The Book of 1 CORINTHIANS
James J. Barker
WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION
- Twice in this passage, the apostle Paul tells us that "all these things happened unto them for ensamples (examples)" (I Cor. 10:11; cf. vs. 6).
- The word "ensample" or "example" means type; all these things happened unto them for types: “and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (10:11).
- A type was something designed by God to teach us a lesson – "and they are written for our admonition" (vs. 11).
- We see a similar statement in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.”
In this passage, Paul gives four Old Testament examples (10:7-10). Each one begins with the word, “Neither.”
- NEITHER BE YE IDOLATERS (10:7)
- NEITHER LET US COMMIT FORNICATION (10:8)
- NEITHER LET US TEMPT CHRIST (10:9)
- NEITHER MURMUR YE (10:10)
NEITHER BE YE IDOLATERS (10:7).
- This verse refers to Israel’s failure after Moses had gone up to Mount Sinai to receive the law. Exodus 32:1 says that when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, they gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”
- While Moses was up on Mount Sinai, the people made themselves a golden calf, and they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4).
- Aaron was guilty as well. Exodus 32:5 says, “And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”
- “As it is written” (I Cor. 10:7) in Exodus 32:6 – “And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”
- God was displeased with their idolatry, and soon judgment came upon the children of Israel, and many of them died (cf. Exodus 32:7-35).
- “And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (32:28).
- Many of the Christians in Corinth came from a pagan background. They were warned to “flee from idolatry” (I Cor. 10:14).
- Today many Christians get saved from idolatrous backgrounds – Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.
- Today, many modern-day idolaters do not worship statues, but instead they worship the “Almighty Dollar.” Colossians 3:5 says covetousness is idolatry.
NEITHER LET US COMMIT FORNICATION (10:8).
- Three thousand men died because of their idolatry (32:28). Three and twenty thousand died because of fornication (10:8).
- This incident occurred over thirty years after the incident of the golden calf.
- Some have claimed there is a contradiction here. Numbers 25:9 says, “And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand” (not 23,000 as mentioned in I Cor. 10:8).
- However, Paul was speaking of the immediate judgment – “and fellin one day three and twenty thousand” (10:8).
- Numbers 25:4 refers to men who were hanged before the others were killed.
The total figure of those killed is recorded in Numbers 25:9 – 24,000.
- There are many warnings throughout the Bible about the sin of fornication. Today, in our sexed-up culture, these warnings are ignored and even ridiculed.
- “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (I Cor. 6:18).
NEITHER LET US TEMPT CHRIST (10:9).
- “Tempt” here means “to provoke.”
- They were guilty of trying God’s patience.
- This incident took place when the children of Israel accused the LORD of sending them into the wilderness to die.
- Numbers 21:5 and 6 says, “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.”
- The people repented and confessed their sin to Moses. Numbers 21:7 says, “Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.”
- The LORD told Moses to make a serpent of brass and set it upon a pole, “and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Num. 21:8).
- This brazen serpent is mentioned in II Kings 18:4, where it says King Hezekiah brake it in pieces because in “those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan” (“a thing of brass”).
- The Lord Jesus referred to the brazen serpent in John 3:14 and 15, when He said to Nicodemus. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
- Therefore, the brazen serpent was a picture and type of Christ being lifted up on the cross.
NEITHER MURMUR YE (10:10).
- The final warning is found in verse 10. The sin of murmuring is similar in many ways to the sin of tempting (or provoking) God. These sins indicate an evil heart of unbelief.
- Hebrews 3:12 says, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
- The Israelites started murmuring as soon as they left Egypt. They complained to Moses, “For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:12).
- They murmured at Marah because the water was bitter (Ex. 15:23).
- They murmured when they were in the wilderness of Sin because they were hungry (Ex. 16:1-3).
- They murmured when they pitched in Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink (17:1-3).
- God gave them manna from heaven, but they murmured about that too. They wept and murmured and cried out, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” (Numbers 11:5, 6).
- They murmured when the ten spies brought back an evil report. Numbers 14:2-4 says, “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”
- Because of this murmuring, the LORD told them they would wander throughout the wilderness for forty years, and only Joshua and Caleb and those twenty years old and younger would be allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:26-38).
- Not long after this came “the gainsaying of Korah” (Jude 11). Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and “two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown,” rebelled against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:1-3).
- The LORD quickly judged them. Numbers 16:31-33 says, “the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.”
- After seeing something like this you would think the people would be humble and contrite. But rather than being humble and contrite, the people once again murmured.
- Numbers 16:41 says, “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.”
- And they murmured again when they came to Kadesh and saw that there was no water there (Numbers 20:1-5).
- In Numbers 21, the children of Israel journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the people spake against God, and against Moses, “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread” (Numbers 21:4, 5).
- “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died” (Numbers 21:6).
- Albert Barnes says, “and were destroyed of the destroyer” (10:10) means, “they were doomed to die in the wilderness without seeing the land of Canaan…The ‘destroyer’ here is understood by many to mean the angel of death.”
- The LORD told them, “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness” (Numbers 14:29).
- The Israelites murmured and complained all the way from Egypt to the Promised Land.
- “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition…” (10:11).
- These Old Testament events were “written for our admonition,” so that we might not make the same mistake, and fall into the same sins (cf. verse 6).
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