1 Corinthians 10:12
Why let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Wherefore.—This is the practical conclusion of the whole matter. We are to look back on that strange record of splendid privilege and of terrible fall and learn from it the solemn lesson of self-distrust. Led forth by divinely appointed leaders, overshadowed by the Divine Presence, supported by divinely given food and drink, the vast hosts of Israel had passed from the bondage of Egypt into the glorious liberty of children of the living God; yet amid all those who seemed to stand so secure in their relation to God, but a few fell not. Christians, called forth from a more deadly bondage into a more glorious liberty, are in like peril. Let the one who thinks that he stands secure take great heed, lest he fall. The murmuring against their apostolic teachers, the longing to go so far as they could in indulgence without committing actual sin, were terribly significant indications in the Corinthian Church. When we feel ourselves beginning to dislike those who warn us against sin, and when we find ourselves measuring with minute casuistry what is the smallest distance that we can place between ourselves and some desired object of indulgence without actually sinning, then “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

10:6-14 Carnal desires gain strength by indulgence, therefore should be checked in their first rise. Let us fear the sins of Israel, if we would shun their plagues. And it is but just to fear, that such as tempt Christ, will be left by him in the power of the old serpent. Murmuring against God's disposals and commands, greatly provokes him. Nothing in Scripture is written in vain; and it is our wisdom and duty to learn from it. Others have fallen, and so may we. The Christian's security against sin is distrust of himself. God has not promised to keep us from falling, if we do not look to ourselves. To this word of caution, a word of comfort is added. Others have the like burdens, and the like temptations: what they bear up under, and break through, we may also. God is wise as well as faithful, and will make our burdens according to our strength. He knows what we can bear. He will make a way to escape; he will deliver either from the trial itself, or at least the mischief of it. We have full encouragement to flee from sin, and to be faithful to God. We cannot fall by temptation, if we cleave fast to him. Whether the world smiles or frowns, it is an enemy; but believers shall be strengthened to overcome it, with all its terrors and enticements. The fear of the Lord, put into their hearts, will be the great means of safety.Wherefore - As the result of all these admonitions. Let this be the effect of all that we learn from the unhappy self-confidence of the Jews, to admonish us not to put reliance on our own strength.

That thinketh he standeth - That supposes himself to be firm in the love of God, and in the knowledge of his truth; that regards himself as secure, and that will be therefore disposed to rely on his own strength.

Take heed lest he fall - Into sin, idolatry, or any other form of iniquity. We learn here:

(1) That a confidence in our own security is no evidence that we are safe.

(2) such a confidence may be one of the strongest evidences that we are in danger. Those are most safe who feel that they are weak and feeble, and who feel their need of divine aid and strength. They will then rely on the true source of strength; and they will be secure.

(3) all professed Christians should be admonished. All are in danger of falling into sin, and of dishonoring their profession; and the exhortation cannot be too often or too urgently pressed, that they should take heed lest they fall into sin. The leading and special idea of the apostle here should not he forgotten or disregarded. It is, that Christians in their favored moments, when they are permitted to approach near to God, and when the joys of salvation fill their hearts, should exercise special caution. For:

(a) Then the adversary will be especially desirous to draw away their thoughts from God, and to lead them into sin, as their fall would most signally dishonor religion;

(b) Then they will be less likely to be on their guard, and more likely to feel themselves strong, and not to need caution and solicitude.

Accordingly, it often happens that Christians, after they have been especially favored with the tokens of the divine favor, soon relapse into their former state, or fall into some sin that grieves the hearts of their brethren, or wounds the cause of religion. So it is in revivals; so it is in individuals. Churches that are thus favored are filled with joy, and love, and peace. Yet they become self-confident and elated; they lose their humility and their sense of their dependence; they cease to be watchful and prayerful, supposing that all is safe; and the result often is, that a season of revival is succeeded by a time of coldness and declension. And thus, too, it is with individuals. Just the opposite effect is produced from what should be, and from what need be. Christians should then be especially on their guard; and if they then availed themselves of their elevated advantages, churches might be favored with continued revivals and ever-growing piety; and individuals might be filled with joy, and peace, and holiness, and ever-expanding and increasing love.

12. thinketh he standeth—stands and thinks that he stands [Bengel]; that is, stands "by faith … well pleasing" to God; in contrast to 1Co 10:5, "with many of them God was not well pleased" (Ro 11:20).

fall—from his place in the Church of God (compare 1Co 10:8, "fell"). Both temporally and spiritually (Ro 14:4). Our security, so far as relates to God, consists in faith; so far as relates to ourselves, it consists in fear.

