Introduction to 1 Corinthians Chapter 10
In this chapter the apostle cautions the Corinthians against security on account of their gifts, knowledge, and profession, since men of great characters, and enjoying high privileges, have fallen into sin, and have been severely punished; and he particularly cautions against idolatry, and all appearances of it, on which account he again introduces the case of eating things offered to idols, and dissuades from it, when it tended to idolatry, and had the appearance of it; though in some cases he allows of eating them, but directs that all should be done to the glory of God, and without offence to any, as they had him for an example. And now, whereas in the latter part of the preceding chapter he had signified his jealousy of himself, lest he should be a castaway, he pursues the thought, and improves it to the use of the Corinthians, that they, on account of their high attainments, should not think themselves secure of all danger; and for this purpose sets before them the instances and examples of the Jewish fathers, of which he would not have them ignorant, who were persons that enjoyed great privileges, and were partakers of things which bore some resemblance to Gospel ordinances; as their passing under the cloud through the sea was a figure of baptism, and their eating manna, and drinking water out of the rock, which was a type of Christ, had some likeness to the ordinance of the Lord's supper, of eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, which are meat and drink indeed in a spiritual sense, 1 Corinthians 10:1 and yet all these persons that enjoyed these privileges were not acceptable to God; nor did they enter into the land of Canaan, but fell in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:5 in which they were examples to men under the Gospel dispensation, that they may shun the evils which were the cause of their fall and overthrow, 1 Corinthians 10:6 particularly idolatry, of which their making and worshipping the golden calf is an instance, 1 Corinthians 10:7 also fornication, on account of which three and twenty thousand fell in one day, 1 Corinthians 10:8 likewise tempting Christ, which brought upon them destruction by the fiery serpents, 1 Corinthians 10:9 moreover, murmuring against God, and his servants, for which reason the destroyer was sent among them, and destroyed them, 1 Corinthians 10:10. All which happened, and are recorded for the use, instruction, and admonition of professors of religion in these last times, 1 Corinthians 10:11 from all which the apostle infers, by way of caution to the saints, that they should not be secure of standing, but take heed lest they fall, since so many and such great persons had before fallen, 1 Corinthians 10:12. But for their comfort, under afflictions, he observes, that as they were common to men, so the faithfulness of God was concerned to support them under them, and deliver them out of them, that they might not utterly fail of the grace of God, and perish by them, 1 Corinthians 10:13. And in order to their standing, he particularly dehorts them from idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:14 and every appearance of it, as eating things offered to idols, in an idol's temple, which is what he has chiefly in view, as appears by the following verses: and whereas they were men of wisdom and judgment whom he addressed, he was the more encouraged to use the following arguments with them, the force of which they would understand, 1 Corinthians 10:15. And his first argument is taken from the Lord's supper, and the communion of his body and blood, which believers have with him in eating the bread, and drinking the wine; suggesting, that in like manner such who eat things offered to idols, as such, had communion with them, and so were guilty of idolatry, and therefore should be abstained from, 1 Corinthians 10:16. His next argument is taken from the union and communion which saints have one with another at the Lord's table, whereby they appear to be one body and one bread; and so such that associate themselves with idolaters in their temples, and eat with them things offered to idols, are one with them in a like sense, and chargeable with idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:17. To which is added a third, taken from the priests of the Israelitish nation, who eating of the sacrifices, were partakers of the altar, worshipped the God of Israel, and had communion with him; and so in like manner eating of the sacrifices offered to idols, and especially in one of their temples, might be very well interpreted a partaking of their altars, a worshipping of them, and so idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:18 not that he thought that an idol was to be considered as a deity, or that things offered to it were upon an equal foot with the Lord's supper, or Jewish sacrifices, 1 Corinthians 10:19 but as there was a communion in the one, so in the other; for as for the sacrifices of the Gentiles, they were offered to devils, and not to God; and which he mentions to deter them from having the most distant regard to such sacrifices, 1 Corinthians 10:20 it being the most inconsistent, as well as shocking thing in the world, to partake of both cups and tables, those of the Lord, and those of devils, 1 Corinthians 10:21 wherefore the apostle dissuades from such idolatrous practice, from the pernicious and dangerous consequences of them, stirring up the Lord to jealousy, fighting against him, and being destroyed of him, 1 Corinthians 10:22. But inasmuch as things offered to idols were in themselves indifferent, the apostle directs to a proper use of them; and observes, that though they might be lawfully eaten, yet the expediency of time and place, and the edification of others, ought to be considered, 1 Corinthians 10:23 for we are not to seek our own pleasure, but the welfare of others, 1 Corinthians 10:24. If indeed such meat is sold in the butchers' meat markets in common with others, it may be bought and eat, when no questions are asked about it, what it is, 1 Corinthians 10:25 and that for this reason, because the earth, and all that is in it, are the Lord's, and his people have a right to all through him, and therefore may make use of every creature in it, 1 Corinthians 10:26. So if an idolater invites a believer to dine with him, and he accepts the invitation, he may very lawfully eat whatever is before him, even though it be meat offered to idols, provided he asks no questions about it, 1 Corinthians 10:27. But should anyone present point at certain meat, and say that was offered to idols, then it was advisable not to eat of it; partly for the sake of the unbeliever that pointed at it, who would be hardened in his idolatry by it; and partly for the sake of the conscience of a weak believer present, who might be offended at it; and the reason given to enforce such a conduct is, because there is plenty of other food without it, 1 Corinthians 10:28. And then the apostle explains whose conscience he meant; not the conscience of him that is invited, but either of the unbeliever, or the weak brother; and suggests a reason why he should not make use of his liberty in their presence, and under such circumstances, lest it should be censured and condemned, 1 Corinthians 10:29 or he be reproached for what he had, through good will, and had reason to be thankful for, 1 Corinthians 10:30 wherefore, upon the whole, the apostle advises in this affair, and in all others, to have the glory of God in view in the first place, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and next to that to be careful not to offend any sort of persons whatever, 1 Corinthians 10:32 and proposes himself as an example in these things to be followed; who sought not his own advantage, but the pleasure and profit of others, and to promote, as much as in him lay, their salvation, and not hinder it, 1 Corinthians 10:33.