1 Corinthians 10:1–22 (ESV)
Warning Against Idolatry
10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the
sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless,
with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things took place as examples
for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We
must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor
grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 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. 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.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not
a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat
the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to
demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall
we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
“Flee from idolatry” (v 14) summarizes this section. Even Israel, who had seen God’s mighty works throughout
the exodus, acted as if God were not real, as if they could rely on gods of their own creation or even themselves to keep them safe. In our age, there are many gods. Some are worshiped as such (e.g., Islam, Hinduism); others subtly become gods (e.g., money,
pride). Luth: “A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in all distress” (LC I 2). Our society has many such gods, be they wealth, status, reputation, even family. But the one true God does not tolerate
shared allegiance. If we participated in the worship of false gods or in churches that do not faithfully confess the Gospel in all its purity, this would indicate that we assent to what that worshiping community believes. For this reason, we avoid such false
worship. At the Lord’s Table, He offers His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and through them creates a faithful community, one committed to Him and to one another. He comes to His people in His Word and in the Sacrament of the Lord’s
Supper, which forgives sins and creates a Church faithful to Him.
I pray: From being led astray by the many gods of this world, protect us by Your Spirit, Lord. Thank
You for the gift of Your Son, who comes to us in His body and blood, and for the gift of the congregation in which I hear Your Word proclaimed faithfully and where I receive this life-giving Sacrament. Strengthen me to build up my fellow participants in worship
of You. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1961.