First Corinthians 10:1-12


POINT: Guarantee of privilege or position does not guarantee final blessing or production



“For” picks up where verse 9:27 ended.  Paul had privileges but he could be disqualified if he didn’t follow the rules.


In 9:27 Paul makes a distinction between his:

1)           success in the ministry

2)           success in his personal Christian Life


The theme for chapter 8, 9 and 10 is incomplete knowledge or knowledge that is not balanced with love.  Chapter 10 continues the discussion on knowledge that is bent on self-service.


“do not want you ignorant” is a formula used when Paul is teaching something new or is giving information that if it is misunderstood would lead to wrong or even destructive conclusions.  This formula is also used at:

1)           Romans 1:13 concerning his plan to visit Rome

2)           Romans 11:25 concerning the mystery of Israel

3)           1 Corinthians 10:1 (here) concerning overconfidence in baptism and the Lord’s supper

4)           2 Corinthians 1:8 concerning the hardships Paul and his team faced

5)           1 Thessalonians concerning the dead, the resurrection and the orders of resurrection



OT Examples

1)     Under the cloud (Exodus 13:21-22)

2)     Passed through the sea ( Exodus 14:21-22)

a.      These are the OT Paul uses for Christian baptism

3)     Ate food – Manna (Ex. 16:4, 13)

4)     Drank spiritual drink –water from rock (Ex. 17:1-7)

a.      These are the OT examples Paul uses for the Lord’s supper

b.      Notice how he points out that the Rock was Christ



“Nevertheless” is a strong reversal.


The Exodus generation had every reason to be confident but they still failed because of their failure to fully understand and the failure to live in line with the truth



“scattered” is katastrwnnumi or “katastronnumi” and it means “to strike down like a hurricane.”  Translation: “their corpses littered the dessert”

Their sins:

1)       idolaters (Ex. 32:6)

2)       Sexual immorality (Nu. 25:1-3) 

3)       Testing the Lord (Nu. 21:5-6; Ps. 78:18) –try to see how far you can go and God still allow it or not punish you.  

4)       Grumble (Num. 16)

These four sins are a sample of the many sins of the Exodus generation.
But, the reason they are listed here is that they are four of the sins that the Corinthians where repeating.

The Corinthians were involved in idolatry and sexual immorality as already mentioned in First Corinthians. 

They were also trying to see how far they could live in the world and still be “Christian”.  This is testing God. 

Finally, they were grumbling against Paul and his consistent voice that was calling them back to the apostolic revelation and godly standard.



“These things happened as examples” could read “These things happened as a type of us”.

In other words, this could be saying that what the “fathers” of our faith did in the wilderness is exactly what we do today.


The pattern or typology is presented in three levels:

1)     Spiritual Food and Entrance into Baptism

2)     Sinful actions

3)     Judgment

The result was that they did not fulfill God’s plan (entering Canaan) and so they did not receive any eschatological rewards.

Israel in Wilderness

Corinthians in Church Age

Spiritual Food and Drink:

Manna and Water from Rock
The Cloud and The Sea

Spiritual Food and Drink:

The Bread and The Cup
Water and Into Christ

Idolatry, Sexual Immorality,
Tempted Lord, Grumbled


Pagan Temples, Sexual Sins,
Tempting the Lord, Talking against Paul

23,000 Died,
killed by snakes,
killed by the destroying angel






“Do not be” isginesqe present middle imperative.    The present imperative with the negative is often used to stop an action in progress.  It would then be translated as “do not continue” and would mean “stop doing this.”


Notice how Paul simply has to alluded to these examples and not teach or re-teach the OT stories to an ignorant crowd.  In most modern churches in the west these stories would have to be taught first before they could be used as “examples” and “warnings.”  How can we say we follow the Lord when we do not even know his style of language or the examples he has laid down for us to follow or be warned by.


