Text–1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Summary: In this section of the first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul shows us how he uses the Old Testament to explain the meaning of the New Testament. This text is a foundational decoder ring which lets us see how interconnected the the two halves of our Bible really are. The issue at hand for Paul was answering the question if it was ok for Christians in the Corinthian church to eat food offered to idols. The more general issue was to find out just how free the Christian is in choosing his own path. Paul answers this by linking Old Testament Israel with their own particular circumstances. Jews had baptism and Feasts, but that didn’t keep them from falling under judgment by God. Paul shows how today’s Christian cannot rely on their own baptism or the spiritual feast of the Lord’s Supper to guarantee their salvation. He ends with encouragement that God is faithful and will not tempt us in ways that we cannot escape from. We do not have to end up like the Jews did. There is an escape for those who keep their eyes on Christ.
Insight: Have you ever seen someone act as though they could never get punished for how they behave? Maybe it was the son of the school principal who never saw fault in his son. Maybe it was a favored sister in the family that could do no wrong. Whatever the circumstance, we all know people like that, who believe that they can always get away with it because of who they are. There were some Christians in the Corinthian church who acted like this. They believed that they held the strong position and could do no wrong in God’s eyes. Were they ever wrong! They had their sacraments, the baptism of the Red Sea and their national feasts, which correspond to our sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These sacraments did not provide insurance against God’s retribution. Just as most Israelites were rejected by God because of their disobedience (idolatry, immorality, testing the Lord, and murmuring), Paul warns that this will also happen to all Christians who persist in sin. Do you see your baptism as fire insurance from the judgment to come? The Jews who were baptized into Moses could not look to that baptism for salvation. Moses was their representative, they put their trust in him and identified with him. This is what Paul means by saying they were baptized into Moses. But water, bread and wine are not magical elements that repel God’s wrath, no matter their sin. Pay attention to Paul’s warning in vv1-12. But through all the warnings comes this blessed truth, God is faithful. He is faithful in sending His son to die for us. We put our trust in Christ, not in the elements. Baptism on its own doesn’t save anyone. But faithful baptism does unite us to Christ and as we abide in Him we live and move and have our being. We are free in Christ, not to sin as we please because we are baptized. Heaven forbid. We are free in Christ as we identify ourselves with Him and follow his ways for our good and His glory.
Discussion Questions–Besides baptism and the Lord’s Supper, what are some other patterns, events or people that find their fulfillment and reality in Jesus Christ?
Catechism–(Q) Why will we not be tempted beyond our ability? (A) Because God is faithful.
Prayer–Heavenly Father, ruler of all creation, we praise you for how you reveal your truth in your perfect timing. We are amazed at how you show us your truth through time, through patterns, through your Son. Help us to understand how you have woven the Old and New Testaments into a single glorious tapestry whereby we can more clearly understand your plan for us in this world and the next. We ask this in your Son’s mighty name through the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[Contributed by Michael Fenimore]