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Warnings from Israel’s History


I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Do All to the Glory of God

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. 25Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, 26for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.” 27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

23. All things are lawful for me Again he returns to the right of Christian liberty, by which the Corinthians defended themselves, and sets aside their objection by giving the same explanation as before. “To eat of meats that were sacrificed, and be present at the banquet, was an outward thing, and therefore was in itself lawful.” Paul declares that he does not by any means call this in question, but he replies, that we must have a regard to edification. All things are lawful for me, says he, but all things are not profitable, that is, for our neighbors, for no one, as he immediately adds, ought to seek his own advantage exclusively, and if anything is not profitable to the brethren, it must be abstained from. He, in the next place, expresses the kind of advantage — when it edifies, for we must not have respect merely to the advantage of the flesh. “What then? 594594     “Dira quelqu’ vn;” — “Some one will say.” Does a thing that is in other respects permitted by God, come on this account to be unlawful — if it is not expedient for our neighbor. Then in that case our liberty would be placed under subjection to men.” Consider attentively Paul’s words, and you will perceive that liberty, nevertheless, remains unimpaired, when you accommodate yourself to your neighbors, and that it is only the use of it that is restricted, for he acknowledges that it is lawful, but says that it ought not to be made use of, if it does not edify

24. Let no one seek his own. He handles the same subject in the 14th Chapter of the Romans. Let no one please himself, but endeavor to please his brethren for their edification This is a precept that is very necessary, for we are so corrupted by nature, that every one consults his own interests, regardless of those of his brethren. Now, as the law of love calls upon us to love our neighbors as ourselves, (Matthew 22:39,) so it requires us to consult their welfare. The Apostle, however, does not expressly forbid individuals to consult their own advantage, but he requires that they should not be so devoted to their own interests, as not to be prepared to forego part of their right, as often as the welfare of their brethren requires this.

25. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles He has spoken above of dissembling in connection with idolatry, or, at least, as to those actions which the Corinthians could not engage in, without professing themselves to be the associates of the wicked in their superstitions. He now requires them, not merely to abstain from all professions of idolatry, but also to avoid carefully all occasions of offense, which are wont to arise from the indiscriminate use of things indifferent. For, although there was but one kind of offense on the part of the Corinthians, 595595     “Car combien que les Corinthiens faissent en cela plusieurs fautes qui estoyent toutes comprises sous vne generalite;” — “For although the Corinthians in this case committed many faults which were all comprehended under one general description.” there were, at the same time different degrees of it. Now, as to the eating of food, he makes, in the first place, this general statement — that it is lawful to eat, with a safe conscience, any kind of food, because the Lord permits it. In the second place, he restricts this liberty as to the use of it — lest weak consciences should be injured. Thus this conclusion is divided into two parts the first relates to liberty and power as to things indifferent: the second to a limitation of it — that the use of it may be regulated in accordance with the rule of love.

Debating nothing 596596     “Sans en enquerir rien;” — “Without asking any question as to it.” ᾿Ανακρίνεσθαι, the word that Paul makes use of, means to reason on both sides, 597597     “Debatre en son entendement pour et contre, comme on dit;” — “To debate in one’s mind for and against, as they say. in such a way, that the person’s mind vacillates, inclining now to this side, and then to that. 598598     ᾿Ανακρίνω, properly means to examine narrowly It is stated by Bloomfield, that “the best recent Commentators consider the expression μηδὲν ἀνακρίνοντες, as put for μηδὲν κρέας (that is, κρέατος γένος) ἀνακρίνοντες, examining no kind of meat, to see whether it be idol-meat or not.” This interpretation is natural, and agrees particularly well with the expression, as repeated in the 27th verse. — Ed Accordingly, in so far as concerns a distinction of meats, he frees our consciences from all scruple and hesitation; because it is proper that, when we are certain from the word of the Lord that he approves of what we do, we should have ease and tranquillity in our minds.

For conscience sake — that is to say, Before the judgment-seat of God — “In so far as you have to do with God, there is no occasion for your disputing with yourself, whether it be lawful or not. For I allow you to eat freely of all kinds of meat, because the Lord allows you everything without exception.”

26. The earth is the Lord’s He establishes, from the testimony of David, the liberty which he had allowed. (Psalm 24:1, and Psalm 50:12.) But it will be asked by some one, “What has this to do with the point?” I answer, If the fullness of the earth 599599     “C’est ‘a dire, le contenu d’icelle;” — “That is to say, what it contains.” is the Lord’s, there is nothing in the world that is not sacred and pure. We must always keep in view, what the question is of which the Apostle treats. It might be doubted, whether the creatures of God were polluted by the sacrifices of the wicked. Paul says they are not, inasmuch as the rule and possession of the whole earth remain always in the hands of God. Now, what things the Lord has in his hands, he preserves by his power, and consequently sanctifies them. The sons of God, therefore, have the pure use of everything, because they receive them no otherwise than from the hand of God.

The fullness of the earth, 600600     “Lequel mot nous auons traduit, Le contenu de la terre;” — “Which expression we have rendered — What the earth contains.” is an expression which is made use of by the Prophet to denote the abundance of blessings, with which the earth is furnished and adorned by the Lord. For if the earth were stripped of trees, herbs, animals, and other things, it would be like a house devoid of furniture and every kind of utensil: nay more, it would be mutilated and disfigured. Should any one object, that the earth is cursed on account of sin, the answer is easy — that he has an eye to its pure and perfect nature, because Paul is speaking of believers, to whom all things are sanctified through Christ.

