1 Corinthians 10:1-5
1. Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how
that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
1. Nolo autem vos ignorare, fratres, quod partes nostri omnes sub
nube fuerunt, et omnes mare transierunt.
2. And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
2. Et omnes in Mose uterunt baptizati in nube et in mari,
3. And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
3. Et omnes eandem escam spiritualem manducarunt,
4. And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of
that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
4. Et omnes eundem biberunt spiritualem potum: bibebant autem e
spirituali, quae eos censequebatur, petra. Petra, autem, erat Christus.
5. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were
overthrown in the wilderness.
5. Verum complures corum grati non fuerant Deo: prostrati enim fuerunt
What he had previously taught by two similitudes, he now confirms by
examples. The Corinthians grew wanton, and gloried, as if they had served
out their time, or at least had finished their course, when they had scarcely
left the starting-point. This vain exultation and confidence he represses
in this manner — “As I see that you are quietly taking your ease at the
very outset of your course, I would not have you ignorant of what befell
the people of Israel in consequence of this, that their example may arouse
you.” As, however, on examples being adduced, any point of difference destroys
the force of the comparison, Paul premises, that there is no such dissimilarity
between us and the Israelites, as to make our condition different from
theirs. Having it, therefore, in view to threaten the Corinthians with
the same vengeance as had overtaken them, he begins in this manner — “Beware
of glorying in any peculiar privilege, as if you were in higher esteem
than they were in the sight of God.” For they were favored with the same
benefits as we at this day enjoy; there was a Church of God among them,
as there is at this day among us; they had the same sacraments, to be tokens
to them of the grace of God; but, on their abusing their privileges, they
did not escape the judgment of God. Be afraid, therefore; for the same
thing is impending over you. Jude makes use of the same argument in his
Epistle. (Jude 1:5.)
1. All were under the cloud. The Apostle’s object is to show,
that the Israelites were no less the people of God than we are, that we
may know, that we will not escape with impunity the hand of God, which
punished them with so much severity. For the sum is this — “If God spared
not them, neither will he spare you, for your condition is similar.” That
similarity he proves from this — that they had been honored with the same
tokens of God’s grace, for the sacraments are badges by which the c of
God is distinguished. He treats first of baptism, and teaches that the
cloud, which protected the Israelites in the desert from the heat of the
sun, and directed their course, and also their passage through the sea,
was to them as a baptism he says, also, that in the manna, and the water
flowing from the rock, there was a sacrament which corresponded with the
They were, says he, baptized in Moses, that is, under the ministry or
guidance of Moses. For I take the particle eijv to be used here instead
of ejn, agreeably to the common usage of Scripture, because we are assuredly
baptized in the name of Christ, and not of any mere man, as he has stated
in 1 Corinthians 1:13, and that for two reasons. These are, first, because
we are by baptism initiated into the doctrine of Christ alone; and, secondly,
because his name alone is invoked, inasmuch as baptism is founded on his
influence alone. They were, therefore, baptized in Moses, that is, under
his guidance or ministry, as has been already stated. How? In the cloud
and in the sea. “They were, then, baptized twice,” some one will say. I
answer, that there are two signs made mention of, making, however, but
one baptism, corresponding to ours.
Here, however, a more difficult question presents itself. For it is
certain, that the advantage of those gifts, which Paul makes mention of,
was temporal. The cloud protected them from the heat of the sun, and showed
them the way: these are outward advantages of the present life. In like
manner, their passage through the sea was attended with this effect, that
they got clear off from Pharaoh’s cruelty, and escaped from imminent hazard
of death. The advantage of our baptism, on the other hand, is spiritual.
Why then does Paul turn earthly benefits into sacraments, and seek to find
some spiritual mystery in them? I answer, that it was not without good
reason that Paul sought in miracles of this nature something more than
the mere outward advantage of the flesh. For, though God designed to promote
his people’s advantage in respect of the present life, what he had mainly
in view was, to declare and manifest himself to be their God, and under
that, eternal salvation is comprehended.
The cloud, in various instances, is called the symbol of his presence.
As, therefore, he declared by means of it, that he was present with them,
as his peculiar and chosen people, there can be no doubt that, in addition
to an earthly advantage, they had in it, besides, a token of spiritual
life. Thus its use was twofold, as was also that of the passage through
the sea, for a way was opened up for them through the midst of the sea,
that they might escape from the hand of Pharaoh; but to what was this owing,
but to the circumstance, that the Lord, having taken them under his guardianship
and protection, determined by every means to defend them? Hence, they concluded
from this, that they were the objects of God’s care, and that he had their
salvation in charge. Hence, too, the Passover, which was instituted to
celebrate the remembrance of their deliverance, was nevertheless, at the
same time, a sacrament of Christ. How so? Because God had, under a temporal
benefit, manifested himself as a Savior. Any one that will attentively
consider these things, will find that there is no absurdity in Paul’s words.
Nay more, he will perceive both in the spiritual substance and in the visible
sign a most striking correspondence between the baptism of the Jews, and
It is however objected again, that we do not find a word of all this.
This I admit, but there is no doubt, that God by his Spirit supplied the
want of outward preaching, as we may see in the instance of the brazen
serpent, which was, as Christ himself testifies, a spiritual sacrament,
(John 3:14,) and yet not a word has come down to us as to this thing, but
the Lord revealed to believers of that age, in the manner he thought fit,
the secret, which would otherwise have remained hid.
3. The same spiritual meat. He now makes mention of the other
sacrament, which corresponds to the Holy Supper of the Lord. “The manna,”
says he, “and the water that flowed forth from the rock, served not merely
for the food of the body, but also for the spiritual nourishment of souls.”
It is true, that both were means of sustenance for the body, but this does
not hinder their serving also another purpose. While, therefore, the Lord
relieved the necessities of the body, he, at the same time, provided for
the everlasting welfare of souls. These two things would be easily reconciled,
were there not a difficulty presented in Christ’s words, (John 6:31,) where
he makes the manna the corruptible food of the belly, which he contrasts
with the true food of the soul. That statement appears to differ widely
from what Paul says here. This knot, too, is easily solved. It is the manner
of scripture, when treating of the sacraments, or other things, to speak
in some cases according to the capacity of the hearers, and in that case
it has respect not to the nature of the thing, but to the mistaken idea
of the hearers. Thus, Paul does not always speak of circumcision in the
same way, for when he has a view to the appointment of God in it, he says,
that it was a seal of the righteousness of the faith, (Romans 4:11,) but
when he is disputing with those who gloried in an outward and bare sign,
and reposed in it a mistaken confidence of salvation, he says, that it
is a token of condemnation, because men bind themselves by it to keep the
whole law. (Galatians 5:2, 3.) For he takes merely the opinion that the
false apostles had of it, because he contends, not against the pure institution
of God, but against their mistaken view. In this way, as the carnal multitude
preferred Moses to Christ, because he had fed the people in the desert
for forty years, and looked to nothing in the manna but the food of the
belly, (as indeed they sought nothing else,) Christ in his reply does not
explain what was meant by the manna, but, passing over everything else,
suits his discourse to the idea entertained by his hearers. “Moses is held
by you in the highest esteem, and even in admiration, as a most eminent
Prophet, because he filled the bellies of your fathers in the desert. For
this one thing you object against me: I am accounted nothing by you, because
I do not supply you with food for the belly. But if you reckon corruptible
food of so much importance, what ought you to think of the life-giving
bread, with which souls are nourished up unto eternal life?.” We see then
that the Lord speaks there — not according to the nature of the thing,
but rather according to the apprehension of his hearers. Paul, on the other
hand, looks here — not to the ordinance of God, but to the abuse of it
by the wicked.
Farther, when he says that the fathers ate the same spiritual meat,
he shows, first, what is the virtue and efficacy of the Sacraments, and,
secondly, he declares, that the ancient Sacraments of the Law had the same
virtue as ours have at this day. For, if the manna was spiritual food,
it follows, that it is not bare emblems that are presented to us in the
Sacraments, but that the thing represented is at the same time truly imparted,
for God is not a deceiver to feed us with empty fancies. A sign, it is true,
is a sign, and retains its essence, but, as Papists act a ridiculous part,
who dream of transformations, (I know not of what sort,) so it is not for
us to separate between the reality and the emblem which God has conjoined.
Papists confound the reality and the sign: profane men, as, for example,
Suenckfeldius, and the like, separate the signs from the realities. Let
us maintain a middle course, or, in other words, let us observe the connection
appointed by the Lord, but still keep them distinct, that we may not mistakingly
transfer to the one what belongs to the other.
It remains that we speak of the second point — the resemblance between
the ancient signs and ours. It is a well-known dogma of the schoolmen —
that the Sacraments of the ancient law were emblems of grace, but ours
confer it. This passage is admirably suited for refuting that error, for
it shows that the reality of the Sacrament was presented to the ancient
people of God no less than to us. It is therefore a base fancy of the Sorbonists,
that the holy fathers under the law had the signs without the reality.
I grant, indeed, that the cleftleacy of the signs is furnished to us at
once more clearly and more abundantly from the time of Christ’s manifestation
in the flesh than it was possessed by the fathers. Thus there is a difference
between us and them only in degree, or, (as they commonly say,) of “more
and less,” for we receive more fully what they received in a smaller measure.
It is not as if they had had bare emblems, while we enjoy the reality.
Some explain it to mean, that they ate the same meat together among
themselves, and do not wish us to understand that there is a comparison
between us and them; but these do not consider Paul’s object. For what
does he mean to say here, but that the ancient people of God were honored
with the same benefits with us, and were partakers of the same sacraments,
that we might not, from confiding in any peculiar privilege, imagine that
we would be exempted from the punishment which they endured? At the same
time, I should not be prepared to contest the point with any one; I merely
state my own opinion. In the meantime, I am well aware, what show of reason
is advanced by those who adopt the opposite interpretation — that it suits
best with the similitude made use of immediately before — that all the
Israelites had the same race-ground marked out for them, and all started
from the same point: all entered upon the same course: all were partakers
of the same hope, but many were shut out from the reward. When, however,
I take everything attentively into consideration, I am not induced by these
considerations to give up my opinion; for it is not without good reason
that the Apostle makes mention of two sacraments merely, and, more particularly,
baptism. For what purpose was this, but to contrast them with us? Unquestionably,
if he had restricted his comparison to the body of that people, he would
rather have brought forward circumcision, and other sacraments that were
better known and more distinguished, but, instead of this, he chose rather
those that were more obscure, because they served more as a contrast between
us and them. Nor would the application that he subjoins be otherwise so
suitable — “All things that happened to them are examples to us, inasmuch
as we there see the judgments of God that are impending over us, if we
involve ourselves in the same crimes.”
4. That rock was Christ. So he absurdly pervert these words of
Paul, as if he had said, that Christ was the spiritual rock, and as if
he were not speaking of that rock which was a visible sign, for we see
that he is expressly treating of outward signs. The objection that they
make — that the rock is spoken of as spiritual, is a frivolous one, inasmuch
as that epithet is applied to it simply that we may know that it was a
token of a spiritual mystery. In the mean time, there is no doubt, that
he compares our sacraments with the ancient ones. Their second objection
is more foolish and more childish — “How could a rock,” say they, “that
stood firm in its place, follow the Israelites?” — as if it were not abundantly
manifest, that by the word rock is meant the stream of water, which never
ceased to accompany the people. For Paul extols the grace of God, on this
account, that he commanded the water that was drawn out from the rock to
flow forth wherever the people journeyed, as if the rock itself had followed
them. Now if Paul’s meaning were, that Christ is the spiritual foundation
of the Church, what occasion were there for his using the past tense? It
is abundantly manifest, that something is here expressed that was peculiar
to the fathers. Away, then, with that foolish fancy by which contentious
men choose rather to show their impudence, than admit that they are sacramental
forms of expression!
I have, however, already stated, that the reality of the things signified
was exhibited in connection with the ancient sacraments. As, therefore,
they were emblems of Christ, it follows, that Christ was connected with
them, not locally, nor by a natural or substantial union, but sacramentally.
On this principle the Apostle says, that the rock was Christ, for nothing
is more common than metonymy in speaking of sacraments. The name of the
thing, therefore, is transferred here to the sign — not as if it were strictly
applicable, but figuratively, on the ground of that connection which I
have mentioned. I touch upon this, however, the more slightly, because
it will be more largely treated of when we come to the 11th Chapter.
There remains another question. “Seeing that we now in the Supper eat
the body of Christ, and drink his blood, how could the Jews be partakers
of the same spiritual meat and drink, when there was as yet no flesh of
Christ that they could eat?” I answer, that though his flesh did not as
yet exist, it was, nevertheless, food for them. Nor is this an empty or
sophistical subtilty, for their salvation depended on the benefit of his
death and resurrection. Hence, they required to receive the flesh and the
blood of Christ, that they might participate in the benefit of redemption.
This reception of it was the secret work of the Holy Spirit, who wrought
in them in such a manner, that Christ’s flesh, though not yet created,
was made efficacious in them. He means, however, that they ate in their
own way, which was different from ours, and this is what I have previously
stated, that Christ is now presented to us more fully, according to the
measure of the revelation. For, in the present day, the eating is substantial,
which it could not have been then — that is, Christ feeds us with his flesh,
which has been sacrificed for us, and appointed as our food, and from this
we derive life.
5. But many of them. We have now the reason why the Apostle has
premised these things — that we might not claim for ourselves any dignity
or excellence above them, but might walk in humility and fear, for thus
only shall we secure, that we have not been favored in vain with the light
of truth, and with such an abundance of gracious benefits. “God,” says
he, “had chosen them all as his people, but many of them fell from grace.
Let us, therefore, take heed, lest the same thing should happen to us,
being admonished by so many examples, for God will not suffer that to go
unpunished in us, which he punished so severely in them.”
Here again it is objected: “If it is true, that hypocrites and wicked
persons in that age ate spiritual meat, do unbelievers in the present day
partake of the reality in the sacraments?” Some, afraid lest the unbelief
of men should seem to detract from the truth of God, teach that the reality
is received by the wicked along with the sign. This fear, however, is needless,
for the Lord offers, it is true, to the worthy and to the unworthy what
he represents, but all are not capable of receiving it. In the meantime,
the sacrament does not change its nature, nor does it lose anything of
its efficacy. Hence the manna, in relation to God, was spiritual meat even
to unbelievers, but because the mouth of unbelievers was but carnal, they
did not eat what was given them. The fuller discussion, however, of this
question I reserve for the 11th Chapter.
