In these verses, we read the words of Paul, a teacher explaining, expounding to help the people of God understand God’s ways. He gives them the example of the children of Israel being led out of Egypt by God as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Then he uses nature itself as the object lesson saying that we can understand some things by simply looking at nature. The most important example to them though, is the cup od blessing, the communion the celebrates our freedom and new life in Jesus Christ.
Our Fathers Were All Under the Cloud
1 Corinthians 10:1–13
Paul is talking to the Gentile church in Corinth who would not have a natural heritage to the children of Israel yet Paul calls them “our fathers”. These who were delivered from the bondage of Egypt by God are given as an example of how we human beings react to the move of God. Here, “Five times the “all” is repeated, in the enumeration of the five favors which God bestowed on Israel (1 Co 10:1–4). Five times, correspondingly, they sinned (1 Co 10:6–10). In contrast to the “all” stands “many (rather, ‘the most’) of them” (1 Co 10:5). All of them had great privileges, yet most of them were castaways through lust”.1
Not all were lost, but many were and Paul now shifts from the example to the lesson for these in the Church of Jesus Christ. There is temptation in the world but we shouldn’t think that we face some especially difficult situation because in
1 Corinthians 10:13 (LEB) Temptation has not come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will also make a way out together with the temptation, so that you may be able to endure it.
The Cup of Blessing Which we Bless
1 Corinthians 10:14–22
The people of Corinth and the region around them were caught up in idolatry. They believed there were spirits with power to affect the lives of people so they made offerings to appease these “gods”. But these “gods” are just demons, fallen angels, that are trapped on the earth until the day of judgement. One thing the people caught up in idolatry did understand was that a sacrifice was needed. But their sacrifice of grain or money or even their children was not only not enough, but given on the wrong altar. They just didn’t understand that it was the sacrifice of a sinless man that was required. And they didn’t understand that the sacrifice was to be made on God’s altar in heaven. The death of Jesus Christ is the sacrifice Paul is talking about, it is the cup of blessing in
1 Corinthians 10:16 (LEB) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Demons are not able to free us from sin and death but they seek authority over people. They seek to take God’s place. They don’t realize that they themselves are caught but they have no remedy.
Not All Things Are Profitable
1 Corinthians 10:23–33
Sometimes the message is very simple and Paul gives us a very practical guide for our behaviour in
1 Corinthians 10:23 (LEB) All things are permitted, but not all things are profitable. All things are permitted, but not all things build up.
First, we must understand that we are free in Christ. God had told us to go and take dominion and we can. But we are also accountable for our actions. Some things that we could do, have bad consequences either for us or what can be even worse, is when our actions hurt other people. Then Paul repeats our freedom by saying it in a different way in
1 Corinthians 10:26 (LEB) for “the earth is the Lord’s, and its fullness.”
But not everyone understands this so Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:29 yield yourself to “the conscience of the other person” so in 1 Corinthians 10:33 “that they may be saved”.
Become Imitators of Me, Just as I am of Christ
1 Corinthians 11:1–8
Paul reminds them that they should hold onto the traditions (which I take to mean the gospel of the Kingdom, Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, water baptism, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and communion that he just mentioned). Then he makes a strong point, in 1 Corinthians 11:3 “that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and the head of Christ is God.” We all come under the authority of God through Jesus Christ.
Does Not Nature Itself Teach You
1 Corinthians 11:9–16
There are some things that are obvious about this world and our lives if we just look to see as Paul says in
1 Corinthians 11:14–15 (LEB) And does not nature itself teach you that a man, if he wears long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But a woman, if she wears long hair, it is her glory, because her hair is given for a covering.
And I think this is clarified in
Romans 1:19–20 (LEB) because what can be known about God is evident among them, for God made it clear to them. 20 For from the creation of the world, his invisible attributes, both his eternal power and deity, are discerned clearly, being understood in the things created, so that they are without excuse.
But we should also recognize that nature is not a perfect teacher because it is also fallen into sin in
Romans 8:19, 22 (LEB) For the eagerly expecting creation awaits eagerly the revelation of the sons of God. … 22 For we know that the whole creation groans together and suffers agony together until now.
I Received From the Lord What I Also Passed On
1 Corinthians 11:17–24
Paul explains communion to them as a time to give thanks, break bread, and honor the new covenant sealed in his blood. It wasn’t a time for gluttony and drunkenness.
Proclaim the Lord’s Death Until He Comes
1 Corinthians 11:25–34
Paul tells them to take time for introspection. Do they have their life in order? Are they being the Christian people God wants them to be and that the world needs to see? Paul says in
1 Corinthians 11:28 (LEB) But let a person examine himself, and in this way let him eat from the bread and let him drink from the cup.
Then he adds in
1 Corinthians 11:31 (LEB) But if we were evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged.
- 1 Corinthians 10:1–13 Our Fathers Were All Under the Cloud
- 1 Corinthians 10:14–22 The Cup of Blessing Which we Bless
- 1 Corinthians 11:9–16 Does Not Nature Itself Teach You
- 1 Corinthians 10:1-33
- 1 Corinthians 11:1-34
- 1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 280). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.