1 Corinthians 10:21
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21, 22) Ye cannot . . .—Here follows the special reason why the Apostle desires them not to partake of the wine poured forth in libation to devils, or the table on which meat sacrificed to these devils was spread out as food. Such would deprive them of their participation in the cup of the Lord and the table on which the Lord’s Supper was placed. Of course the impossibility was moral, not physical. So the Apostle adds the warning question, Do you in fact do so? Do you do that which is morally impossible, and so provoke the jealousy of our jealous God, who will have no divided allegiance? Surely we are not stronger than He? To such a question there can be but one answer. These words, which are the climax of the argument, are naturally suggested by the passage in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 32:15-18), which was evidently in the Apostle’s mind all through this argument, containing as it does the striking words, “Rock of his salvation.” “They sacrifice unto devils and not to God,” and “they provoked Him to jealousy.”

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.Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord ... - This does not mean that they had no physical ability to do this, or that it was a natural impossibility; for they certainly had power to do it. But it must mean that they could not "consistently" do it. It was not fit, proper, decent. They were solemnly bound to serve and obey Christ, they had devoted themselves to him, and they could not, consistently with these obligations, join in the worship of demons. This is a striking instance in which the word "cannot" is used to denote not natural but moral inability.

And the cup of devils - Demons; 1 Corinthians 10:20. In the feasts in honor of the gods, wine was poured out as a libation, or drank by the worshippers; see Virgil, Aeneas viii. 273. The custom of drinking "toasts" at feasts and celebrations arose from this practice of pouring out wine, or drinking in honor of the pagan gods; and is a practice that still partakes of the nature of paganism. It was one of the abominations of paganism to suppose that their gods would be pleased with the intoxicating drink. Such a pouring out of a libation was usually accompanied with a prayer to the idol god, that he would accept the offering; that he would be propitious; and that he would grant the desire of the worshipper. From that custom the habit of expressing a sentiment, or proposing a toast, uttered in drinking wine, has been derived. The toast or sentiment which now usually accompanies the drinking of a glass in this manner, if it means anything, is now also a "prayer." But to whom? To the god of wine? To a pagan deity? Can it be supposed that it is a prayer offered to the true God; the God of purity? Has Yahweh directed that prayer should be offered to Him in such a manner? Can it be acceptable to Him? Either the sentiment is unmeaning, or it is a prayer offered to a pagan god, or it is mockery of Yahweh; and in either case it is improper and wicked. And it may as truly be said now of Christians as in the time of Paul. "Ye cannot consistently drink the cup of the Lord at the communion table, and the cup where a prayer is offered to a false god, or to the dead, or to the air; or when, if it means anything, it is a mockery of Jehovah." Now can a Christian with any more consistency or propriety join in such celebrations, and in such unmeaning or profane libations, than he could go into the temple of an idol, and partake of the idolatrous celebrations there?

And of the table of devils - Demons. It is not needful to the force of this that we should suppose that the word means necessarily evil spirits. They were not God; and to worship them was idolatry. The apostle means that Christians could not consistently join in the worship that was offered to them, or in the feasts celebrated in honor of them.

21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord—really and spiritually; though ye may outwardly (1Ki 18:21).

cup of devils—in contrast to the cup of the Lord. At idol feasts libations were usually made from the cup to the idol first, and then the guests drank; so that in drinking they had fellowship with the idol.

the Lord's table—The Lord's Supper is a feast on a table, not a sacrifice on an altar. Our only altar is the cross, our only sacrifice that of Christ once for all. The Lord's Supper stands, however, in the same relation, analogically, to Christ's sacrifice, as the Jews' sacrificial feasts did to their sacrifices (compare Mal 1:7, "altar … table of the Lord"), and the heathen idol feasts to their idolatrous sacrifices (Isa 65:11). The heathen sacrifices were offered to idol nonentities, behind which Satan lurked. The Jews' sacrifice was but a shadow of the substance which was to come. Our one sacrifice of Christ is the only substantial reality; therefore, while the partaker of the Jew's sacrificial feast partook rather "of the altar" (1Co 10:18) than of God manifested fully, and the heathen idol-feaster had fellowship really with demons, the communicant in the Lord's Supper has in it a real communion of, or fellowship in, the body of Christ once sacrificed, and now exalted as the Head of redeemed humanity.

The cup of the Lord: we may either take the phrase as signifying all religious communion under one great act of religion, or as particularly signifying having a communion with Christ in the ordinance of the Lord’s supper, which is called

the cup of the Lord, either because God hath instituted and appointed the drinking of it, or because it is done for the honour, glory, and remembrance of our Lord Christ, to remember his death until he come, as the apostle speaketh, 1 Corinthians 11:26. This the apostle tells them they could not drink of, that is, not rightly, and with a good conscience; or not really; no man that is an idolater, or hath communion with idolaters in their idolatrous acts, can have communion with Christ. The same is meant by

the Lord’s table, and the table of devils. So as I cannot see how either an idolatrous church can be a true church, or an idolater a true Christian, unless we will assert, that a body of people may be a true church, that can have no communion with Christ; or a man may be a true Christian, and yet have no communion with Christ. Idolatry, doubtless, both divides the soul from Christ, as he is the Head of a believer, and as he is the Head of the church. To call any body of idolaters a true church, either morally, or metaphysically, is to say to those: Ammi, You are the Lord’s people, to whom God hath said, Lo-ammi. Let them be what they will, the name of a church belongeth not to them, if (as the apostle affirmeth) they can have no communion with Christ.

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils,.... Not only they ought not, but they could not rightly, truly, and really drink the cup of wine in the Lord's supper, in the true faith of Christ's bloodshed, and his sacrifice offered up for them, in remembrance of his love, and to the honour of his name; and also the cup of wine of libations, poured out and drank to the honour of the Heathen deities; these things are utterly inconsistent; no man can serve two masters, God and mammon, or God and Baal; nor is there any concord between Christ and Belial, or agreement between the temple of God and idols:

ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils; no man can spiritually, however he may externally partake of the entertainment provided, on the table of the Lord, at his supper instituted and kept in commemoration of him; and also with gust and pleasure, and without any concern for the peace of weak minds, and the honour of God, eat things set upon a table in an idol's temple, and before the idol, and as sacrificed unto it.

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the {s} cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

(s) The heathen and profane people were accustomed to finish up and make an end of their feasts which they kept to the honour of their gods, in offering meat offerings and drink offerings to them, with banquets and feastings.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 10:21 gives the ground of the foregoing οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ[1692]

οὐ δύνασθε] of moral impossibility. “Nihil convenit inter Christum et impios daemones; utrisque serviri simul non potest nisi cum insigni contumelia Christi,” Erasmus, Paraph. Comp 2 Corinthians 6:15.

ποτήριον Κυρίου] a cup having reference to the Lord, i.e. according to 1 Corinthians 10:16 : a cup which brings into communion with Christ. Its analogue is a ποτήριον δαιμονίων; the latter was quoad eventum, according to 1 Corinthians 10:20, the cup out of which men drank at the sacrificial feast, inasmuch as the whole feast, and therefore also the wine used at it, even apart from the libation (which Grotius, Munthe, Michaelis, de Wette, and others suppose to be meant), made the partakers to be κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμον. (1 Corinthians 10:20).

τραπέζης Κυρίου] refers to the whole κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, 1 Corinthians 11:20. Instances of μετέχειν with τραπέζης, and like expressions, may be seen in Loesner, Obss. p. 288.

[1692] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 10:21-22. This lively apostrophe sets in the strongest light the inconsistency of Cor[1537] Christians who conform to idolatry, the untenability of their position. “You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the cup of demons”—the two together! “You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons!” cf. the τίς μετοχή, κοινωνία, κ.τ.λ.; of. 2 Corinthians 6:14 ff., and other parls. The nouns forming the obj[1538] are anarthrous as being qualitative, the impossibility lying in the kind of the two cups; cf. note on 1 Corinthians 2:5. “The Lord’s cup” is that received at His direction and signifying allegiance to Him; in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “the cup of (His) blessing.”—Possibly, P. alludes here to Malachi 1:7; Malachi 1:12, where ‘the table” signifies “the altar of Jehovah”; but the expression is borrowed without this identification. In this context table and altar are essentially distinguished; the altar supplies the table (cf. Hebrews 13:10). “S. Coena convivium, non sacrificium; in mensa, non in altari” (Bg[1539]). The τράπεζα includes the ποτήριον and ἄρτος of 1 Corinthians 10:16 together. This passage gives its name of “the Lord’s Table” to the Eucharist.—“Or (is it that) we provoke the Lord to jealousy?”—is this what we mean by eating at both tables? Paul includes himself in this question; such conduct is conceivable in his case, since he had no scruple against the idolothyta on their own account (see 1 Corinthians 10:8, 1 Corinthians 9:1). Deuteronomy 32:21 (neighbouring the previous allusion of 20) sufficiently indicates the result of such insolence: see other O.T. parls. For this argumentative in Paul’s questions, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9, etc., 1 Corinthians 9:6.—If the Cor[1540] are daring Christ’s sovereign displeasure by coquetting with idolatry, they must suppose themselves “stronger than He”! As sensible and prudent men they must see the absurdity, as well as the awful peril, of such double-dealing: cf. Deuteronomy 32:6; Deuteronomy 32:28 f. ἰσχυρός (1 Corinthians 1:25) implies inherent, personal strength. Of the δύναμις τ. κυρ. Ἰησοῦ Ρ. had given a solemn impression in ch. 1 Corinthians 5:4 f.; cf. 2 Corinthians 13:3 f.

[1537] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1538] grammatical object.

[1539] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[1540]
Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

21. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils] See note on 1 Corinthians 10:18, and for the nature of heathen sacrifices note on 1 Corinthians 8:1. The cup of devils was the libation with which the meal commenced. It was the cup of devils (1) because it was the cup of worship to beings other than God, which He Whose name was Jealous (Exodus 34:14; cf. Exodus 20:5) and Who ‘will not give His glory to another’ (Isaiah 42:8) had forbidden, and (2) because the worship of many of the gods was a distinct homage to the powers of evil, by reason of its polluting nature. Such worship obviously unfitted those who took part in it for fellowship with Christ. Cf. also 2 Corinthians 6:15-16.

1 Corinthians 10:21. Οὐ δύνασθε) ye cannot, without very great sin.—Κυρίου, of the Lord) Christ.—τραπέζης Κυρίου, of the Lord’s table) The Lord’s Supper is a feast, not a sacrifice; on a table, not on an altar.

Verse 21. - Ye cannot. It is a moral impossibility that you should. The Lord's table. This is the first instance in which this expression is used, and it has originated the name. The table of devils (see Deuteronomy 32:37). In the fine legend of Persephone, she might have been altogether liberated from the nether world if she had eaten nothing since her sojourn there; but unhappily she had eaten something, though it was only the few grains of a pomegranate; and hence she must leave the upper air, and become the Queen of Hades. 1 Corinthians 10:21The cup of devils

Representing the heathen feast. The special reference may be either to the drinking-cup, or to that used for pouring libations.

The Lord's table

Representing the Lord's Supper. See 1 Corinthians 11:20 sqq. The Greeks and Romans, on extraordinary occasions, placed images of the gods reclining on couches, with tables and food beside them, as if really partakers of the things offered in sacrifice. Diodorus, describing the temple of Bel at Babylon, mentions a large table of beaten gold, forty feet by fifteen, standing before the colossal statues of three deities. Upon it were two drinking-cups. See, also, the story of "Bel and the Dragon," vv. 10-15. The sacredness of the table in heathen worship is apparent from the manner in which it is combined with the altar in solemn formulae; as ara et mensa. Allusions to the table or to food and drink-offerings in honor of heathen deities occur in the Old Testament: Isaiah 65:11; Jeremiah 7:18; Ezekiel 16:18, Ezekiel 16:19; Ezekiel 23:41. In Malachi 1:7, the altar of burnt-offering is called "the table of the Lord."

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