1 Corinthians 10:2
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
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(2) Were all baptized unto Moses.—The weight of evidence is in favour of the middle voice for the verb here used; signifying that they all voluntarily had themselves baptised to Moses. Moses was God’s representative under the Law, and so they were baptised unto him in their voluntarily joining with that “Church” of God which marched beneath the shadow of the cloud, and passed through the waters of the sea—as Christians, are baptised unto Jesus Christ,—He being (in a higher sense both in kind and in degree) God’s representative in the New Dispensation.

The “cloud” and the “sea” refer to the cloud that overshadowed the Israelites (Exodus 13:21, and see Numbers 14:14), and the passage through the Red Sea (Exodus 13:22; Numbers 35:8).

10:1-5 To dissuade the Corinthians from communion with idolaters, and security in any sinful course, the apostle sets before them the example of the Jewish nation of old. They were, by a miracle, led through the Red Sea, where the pursuing Egyptians were drowned. It was to them a typical baptism. The manna on which they fed was a type of Christ crucified, the Bread which came down from heaven, which whoso eateth shall live for ever. Christ is the Rock on which the Christian church is built; and of the streams that issue therefrom, all believers drink, and are refreshed. It typified the sacred influences of the Holy Spirit, as given to believers through Christ. But let none presume upon their great privileges, or profession of the truth; these will not secure heavenly happiness.And were all baptized - In regard to the meaning of the word "baptized," see the note at Matthew 3:6. We are not to suppose that the rite of baptism, as we understand it, was formally administered by Moses, or by any other person, to the Jews, for there is not the least evidence that any such rite was then known, and the very circumstances here referred to forbid such an interpretation. They were baptized "in the cloud" and "in the sea," and this cannot be understood as a religious rite administered by the hand of man. It is to be remembered that the word "baptism" has two senses - the one referring to the application of water as a religious rite, in whatever mode it is done; and the other the sense of "dedicating, consecrating, initiating into," or bringing under obligation to. And it is evidently in this latter sense that the word is used here, as denoting that they were devoted to Moses as a leader, they were brought under his laws, they became bound to obey him, they were placed under his protection and guidance by the miraculous interposition of God. This was done by the fact that their passing through the sea, and under the cloud, in this manner, brought them under the authority and direction of Moses as a leader, and was a public recognition of their being his followers, and being bound to obey his laws.

Unto Moses - (εἰς eis). This is the same preposition which is used in the form of baptism prescribed in Matthew 28:19. See the note at that place. It means that they were thus devoted or dedicated to Moses; they received and acknowledged him as their ruler and guide; they professed subjection to his laws, and were brought under his authority. They were thus "initiated into" his religion, and thus recognized his divine mission, and bound themselves to obey his injunctions - Bloomfield.

In the cloud - This cannot be proved to mean that they were enveloped and, as it were, "immersed" in the cloud, for there is no evidence that the cloud thus enveloped them, or that they were immersed in it as a person is in water. The whole account in the Old Testament leads us to suppose that the cloud either passed before them as a pillar, or that it had the same form in the rear of their camp, or that it was suspended over them, and was thus the symbol of the divine protection. It would be altogether improbable that the dark cloud would pervade the camp. It would thus embarrass their movements, and there is not the slightest intheation in the Old Testament that it did. Nor is there any probability in the supposition of Dr. Gill and others, that the cloud. as it passed from the rear to the front of the camp, "let down a plentiful rain upon them, whereby they were in such a condition as if they had been all over dipped in water." Because:

(1) There is not the slightest intheation of this in the Old Testament.

(2) The supposition is contrary to the very design of the cloud. It was not a natural cloud, but was a symbol of the divine presence and protection. It was not to give rain on the Israelites, or on the land, but it was to guide, and to be an emblem of the care of God.

(3) it is doing violence to the Scriptures to introduce suppositions in this manner without the slightest authority. It is further to be observed, that this supposition does by no means give any aid to the cause of the Baptist after all. In what conceivable sense were they, even on this supposition, "immersed?" Is it "immersion in water" when one is exposed to a shower of rain? We speak of being "sprinkled or drenched" by rain, but is it not a violation of all propriety of language to say that a man is "immersed" in a shower? If the supposition, therefore, is to be admitted, that rain fell from the cloud as it passed over the Jews, and that this is meant here by "baptism unto Moses," then it would follow that "sprinkling" would be the mode referred to, since this is the only form that has resemblance to a falling shower. But the supposition is not necessary. Nor is it needful to suppose that water was applied to them at all. The thing itself is improbable; and the whole case is met by the simple supposition that the apostle means that they were initiated in this way into the religion of Moses, recognized his divine mission, and under the cloud became his followers and subject to his laws. And if this interpretation is correct, then it follows that the word "baptize" does not of necessity mean to "immerse." (See Editors' Notes on Matthew 3:6 and Matthew 3:16.)

And in the sea - This is another expression that goes to determine the sense of the word "baptize." The sea referred to here is the Red Sea, and the event was the passage through that sea. The fact in the case was, that the Lord caused a strong east wind to blow all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided Exodus 14:21, and the waters were a wall unto them on the right hand and on the left, Exodus 14:22. From this whole narrative it is evident that they passed through the sea without being "immersed" in it. The waters were driven into high adjacent walls for the very purpose that they might pass between them dry and safe. There is the fullest proof that they were not submerged in the water. Dr. Gill supposes that the water stood up above their heads, and that "they seemed to be immersed in it." This might be true; but this is to give up the idea that the word baptize means always to immerse in water, since it is a fact, according to this supposition, that they were not thus immersed, but only seemed to be. And all that can be meant, therefore, is, that they were in this manner initiated into the religion of Moses, convinced of his divine mission, and brought under subjection to him as their leader, lawgiver, and guide. This passage is a very important one to prove that the word baptism does not necessarily mean entire immersion in water. It is perfectly clear that neither the cloud nor the waters touched them. "They went through the midst of the sea on dry ground." It remains only to be asked whether, if immersion was the only mode of baptism known in the New Testament, the apostle Paul would have used the word not only so as not necessarily to imply that, but as necessarily to mean something else? (See Editors' Notes on Matthew 3:6 and Matthew 3:16.)

2. And—"And so" [Bengel].

baptized unto Moses—the servant of God and representative of the Old Testament covenant of the law: as Jesus, the Son of God, is of the Gospel covenant (Joh 1:17; Heb 3:5, 6). The people were led to believe in Moses as God's servant by the miracle of the cloud protecting them, and by their being conducted under him safely through the Red Sea; therefore they are said to be "baptized unto" him (Ex 14:31). "Baptized" is here equivalent to "initiated": it is used in accommodation to Paul's argument to the Corinthians; they, it is true, have been "baptized," but so also virtually were the Israelites of old; if the virtual baptism of the latter availed not to save them from the doom of lust, neither will the actual baptism of the former save them. There is a resemblance between the symbols also: for the cloud and sea consist of water, and as these took the Israelites out of sight, and then restored them again to view, so the water does to the baptized [Bengel]. Olshausen understands "the cloud" and "the sea" as symbolizing the Spirit and water respectively (Joh 3:5; Ac 10:44-47). Christ is the pillar cloud that screens us from the heat of God's wrath. Christ as "the light of the world" is our "pillar of fire" to guide us in the darkness of the world. As the rock when smitten sent forth the waters, so Christ, having been once for all smitten, sends forth the waters of the Spirit. As the manna bruised in mills fed Israel, so Christ, when "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him," has become our spiritual food. A strong proof of inspiration is given in this fact, that the historical parts of Scripture, without the consciousness even of the authors, are covert prophecies of the future.

There are two great difficulties in this verse:

1. What is meant by


2. How and why the Israelites are said to be

baptized unto Moses.

