secures a pardon unto life eternal].—the bread which we break.—[The breaking of the bread was a formal public act, a part of the solemnity of the sacrament, in accordance with the example set by Christ, significant of the breaking of Christ’s body for us. The custom therefore of having the bread ready broken put on the table, as practised in some churches, or that of the Romanists in putting a wafer unbroken on the tongue of the communicant, must be condemned as contrary to the precedent of the early Church.] The consecration is here presupposed.—is it not the communion of the body of Christ?—It is a question here whether the word ‘body’ is used figuratively of the Church, which is the body of Christ, as some would interpret it, both here and in 1Co_10:16. The parallel with the word ‘blood,’ decides this in the negative, since there is nothing in this connection which the blood can be understood to symbolize; nor is there aught in the context which constrains us to such an interpretation. “It appears from this passage that the Lord’s Supper has been instituted as a real communion, and not as a mere symbol.” Neander.—because one bread, one body we the many are. ὅôé åἷò ἄñôïò ἕí óῶìá ïἱ ðïëëïß ἐóìåí . It would be natural to assume here a protasis and an apodosis, as: ‘because there is one bread, therefore are we the many one body.’ But to this it must be objected, 1. Paul very seldom introduces a protasis with ὅôé (1Co_12:15 f.; Gal_4:6, are doubtful cases); 2. the course of thought would in this way be interrupted, and we should have here a logical parenthesis, which is not to be supposed unnecessarily.—The ὅôé , because, evidently introduces an argument for the leading thought in the previous verse, viz., that the bread is the communion of the body of Christ. This is established by the effect produced in the Christian consciousness through partaking of the bread, that is, the union of Christians in one body, as a complex organic whole. This union is grounded in the fact that the bread is the veritable communion ( êïéíùíßá ) of the body of Christ. The sacramental bread is such a means of union in so far as it mediates the fellowship with the body of Christ, surrendered to death in behalf of all, and hence, a living fellowship with Christ the Saviour of all. But in educing this argument from the text, we are not to take the expression, “one bread,” as parallel to that of “one body,” making them both alike the nominatives after ‘we are,’ rendering the sentence [as the E. V. does]: “we are one bread and one body,” because, if for no other reason, in the next sentence which adduces a proof of what is here stated, “one bread” stands for the bread of the supper, while it here would be a figurative expression for the unity of believers, just as “body” is. The åἷò ἄñôïò , one body, must therefore be taken as an independent clause with ἐóôßí , is, supplied. The relation of the two clauses then will be either that of a comparison: ‘as there is one bread, so are we one body,’ or they will stand related as cause and effect: ‘since there is one bread, therefore are we, the many, one body.’ [So Meyer and Hodge, also Hammond, Locke, Whitby, Calvin, Beza, Bengel, and the Syriac version; but Alford, Stanley and Wordsworth adhere to the E. V. Alford says: “We are one bread by the assimilation of that one bread partaken.” “But this,” says Hodge, “is to make the Apostle teach modern physiology”].—The above rendering is confirmed by what follows,—for we all partake of that one bread.—( ἐê ôïῦ ἐíὸò ἄñôïõ ìåôÝ÷ .). This again is variously explained. We may either take ἐê ôïῦ ἑíὸò ἄñôïõ , from that one bread, as the direct object of ìåôÝ÷ïìåí , partake, and read [as the E. V. does]: “we all have part or partake of that one bread”—which is contrary to the otherwise uniform construction of ìåôÝ÷åéí (which requires the Gen. or the Accus. after it), and may be accounted for by supposing ἐóèßåéí , or êëᾶí , understood. Or we may, as in 1Co_10:30, make ôïῦ ἑíὸò óὡìáôïò , of the one body, supplied from the context, the object of ìåôÝ÷ïìåí , partake, and regard ἐê as expressing the cause of such partaking, rendering it because of. Then the clause would be an explanation and confirmation of what precedes. [So Meyer; but this seems artificial and far-fetched, and is contrary to all the versions and the majority of the commentators. It is better to adopt the common rendering]. “The ‘body of Christ,’ of course, is to be conceived of spiritually; the idea, therefore, is not the same as in what precedes. The mediating thought between the statement, that the sacrament of the Supper communicates the body and the blood of our Lord, and the statement, that the Church is the body of the Lord, is this, that individuals by celebrating the Supper come into communion with each other. Bread and wine are to the Apostles vehicles through which communion with Christ is realized.” Neander. The declaration, “there is one bread,” obliges us to conceive of the bread at the Supper as one whole, whether it is one loaf that is broken, or several. But this oneness leads us back to the êïéíùíßá of the body of Christ as its ground.—In 1Co_10:18 we have a second analogy to prove the unsuitableness of Christians partaking of idolatrous altar feasts. It is drawn from the Jewish feasts following sacrifice.—Behold Israel after the flesh.—’ Éóñáὴë êáôὰ óÜñêá , one idea; therefore without the article before êáôὰ óÜñêá . The designation is in contrast with that of “Israel after the spirit” (comp. Rom_2:28; Gal_4:29; 1Co_6:16); it means the Israel which is so, not by virtue of a Divine spiritual life arising from faith (Gal_3:7), but by natural descent.—are not those who eat the sacrifices.—[i.e., those parts which are not sacrificed. For the practice of eating the remainder, which was left after the parts specified, Lev_3:3, were offered up, see] (Deu_12:18; Deu_16:11).—partakers with the altar? êïéíùíïὶ ôïῦ èõóéáóôçñßïõ may be interpreted either, ‘associates of the altar,’ inasmuch as they shared the flesh of the victim offered with the altar (comp. 1Co_9:13); or: ‘persons standing in communion with the altar,’ i.e., in religious connection with it, inasmuch as the festival acquired a religious significance by its relation to it. Therefore it is he does not say, ‘partakers with God,’ by which only the more general communion would be denoted, but not this stricter one (Meyer). To subjoin therefore “with God,” is needless and unsuitable. [Stanley says the reason why he did not say ‘with God,’ was “chiefly because communion with God was too high a thought to be brought down to the level of the mere outward ceremonial of the fleshly Israel.” But this idea is contradicted by Rom_9:4-5. As Hodge well puts it: “The question is not as to the intention of the actors, but as to the import of the act, and as to the interpretation universally put upon it. To partake of a Jewish sacrifice as a sacrifice, and in a holy place, was an act of Jewish worship. By parity of reasoning to partake of a heathen sacrifice as a sacrifice, and in a holy place, was an act of heathen worship.