For they were overthrown. Proof is here furnished, by adducing
a token, that they did not please God — inasmuch as he exercised his wrath
upon them with severity, and took vengeance on their ingratitude. Some
understand this as referring to the whole of the people that died in the
desert, with the exception of only two — Caleb and Joshua. (Numbers 14:29.)
I understand him, however, as referring merely to those, whom he immediately
afterwards makes mention of in different classes.
1 Corinthians 10:6-12
6. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not
lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
6. Haec autem typi nobis fuerunt, ne simus concupiscentes malorum,
sicut illi concupiverunt.
7. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written,
The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
7. Neque idololatrae sitis, quemadmodum quidam eorum: sicut scriptum
est. (Exodus 32:6.) Sedit populus ad edendum et bibendum, et surrexerunt
8. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed,
and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
8. Neque scortemur, quemadmodum et quidam eorum scortati sunt, et
ceciderunt uno die viginti tria millia.
9. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and
were destroyed of serpents.
9. Neque tentemus Christum, quemadmodum et quidam eorum tentarunt,
et exstincti sunt a serpentibus.
10. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed
of the destroyer.
10. Neque murmuretis, quemadmodum et quidam eorum murmurarant, et
perditi ruerunt a vastatore.
11. Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they
are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
11. Haec autem omnia typi contigerunt illis: scripta autem sunt
ad nostri admonitionem, in quos fines saeculorum inciderunt.
12. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
12. Proinde qui se putat stare, videat ne cadat.
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,
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, because there they buried those whom the Lord had smitten. (Numbers
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
7. Neither be ye idolaters. He touches upon the history that
is recorded in Exodus 32:7, etc. For when Moses made a longer stay upon
the mountain than the unseemly fickleness of the people could endure, Aaron
was constrained to make a calf, and set it up as an object of worship.
Not that the people wished to change their God, but rather to have some
visible token of God’s presence, in accordance with their carnal apprehension.
God, in punishing at that time this idolatry with the greatest severity,
showed by that example how much he abhors idolatry.
As it is written, The people sat down. This passage is rightly
interpreted by few, for they understand intemperance among the people to
have been the occasion of wantonness, in accordance with the common proverb,
“Dancing comes after a full diet.” But Moses speaks of a sacred feast,
or in other words, what they celebrated in honor of the idol. Hence feasting
and play were two appendages of idolatry. For it was customary, both among
the people of Israel and among the rotaries of superstition, to have a
feast in connection with a sacrifice, as a part of divine worship, at which
no profane or unclean persons were allowed to be present. The Gentiles,
in addition to this, appointed sacred games in honor of their idols, in
conformity with which the Israelites doubtless on that occasion worshipped
their calf, for such is the presumption of the human mind, that it ascribes
to God whatever pleases itself Hence the Gentiles have fallen into such
a depth of infatuation as to believe, that their gods are delighted with
the basest spectacles, immodest dances, impurity of speech, and every kind
of obscenity. Hence in imitation of them the Israelitish people, having
observed their sacred banquet, rose up to celebrate the games, that nothing
might be wanting in honor of the idol. This is the true and simple meaning.
But here it is asked, why the Apostle makes mention of the feast and
the games, rather than of adoration, for this is the chief thing in idolatry,
while the other two things were merely appendages. The reason is, that
he has selected what best suited the case of the Corinthians. For it is
not likely, that they frequented the assemblies of the wicked, for the
purpose of prostrating themselves before the idols, but partook of their
feasts, held in honor of their deities, and did not keep at a distance
from those base ceremonies, which were tokens of idolatry. It is not therefore
without good reason that the Apostle declares, that their particular form
of offense is expressly condemned by God. He intimates, in short, that
no part of idolatry can be touched without contracting pollution, and that
those will not escape punishment from the hand of God, who defile themselves
with the outward tokens of idolatry.
8. Neither let us commit fornication. Now he speaks of fornication,
in respect of which, as appears from historical accounts, great licentiousness
prevailed among the Corinthians, and we may readily infer from what goes
before, that those who had professed themselves to be Christ’s were not
yet altogether free from this vice. The punishment of this vice, also,
ought to alarm us, and lead us to bear in mind, how loathsome impure lusts
are to God, for there perished in one day twenty-three thousand, or as
Moses says, twenty-four. Though they differ as to number, it is easy to
reconcile them, as it is no unusual thing, when it is not intended to number
exactly and minutely each head, to put down a number that comes near it,
as among the Romans there were those that received the name of Centumviri,
(The Hundred,) while in reality there were two above the hundred. As there
were, therefore, about twenty-four thousand that were overthrown by the
Lord’s hand — that is, above twenty-three, Moses has set down the number
above the mark, and Paul, the number below it, and in this way there is
in reality no difference. This history is recorded in Numbers 25:9.
There remains, however, one difficulty here — why it is that Paul attributes
this punishment to fornication, while Moses relates that the anger of God
was aroused against the people on this account — that they had initiated
themselves in the sacred rites of Baalpeor. But as the defection began
with fornication, and the children of Israel fell into that impiety, not
so much from being influenced by religious considerations, as from being
allured by the enticements of harlots, everything evil that followed from
it ought to be attributed to fornication. For Balaam had given this counsel,
that the Midianites should prostitute their daughters to the Israelites,
with the view of estranging them from the true worship of God. Nay more,
their excessive blindness, in allowing themselves to be drawn into impiety
by the enticements of harlots, was the punishment of lust. Let us learn,
accordingly, that fornication is no light offense, which was punished on
that occasion by God so severely and indeed in a variety of ways.
9. Neither let us tempt Christ. This part of the exhortation
refers to the history that is recorded in Numbers 21:6. For the people,
having become weary of the length of time, began to complain of their condition,
and to expostulate with God — “Why has God deceived us,” etc. This murmuring
of the people Paul speaks of as a tempting; and not without good reason,
for tempting is opposed to patience. What reason was there at that time
why the people should rise up against God, except this — that, under the
influence of base desire, they could not wait in patience the arrival of
the time appointed by the Lord? Let us, therefore, take notice, that the
fountain of that evil against which Paul here warns us is impatience, when
we wish to go before God, and do not give ourselves up to be ruled by Him,
but rather wish to bind him to our inclination and laws. This evil God
severely punished in the Israelitish people. Now he remains always like
himself — a just Judge. Let us therefore not tempt him, if we would not
have experience of the same punishment.
This is a remarkable passage in proof of the eternity of Christ; for
the cavil of Erasmus has no force — “Let us not tempt Christ, as some of
them tempted God;” for to supply the word God is extremely forced. Nor
is it to be wondered that Christ is called the Leader of the Israelitish
people. For as God was never propitious to his people except through that
Mediator, so he conferred no benefit except through his hand. Farther,
the angel who appeared at first to Moses, and was always present with the
people during their journeying, is frequently called hwhy, Jehovah. Let
us then regard it as a settled point, that that angel was the Son of God,
and was even then the guide of the Church of which he was the Head. As
to the term Christ, from its having a signification that corresponds with
his human nature, it was not as yet applicable to the Son of God, but it
is assigned to him by the communication of properties, as we read elsewhere,
that the Son of Man came down from heaven. (John 3:13.)
10. Neither murmur ye. Others understand this to be the murmuring
that arose, when the twelve, who had been sent to spy out the land, disheartened,
on their return, the minds of the people. But as that murmuring was not
punished suddenly by any special chastisement from the Lord, but was simply
followed by the infliction of this punishment — that all were excluded
from the possession of the land, it is necessary to explain this passage
otherwise. It was a most severe punishment, it is true, to be shut out
from entering the land, but the words of Paul, when he says that they were
destroyed by the destroyer, express another kind of chastisement. I refer
it, accordingly, to the history, which is recorded in the sixteenth chapter
of Numbers. For when God had punished the pride of Korah and Abiram, the
people raised a tumult against Moses and Aaron, as if they had been to
blame for the punishment which the Lord had inflicted. This madness of
the people God punished by sending down fire from heaven, which swallowed
up many of them — upwards of fourteen thousand. It is, therefore, a striking
and memorable token of God’s wrath against rebels and seditious persons,
that murmur against him.
Those persons, it is true, murmured against Moses; but as they had no
ground for insulting him, and had no occasion for being incensed against
him, unless it was that he had faithfully discharged the duty which had
been enjoined upon him by God, God himself was assailed by that murmuring.
Let us, accordingly, bear in mind that we have to do with God, and not
with men, if we rise up against the faithful ministers of God, and let
us know that this audacitywill not go unpunished.
By the destroyer you may understand the Angel, who executed the judgment
of God. Now he sometimes employs the ministry of bad angels, sometimes
of good, in punishing men, as appears from various passages of Scripture.
As Paul here does not make a distinction between the one and the other,
you may understand it of either.
11. Now all these things happened as types. He again repeats
it — that all these things happened to the Israelites, that they might
be types to us — that is, examples, in which God places his judgments before
our eyes. I am well aware, that others philosophize on these words with
great refinement, but I think that I have fully expressed the Apostle’s
meaning, when I say, that by these examples, like so many pictures, we
are instructed what judgments of God are impending over idolaters, fornicators,
and other contemners of God. For they are lively pictures, representing
God as angry on account of such sins. This exposition, besides being simple
and accurate, has this additional advantage, that it blocks up the path
of certain madmen, who wrest this passage for the purpose of proving, that
among that ancient people there was nothing done but what was shadowy.
First of all, they assume that that people is a figure of the Church. From
this they infer, that everything that God promised to them, or accomplished
for them — all benefits, all punishments, only prefigured what required
to be accomplished in reality after Christ’s advent. This is a most pestilential
frenzy, which does great injury to the holy fathers, and much greater still
to God. For that people was a figure of the Christian Church, in such a
manner as to be at the same time a true Church. Their condition represented
ours in such a manner that there was at the same time, even then, a proper
condition of a Church. The promises given to them shadowed forth the gospel
in such a way, that they had it included in them. Their sacraments served
to prefigure ours in such a way, that they were nevertheless, even for
that period, true sacraments, having a present efficacy. In fine, those
who at that time made a right use, both of doctrine, and of signs, were
endowed with the same spirit of faith as we are. These madmen, therefore,
derive no support from these words of Paul, which do not mean that the
things that were done in that age were types, in such a way as to have
at that time no reality, but a mere empty show. Nay more, they expressly
teach us, (as we have explained,) that those things which may be of use
for our admonition, are there set forth before us, as in a picture.
They are written for our admonition. This second clause is explanatory
of the former; for it was of no importance to the Israelites, but to us
exclusively, that these things should be committed to record. It does not,
however, follow from this, that these inflictions were not true chastisements
from God, suited for their correction at that time, but as God then inflicted
his judgments, so he designed that they should be kept everlastingly in
remembrance for our instruction. For of what advantage were the history
of them to the dead; and as to the living, how would it be of advantage
to them, unless they repented, admonished by the examples of others? Now
he takes for granted the principle, as to which all pious persons ought
to be agreed — that there is nothing revealed in the Scriptures, that is
not profitable to be known.
Upon whom the ends of the world are come. The word te>lh (ends)
sometimes means mysteries; and that signification would not suit in with
this passage. I follow, however, the common rendering, as being more simple.
He says then, that the ends of all ages hare come upon us, inasmuch as
the fullness of all things is suitable to this age, because it is now the
last times. For the kingdom of Christ is the main object of the Law and
of all the Prophets. But this statement of Paul is at variance with the
common opinion — that God, while more severe under the Old Testament, and
always ready and armed for the punishment of crimes, has now begun to be
exorable, and more ready to forgive. They explain, also, our being under
the law of grace, in this sense — that we have God more placable than the
ancients had. But what says Paul? If God inflicted punishment upon them,
he will not the more spare you. Away, then, with the error, that God is
now more remiss in exacting the punishment of crimes! It must, indeed,
be acknowledged, that, by the advent of Christ, God’s goodness has been
more openly and more abundantly poured forth towards men; but what has
this to do with impunity for the abandoned, who abuse his grace?
This one thing only must be noticed, that in the present day the mode
of punishment is different; for as God of old was more prepared to reward
the pious with outward tokens of his blessing, that he might testify to
them his fatherly love, so he showed his wrath more by corporal punishments.
Now, on the other hand, in that fuller revelation which we enjoy, he does
not so frequently inflict visible punishments, and does not so frequently
inflict corporal punishment even upon the wicked. You will find more on
this subject in my Institutes.
12. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth. The Apostle
concludes from what goes before, that we must not glory in our beginnings
or progress, so as to resign ourselves to carelessness and inactivity. For
the Corinthians gloried in their condition in such a way, that, forgetting
their weakness, they fell into many crimes. This was a false confidence
of such a kind as the Prophets frequently reprove in the Israelitish people.
As, however, Papists wrest this passage for the purpose of maintaining
their impious doctrine respecting faith, as having constantly doubt connected
with it, let us observe that there are two kinds of assurance.
The one is that which rests on the promises of God, because a pious
conscience feels assured that God will never be wanting to it; and, relying
on this unconquerable persuasion, triumphs boldly and intrepidly over Satan
and sin, and yet, nevertheless, keeping in mind its own infirmity, casts
itself upon God, and with carefulness and anxiety commits itself to him.
This kind of assurance is sacred, and is inseparable from faith, as appears
from many passages of Scripture, and especially Romans 8:33.
The other arises from negligence, when men, puffed up with the gifts
that they have, give themselves no concern, as if they were beyond the
reach of danger, but rest satisfied with their condition. Hence it is that
they are exposed to all the assaults of Satan. This is the kind of assurance
which Paul would have the Corinthians to abandon, because he saw that they
were satisfied with themselves under the influence of a silly conceit.
He does not, however, exhort them to be always anxiously in doubt as to
the will of God, or to tremble from uncertainty as to their salvation,
as Papists dream. In short, let us bear in mind, that Paul is here addressing
persons who were puffed up with a base confidence in the flesh, and represses
that assurance which is grounded upon men — not upon God. For after commending
the Colossians for the solidity or steadfastness of their faith, (Colossians
2:5,) he exhorts them to be rooted in Christ, to remain firm, and to be
built up and confirmed in the faith. (Colossians 2:7.)
1 Corinthians 10:13-18
13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to
man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that
ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it.
13. Tentatio vos non apprehendit nisi humana. Fidelis autem Deus,
qui non sinet vos tentari supra quam potestis: sed dabit una cum tentatione
etiam exitum, ut possitis sustinere.
14. Wherefore, my dearly be loved, flee from idolatry. 14. Quapropter,
dilecti mei, fu gite ab idololatria.
15. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 15. Tanquam prudentibus
loquor: iudicate ipsi quod dico.
16. The cup of blessing, which we bless, is it not the communion
of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion
of the body of Christ? 16. Calix benedictionis, cui bene dicimus, nonne
communicatio est sanguinis Christi? panis, quem fran gimus, nonne communicatio
est cor ports Christi?
17. For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all
partakers of that one bread.
17. Quoniam unus panis, unum corpus multi sumus: omnes enim de uno
13. No temptation has taken you. Let others take their
own way of interpreting this. For my part, I am of opinion that it was
intended for their consolation, lest on hearing of such appalling instances
of the wrath of God, as he had previously related, they should feel discouraged,
being overpowered with alarm. Hence, in order that his exhortation might
be of advantage, he adds, that there is room for repentance. “There is
no reason why you should despond; for I have not had it in view to give
you occasion for despair, nor has anything happened to you but what is
common to men.” Others are of opinion that he rather chides their cowardice
in giving way, on being so slightly tried; and unquestionably the word
rendered human is sometimes taken to mean moderate. The meaning, then,
according to them would be this: “Did it become you thus to give way under
a slight trial?” But as it agrees better with the context, if we consider
it as consolation, I am on this account rather inclined to that view.
But God is faithful. As he exhorted them to be of good courage
as to the past, in order that he might stir them up to repentance, so he
also comforts them as to the future with a sure hope, on the ground that
God would not suffer them to be tempted beyond their strength. He exhorts
them, however, to look to the Lord, because a temptation, however slight
it may be, will straightway overcome us, and all will be over with us,
if we rely upon our own strength. He speaks of the Lord, as faithful, not
merely as being true to his promises, but as though he had said. The Lord
is the sure guardian of his people, under whose protection you are safe,
for he never leaves his people destitute. Accordingly, when he has received
you under his protection, you have no cause to fear, provided you depend
entirely upon him. For certainly this were a species of deception, if he
were to withdraw his aid in the time of need, or if he were, on seeing
us weak and ready to sink under the load, to lengthen out our trials still
Now God helps us in two ways, that we may not be overcome by the temptation;
for he supplies us with strength, and he sets limits to the temptation.
It is of the second of these ways that the Apostle here chiefly speaks.
At the same time, he does not exclude the former — that God alleviates
temptations, that they may not overpower us by their weight. For he knows
the measure of our power, which he has himself conferred. According to
that, he regulates our temptations. The term temptation I take here as
denoting, in a general way, everything that allures us.
14. Wherefore, my beloved, flee, etc. The Apostle now returns
to the particular question, from which he had for a little digressed, for,
lest bare doctrine should have little effect among them, he has introduced
those general exhortations that we have read, but now he pursues the discussion
on which he had entered — that it is not allowable for a Christian man
to connect himself with the superstitions of the wicked, so as to take
part in them. Flee, says he, from idolatry. In the first place, let us
observe what meaning he attaches to the term Idolatry. He certainly did
not suspect the Corinthians of such a degree of ignorance or carelessness
as to think, that they worshipped idols in their heart. But as they made
no scruple of frequenting the assemblies of the wicked, and observing along
with them certain rites instituted in honor of idols, he condemns this
liberty taken by them, as being a very bad example. It is certain, then,
that when he here makes mention of idolatry, he, speaks of what is outward,
or, if you prefer it, of the profession of idolatry. For as God is said
to be worshipped by the bending of the knee, and other tokens of reverence,
while the principal and genuine worship of him is inward, so is it also
as to idols, for the case holds the same in things opposite. It is to no
purpose that very many in the present day endeavor to excuse outward actions
on this pretext, that the heart is not in them, while Paul convicts of
idolatry those very acts, and assuredly with good reason. For, as we owe
to God not merely the secret affection of the heart, but also outward adoration,
the man who offers to an idol an appearance of adoration takes away so
much of the honor due to God. Let him allege as he may that his heart is
quite away from it. The action itself is to be seen, in which the honor
that is due to God is transferred to an idol.