Some understand by Moses the person of Moses; others, the law or doctrine of Moses. Those who by Moses understand the person of Moses, are divided in their opinions, whether the preposition eiv, which signifieth divers things: Were better translated by, or into, or unto, or together with. Some think it were better translated by, and thus all the Jews were baptized by Moses in the cloud and in the sea, that is, by his ministry; and thus this very particle is translated, Acts 7:53 19:3. Some think it were better translated in Moses; that is, Moses going before them, when they were under the conduct of the cloud, and when they passed through the Red Sea. Others judge it better translated into Moses; that is, either Moses going before them; or, as Moses was a type of Christ, Galatians 3:19. Some would have the particle here to signify together with. Others, even unto Moses, Moses himself not being excepted from that baptism in the cloud and in the sea. Others by Moses here understand the doctrine and law of Moses: thus the term Moses is used, Luke 16:29 Acts 15:21. So they say, that to be baptized unto Moses, is to believe Moses so far, as to follow his conduct through the sea, and under the cloud.

The second difficulty is, to resolve what is meant by being baptized. The word signifieth, in the common acceptation of it, a being washed: in the ecclesiastical acceptation, it signifies a holy institution of the New Testament, according to which Christians are initiated into the church of God, by washing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Now how could the Jews be said either to be washed (that is, baptized) either in Moses, or by Moses, or with Moses, or into Moses; whenas the history of the Old Testament tells us, that both Moses and all the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, and we do not read that the cloud, under the conduct of which the Israelites journeyed, ever poured down any water with which the Jews, or Moses their leader, could be washed.

Answer. Some think, that the cloud which, passing over the Israelites, was all darkness to their enemies, yet poured down water for the refreshing of the Israelites, as it passed over their heads, and that this is hinted to us by the psalmist, Psalm 68:7-9. Others think, that the apostle applieth the term of baptism to a privilege of which the old Israelites had as much reason to glory, as the Corinthians had of their baptism, properly so called. Others say, that the Israelites’ walking under the cloud and through the sea, which was darkness and destruction to their adversaries, was a figure of baptism, the seal of the New Testament, by which Christ’s victory over our spiritual enemies is confirmed to us, and in that respect the apostle maketh use of this term baptized. Others, most probably, think, that the apostle useth this term, in regard of the great analogy between baptism, as it was then used, the persons going down into the waters, and being dipped in them; and the Israelites going down into the sea, the great receptacle of water; though the waters at that time were gathered on heaps on either side of them, yet they seemed buried in the waters, as persons in that age were when they were baptized; and for being baptized in the cloud, there is a great probability that the cloud did shower down rain, according to what is quoted out of the psalmist.

And were all baptized unto Moses,.... "In or by Moses"; and so the Syriac version renders it, , "by the hand of Moses"; by his means and direction, he going before, they followed after him into the sea, and passed through on dry land, and came out on the shore, which carried in it a resemblance of baptism; when they believed the Lord, and his servant Moses, Exodus 14:31 and gave up themselves to him as their leader and commander through the wilderness: and this their baptism was

