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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Corinthians 10

The great privileges, and yet terrible overthrow of the Israelites in the wilderness. (1-5) Cautions against all idolatrous, and other sinful practices. (6-14) The partaking in idolatry cannot exist with having communion with Christ. (15-22) All we do to be to the glory of God, and without offence to the consciences of others. (23-33)

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The great privileges, and yet terrible overthrow of the Israelites in the wilderness

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;

2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Cautions against all idolatrous, and other sinful practices

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

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.

8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

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.

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

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.

14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

The partaking in idolatry cannot exist with having communion with Christ

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

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?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

All we do to be to the glory of God, and without offence to the consciences of others

23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

26 For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.

27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

28 But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1-2. Our Fathers, the Jews, were all under the cloud. He means, when God conducted the camp of the Israelites, in the day-time by a cloud, and in the night by a pillar of fire. Ex. xiii. 21. Wi. — In Moses. Under the conduct of Moses they received baptism in figure, by passing under the cloud and through the sea: and they partook of the body and blood of Christ in figure, by eating of the manna, (called here a spiritual food, because it was a figure of the true bread which comes down from heaven) and drinking the water miraculously brought out of the rock, called here a spiritual rock; because it was also a figure of Christ. Ch. — Were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea, figuratively, these being figures of baptism in the new law. As Moses, who delivered them from the slavery of Egypt, was a figure of Christ, who came to deliver mankind from the slavery of sin. Wi.

Ver. 3-4. All eat the same spiritual food, to wit, the manna, which seemed to come from heaven, and was a figure of the eucharist, the spiritual food of our souls. — All drank the same spiritual drink, and . . . . rock that followed them, by which is understood the stream of water, that came miraculously out of the rock struck by Moses, and which is said to have followed them, because it ran plentifully through their camp. — And the rock was Christ, a figure of Christ; for all these things (v. 11.) happened to them in figure. Wi.

Ver. 5. God was not well pleased, &c. Of 600,000, only Josue and Caleb entered the land of promise; the rest were destroyed, and perished in the wilderness. Their punishment ought to be an admonition to all to avoid such sins of idolatry, fornication, murmuring, &c.

Ver. 6. In a figure of us. That is, this was done and written to teach us, what we may expect, if we imitate the murmurs, infidelities, ingratitude, and disobedience of the Hebrew people. Unless we renounce our irregular desires, unless we mortify our passions, baptism and communion will prove our greater condemnation. The greatest graces are but subjects of alarm, unless our life correspond with them.

Ver. 9. As some of them tempted Christ. This cannot but be understood of Christ, as God. Wi.

Ver. 11. Upon whom the ends of the world are come. The last age of the world, which S. John calls the last hour. Wi.

Ver. 12. Take heed lest he fall. This regards the doctors and teachers in the new Church of Corinth; who, relying upon their own learning, did not think themselves weak, and presuming too much upon their own strength, exposed themselves to the danger of falling. See S. Chrys. and S. Aug. de dono. Persev. — Self-diffidence is the foundation of our strength. We prevent many dangerous falls when we keep close to the earth by humility.

Ver. 13. Let no temptation[1] take hold on you. Or, no temptation hath taken hold of you, or come upon you as yet, but what is human, or incident to man. Ch. — The sense of these words is obscure: we may expound them by way of prayer, let no temptation, but such as are of human frailty, and not hard to be overcome, happen to you. See the Greek text. — Will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it. The literal signification of the Latin, compared with the Greek is, that God will bring you off, and make you escape out of those dangers, when you are tempted. Wi. — The most violent temptations are occasions of merit and triumph to such as are in the hands of God; whilst the lightest are snares and a deep abyss to such as are in their own hands.

Ver. 14. There are various kinds of idolatry. It is the perfection of Angels never to err: it is a human imperfection to fall into error, but a diabolical crime, so to love our error, as to divide the Church by schism, or leave it by heresy: this love of self is the most dangerous idolatry.

Ver. 16. The chalice of benediction,[2] &c. Which the priests bless or consecrate, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, (so called because of the outward appearance of bread) is it not the partaking or communion of the body of the Lord? See S. Chrys. here, hom. xxiv. p. 396. and p. 400. See also the Annotations, Matt. xxvi. 26. Wi. — Here the apostle puts them in mind of the partaking of the body and blood of Christ in the sacred mysteries, and becoming thereby one mystical body with Christ. From whence he infers, (v. 21.) that they who are made partakers with Christ, by the eucharistic sacrifice, and sacrament, must not be made partakers with devils, by eating of the meats sacrificed to them. Ch.

Ver. 17. We being many, are one bread. Or, as it may be rendered, agreeably both to the Latin and Greek, because the bread is one, all we, being many, are one body, who partake of that one bread. For it is by our communicating with Christ and with one another, in this blessed Sacrament, that we are formed into one mystical body; and made, as it were, one bread, compounded of many grains of corn, closely united together. Ch. — From the sacrament of the real body of Christ in the eucharist, he passeth to the effect of this sacrament, which is to unite all those who partake of it, as members of the same mystical body of Christ, which is his Church: and from hence he presently draws this consequence, that such as are members of that body, of which Christ is the head, cannot have any communication with idolaters, or with those that offer sacrifices to idols and devils. Wi.

Ver. 18. Behold Israel, according to the flesh. That is, the people that were the offspring of Israel or Jacob. Are not these they who offered sacrifices to the true God, and eat of the sacrifices, which were offered on his altars, and by offering to him such sacrifices, acknowledged him to be their God, and the only true God: and so you, if you partake, and eat of the sacrifices of idolaters, and of what they tell you was offered to their idols, you seem at least, to join with them in acknowledging, and paying a reverence to their idols, which are devils: and you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils.Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? that is, how dare we provoke our Lord, who is a jealous God, and will admit of no rival, by partaking of sacrifices offered to false gods? how dare we thus contemn his power, as if we were stronger than he, or that he could not punish us? Wi.

Ver. 19. What then? do I say, &c. He puts this objection, as if it were contradictory to what he had taught before, (c. viii. v. 4.) that an idol is nothing, &c. but he answers this objection by saying that all things, that is, all meats are lawful in themselves, but not always expedient, nor edifying, when they give scandal to weak brethren, or when the infidels themselves think that such as eat things offered to idols, join with them in honouring their idols. Wi. — The meaning of this passage is: whilst I advise you to abstain from eating of any thing consecrated to idols, I do not advise you as supposing that these offerings have any power in themselves to defile your souls, in the same manner as by eating of the body and blood of Christ we receive strength to overcome our spiritual enemies. S. Paul here anticipates an objection that might be made by some to whom he was writing. Est.

Ver. 21. In all this discourse, a comparison is instituted between the Christian host and oblation, its effects, conditions and properties, with the altars, hosts, sacrifices and immolations of the Jews and Gentiles; which the apostle could not have done, had there not been a proper sacrifice in the Christian worship. The holy Fathers teach the same with the ancient Councils. Thus in the council of Nice: The lamb of God laid upon the altar. Conc. Ephes. The unbloody service of the sacrifice. In S. Cyril Alex. in Conc. Ephes. Anath. 11. The quickening holy sacrifice; the unbloody host and victim. Tertul. de coron. milit. The propitiatory sacrifice both for the living and the dead. This Melchisedech did most singularly prefigure in his mystical oblation of bread and wine; this also according to the prophecy of Malachy, shall continue from the rising to the setting sun, a perpetual substitute for all the Jewish sacrifices; and this, in plain terms, is called the Mass, by S. Augustin, Serm. ccli. 91. Conc. Cartha. ii. c. 3. 4. c. 84. Milevit. 12. S. Leo, ep. 81. 88. c. 2. S. Gregory, l. ii. ep. 9. 92. &c. &c. See next chap. v. 24.

Ver. 23. All things are lawful. This is the same sentiment he has expressed in chap. vi. v. 12. and in chap. viii. v. 8. 9. wherein he teaches us, that on some occasions it is necessary to abstain even from things in themselves lawful, as in the case of meats consecrated to idols. Calmet. — Two excellent rules that can serve as guides on these occasions, are the edification of the Church, and the spiritual good of our neighbour. Without the aid of these guides, we go astray ourselves and decoy others, in doing what the letter of the law permits, but what the spirit of the law, charity, forbids.

Ver. 27. Eat of any thing, &c. Here at length S. Paul prescribes them a rule by which they were to govern themselves, as to meats that they met with. Buy and eat any thing sold in the market, or of any thing that you meet with at the table of infidels, when they invite you, for all are the Lord’s creatures, and may be taken with thanksgiving, as we ought to take whatsoever we eat. — But if any man say, this hath been sacrificed to idols, do not eat of it for his sake, &c. And why must they not then eat of it? because either he is an infidel that says it: and then by saying so, he may mean that they who eat it, ought to eat it in honour of their gods. Or if a weak brother says so, he thereby signifies, that his conscience judges it not lawful to be eaten; so that in one case, you seem to consent that things are to be taken in honour of idols: in the other, you give offence to your weak brother: and I would have you to be without offence, both to Jews and Gentiles; and not to think it enough that you can eat such things with thanksgiving. It may be asked here why the apostle should not absolutely forbid them ever to eat any thing offered to idols, as this seems a thing absolutely forbidden in the council of Jerusalem? Acts xv. 23. To this some answer, that the apostle here expounds the true sense of that decree, which was only to be understood, when eating such meats gave scandal. Others say, the prohibition was only for a short time, and now was out of date. Others take notice, that the prohibition was not general, nor for all places, but only for the new converted Gentiles that were at Antioch, or in Syria and Cilicia, as specified in the decree. Wi.

Ver. 29. For why is my liberty? The meaning of this passage is, that though we ought, on some occasions, to abstain from things in themselves lawful, yet, that on other occasions we are by no means obliged to it, particularly when our brother is not thoroughly instructed on that head. Theo.

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[1] V. 13. Tentatio vos non apprehendat. In almost all Greek copies, non apprehendit in præterito, ouk eilephen. Which reading is also in divers ancient Latin interpreters, as if he puts them in mind that hitherto they had not suffered any great temptations or persecutions. Faciet cum tentatione proventum, is not the saem as progressum, or utilitatem, by the Greek, but that they should escape out of it. sun to peirasme kai ten ekbasin.

[2] V. 16. Calix benedictionis cui, (or as it is in the Greek) quem benedicimus. See S. Chrys. hom. xxiv. No Catholic now-a-days can declare his faith of the real presence in clearer terms than S. Chrys. hath in this, and other places: oti touto en to poterio on, ekeino esti, to apo tes pleuras reusan, &c. He calls the eucharist, thusian, a sacrifice.