Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

1 Corinthians Ch.10 / 16 Ch.s


* The great privileges, and yet terrible overthrow of the
Israelites in the wilderness. (1-5) Cautions against all
idolatrous, and other sinful practices. (6-14) The partaking in
idolatry cannot exist with having communion with Christ. (15-22)
All we do to be to the glory of God, and without offence to the
consciences of others. (23-33)

#1-5 To dissuade the Corinthians from communion with idolaters,
and security in any sinful course, the apostle sets before them
the example of the Jewish nation of old. They were, by a
miracle, led through the Red Sea, where the pursuing Egyptians
were drowned. It was to them a typical baptism. The manna on
which they fed was a type of Christ crucified, the Bread which
came down from heaven, which whoso eateth shall live for ever.
Christ is the Rock on which the Christian church is built; and
of the streams that issue therefrom, all believers drink, and
are refreshed. It typified the sacred influences of the Holy
Spirit, as given to believers through Christ. But let none
presume upon their great privileges, or profession of the truth;
these will not secure heavenly happiness.

#6-14 Carnal desires gain strength by indulgence, therefore
should be checked in their first rise. Let us fear the sins of
Israel, if we would shun their plagues. And it is but just to
fear, that such as tempt Christ, will be left by him in the
power of the old serpent. Murmuring against God's disposals and
commands, greatly provokes him. Nothing in Scripture is written
in vain; and it is our wisdom and duty to learn from it. Others
have fallen, and so may we. The Christian's security against sin
is distrust of himself. God has not promised to keep us from
falling, if we do not look to ourselves. To this word of
caution, a word of comfort is added. Others have the like
burdens, and the like temptations: what they bear up under, and
break through, we may also. God is wise as well as faithful, and
will make our burdens according to our strength. He knows what
we can bear. He will make a way to escape; he will deliver
either from the trial itself, or at least the mischief of it. We
have full encouragement to flee from sin, and to be faithful to
God. We cannot fall by temptation, if we cleave fast to him.
Whether the world smiles or frowns, it is an enemy; but
believers shall be strengthened to overcome it, with all its
terrors and enticements. The fear of the Lord, put into their
hearts, will be the great means of safety.

#15-22 Did not the joining in the Lord's supper show a
profession of faith in Christ crucified, and of adoring
gratitude to him for his salvation ? Christians, by this
ordinance, and the faith therein professed, were united as the
grains of wheat in one loaf of bread, or as the members in the
human body, seeing they were all united to Christ, and had
fellowship with him and one another. This is confirmed from the
Jewish worship and customs in sacrifice. The apostle applies
this to feasting with idolaters. Eating food as part of a
heathen sacrifice, was worshipping the idol to whom it was made,
and having fellowship or communion with it; just as he who eats
the Lord's supper, is accounted to partake in the Christian
sacrifice, or as they who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of
what was offered on their altar. It was denying Christianity;
for communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could
never be had at once. If Christians venture into places, and
join in sacrifices to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the
eye, and the pride of life, they will provoke God.

#23-33 There were cases wherein Christians might eat what had
been offered to idols, without sin. Such as when the flesh was
sold in the market as common food, for the priest to whom it had
been given. But a Christian must not merely consider what is
lawful, but what is expedient, and to edify others. Christianity
by no means forbids the common offices of kindness, or allows
uncourteous behaviour to any, however they may differ from us in
religious sentiments or practices. But this is not to be
understood of religious festivals, partaking in idolatrous
worship. According to this advice of the apostle, Christians
should take care not to use their liberty to the hurt of others,
or to their own reproach. In eating and drinking, and in all we
do, we should aim at the glory of God, at pleasing and honouring
him. This is the great end of all religion, and directs us where
express rules are wanting. A holy, peaceable, and benevolent
spirit, will disarm the greatest enemies.