A Bible Study Guide on 1 Cor. 10:6-13

Part One: Why Do We Need Those Old Testament Books 📖

Paul begins his discourse now on table fellowship that will fill both chapters 10 and 11 of this letter. There are textual clues that the careful reader ought to note, even in English the phrases are repeated “they were” or “they did” marking out no less than five examples from the Torah to consider. Each is identified also by direct reference or quotes from the Old Testament text. The notion of God’s gracious providence and help given by way of their shared “spiritual food and drink” was emphasized in the preceding verses. Read 1 Cor. 10:1-5 to see Paul’s introduction of this new subject matter.

10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us,

that we might not [§ 1 §]desire evil as they did.

The Graves of Craving (Num. 11:4-5, 31-34) Israelites craving/desiring the meats and vegetables plentiful as slaves in Egypt, but complain about the manna of the Lord.

7 Do not be [§ 2 §]idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

The Golden Calf Ex. 32:1-6, 28

To Play (see Gen 26:8, 39:14,17) that is, ‘play around,’

refers to adulterous play, the kind that leaves one naked before Potiphar’s wife and exposes the husband/wife intimacy for Isaac/Rebecca

Older/archaic translations “to laugh” or as we say in English: ‘fool around’

8 We must not [§ 3 §]indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

Reference to Numbers 25:1-18 —Men of Israel seduced/indulge with Baal worshiping Moabite women. Mentioned at Deut. 4:3, Psalm 106:28-29, Hosea 9:10. Prophet Baalam blamed in Num 31:16, Rev. 2:14, 20

9 We must not[§ 4 §] put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,

The Bronze Serpent lifted up: Numbers 21:4-6. Recall also John 3:14-15.

10 nor [§ 5 §] grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

Korah’s Rebellion, Num. 16:3,41—grumble against Moses & Aaron

“The Destroyer” —Numbers 16? reference to the destroying angel of Exo. 12:23, (see also Heb. 11:28, 2 Sam. 24:16)

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

We Christians should read the Old Testament with Christ front and center. This is the apostolic faith, the apostolic Way. Compare Luke 24:25-37, John 5:39-40 and 5:46-47, Romans 15:4

Part Two: Solemn Exhortation against these and similar temptations

—The common element that Paul’s five examples above share is a despising or rejection of the “same spiritual food” God provided them, along with those servants appointed to oversee the dispensation of it. Corinthians themselves best beware, for their attitude and practice of their Lord’s Supper is not pleasing to Christ. Rather, they themselves are in peril of putting Him to the test. Examples applied:

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Part Three: If We’re NOT finding Jesus in the OT, We’re Reading it Wrong

Jesus is the center of all Holy Scripture. It all testifies about Him. The Father does nothing apart from the Son. Nor does the Holy Spirit, proceeding from both the Father and the Son. In short, Nothing which is said about God in the Bible excludes Jesus. Nothing which is said in the Old Testament excludes Christ, the Lord–it all points us to fulfillment and faith in Him.

To confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (YHWH, God’s personal name, often translated LORD in capitalized English) means to say only this: The God of the Old Testament IS Jesus, conceived in the womb of the virgin, born in the flesh in a manger. The God of the Old Testament is acting in His Baptism. The God of the Old Testament speaks by the human lips of Jesus. The God of the Old Testament casts out demons, heals the sick, preaches good news to the poor. That Old Testament God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. The Old Testament LORD was rejected in human flesh, suffered bodily beatings at the hands of men who claimed to believe in Him. That LORD is hung on a cross with nails in his feet and hands, a crown of thorns on his head under the sign “The King of the Jews” because Jesus is that LORD who provides spiritual food for His people.

Thus a sermon on this 1 Cor. 10:6-13 passage might also well strive to point people to temptations related to the Lord’s Supper, His close proximity and fellowship in His body and blood. After all, that’s the spiritual food Paul is about to discuss in the next two chapters, for which he establishes the groundwork here.


Many of these insights related to the OT citations gleaned from Gregory Lockwood’s excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians, available at this link. It’s well worthy of purchase.


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