1 Corinthians 10:18
Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Behold Israel after the fleshi.e., Israel in its merely human aspect, not the spiritual Israel (Romans 2:28; Galatians 4:29; Galatians 6:16). The sacrifice was divided—a portion offered upon the altar and a portion taken and eaten (Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 16:11): so whoever ate a portion of the same sacrifice was a partaker in common with (not “of,” as in the English translation) the altar. This is another argument against partaking of the heathen feasts. You cannot do so without connection with the heathen altar. The example of Israel proves that.

1 Corinthians 10:18. Behold — Consider, by way of illustration; Israel after the flesh — How it is with the present Jews, the natural descendants of Jacob, who worship God by sacrifices, according to the Mosaic law. He says, after the flesh, to distinguish them from the spiritual Israel, consisting of believers of all nations, called the Israel of God, Galatians 6:16. Are not they who eat of the sacrifices — Who feast upon the remainders of the sacrifices offered at the altar; see Leviticus 7:15; 1 Samuel 1:4-5; partakers of the altar — Do they not join in the worship there performed, and own the God there worshipped? And is not this an act of communion with that God to whom such sacrifices are offered? And is not the case the same with those who eat of the sacrifices offered to idols? This argument, drawn from the sentiments of the Jews, was used with peculiar propriety, especially in reasoning with the false teachers at Corinth, who, it seems, were Jews, and who, to ingratiate themselves with the Corinthians, are supposed to have encouraged them to eat of the idol’s sacrifices.10:15-22 Did not the joining in the Lord's supper show a profession of faith in Christ crucified, and of adoring gratitude to him for his salvation ? Christians, by this ordinance, and the faith therein professed, were united as the grains of wheat in one loaf of bread, or as the members in the human body, seeing they were all united to Christ, and had fellowship with him and one another. This is confirmed from the Jewish worship and customs in sacrifice. The apostle applies this to feasting with idolaters. Eating food as part of a heathen sacrifice, was worshipping the idol to whom it was made, and having fellowship or communion with it; just as he who eats the Lord's supper, is accounted to partake in the Christian sacrifice, or as they who ate the Jewish sacrifices partook of what was offered on their altar. It was denying Christianity; for communion with Christ, and communion with devils, could never be had at once. If Christians venture into places, and join in sacrifices to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, they will provoke God.Behold Israel - Look at the Jews. The design here is to illustrate the sentiment which he was establishing, by a reference to the fact that among the Jews those who partook of the same sacrifices were regarded as being one people, and as worshipping one God. So, if they partook of the sacrifices offered to idols, they would be regarded also as being fellow-worshippers of idols with them.

After the flesh - See Romans 4:1. The phrase "after the flesh" is designed to denote the Jews who were not converted to Christianity; the natural descendants of Israel, or Jacob.

Are not they which eat of the sacrifices - A portion of the sacrifices offered to God was eaten by the offerer, and another portion by the priests. Some portions of the animal, as the fat, were burnt; and the remainder, unless it was a holocaust, or whole burnt-offering, was then the property of the priests who had officiated, or of the persons who had brought it; Exodus 29:13, Exodus 29:22; Lev, Leviticus 3:4, Leviticus 3:10, Leviticus 3:15; Leviticus 4:9; Leviticus 7:3-4; Leviticus 8:26. The right shoulder and the breast was the part which was assigned to the priests; the remainder belonged to the offerer.

Partakers of the altar - Worshippers of the same God. They are united in their worship, and are so regarded. And in like manner, if you partake of the sacrifices offered to idols, and join with their worshippers in their temples, you will be justly regarded as "united" with them in their worship, and partaking with them in their abominations.

18. Israel after the flesh—the literal, as distinguished from the spiritual, Israel (Ro 2:29; 4:1; 9:3; Ga 4:29).

partakers of the altar—and so of God, whose is the altar; they have fellowship in God and His worship, of which the altar is the symbol.

Israel after the flesh was the whole seed of Jacob, the whole body of the Jewish church; for believers only were Israelites after the Spirit, Romans 11:6, called the Israel of God, Galatians 6:16.

Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? If in the Jewish church any persons ate of the flesh of sacrifices offered upon God’s altar, did they not by that act manifest that they were members of the Jewish church, and owned that God to whom those sacrifices were offered, and that way of worship by which God was so worshipped? By the same reason these Corinthians eating of the flesh of those beasts in the idol’s temple, which had been offered unto idols, did by that act declare their owning of the idol, and that idolatrous worship which had been there performed, and were really partakers of the idolatrous altar. Behold Israel after the flesh,.... So the apostle calls them, to distinguish them from the Israel of God, the spiritual Israel, whether Jews or Gentiles; who are born again, believe in the true Messiah, worship God in a spiritual manner, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in fleshly things; but these were the descendants of Jacob or Israel by carnal generation, were carnal men, in the flesh, in a state of unregeneracy, and were employed in a carnal worship, in the observance of carnal commandments and ordinances; these the apostle directs to, to see, consider, and take notice of what they were doing; from whence some instruction might be taken, for the further clearing of the present point:

are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? yes, they are. The priests and Levites who waited at the altar, and ministered about holy things there, who brought the sacrifices and laid them upon the altar of the burnt offerings, where the altar consumed and devoured one part by fire, and that which was left they ate among themselves; and so as they had communion with one another in eating, they partook of the altar, of the things, or sacrifices of the altar, and showed themselves to be of the Jewish religion, and professed and declared that they worshipped the God of Israel, and would be thought to have communion with him in so doing; in like manner, such who eat of things sacrificed to idols, declared themselves to be idolaters, to be of the Pagan religion, to be worshippers of idols, and to have fellowship with them.

Behold Israel after the {p} flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices {q} partakers of the altar?

(p) That is, those who yet observe their ceremonies.

(q) Are consenting and guilty, both of that worship and sacrifice.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 10:18. Another[1681] analogue to prove that participation in the sacrificial feasts is idolatry.

κατὰ σάρκα] without the link of the article, because Ἰσρ. κατὰ σάρκα is regarded as a single idea. Comp on Romans 9:3. Israel after a purely human sort means the born Israelites, the Jews, as distinguished from the Ἰσρ. κατὰ πνεῦμα (Romans 2:28 f.; Galatians 4:29; comp Galatians 6:16), which the Christians are, in virtue of their fellowship of life with Christ the promised σπέρμα of Abraham. It was very natural for the apostle to add κατὰ σάρκα, seeing that he had just been speaking of the sacred ordinance of the Christians.

As to the Jewish sacrificial feasts, see Michaelis, Mos. R. II. pp. 282, 346 f., IV. § 189.

κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστ.] This is the theocratic bond of participation, whereby the man stands bound to the sacrificial altar, who eats of the sacrifice belonging to it as such. The Israelite who refused to eat of the flesh of the sacrifice as such, would thereby practically declare that he had nothing to do with the altar, but stood aloof from the sphere of theocratic connection with it. The man, on the other hand, who ate a portion of the flesh offered upon the altar, gave proof of the religious relation in which he stood to the altar itself. The question which may be asked, Why did not Paul write Θεοῦ instead of θυσιαστ.? is not to be answered by affirming that he could not ascribe the κοιν. τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσί to the Ἰσρ. κ. σάρκα (Rückert, Abendm. p. 217, and Neander; but could he not in truth, according to Romans 9:4 f., 1 Corinthians 11:1, say this of the people of God?), or by asserting that he could not well have attributed so high an effect to the sacrificial service (de Wette; but why should he not, seeing he does not specify any particular kind of fellowship with God?). But the true reply is this: the κοινωνία Θεοῦ would have been here much too vague and remote a conception; for that fellowship belonged to the Jew already in his national capacity as one of the people of God generally, even apart from partaking of the sacrifices. It was by the latter that he showed the narrower and more specific relation of worship in which he stood to God, namely, the peculiarly sacred κοινωνία (Exodus 20:21 ff.) τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου. Hence the inappropriateness of the view taken by Rückert and many others, that Paul leaves the inference open: “and hence, too, with God,” and of that of Rodatz, that the altar is put for the offering.

