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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.

6. Now these things were types to us. He warns us in still more explicit terms, that we have to do with the punishment that was inflicted upon them, so that they are a lesson to us, that we may not provoke the anger of God as they did. “God,” says he, “in punishing them has set before us, as in a picture, his severity, that, instructed by their example, we may learn to fear.” Of the term type I shall speak presently. Only for the present I should wish my readers to know, that it is not without consideration that I have given a different rendering from that of the old translation, 540540     The rendering of the Vulgate isin figura — (in figure.) Wiclif (1380) reads the clause thus: “But these thingis ben don in figure of us.” — Ed. and of Erasmus. For they obscure Paul’s meaning, or at least they do not bring out with sufficient clearness this idea — that God has in that people presented a picture for our instruction.

That we might not lust after evil things. He now enumerates particular instances, or certain examples, that he may take occasion from this to reprove some vices, as to which it was proper that the Corinthians should be admonished. I am of opinion, that the history that is here referred to is what is recorded in Numbers 11:4, etc., though others refer it to what is recorded in Numbers 26:64. The people, after having been for some time fed with manna, at length took a dislike to it, and began to desire other kinds of food, which they had been accustomed to partake of in Egypt. Now they sinned in two ways, for they despised the peculiar gift of God, and they eagerly longed after a variety of meats and delicacies, contrary to the will of God. The Lord, provoked by this lawless appetite, inflicted upon the people a grievous blow. Hence the place was called the

graves of lust, 541541     Our Author gives here the literal meaning of Kibroth-hatta-avah. — Ed. because there they buried those whom
the Lord had smitten. (Numbers 11:34.)

The Lord by this example testified how much he hates those lusts that arise from dislike of his gifts, and from our lawless appetite, for whatever goes beyond the measure that God has prescribed is justly reckoned evil and unlawful.

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