In this first example Paul chooses a portion of the golden calf story that includes the part about sitting “down to eat and drink”.  This is exactly what the Corinthians were arguing for the right to do.  Paul’s issue with them is that they were “eating and drinking” in the temples while participating in feasts for the pagan gods.  Paul could have mentioned any part of the story which is 35 verses long in Exodus chapter 32.  Paul chose the second half of verse 6 to use as an example for the Corinthians of eating in the presence of an idol.


The result: 3,000 died at the hands of the Levites (32:28) and more died in the plague (32:35).


pagan revelrypaizein “paidzein” means to play, to amuse one’s self, to dance. 

1)     in other OT verses this verb is found in the LXX to refer to cultic dancing:

a.      1 Sam 18:7 – The woman of Israel dancing when David returned from battle.

b.      2 Sam. 6:5, 21 – David danced or “celebrate” in NIV

c.      1 Chronicles 13:8 – David danced (“celebrate”)

d.      1 Chronicles 15:29

2)     in the Exodus 32 story this also included:

a.      shouting (32:17)

b.      singing (32:18)

c.      dancing (32:19)

3)     in the story of Baal of Peor (Balaam) Numbers 25:1-3 eating before the gods involved sexual immorality.



Second, sexual immorality is mentioned.

This was clearly one of the problems of the Corinthians:

1)     5:1-5

2)     5:10-11

3)     6:9-10

4)     6:12-20


Idol worship that combines eating and sexual immorality is a consistent theme through out scripture:

1)     Numbers 25:1-9 – Baal-Peor included both during idol worship

2)     The above example with the golden calf involved both

3)     In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Paul refers to the image of the body being the temple and of it being “joined” to a prostitute.

4)     Every mention of “idol food” in the NT mentions sexual immorality

a.      Acts 15:29

b.      Rev. 2:14, 20


Third, “test the Lord”

The reference to being punished by snakes tells us that Paul is referring to Numbers 21:4-7 where it says Israel “grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses.”



The fourth sin mentioned refers to the issue in the wilderness that caused grumbling.  God did not provide the usual food but instead provided manna.  The people wanted more than the manna.


This may be similar to the Corinthian’s grumbling against Paul and his previous letter that forbid them to participate in the cultic meals in the temple.  The food that they had been provided and the food that they could not have caused them to grumble against the Lord and Paul just like Israel grumbled against the Lord and Moses.



on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” is saying that God’s plan, the OT and the people of Israel were all pointing to the end and their purpose will culminate in the end.


The “ages” are the successive periods in human history.


We” are that people.  We are the people of the end.  When history is fulfilled we will still be standing with the Lord.



So then” means Paul is getting ready to tie up the illustration of Israel’s privileges and their failures.


you think you are standing firm” refers back to verses 10:1-5 of Israelites who thought they were standing firm and they were if they had heard the word and obeyed.

If they think they are secure from baptism and communion they had better start looking at what happened to the examples from Israel’s history.


If they are thinking they can continue with the idolatry and remain in God’s will they had better look at the examples.



This verse serves two purposes:

1)     a continuation of the warning

2)     a word of encouragement and hope


The encouragement is that though the Corinthians face many trials, tests and temptations God will always provide a way.  The problem is reintroduced in 10:14, though.  For this promise to take affect the people must “flee from idolatry.”  In other words, God will provide a way out and strength, but you must use that strength to flee sin, not continue in it and test God.


Two ways of receiving help from God:

1)     You will not be tested beyond what you can bear.

2)     When you are tempted God will provide a way out.


In 10:14 Paul gives them a clue as to how to deal with the temptation of idolatry: Flee!! 


Alla    poihsei         sun    tw     peirasmw         kai      thn   ekbasin

But       will make        with     the    temptation         also      the      way out


tou       dunasqai                  upenegkein

            to be able                  to endure


Notice that temptations and ways out come in pairs.

We see this from the Greek word sun (with) and the two articles tw (one before “temptation” and another before “way out”)

“With” “the temptations” comes “the way out”