[1681] Which does not therefore by any means place the Lord’s Supper in the light of a sacrificial feast (Olshausen, Harnack, Gemeindegottesd. p. 195; comp. also Kahnis, Abendm. p. 30). See against this view, Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 232.1 Corinthians 10:18. “For look at Israel after the flesh: are not those that eat the sacrifice communicants of the altar?”—i.e., participation in the sacrificial feast constitutes fellowship in the sacrifice.—τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα, in contrast with Ἰσρ. κατὰ πνεῦμα (Romans 2:28 f., Galatians 4:29; Galatians 6:16, etc.: see note on οἱ πατ. ἡμῶν, 1). The Ap. is not thinking of the priests specifically, as in 1 Corinthians 9:3 (Hn[1527]), nor of the people as sharing with them (Al[1528]), but of the festal communion of Israelites as suche.g., at the Passover, the sacrificial meal κατʼ ἐξοχήν: see Leviticus 7:11-34, Deuteronomy 12:11-28, 1 Samuel 9:12 ff. The altar furnishes the table at which Jehovah’s guests enjoy their covenant fellowship in the gifts of His salvation. The feasters are thus κοινωνοὶ τ. θυσιαστηρίου, recognising the altar as their common altar and mutually pledging themselves to its service.

[1527] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1528] Alford’s Greek Testament.18. Behold Israel after the flesh] Second reason (see 1 Corinthians 10:16). As the Christian sacrificial feasts, so are those of the Jews.

are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?] “In a strict and peculiar sense—the altar having part of the animal, the partaker another part.” Dean Alford. The word here translated partakers is not the same as in the last verse. It is, like the word translated communion, from κοινὸς, common, and implies that the altar and the worshipper share together in the victim. Bengel remarks that “he to whom anything is offered, the things which are offered, the altar on which they are offered,” and he might have added those who offer them, “have communion with each other.” If, therefore, any one knowingly rakes of an idol sacrifice, as such (it would seem that some went so as to contend that Christians might do so), he makes himself responsible for the worship of the idol, and all the evils with which that worship is connected.1 Corinthians 10:18. Τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου, of the altar) and therefore, of God. He, to whom the offering is made, those things which are offered, the altar on which they are offered, have communion [a mutual tie in common], as is evident from the following verses, comp. Matthew 23:20-21.Verse 18. - Partakers of the altar. It is better to render it "Have they not communion with the altar?" for the word is different from that in the last verse. The meaning is that, by sharing in the sacrifices, the Jews stood in direct association with the altar, the victims, and all that they symbolized (Deuteronomy 12:27). And St. Paul implied that the same thing is true of those who sympathetically partook of idol offerings. Showing that partaking of the idol-feasts is idolatry, by the analogy of the Israelite who, by partaking of the sacrifices puts himself in communion with Jehovah's altar.

Partakers of the altar (κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου)

An awkward phrase. Rev., better, bringing out the force of κοινωνοὶ communers: have not they - communion with the altar? The Israelite who partook of the sacrifices (Leviticus 8:31) united himself with the altar of God. Paul says with the altar rather than with God, in order to emphasize the communion through the specific act of worship or sacrifice; since, in a larger sense, Israel after the flesh, Israel regarded as a nation, was, in virtue of that fact, in fellowship with God, apart from his partaking of the sacrifices. Possibly, also, to suggest the external character of the Jewish worship in contrast with the spiritual worship of Christians. Philo calls the Jewish priest κοινωνὸς τοῦ βώμου partaker of the altar.

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