27. If any one of them that believe not invites you. Here follows an exception, to this effect, that if a believer has been warned, that what is set before him has been offered to an idol, and sees that there is a danger of offense being given, he sins against the brethren if he does not abstain. He shows then, in short, that care must be taken not to hurt weak consciences.

When he says — and you are willing to go, he intimates indirectly, that he does not altogether approve of it, and that it would be better if they declined, but as it is a thing indifferent, he does not choose to forbid it absolutely. And, certainly, there could be nothing better than to keep at a distance from such snares — not that those are expressly to be condemned, who accommodate themselves to men only in so far as conscience permits, 601601     “Seulement autant que faire se pent sans offenser Dieu;” — “Only so far as they can do so without offending God.” but because it becomes us to proceed with caution, 602602     “Auec grand auis et prudence;” — “With great care and prudence.” where we see that we are in danger of falling.

29. Conscience, I say, not thine own He always carefully takes heed not to diminish liberty, or to appear to take from it in any degree. “Thou oughtest to bear with the weak conscience of thy brother, that thou mayest not abuse thy right, so as to give occasion of offense to him; but in the meantime thy conscience remains, nevertheless, free, because it is exempted from that subjection. Let not, therefore, the restraint which I impose upon thee as to outward use, become by any means a snare to entangle thy conscience.”

It must be observed here, that the term conscience is taken here in its strict acceptation; for in Romans 13:5, and 1 Timothy 1:5, it is taken in a larger sense. “We ought, says Paul, to obey princes, not merely for the sake of wrath, but also for that of conscience” — that is, not merely from fear of punishment, but because the Lord orders it so, and it is our duty. Is it not reasonable, too, that we should for the same reason accommodate ourselves to weak brethren — that is, because we are to this extent subject to them in the sight of God? Farther, the end of the commandment is love out of a good conscience Is not the affection of love included in a good conscience? Hence its meaning here is, as I have already stated, more restricted, inasmuch as the soul of a pious man looks exclusively to the tribunal of God, has no regard to men, is satisfied with the blessing of liberty procured for it by Christ, and is bound to no individuals, and to no circumstances of time or place.

Some manuscripts repeat the statement — The earth is the Lord’s. But the probability is, that some reader having put it on the margin, it had crept into the text. 603603     It is omitted in the Alex., Clermont, and in all of the more ancient MSS.; and in the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate versions. — Ed. It is not, however, a matter of great importance.

For why is my liberty It is doubtful, whether Paul speaks in this way of himself, or whether he makes this objection in the name of the Corinthians. If we take it as spoken in his own name, it will be a confirmation of the preceding statement. “In restricting yourself, for the sake of another man’s conscience, your liberty is not thereby made subject to him.” If in the name of the Corinthians, the meaning will be this: “You impose upon us an unjust law, in requiring that our liberty should stand or fall at the caprice of others.” I am of opinion, that Paul says this of himself, but explains it in another way, for hitherto I have been stating the views of others. To be judged, then, I explain here as meaning — to be condemned, agreeably to the common acceptation of the word in Scripture. Paul warns us of the danger that must ensue, if we make use of our liberty unreservedly, so as to give occasion of offense to our neighbors — that they will condemn it. Thus, through our fault, and our unreasonableness, the consequence will be, that this special benefit from God will be condemned If we do not guard against this danger, we corrupt our liberty by our abuse of it. This consideration, then, tends very much to confirm Paul’s exhortation.

30. If therefore by grace. This argument is similar to the preceding one, or nearly so. “As it is owing to the kindness of God that all things are lawful for me, why should I act in such a manner, that it should be reckoned to my account as a vice?” We cannot, it is true, prevent the wicked from reviling us, nor even the weak from being sometimes displeased with us; but Paul here reproves the forwardness of those, who of their own accord give occasion of offense, and hurt weak consciences, when neither necessity or expediency calls for it. He would have us, then, make a good use of our benefits, 604604     “C’est a dire, de nestre liberte;” — “That is to say, of our liberty.” that the weak may not have occasion of reviling from our inconsiderate use of liberty.

31. Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink Lest they should think, that in so small a matter they should not be so careful to avoid blame, he teaches that there is no part of our life, and no action so minute, 605605     “Qu’il n’y a rien en toute nostre vie, tant petit soit-il;” — “That there is nothing in our whole life, be it ever so small.” that it ought not to be directed to the glory of God, and that we must take care that, even in eating and drinking, we may aim at the advancement of it. This statement is connected with what goes before; for if we are eagerly desirous of the glory of God, as it becomes us to be, we will never allow, so far as we can prevent it, his benefits to lie under reproach. It was well expressed anciently in a common proverb, that we must not live to eat; but eat to live 606606     The proverbial expression referred to occurs in Auctor. ad Herenn. 4. 28: — “Esse oportet ut vivas, non vivere ut edas;” — “You should eat to live — not live to eat.” — Ed. Provided the end of living be at the same time kept in view, the consequence will thus be, that our food will be in a manner sacred to God, inasmuch as it will be set apart for his service.

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