Let him that thinketh he standeth, either in a right and sound judgment and opinion of things, or in a state of favour with God, or confirmed in a holy course of life and conversation; standeth in grace, Romans 5:2. A man may stand in these things, and he may but think that he standeth: be it as it will, he is concerned to

take heed lest he fall. He may but think he standeth, and if so, he will fall: he may really stand in a right judgment and opinion of things, and be a member of the church of Christ, and yet may fall into errors and some loose practices, so as to bring down Divine vengeance upon himself; he may have God’s favour so far as concerns external privileges, and yet perish, as many of the Jews did in the instances before mentioned: nay, he may really stand in a state of justification and regeneration, and yet may fall, though not totally and finally, yet foully, so as to lose his peace, and bring God’s severe judgments upon him. Therefore he that thinketh that he standeth, whether his apprehensions be false or true, had need use all means and caution that he may not fall, and that because, if he keepeth his standing, it must be by the use of due means, which God hath appointed in order to that end, though he be also kept by the power of God unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:5. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth,.... Since the Jewish fathers, who enjoyed such peculiar favours and eminent privileges, had such various judgments inflicted on them; since they stood not, but many of them were visible instances of God's displeasure; they were overthrown and cast down, their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and entered not into the land of rest; therefore all such persons who think themselves safe and sure, trusting to themselves, or depending upon the knowledge and gifts they have, the favours and privileges they enjoy; everyone of these should

take heed lest he fall. This advice was exceeding proper, whether it be considered as spoken to true believers, or formal professors; for true believers may fall into temptation, into sin, from a degree of steadfastness in the Gospel, and from a lively and comfortable exercise of grace; but not finally, totally, and irrecoverably; since they are enclosed in the arms of everlasting love, secured in the hands of Christ, built on a foundation that will never fail, and are kept by an almighty power which can never be overcome; but yet, since they may fall to the dishonour of God, the reproach of the Gospel of Christ, the grieving of the Spirit of God, the wounding of their own souls, the stumbling of weak believers, and the strengthening of the hands of the wicked; such an exhortation is not superfluous, even to such; and many and strong are the reasons and arguments why they should take heed lest they fall; nor are admonitions needless to that which God's decree and promise secure: since these are often the means in and by which God executes his decree, and makes good his promise; see Acts 27:22. Moreover, if this exhortation be considered as given to formal professors, it is very pertinent; for such as these may fall, as they often do, from that which they seemed to have, from the truths of the Gospel, and a profession of them, and into scandalous sins, and at last into condemnation; and the rather since the apostasy of such persons is injurious to the honour and interest of true religion; hereby the ways of God are evil spoken of, the name of Christ blasphemed, profane sinners hardened, and weak believers stumbled, as by the falls of real Christians: besides, it must be worse for themselves, who hereby bring upon themselves a severe punishment; see 2 Peter 2:21 and indeed these seem to be the persons the apostle chiefly respects; not such who truly: thought they stood, and did really stand; for such stand in the true grace and love of God, in Christ, in whom they are chosen, and by whom they are redeemed and saved, and by that faith which he is the author and finisher of; and so shall never finally and totally fall away; but such "that thinketh", , "who seemeth", to himself and others, "that he standeth"; and manifestly designs such who were swelled with a vain opinion of themselves, their gifts and knowledge; who tempted God, and "trusted" to themselves, as the Ethiopic version reads it, and despised weak believers; but lest real believers should be hereby discouraged, the apostle adds,

{4} Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

(4) In conclusion he descends to the Corinthians themselves, warning them that they do not please themselves, but rather that they prevent the wiles of Satan. Yet he uses an declaration and comforts them, that he may not seem to make them altogether similar to those wicked idolaters and condemners of Christ, who perished in the wilderness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 10:12. Ὥστε] Wherefore, warned by these instances from the O. T.

ἑστάναι] whosoever thinks that he stands, i.e. is firm and secure (Romans 5:2, and comp on 1 Corinthians 15:1) in the Christian life, namely, in strength of faith, virtue, etc. Comp Romans 14:4.

βλεπέτω, μὴ τέσῃ] points to the moral fall, whereby a man comes to live and act in an unchristian way. The greater, in any case, the self-confidence, the greater the danger of such a fall. And how much must the moral illusions abroad at Corinth have made this warning needful! Others understand the continuance in, or falling from, a state of grace to be meant (see Calvin, Bengel, Osiander). But all the admonitions, from 1 Corinthians 10:6 onwards (see, too, 1 Corinthians 10:14), have a direct reference to falling into sins, the consequence of which is a falling from grace so as to come under the divine ὀργή (comp Galatians 5:4).1 Corinthians 10:12-13. The “examples” just set forth are full of warning (a), but with an aspect of (b) encouragement besides. (a) “So then”—ὥστε with impv[1463], as in 1 Corinthians 3:21 (see note)—“he that thinks (ὁ δοκῶν: see note, 1 Corinthians 3:18) that he stands, let him take heed (βλεπέτω) lest he fall!” For “such thinking, as it leads to trust in oneself, is the beginning of a perilous security” (Hf[1464]); this vanity was precisely the danger of the Cor[1465] (see 1 Corinthians 4:6 ff., 1 Corinthians 5:2, etc.). For the pf. ἑστάναι, in this emphatic sense (to stand fast), see parls. A moral “fall” is apprehended, involving personal ruin (1 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Romans 11:2; Romans 11:22).—(b) The example which alarms the selfconfident, may give hope to the despondent; it shows that the present trials are not unprecedented: πειρασμὸς ὑμᾶς οὐκ εἴληφεν εἰ μὴ ἀνθρώπινος, “It is only human temptation that has come upon you”—such as men have been through before. 1 Corinthians 10:13 follows sharply on 1 Corinthians 10:12, ἀσυνδέτως, correcting a depressing fear that would arise in some minds.—εἴληφεν (see parls.) describes a situation which “has seized” and holds one in its grasp (pf.).—ἀνθρώπινος connotes both quod hominibus solet (Cv[1466]) and homini superabilis (Bg[1467]), such as man can bear (R.V.),—σύμμετρος τῇ φύσει (Thd[1468]). Some give an objective turn to the adj[1469], reading the clause as one of further warning: “It is only trial from men that has overtaken you” (so, with variations, Chr., Est., Gr[1470], Bg[1471]—opponitur tentatio demoniaca). But the sequel implies a temptation measured by the strength of the tempted; moreover, as El[1472] says, P. would have written οὔπω ἔλαβεν, rather than οὐκ εἴληφεν, if foreboding worse trial in store; nor did he conceive the actual trials of the Cor[1473], any more than those of the Thess. or Asian Churches (1 Thessalonians 3:5, Ephesians 6:10 ff.), as without diabolical elements (see 20 ff., 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 11:14),—εἰ μὴ is attached to ἀνθρώπινος alone: lit[1474] “temptation has not seized you, except a human (temptation)”—i.e., “otherwise than human”.—πιστὸς δὲ ὁ Θεός contrasts the human and Divine; for the natural trial a supernatural Providence guarantees sufficient aid (see parls.). ὅς = ὅτι οὗτος (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:18): “God is faithful in that (or so that) He etc.”. Paul ascribes to God not the origination, but the control of temptation (cf. Matthew 6:13, Luke 22:31 f., Jam 1:12 ff.): the πειρασμὸς is inevitable, lying in the conditions of human nature; God limits it, and supplies along with it the ἔκβασις.—For the ellipsis in (ὑπὲρ ὃ) δύνασθε, cf.1Co 3:2—The art[1475] in ὁ πειρασμός, τὴν ἔκβασιν, is individualising: “the temptation” and “the egress” match each other, the latter provided for the former; hence καί, “also,” indivulso nexu (Bg[1476]). Issue is a sense of ἔκβασις in later Gr[1477]; in cl[1478] Gr[1479] disembarkation, then exit, escape. In τοῦ δύνασθαι ὑπενεγκεῖν (for gen[1480] inf[1481] of purpose, see Wr[1482], p. 408) the subject is not expressed; as coming under God’s general dealing with men, it is conceived indefinitely—“that one may be able to bear”. Shut into a cul de sac, a man despairs; but let him see a door open for his exit, and he will struggle on with his load. ἔκβασις signifies getting clear away from the struggle; ὑπενεγκεῖν, holding up under it, the latter made possible by the hope of the former. How different all this from the Stoic consolation of suicide: “The door stands open”! In the Cor[1483] “temptation” we must include both the allurements of idolatry and the persecution which its abandonment entailed.

[1463] imperative mood.

[1464] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1465] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1466] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[1467] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1468]
Theodoret, Greek Commentator.

[1469] adjective.

[1470] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1471]
Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1472]
C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1473] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1474] literal, literally.

[1475] grammatical article.

[1476] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1477]
Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1478]
classical.

[1479] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1480]
genitive case.

[1481] infinitive mood.

[1482] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[1483] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.12. let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall] A warning against the over-confidence too common among the Corinthians. See chapter 1 throughout; ch. 1 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 4:8. It is not sufficient to have been admitted into the Christian covenant; we need watchfulness, in order to use our privileges aright Cf. Romans 11:201 Corinthians 10:12. Ὁ δοκῶν) he, who stands, and thinks that he stands.—ἑστάναι, that he stands) well-pleasing to God, 1 Corinthians 10:5.—μὴ πέσῃ, lest he fall) 1 Corinthians 10:8; 1 Corinthians 10:5.Verse 12. - Take heed lest he fall. The Corinthians, thinking that they stood, asserting that they all had knowledge, proud of the insight which led them to declare that "an idol is nothing in the world," were not only liable to underrate the amount of forbearance due to weaker consciences, but were also in personal danger of falling away. To them, as to the Romans, St. Paul means to say, "Be not highminded, but fear" (Romans 11:20).
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