in the cloud, and in the sea; which may be considered either as together or separately; if together, the agreement between them and baptism lay in this; the Israelites, when they passed through the Red sea, hid the waters on each side of them, which stood up as a wall higher than they, and the cloud over them, so that they were as persons immersed in and covered with water; and very fitly represented the ordinance of baptism as performed by immersion; and which is the way it was administered in the apostles' time, to which he refers; and is the only way it ought to be administered in; and in which only the Israelites' passage through the sea, and under the cloud, could be a figure of it: or this may be considered separately, they were baptized in the cloud; which was either, as Gataker (g) thinks, when the cloud went from before the face of the Israelites, and stood behind them, and was between the two camps, to keep off the Egyptians from them, which as it passed over them let down a plentiful rain upon them, whereby they were in such a condition as if they had been all over dipped in water; or their being all under the cloud, and all over covered with it, was a representation of the ordinance of baptism, in which a person is all over covered with water; and then they were baptized in the sea, as they passed through it, the waters standing up above their heads, they seemed as if they were immersed in it. Very great is the resemblance between that passage of theirs, and baptism. For instance, their following Moses into the sea, which is meant by their being "baptized into him", was an acknowledgment of their regard unto him, as their guide and governor, as baptism is a following of Christ, who has left us an example that we should tread in his steps; and is an owning him to be our prophet to teach us, and lead us the way; and it is a profession of our faith in him, as our surety and Saviour, and a subjection to him as our King and Governor. This their baptism in the sea was after their coming out of Egypt, and at their first entrance on their journey to Canaan's land, as our baptism is, or should be, after a person is brought out of worse than Egyptian bondage and darkness, and has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and at the beginning of his profession of him, and entrance on his Christian race. The descent of the Israelites into the sea, when they seemed as buried in the waters, and their ascent out of it again on the shore, has a very great agreement with baptism, as administered by immersion, in which the person baptized goes down into the water, is buried with Christ therein, and comes up out of it as out of a grave, or as the children of Israel out of the Red sea; and as they, when they came out of it, could rejoice and sing in the view of their salvation and safety, and of the destruction of all their enemies, so the believer can, and does rejoice in this ordinance, in the view of his salvation by Christ, and safety in him, and of all his sins being buried and drowned in the sea of his blood; witness the instances of the eunuch and jailer. But though the Israelites were all in this sense baptized, yet they did not all inherit the land of Canaan.

(g) Aniversar. Miscellan. p. 30.

{2} And were all {b} baptized unto {c} Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

(2) In effect the ordinances of the old fathers were all one with ours, for they respected Christ alone, who offered himself to them in different forms.

(b) All of them were baptized with the outward sign, but not indeed, because of which God cannot be blamed, but they themselves.

(c) Moses being their guide.

1 Corinthians 10:2. The discourse flows on in uninterrupted stream, beginning with the ὅτι in 1 Corinthians 10:1, to the end of 1 Corinthians 10:5; then follows the application in 1 Corinthians 10:6.

εἰς τὸν Μωϋσῆν] in reference to Moses, so that they thereby devoted themselves to Moses as the deliverer and mediator whom God had sent them. Comp on Romans 6:3; Matthew 28:19.

ἐβαπτίσαντο] they had themselves baptized, had the same thing, that is to say, done to them in reference to Moses as you had done to you in reference to Christ. The middle, which is not put here for the passive,—comp, on the contrary, what was said regarding ἀπελούσ., 1 Corinthians 6:11,—is purposely chosen, as in Acts 22:16, to denote the receptive sense (see Kühner, II. p. 18; Valckenaer, p. 256; Winer, p. 239 [E. T. 319]); for although ἐβαπτ., and the subsequent ἔφαγον and ἔπιον, do not represent any apparent merit, yet they certainly assume the reception of those wonderful divine manifestations, which nevertheless could not place the fathers, to whom such high privileges had been vouchsafed, in a position of safety afterwards, etc.

ἐν τῇ νεφ.] ἐν is local, as in βαπτίζειν ἐν ὕδατι, Matthew 3:11, al[1579], indicating the element in which, by immersion and emergence, the baptism was effected. Just as the convert was baptized in water with reference to Christ, so also that O. T. analogue of baptism, which presents itself in the people of Israel at the passage of the Red Sea with reference to Moses, was effected in the cloud under which they were, and in the sea through which they passed. So far as the sacred cloud, familiar to the readers, is concerned, there is no need for the assumption, based somewhat uncertainly on Psalm 68:9, of a “pluvia ex nube decidua” (Wolf, comp Pott); neither, again, is it enough to define the point of comparison simply as Grotius does (comp de Wette): “Nubes impendebat illorum capiti, sic et aqua iis, qui baptizantur; mare circumdabat eorum latera, sic et aqua eos, qui baptizantur.” The cloud and the sea, both being taken together as a type of the water of baptism, must be regarded as similar in nature. Comp Pelagius: “Et nubes proprium humorem portat;” so also Bengel: “Nubes et mare sunt naturae aqueae (quare etiam Paulus de columna ignis silet).” Theodoret, on the other hand, with several more, among whom are Schrader, Olshausen, and Maier, makes the cloud a symbol of the Spirit (John 3:5); but this would have against it the fact, that the baptism in the cloud (answering, according to this view, to the baptism of the Spirit) had preceded the baptism in the sea (water-baptism); so that we should have an incongruous representation of the baptism with water and the Holy Ghost. The cloud and the sea do not represent the two elements in baptism, the former the heavenly, and the latter the earthly one; but both together form the undivided type of baptism. The type appropriated the subjects to Moses as his; the antitype appropriates them to Christ as His redeemed ones; and in both instances this is done with a view to their salvation, as in the one case from temporal bondage and ruin, so in the other from that which is spiritual and eternal. We may add, that there is room enough for the play of typico-allegorical interpretation, to allow the circumstance to be kept out of account that the Israelites went dry through the sea (Exodus 14:16 ff.). The most arbitrary working out of the exposition of details may be seen in Theodoret.