15. I speak as to wise men. As he was about to take his argument
from the mystery of the Supper, he arouses them by this little preface,
that they may consider more attentively the magnitude of the thing.“I do
not address mere novices. You understand the efficacy of the sacred Supper
in it we are ingrafted into the Lord’s body. How unseemly a thing is it
then, that you should enter into fellowship with the wicked, so as to be
united in one body. At the same time, he tacitly reproves their want of
consideration in this respect, that, while accurately instructed in the
school of Christ, they allowed themselves in gross vice, as to which there
was no difficulty in forming an opinion.
16. The cup of blessing. While the sacred Supper of Christ has
two elements — bread and wine — he begins with the second. He calls it,
the cup of blessing, as having been set apart for a mystical benediction.
For I do not agree with those who understand blessing to mean thanksgiving,
and interpret the verb to bless, as meaning to give thanks. I acknowledge,
indeed, that it is sometimes employed in this sense, but never in the construction
that Paul has here made use of, for the idea of Erasmus, as to supplying
a preposition, is exceedingly forced. On the other hand, the meaning that
I adopt is easy, and has nothing of intricacy.
To bless the cup, then, is to set it apart for this purpose, that it
may be to us an emblem of the blood of Christ. This is done by the word
of promise, when believers meet together according to Christ’s appointment
to celebrate the remembrance of his death in this Sacrament. The consecration,
however, which the Papists make use of, is a kind of sorcery derived from
heathens, which has nothing in common with the pure rite observed by Christians.
Everything, it is true, that we eat is sanctified by the word of God, as
Paul himself elsewhere bears witness, (1 Timothy 4:5;) but that blessing
is for a different purpose — that our use of the gifts of God may be pure,
and may tend to the glory of their Author, and to our advantage. On the
other hand, the design of the mystical blessing in the Supper is, that
the wine may be no longer a common beverage, but set apart for the spiritual
nourishment of the soul, while it is an emblem of the blood of Christ.
Paul says, that the cup which has been in this manner blessed is koinwni>an
— the communion of the blood of the Lord. It is asked, in what sense? Let
contention be avoided, and there will be nothing of obscurity. It is true,
that believers are united together by Christ’s blood, so as to become one
body. It is also true, that a unity of this kind is with propriety termed
koinwni>a (communion.) I make the same acknowledgment as to the bread.
Farther, I observe what Paul immediately adds, as it were, by way of explanation
— that we all become one body, because we are together partakers of the
same bread. But whence, I pray you, comes that koinwni>a (communion) between
us, but from this, that we are united to Christ in such a way, that
"we are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones?" (Ephesians 5:30.)
For we must first of all be incorporated (so to speak) into Christ,
that we may be united to each other. In addition to this, Paul is not disputing
at present merely in reference to a mutual fellowship among men, but as
to the spiritual union between Christ and believers, with the view of drawing
from this, that it is an intolerable sacrilege for them to be polluted
by fellowship with idols. From the connection of the passage, therefore,
we may conclude, that (koinwni>an) the communion of the blood is that connection
which we have with the blood of Christ, when he engrafts all of us together
into his body, that he may live in us, and we in him.
Now, when the cup is called a participation, the expression, I acknowledge,
is figurative, provided that the truth held forth in the figure is not
taken away, or, in other words, provided that the reality itself is also
present, and that the soul has as truly communion in the blood, as we
drink wine with the mouth. But Papists could not say this, that the cup
of blessing is a participation in the blood of Christ, for the Supper that
they observe is mutilated and torn: if indeed we can give the name of the
Supper to that strange ceremony which is a patchwork of various human contrivances,
and scarcely retains the slightest vestige of the institution of our Lord.
But, supposing that everything else were as it ought to be, this one thing
is at variance with the right use of the Supper — the keeping back of the
whole of the people from partaking of the cup, which is the half of the
The bread which we break. From this it appears, that it was the
custom of the ancient Church to break one loaf, and distribute to every
one his own morsel, in order that there might be presented more clearly
to the view of all believers their union to the one body of Christ. And
that this custom was long kept up appears from the testimony of those who
flourished in the three centuries that succeeded the age of the Apostles.
Hence arose the superstition, that no one dared to touch the bread with
his hand, but each one had it put into his mouth by the priest.
17. For we are one bread. I have already stated above, that it
was not Paul’s particular design here to exhort us to love, but he mentions
this by the way, that the Corinthians may understand that we must, even
by external profession, maintain that unity which subsists between us and
Christ, inasmuch as we all assemble together to receive the symbol of that
sacred unity. In this second part of the statement, he makes mention only
of the one part of the Sacrament, and it is the manner of Scripture to
describe by Synecdoche the entire Supper by the breaking of bread. It is
necessary to warn my readers, in passing, as to this, lest any less experienced
person should be put off his guard by the foolish cavil that is brought
forward by certain sycophants — as if Paul, by mentioning merely the bread,
had it in view to deprive the people of the one half of the Sacrament.