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1 Corinthians 10:1-13

You can read the text here.

Paul continues to issue a dire warning, mostly to the strong. He continues with another set of examples, however, these are examples to avoid imitating, drawn from Israel's time wandering in the wilderness. Their status before God, from a superficial perspective would seem to be clear. They had been baptized and had been consumed spiritual food and drink just as the Corinthians had.[1] Nevertheless, God judged them (and implicitly he could judge the Corinthians depending on their conduct).

In fact there were a series of judgments for a series of failures. Idolatry, sexual immorality, putting God to the test, and complaining. The first two have obvious import to the Corinthian situation as they are the concerns addressed in the past few sections. The other two may be forward looking, especially the issue of complaining, as Paul may anticipate grumbling at his advice to strong leave off eating meat in temples.[2] Paul urges the Corinthians to heed their negative example and avoid coming to the same fate. They are not in a special category, facing special or insurmountable difficulties.[3] God can see them through the challenges of negotiating life in pagan Corinth if they ask. But they have to ask and to try.

One last general point to make, again drawn from Thiselton's immensely helpful commentary, is that Paul is trying to reorient the Corinthians to let Scripture be their moral compass, that which inspires their moral imagination, rather than allowing society to dictate what is normal and acceptable behavior.

[1] It's hard not to see a reference to the Lord's Supper here. However, it is also worth noting that spiritual food forms a contrast with the food craved by both the Israelites and the strong in Corinth (so Ciampa and Rosner). Still, though, the primary purpose is to stress similarity of benefits between the Israelites and Corinthians, to put them on the same footing (Thiselton).

[2] As suggested by Ciampa and Rosner.

[3] That point is especially emphasized by Thiselton.


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