1 Corinthians 10:5
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) But with many of them.—Better, Nevertheless not with the greater part of them was God pleased. This introduces the point from which the Apostle seeks to draw the great lesson of self-distrust. All had all these privileges—privileges of a baptism and a spiritual meat and drink which correspond with the sacramental ordinances which are proofs and pledges of all the privileges of us Christians—and yet with the greater part—in fact, with all except two—of that vast multitude God was not pleased, as is proved by the fact that (Numbers 14:16) all except Caleb and Joshua perished in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:5-6. But with many of them — Although they had so many tokens of the divine presence with them, and enjoyed such singular favours; God was not well pleased — So far from it, that he swore in his wrath they should not enter into the rest he had provided for them; and therefore they were overthrown in the wilderness — With the most terrible marks of his wrath. