First Corinthians 10:1-13 is a special section of the Word, a portion written with the history of the children of Israel as the background. Paul wrote this Epistle not only according to the situation at Corinth, but also with the history of the children of Israel as the background. Israel is a complete type of the history of the church. The Bible contains two histories—the history of Israel and the history of the church. The history of the children of Israel is a type, and the history of the church is the fulfillment of the type. Thus, the entire Bible gives us one revelation, the revelation of God’s economy. In the Old Testament we have a type, a picture, of God’s economy, whereas in the New Testament God’s economy is fulfilled.
In both 1 Corinthians and Hebrews Paul presents a clear view of the history of Israel as a type and portrait of the history of the church. We have seen that in 5:7 and 8 Paul refers to the Passover and to keeping the feast. The children of Israel experienced the Passover and kept the feast of unleavened bread. As Christians in the New Testament age, we also have our Passover and our feast of unleavened bread. In 10:1-13, part of the section which deals with the eating of sacrifices to idols, Paul again refers to the history of Israel, taking it as a type of the church.
If we would understand why in 10:1-13 Paul again refers to Israel as a type, we need to remember that chapter nine is an insertion related to Paul’s own person. The fact that 10:1-13 is a continuation of this insertion is proved by the word “for” in 10:1. This word indicates that what follows is a continuation and an explanation of what has gone before. Chapter ten is not only a continuation of chapter nine, but also a further definition of the race in 9:24-27, with the children of Israel in the wilderness used as an illustration. At the end of chapter nine Paul charges us to run the Christian course, and in chapter ten he uses the children of Israel as an illustration of running this course. The running of the Christian course ordained by God is typified by the history of the children of Israel. The Israelites ran the course from Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the good land. It took forty years for them to complete this course.
We have seen that in chapter nine Paul presents himself as a pattern of one who is pure and faithful. If we take Christ as our life and practice being one spirit with Him, we, like Paul, shall be pure and faithful. In chapter nine Paul seems to be saying, “Brothers, you should imitate me and take me as a pattern. I encourage you to take Christ as life and be one spirit with Him. This will enable you to be pure and faithful and cause you to care for your bodies, which are members of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have a proper regard for your bodies, you will eat in a proper way and have the proper married life. Otherwise, you will damage your body, which is the temple of God. You may also destroy other members of the Body of Christ.”
The way Paul deals with the practical problem of eating is full of life and spiritual understanding. He could deal with the problem in such a way because he was full of Christ, one with the Lord, and saturated with the life-giving Spirit.
After presenting himself as a positive pattern, Paul uses the children of Israel as a negative pattern. In doing this, he sounds a word of warning to the Corinthians and indicates that they should imitate him, the positive pattern, but not the children of Israel, who are a negative pattern.
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