Good Spiritual Associations: God Insists on Reality (10:1-14)
Five Outward Privileges Enjoyed by a Mixed Multitude in Israel (vv.1-5)
vv.1-5 In the verses that follow we have five outward privileges that Israel enjoyed from the very beginning of their history as a nation. The key word is “all”. It is repeated five times. The point is that these outward privileges were enjoyed because of association, but it did not mean that individuals had faith, or that they were somehow exempt from judgment. The oft-repeated word “all” is followed by “most” in v.5. The majority came under the judgment of God. These outward privileges were literally enjoyed by the nation of Israel, but each one has a spiritual counterpart in Christianity. As Christians, we cannot trust in baptism and the Lord’s Supper to have the Lord’s approval. He wants reality, and reality is manifest not merely by partaking of the sacraments, but by a holy life.
- Under the Cloud – the Divine presence of the Lord.
- Through the Sea – a Divine deliverance from the World.
- Baptized to Moses – associated with a Divinely appointed leader.
- Ate the Manna – a Divine provision of sustenance.
- Drank from the Rock – a Divine provision of refreshment.
Five Inward Evils and their Corresponding Disciplines (vv.6-11)
- Lusting. It begins with getting tired of the Lord, giving up of first love (Ephesus).
- Idolatry. The second stage is to replace the Lord with other objects that pander to our lusts (Pergamos).
- Fornication. The third stage is to enter into unholy associations with the world (Thyatira).
- Tempting Christ. The fourth stage is to despise the grace of Christ, and rely on the flesh for protection (Sardis).
- Murmuring. The final stage is open indifference to the authority and claims of Christ (Laodicea).
God Tests Our Profession: Reality Proved by Humility & Dependence (vv.12-13)
Warning about Idolatry (v.14)
The Responsibility of being at the Lord’s Table (10:15-22)
vv.15-22 In the next section of our chapter Paul addresses the evil of false association. In vv.1-14 he stressed that good associations do not bring us up, and in vv.15-22 he stresses that evil associations do bring us down. Another change that occurs in v.15 is that Paul ceases to address the house of God, and begins with a new figure, the body of Christ. From ch.1-10:14 Paul uses the figure of the house of God, where profession is in view, and there might be false professors mixed in with the real. Then from ch.10:15-end he uses the figure of the body of Christ, and only reality is comprehended.
The Principle of Identification within the Grasp of Intelligent Believers (v.15)
Fellowship. There is one Greek word “koinōnia” translated as fellowship, partaking, or communion. It means to identify oneself with something or someone. There is another word “metechō” in v.17 and v.21 that is slightly broader.
Identification in the Lord’s Supper (vv.16-17)
“…The loaf on the table… Before it is broken, in a certain sense, it represents the body of Christ before it was broken; but it does not form a sacrament in that state, because we have not the figure. It is true I eat Christ as the living bread that came down from heaven, but I go back to do that after I have eaten of Him as broken.” – J.N. Darby
Identification in the Levitical Sacrifices (v.18)
“This is the great principle: partaking at an altar associates one’s self with all moral and doctrinal attributes or affiliations of that altar.” – Edward Dennet
Identification in Pagan Sacrifices (vv.19-20)
The Responsibility of those at the Lord’s Table (vv.21-22)
Conclusions about Christian Liberty (10:23 – 11:1)
Liberty Regulated by Love (vv.23-24)
Love Active in Regard to Eating things Sacrificed to Idols (vv.25-30)
- Why cause someone to judge your liberty? To “judge” here is to impute sinful motives. It is wrong to behave in a way you know others will perceive as sinful (granted it is a matter of liberty, not obedience to God).
- Why incur a bad testimony on account of a subject of thanks? It is not morally fitting to turn something that ought to be a source of thanks into a source of evil.
Two Guiding Principles for all Christian Conduct (vv.31-32)
Three classes. This verse is helpful for another reason. It surveys every human being on the earth in three categories; Jew, Gentile, and the Church of God. These three groups correspond to the three communions in vv.16-20. They are mutually exclusive. You cannot be a Jew and a Christian. Once a Jew believes the gospel, he is put into something brand new; the assembly of God. The same is true with the Gentiles. The old distinctions are gone in the new creation. The number of distinct earthly inhabitants has changed in the following pattern: 1 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1. In the eternal state there will be no Jew and Gentile, but simply “men”‘ on the earth. But the Church in heaven will remain distinct for all eternity!
Paul as the Model for Christian Conduct (10:33 – 11:1)
Many times over Paul exhorts us to be followers of him (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7; 3:9). Paul could say this without being vain or fleshly, because "he so thoroughly realized the power of God in Christ, that it just illustrated the energy of the Spirit in him. He was led of the Holy Ghost to speak thus."3 Apart from being led of the Spirit to say this, it would be pride. Sometimes when exhorting the saints to follow his example, Paul adds "as I am of Christ", and other times he does not. In Phil. 3:17 he does not add "as I am of Christ" because the context there is running to attain a prize, putting down thoughts of self-exaltation and worldly glory, and Christ never had to do that. But whenever possible, Paul adds that little expression.Here in 1 Corinthians Paul does add “as I am of Christ”, because Paul had followed in the Lord’s steps of self-sacrifice. Christ is the ultimate example of self-sacrifice. As Paul said in Rom. 15:3, “for even Christ pleased not himself”.
- “If any man said, ‘This was sacrificed to idols,’ it was a proof that he had conscience of an idol.” – Darby, J. N. Notes of Readings on the Epistles to the Corinthians. G. Morrish. 1889, p.253
- “In private, where one should say, ‘This is offered to holy purposes’, because he evidently has a conscience about it, though one otherwise might have perfect liberty.” – Kelly, William. Notes on the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Bible Truth Publishers, 1975.
- Kelly, W. The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians.