ILLUSTRATED IN THE
FELLOWSHIP IN THE
FORBORNE, SO AS
1. Moreover--The oldest manuscripts read "for." Thus the connection
with the foregoing chapter is expressed. Ye need to exercise
self-denying watchfulness notwithstanding all your privileges, lest ye
be castaways. For the Israelites with all their privileges were most of
them castaways through want of it.
ignorant--with all your boasted "knowledge."
our fathers--The Jewish Church stands in the relation of parent to the
all--Arrange as the Greek, "Our fathers were all under the
cloud"; giving the "all" its proper emphasis. Not so much as one of
so great a multitude was detained by force or disease
[BENGEL]. Five times the "all" is repeated, in the
enumeration of the five favors which God bestowed on Israel
Five times, correspondingly, they sinned
In contrast to the "all" stands "many (rather, 'the most') of them"
All of them had great privileges, yet most of them were
castaways through lust. Beware you, having greater privileges, of
sharing the same doom through a similar sin. Continuing the reasoning
"They which run in a race, run all, but one receiveth the
under the cloud--were continually under the defense of the pillar
of cloud, the symbol of the divine presence
(Ex 13:21, 22;
passed through the sea--by God's miraculous interposition for them
2. And--"And so" [BENGEL].
baptized unto Moses--the servant of God and representative of the Old
Testament covenant of the law: as Jesus, the Son of God, is of the
Heb 3:5, 6).
The people were led to believe in Moses as God's servant by the miracle
of the cloud protecting them, and by their being conducted under him
safely through the Red Sea; therefore they are said to be "baptized
"Baptized" is here equivalent to "initiated": it is used in
accommodation to Paul's argument to the Corinthians; they, it is true,
have been "baptized," but so also virtually were the Israelites of old;
if the virtual baptism of the latter availed not to save them from the
doom of lust, neither will the actual baptism of the former save them.
There is a resemblance between the symbols also: for the cloud and sea
consist of water, and as these took the Israelites out of sight, and
then restored them again to view, so the water does to the baptized
understands "the cloud" and "the sea" as symbolizing the Spirit
and water respectively
Christ is the pillar cloud that screens us from the heat of God's
wrath. Christ as "the light of the world" is our "pillar of fire" to
guide us in the darkness of the world. As the rock when smitten sent
forth the waters, so Christ, having been once for all smitten, sends
forth the waters of the Spirit. As the manna bruised in mills fed
Israel, so Christ, when "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him," has become
our spiritual food. A strong proof of inspiration is given in this
fact, that the historical parts of Scripture, without the
consciousness even of the authors, are covert prophecies of the
3. same spiritual meat--As the Israelites had the water from the
rock, which answered to baptism, so they had the manna which
corresponded to the other of the two Christian sacraments, the Lord's
Supper. Paul plainly implies the importance which was attached
to these two sacraments by all Christians in those days: "an inspired
protest against those who lower their dignity, or deny their necessity"
[ALFORD]. Still he guards against the other
extreme of thinking the mere external possession of such privileges
will ensure salvation. Moreover, had there been seven sacraments, as
Rome teaches, Paul would have alluded to them, whereas he refers to
only the two. He does not mean by "the same" that the Israelites and
we Christians have the "same" sacrament; but that believing and
unbelieving Israelites alike had "the same" spiritual privilege of
the manna (compare
It was "spiritual meat" or food; because given by the power of
God's spirit, not by human labor [GROTIUS and
"born after the Spirit," that is, supernaturally.
"corn of heaven"
Rather, "spiritual" in its typical signification, Christ, the
true Bread of heaven, being signified
Not that the Israelites clearly understood the signification; but
believers among them would feel that in the type something more was
meant; and their implicit and reverent, though indistinct, faith was
counted to them for justification, of which the manna was a kind of
sacramental seal. "They are not to be heard which feign that the old
fathers did look only for transitory promises" [Article VII, Church of
England], as appears from this passage (compare
"the beasts" also are mentioned as having drunk. The literal water
typified "spiritual drink," and is therefore so called.
spiritual Rock that followed them--rather, "accompanied
them." Not the literal rock (or its water) "followed" them, as ALFORD explains, as if Paul sanctioned the Jews'
tradition (Rabbi Solomon on
that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the
Israelites from place to place (compare
But Christ, the "Spiritual Rock"
(Ps 78:20, 35;
De 32:4, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37;
"Followed" implies His attending on them to minister to
them; thus, though mostly going before them, He, when occasion
required it, followed "behind"
He satisfied all alike as to their bodily thirst whenever they needed
it; as on three occasions is expressly recorded
(Ex 15:24, 25; 17:6;
and this drink for the body symbolized the spiritual drink from the
Spiritual Rock (compare
Joh 4:13, 14;
5. But--though they had so many tokens of God's presence.
many of them--rather, "the majority of them"; "the whole part." All
except Joshua and Caleb of the first generation.
not--in the Greek emphatically standing in the beginning of the
sentence: "Not," as one might have naturally expected, "with the more
part of them was," &c.
God--whose judgment alone is valid.
for--the event showed, they had not pleased God.
overthrown--literally, "strewn in heaps."
in the wilderness--far from the land of promise.
6. were--Greek, "came to pass as."
our examples--samples to us of what will befall us, if we also with
all our privileges walk carelessly.
lust--the fountain of all the four other offenses enumerated, and
therefore put first
(Jas 1:14, 15;
A particular case of lust was that after flesh, when they pined for the
fish, leeks, &c., of Egypt, which they had left
(Nu 11:4, 33, 34).
These are included in the "evil things," not that they are so in
themselves, but they became so to the Israelites when they lusted after
what God withheld, and were discontented with what God provided.
7. idolaters--A case in point. As the Israelites sat down (a
deliberate act), ate, and drank at the idol feast to the calves
in Horeb, so the Corinthians were in danger of idolatry by a like act,
though not professedly worshipping an idol as the Israelites
(1Co 8:10, 11; 10:14, 20, 21;
He passes here from the first to the second person, as they alone (not
he also) were in danger of idolatry, &c. He resumes the first person
some--The multitude follow the lead of some bad men.
play--with lascivious dancing, singing, and drumming round the calf
8. fornication--literally, Fornication was generally, as in this case
associated at the idol feasts with spiritual fornication, that is,
idolatry. This all applied to the Corinthians
(1Co 5:1, 9; 6:9, 15, 18;
Balaam tempted Israel to both sins with Midian
1Co 8:7, 9,
"stumbling-block," "eat . . . thing offered unto
. . . idol."
three and twenty thousand--in
"twenty and four thousand." If this were a real discrepancy, it would
militate rather against inspiration of the subject matter and
thought, than against verbal inspiration. The solution
is: Moses in Numbers includes all who died "in the plague"; Paul, all
who died "in one day"; one thousand more may have fallen the
next day [KITTO, Biblical
Cyclopædia]. Or, the real number may have been between
twenty-three thousand and twenty-four thousand, say twenty-three
thousand five hundred, or twenty-three thousand six hundred; when
writing generally where the exact figures were not needed, one writer
might quite veraciously give one of the two round numbers near the
exact one, and the other writer the other [BENGEL]. Whichever be the true way of reconciling the
seeming discrepant statements, at least the ways given above prove they
are not really irreconcilable.
9. tempt Christ--So the oldest versions,
IRENÆUS (264), and
good manuscripts read. Some of the oldest manuscripts read
"Lord"; and one manuscript only "God." If "Lord" be read, it will mean
Christ. As "Christ" was referred to in one of the five privileges of
so it is natural that He should be mentioned here in one of the five
corresponding sins of that people. In
it is "spake against God" (whence probably arose the alteration
in the one manuscript,
"God," to harmonize it with
As either "Christ" or "Lord" is the genuine reading, "Christ" must be
"God." Compare "Why do ye tempt the Lord?"
(Ex 17:2, 7.
with Isa 45:22, 23).
Israel's discontented complainings were temptings of Christ
especially, the "Angel" of the covenant
(Ex 23:20, 21; 32:34;
Though they drank of "that Rock . . . Christ"
they yet complained for want of water
(Ex 17:2, 7).
Though also eating the same spiritual meat (Christ, "the true manna,"
"the bread of life"), they yet murmured, "Our soul loatheth this light
bread." In this case, being punished by the fiery serpents, they were
saved by the brazen serpent, the emblem of Christ (compare
The Greek for "tempt" means, tempt or try, so as to
wear out the long-suffering of Christ (compare
Ps 95:8, 9;
The Corinthians were in danger of provoking God's long-suffering by
walking on the verge of idolatry, through overweening confidence in
10. some of them . . . murmured--upon the death of Korah and his
company, who themselves were murmurers
(Nu 16:41, 49).
Their murmurs against Moses and Aaron were virtually murmurs against
Ex 16:8, 10).
Paul herein glances at the Corinthian murmurs against himself, the