—It need hardly be remarked, that this passage gives no ground for the opinion that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice. This is not the point of comparison”].—In 1Co_10:19 he draws the conclusion he has been aiming at in this whole exposition.—What then am I saying?i.e., ‘what is the result to which I am coming?’ He begins his answer by repudiating an inference which might be drawn in contradiction of his statement in 1Co_8:4. Is it—that what is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?i.e., possesses reality, is veritable flesh consecrated to a god?—or that an idol is any thing?i.e., has being as the very god which the heathen imagine (comp. 1Co_8:4 ff.); or, changing the accent and reading åἰäùëüèõôïí åἴäùëüí ôé ἔóôéí , he would say: ‘that there is any idol-offering, or any idol—namely, of the sort mentioned?’ Both constructions amount to the same thing.—But [i.e., ‘nay, but;’ this ellipsis of the negative taken up by ἀëëá , is found in classical Greek].—And now comes his direct statement—that what things they offer (it is) to devils and not to God, they offer (them).—The text is quoted from the LXX. version of Deu_32:17, which seems to be adduced as authoritative proof of his position. See also Bar_4:7, èýóáíôåò äáéìïíßïéò êáὶ ïὺ èåῷ . His meaning is: ‘This I say, that ye by partaking at heathenish festivals come into communion with devils; just as we through the bread which we break come into communion with the body of Christ, or as the Israelites through their sacrificial feasts come into communion with the altar, i.e., of God’s sanctuary.’ Before explaining himself, however, on the point that the heathenish sacrifices with which those feasts were connected, were offered, in fact, to devils, and instead of drawing his conclusion directly, he states it in the form of an injunction—and I would not that ye should have communion with devils—the very thing he would convict them of doing—and then he assigns a reason for this in the following, 1Co_10:21-22.—Such we conceive to be the logic of the Apostle (as Osiander and others). But Meyer understands it differently. He finds in 1Co_10:16-18, a justification of the warning in 1Co_10:14 : “Flee from idolatry;” and in 1Co_10:19 f., a repudiation of an inference which might be drawn from the analogy of the Jewish sacrificial festival (1Co_10:18); since by this he seemed to acknowledge a veritable communion with the gods in the heathen altar-service, and with this also the actual divinity of the idols worshipped in it.—Since the idea of communion runs through the whole passage to 1Co_10:21, the first exposition of the order of thought merits the preference.—The äáéìüíéá , demons, to whom the heathen sacrificed, are not imaginary gods—sub-deities, as it were; but, as is seen both from the connection and from the uniform usage of the LXX. and the New Testament, they are evil spirits, the chief of whom is äéÜâïëïò , diabolus, the devil. The expression in Act_17:18 : “he seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods,” is adapted to the usage of the Greeks [for the word äáéìüíéïí was employed by them in a comparatively good sense, to denote the objects of their worship]. “It is probable that in order to exhibit the abominableness of all participation in idol-worship, Paul designedly chose an expression, which indeed among the heathen was used to denote their deities, but which among the Jews always designated evil spirits.” Bengel. To regard heathendom as the devil’s kingdom, was a mode of thought prevailing among the ancient Church, and well founded (comp. Osiander, p. 455 f.). We, therefore, must certainly distinguish, especially in the sphere of the Hellenic religion, between the opinion and intent of idol worshippers, and the objective powers actually operating in heathenism, which obtained Divine honor to themselves by darkening the human mind. But it would be wholly arbitrary, were we to ascribe to the Apostle the idea that the offerings of the heathen were presented to the devils in so far as these persuaded the heathen that there are gods to whom sacrifices must be offered, in order to receive to themselves under the name of gods, Divine worship and sacrifices (Rückert).—The “fellowship with devils” which he would not have them hold, was not merely a symbolic one, but an actual one, by means of which they would expose themselves to their corrupting influences (comp. Osiander, Bengel).—The wish just expressed he grounds upon the irreconcilableness of a participation in heathenish festivals, which involve communion with devils, with a participation in the Lord’s Supper.—Ye cannot.—The inability here expressed is of a moral kind—a moral impossibility.—drink the cup of the Lord,—that is, the cup of the Lord’s Supper, which belongs to the Lord, has been consecrated to Him, and is the communion of His blood; therefore, brings us into fellowship with Him.—and the cup of devils,—that is, the cup consecrated to demons, which brought a person into actual relations to them, and out of which wine was drunk at the sacrificial feasts, with pre-libations in honor of the gods.—Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.—The table signifies the entire meal, including the consecrated food. [“From this passage probably, ‘the table of the Lord’ became an expression current in all ages of the Christian Church. See Suicer in voc.” Alford]. In this verse the Romish Church unwarrantably finds evidence for the doctrine that the Lord’s Supper was not simply a sacrament, but also a sacrifice (Cone. Trid., 22, 1). “It is not the Church that offers Christ in communion; but Christ offered Himself up once for all (Heb_7:27; Heb_9:25-26; Heb_10:10; Heb_12:14; Heb_12:18); and He brings to the Church the bread and wine, not for an offering, but to be eaten and drunk, in order that by this means He may give His own body and blood for their nourishment, according to His promise.” W. F. Besser.

1Co_10:22. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?—This is not to be taken conjunctively,—neither by assuming irregularity of formation, nor yet in accordance with the sense, as if it were deliberate. The indicative is still more emphatic. His meaning is, ‘ye cannot unite the two (1Co_10:21). Or, are we the persons who by such an attempt will venture to provoke the Lord to jealousy?’ Such would certainly be the result, inasmuch as we would be practicing communion with evil spirits hostile to the Lord, while professing to hold communion with Him who insists on our keeping ourselves exclusively His. The expression, “provoke to jealousy,” is taken from Deu_32:21, and is taken from the metaphor of a marriage between God and His people, which pervades large portions of the Old Testament, and in accordance with which the Church is represented as the bride of Christ (comp. 2Co_11:2). It denotes the strong displeasure which arises in consequence of adulterous love, [“and is the fiercest of all human passions. It is therefore employed as an illustration of the hatred of God towards idolatry. It is as when a bride transfers her affections from her lawful husband in every way worthy of her love, to some degraded and offensive object.” Hodge). The jealousy is one which is sure to bring severe punishment; and this is what one seems to challenge upon himself who is not accustomed to fear the might of the Lord. Hence the concluding question—Are we stronger than He?—so that we can avert His retributive power?

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Communion with the Lord and in the Lord—such is the fundamental generic idea of the Lord’s Supper. He is in us, and we in Him; and therefore all united together—members of one body, composed of all those who have fellowship with Him. But this communion is not simply one of the Spirit, effected through the word received in faith, by means of which His Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God; it is not a purely spiritual one in the sense that Jesus, by His Spirit alone, makes His dwelling in the hearts of all who believe. But it is one which is accomplished also through the body, and includes, likewise, the physical life. It is His atoning life offered up for us—His body broken in death for our sakes—His blood shed in our behalf, of which we partake by means of the bread and wine. And this life of Jesus is imparted to us in its totality, as fitted to nourish, strengthen and refresh our life—in short, as food and drink for our life in its totality; that is, for our new life, which is from God which, begun in Christ at the new birth, is perfected at last in the body also, at the resurrection; for He is the Redeemer of the body (comp. Joh_6:54; Rom_8:11).

But how is this nourishment imparted? This is the point on which the various confessions of the Christian Church begin their strife. If we keep in mind Paul’s expression, “the communion of the body and blood of Christ,” it will be seen that we, by no means, do justice to it by holding the extravagant hypothesis (of the Romish Church) that in virtue of the priestly consecrating word the bread and wine are transformed into the veritable body and blood of Christ; for in that case we could not speak of holding communion [inasmuch as eating the material substance would be a mere physical act, which would be perfect without the concurrence of the Spirit].—Neither does it satisfy simply to assume that the elements are mere symbols—that the body and blood of Christ are exhibited and made present to the consciousness of faith through the bread and wine, and that so by means of these, a communion of the believing participant is effected;—whether it be, as Zwingle supposes, that the believer partook of the broken body and blood shed, by being more fully assured thereby of the forgiveness of sins, or, as Calvin supposes, that a mysterious union ensues for the believer with the glorified life of Christ in heaven. The Apostle’s language, “the bread, the wine, is a communion of the body, of the blood of Christ,” means yet more. If the bread and wine are the means of our communion with the body and blood of Christ, it is obvious that there is a participation in these very objects themselves, as, indeed, in the passage, Joh_11:25 (cited by Meyer), Christ calls Himself the resurrection, and the life, i.e., that very thing by which the life is again restored and imparted, in so far as He is in His own person the life, and the life of humanity again restored.—This brings us, then, to Luther’s view, viz., that of the mysterious union of the elements with the body and blood of Christ, effected through the power of Christ’s Spirit in His Word—a union with His redeeming life, not only as it has been, but as it is now, everywhere present and glorified.

It will, indeed, be asked, “how does this hypothesis suit with the original institution of the Supper, when such a union could not have existed? and are we then to distinguish between the first celebration of the Supper and all others that have ensued?” We must, at all events, affirm, with Œtinger (“Theology drawn from the idea of life,” translated by Hamburger, p. 244), that, as in the case of baptism, so also here, a gradual progression may be traced. “Before Christ died and rose again, the disciples received the flesh and blood of Christ, efficiently (efficienter), rather than substantially (substantialiter); but after the ascension, both substantially and efficiently.”—Through this union the bread and wine become a spiritual meat and drink, i.e., a nourishment of the new spiritual life, which, however, in the case of those not qualified to enjoy it, serves not to nourish, but to condemn—even as the Gospel is to some a savor of life unto life, and to others a savor of death unto death.—This is not the place to treat more particularly of manducatory participation, and of the participation of the unworthy.

2. Inconsistency of attempting to hold fellowship with the world and Christ at the same time.—To sit down at the table of the Lord, and to commune with Him by partaking of His body and blood, and then to convert aught into an idol, or by idolatrous proceedings to devote one’s self to the god of this world and to his spirits, and so to profess them, are intolerable contradictions. He who dares thus, exposes himself to the severest judgments. By such conduct he violates the holy claims of the Lord to his person, which having been redeemed and honored by Him, with all the blessings of His redemption, belongs to Him exclusively—wholly and solely, even as a bride to the bridegroom. And such conduct involves the greater folly from the fact that Christ is one to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, and before whose bar all must stand to receive the final decision affecting their eternal weal or woe.

[3. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, a pledge of the resurrection of believers. As the consecrated bread and wine were the authentic symbols of Christ’s body and blood, and were, in construction and certain effect (though not in substance), the same with what they stood for, to all worthy receivers; it is manifest that bodies so incorporated with the body of Christ, must of course be partners with it in a glorious resurrection. Thus was the Eucharist ever considered as a sure and certain pledge to all good men of the future resurrection of then bodies, symbolically fed with the body of Christ. This is the argument which the Christian fathers insisted upon, and with this they prevailed. See Water-land on “The Doctrinal Use of the Sacraments” (Vol. VIII., p. 182). (Wordsworth)].

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Starke:—1Co_10:14. A Christian must be very careful how he, in any way, participates in a false worship (2Co_6:14).—1Co_10:15. A true minister, who is sure of his doctrine, will urge his hearers freely to test its truth, so that they shall feel that they have to do, not so much with him as with God, whose doctrine he preaches. So, too, a proper hearer will look not so much to the minister as to God in the matter of doctrine (2Co_1:24; Act_17:11).—1Co_10:16 (Spener). The doctrine that the bread and wine are the communion of the body and blood of Christ, is to be taken in its plainest acceptation—they are the very means by which the participants take part in the body and blood of Christ. Accordingly, faith is not made the communion or the means of participation, in which case those who approach the table without faith could not be said, in any sense, to receive such blessings; but the bread and the wine are themselves the things. Hence, he who partakes of these comes also into connection with the blessings themselves.—1Co_10:17. Where Christ’s body is there is love, 1Co_12:13.—He who receives the sacrament testifies that he is in the communion of Christ and His Church.—1Co_10:19. To the pure, all things are pure; yet many things may be rendered impure by circumstances. Hence great circumspection is needful to purity.—1Co_10:20. All false worship is a worship of the devil, and those who participate in it shall receive the recompense destined for their lord (Rev_18:4).—1Co_10:21 (Œtinger). There is no profit in serving two masters, and just as little in trying to sponge on them both. If the world’s baits delight, let Christ’s feasts alone (Mat_6:24; Jer_16:8).—1Co_10:22. To be obstinate and imagine that we must keep up acquaintances and friendships, and that God will not be very exacting in the matter, is an abominable presumption, calculated to provoke God’s righteous wrath.—How will God let such miserable sophists run their course till they are made aware of His power (Job_9:4; Job_9:19; Job_37:23)?

Berlenb. Bible:—1Co_10:14. If we are attempting to serve God in the spirit of truth, through the proffered grace of Christ, we shall abandon all idolatry, such as consists in serving God through ceremonial practices and works of the flesh. But then we must be careful to drink often and much of the spiritual drink, and eat the spiritual food. Christ Himself is both these. In Him is everything given to us spiritually and divinely; in Him there is everything to be had freely and without price—everything which cannot be found in this world’s wilderness. He will surely care for soul and body. Therefore flee from Babel, the idolatrous land. When it pursues we must run: otherwise its idols will slip into our hearts.—1Co_10:15. Who has the Spirit of Christ, has also the spirit of a sound judgment. No prudent man will be sure of anything, the ground of whose truth he does not find in himself.—1Co_10:17. True Christians, as members of Christ, constitute one spiritual body, and are nourished by one meat—the body of Jesus. A sweet communion of sanctified spirits ought, in this way, to be established and fostered. Let us be one, even in this, that we have no fellowship with idols.—1Co_10:20. Men often trust their fancies rather than God, and regard it as spiritual pride, as it were, to mount up to Him, and will disoblige none. So it goes, although one does not betake himself to the right source (Psa_36:9; Jer_2:13; Jer_17:13),—1Co_10:21. What does it mean that a person presents himself occasionally at the Lord’s Table, when throughout his whole life Belial is uppermost in his heart! What a pretence to think of satisfying God with the outward forms and postures of a lifeless worship, while we are sacrificing to our own pleasure, and are intent on gratifying our senses with vanity! All who live after the lusts of the flesh eat of the devil’s table.—Those who tread under foot Christ’s body and blood, drink rather of the wine of His wrath, and eat the bread of His anger. But priests who cause the people to sin by their evil example, or by failing to rebuke sin through shameful weakness, and who do not instruct the people sufficiently will be obliged to give an account, not only for themselves, but also for the people they have had in charge.

Heubner:—1Co_10:16. God’s demands are always endorsed by our own consciences.—1Co_10:20. To the Christian all evil is an abomination, because it brings him in contact with the kingdom of evil. Do nothing, however indifferent in itself, if according to the intent anything unrighteous or ungodly is indicated by it.—1Co_10:21. Participation in the Lord’s Supper binds us to strict separation from everything unhallowed, because it implies the most intimate union with Christ. Hence, after communion, a true Christian can hardly divest himself of a certain degree of anxiety.—1Co_10:22. Communion with the unholy is a challenge to Christ, because it is a contempt of His Majesty. Indeed, the thought of our weakness ought to awaken in us a salutary fear of our Almighty Lord.

W. F. Besser:—1Co_10:13. God will indeed protect us; but we can cherish this consolation only when we flee from every occasion to sin, unensnared by the conceit of our steadfastness.—1Co_10:21. Greek and Roman pagans were wont to consecrate a crowned beaker to Bacchus. Is it any less idolatrous when apostate Christians now celebrate the name of a man, some hero of the times, with gluttony and wine-bibbing, with impure jests and buffoonery, and with the tacit denial or uttered blasphemy of God? Oh, how does the world laugh when partakers of Christ’s Table run into the web which the devil spins at his banquets of pleasure. Every observance of the Lord’s Supper ought to impress on us the words of Paul, “Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” Woe to us if we undertake to do what Christians cannot! The Lord is a jealous bridegroom of His bridal Church, and to put contempt on Him, or to provoke Him to jealousy (Deu_32:21), is to imitate the sin of the children of Israel, who tempted Christ (1Co_10:9).

[Barnes:—1Co_10:20. The custom of drinking toasts at feasts and celebrations arose from this practice of pouring out wine, or drinking in honor of the heathen gods; and is a practice that partakes still of the nature of heathenism. It was one of the abominations of heathenism to suppose that their gods would be pleased with the intoxicating draught. Such a pouring out of a libation was usually accompanied with a prayer to the idol god, that he would accept the offering; that he would be propitious; and that he would grant the desire of the worshipper. From that custom the habit of expressing a sentiment, or proposing a toast, uttered in drinking wine, has been derived. The toast or sentiment which now usually, accompanies the drinking of a glass in this manner, if it means anything, is now also a prayer: but to whom? to the God of wine? to a heathen deity? Can it be supposed that it is a prayer offered to the true God; the God of purity? Has Jehovah directed that prayer should be offered to Him in such a manner? Can it be acceptable to Him? Either the sentiment is unmeaning, or it is a prayer offered to a heathen god, or it is a mockery of Jehovah; and in either case it is improper and wicked. And it may as truly be said now of Christians as in the time of Paul, ‘Ye cannot consistently drink the cup of the Lord at the communion table, and the cup where a prayer is offered to a false god, or to the dead, or to the air; or when, if it means anything, it is a mockery of Jehovah? Now can a Christian with any more consistency or propriety join in such celebrations, and in such unmeaning or profane libations than his could go into the temple of an idol, and partake of the idolatrous celebrations there?

Hodge:—1Co_10:20. It was of great importance for the Corinthians to know that it did not depend on their intention whether they came into communion with devils. The heathen did not intend to worship devils, and yet they did it; what would it avail, therefore, to the reckless Corinthians, who attended the sacrificial feasts of the heathen, to say that they did not intend to worship idols? The question was not, what they meant to do, but what they did: not, what their intention was, but what was the import and effect of their conduct. A man need not intend to burn himself when he puts his hand into the fire; or to pollute his soul when he frequents the haunts of vice. The effect is altogether independent of his intention. This principle applies with all its force to compliance with the religious services of the heathen at the present day. Those who in pagan countries join in the religious rites of the heathen, are just as much guilty of idolatry, and are just as certainly brought into fellowship with devils, as the nominal Christians of Corinth, who, although they knew that an idol was nothing, and that there is but one God, yet frequented the heathen feasts. The same principle also applies to the compliance of Protestants in the religious observances of Papists. Whatever their intention may be, they worship the host if they bow down to it with the crowd who intend to adore it. By the force of the act we become one with those in whose worship we join. We constitute with them and with the objects of their worship one communion].