[1579] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

2. and were all baptized unto Moses] The passing through the cloud (Exodus 14:19) and the sea was a type of Christian Baptism, in that he who passes through it exchanges a state of bondage for a state of freedom, the hard yoke of a Pharaoh for the fatherly care of God, and this in consequence of his following the guidance of a leader sent by God. The Israelites were baptized ‘unto Moses,’ because by passing through the cloud and the sea they had become connected with him, dependent on his commands and guidance.

1 Corinthians 10:2. Καὶ πάντες εἰς τὸν Μωϋσὴν ἐβαπτίσαντο, and all were baptized unto Moses) καἰ, and so. He resumes what he slightly touched upon in the preceding verse about the cloud and the sea, and shows to what each refers. They were baptized in the cloud, so far as they were under it; and in the sea, so far as they passed through it. They were neither wet with the cloud nor with the sea, much less were they immersed in either (although some conjecture, that a miraculous rain fell from that cloud, from what is said in Psalm 68:9; Psalm 105:39), nor is the term baptism found in the writings of Moses. But Paul uses this term with great propriety, 1. Because the cloud and the sea are in their own nature water (wherefore also Paul is silent respecting the pillar of fire); 2. The cloud and the sea took the fathers out of sight and restored them again to view, and this is what the water does to those who are baptized. 3. They were initiated by the cloud and by the sea; and as initiation, at Colossians 2:11, is described by circumcision, so here by baptism, a metaphor common to the Old and New Testament; comp. ch. 1 Corinthians 5:7. But they were baptized unto Moses, as the servant of God, Exodus 14:31, because they had begun to believe (in) him, and that they might afterwards believe (in) him; comp. εἰς, Romans 4:20.[85] ἐβαπτίσαντο, in the middle voice, received baptism. In the 1st verse it is hinted what God did for them; in 1 Corinthians 10:2, what the fathers received. The sacraments of the Old Testament were more than two, if we take into account these extraordinary ones, at the time of their exodus out of the land of Egypt.—καὶ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ, and in the sea) In repeated indicates a new step in their progress and privileges.

[85] [He staggered not] at [in reference to], the promise of God: so here, baptized unto Moses, viz., in relation to him as their divinely appointed leader.—ED.

Verse 2. - Were all baptized. This reading, though well supported, may, perhaps, be a correction for the middle, "they baptized themselves," i.e. accepted baptism. The passing under the cloud (Exodus 14:19) and through the sea, constituting as it did their deliverance from bondage into freedom, their death to Egypt, and their birth to a new covenant, was a general type or dim shadow of Christian baptism (compare our collect, "figuring thereby thy holy baptism"). But the typology is quite incidental; it is the moral lesson which is paramount. Unto Moses; rather, into. By this "baptism" they accepted Moses as their Heaven-seat guide and teacher. 1 Corinthians 10:2Baptized unto Moses (εἰς)

Rev., margin, into. See on Matthew 28:19; see on Romans 6:3. They were introduced into a spiritual union with Moses, and constituted his disciples.

Cloud - sea

The two together forming the type of the water of baptism. Bengel says: "The cloud and the sea are in their nature water." The cloud was diffused and suspended water.

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