Summary: Paul gives a strong warning from Israel’s history about avoiding idols. Will we heed the warning?


A. I want to begin with a very helpful warning – Here are the top 10 things not to say to a police officer if he or she pulls you over.

#10 – Was I speeding? Sorry, I can’t see anything without my glasses.

#9 – Was I speeding? Sorry, I didn’t realize my radar detector wasn’t plugged in.

#8 – Hey, don’t I pay your salary?

#7 – Officer, I was just trying to keep up with traffic and if you didn’t see any cars around me,

that tells you just how fast they were going.

#6 – Hey, aren’t you the guy from the Village People?

#5 – Hey, nice driving, you must have been doing 100 mph to keep up with me.

#4 – You aren’t going to check the trunk, are you?

#3 – Sorry I missed that stop sign, I was text messaging my friend.

#2 – Hey, is your gun a 9 millimeter? I’ve got a bigger one than that – want to see it?

#1 – Thing not to say to a police officer if he or she pulls you over – You’re only going to give me a

warning? Gee, Officer, that’s terrific – the last officer only gave me a warning, too!

B. Warnings – We all need them, but not all of us heed them.

1. As we continue our study of 1 Corinthians and arrive at chapter 10, we see that Paul is offering a stern warning that must be heeded by the Corinthians and by us.

C. It is important for us at this point to recall the situation that Paul is addressing.

1. The letter that Paul had received from the Corinthians appealed for Paul’s support of an enlightened understanding that idols are meaningless.

2. Some of the Corinthian Christians were attending meals and festivities at the temples of pagan gods, just as they had done before becoming Christians.

3. In their view, this was just a normal aspect of social life in their culture.

4. Such activities entailed no spiritual danger, they argued, because they had knowledge.

5. Perhaps they were also arguing that having participated in the mysteries of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they had passed into a zone of spiritual blessedness that made them immune to any harm from associating with pagan worship.

D. As we have seen, Paul’s first response to this situation in chapter 8 was to raise a concern for weaker members of the community who might be led astray by the example of the strong and fall back into idol-worship.

1. Then in chapter 9, Paul summoned the strong to follow his example of surrendering rights for the sake of others.

2. But here in chapter 10, Paul’s argument takes a new turn.

3. Paul will now contend that there is another equally compelling reason to avoid dining in the presence of idols.

4. The Corinthian Christians who attend these temple meals are not only endangering the weak, but are also putting themselves in spiritual peril.

5. So let’s take a look at Paul’s argument in this chapter and then attempt to apply the principles in our own lives today.

6. The chapter has two primary sections: The first 22 verses constitute a warning from Israel’s history, and then verse 23 through chapter 11, verse 1 serve to summarize Paul’s teachings from chapters 8 through 10.

I. Warnings From Israel’s History (10:1-22)

A. Paul begins chapter 10 with these words, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.” (10:1)

1. It may seem odd that Paul would talk with the predominantly Gentile congregation at Corinth and say, “Our forefathers.”

2. But if you know anything about Paul’s theology, you know that he believes that the Gentiles have been grafted into the covenant people in such a way that they belong to Israel.

3. Therefore, the story of Israel is also a part of the church’s story.

B. One of the interesting things about the metaphors that Paul uses to describe Israel’s experience is their parallels in Christ.

1. Israel left their slavery in Egypt by passing through the Red Sea, and Christian converts, especially in Corinth, have left their pagan past through baptism in Christ.

2. And as Israel ate and drank as the Lord provided in the wilderness, so also do Christians receive spiritual food and drink in the Lord’s Supper.

3. Paul goes so far as to suggest that Christ was present with Israel in their wanderings, just as He is present with us in ours today.

C. Nevertheless, the important point that Paul is making in verses 1-4 is that Israel, whose legacy the Corinthians have inherited, experienced powerful spiritual signs of God’s favor and sustaining power.

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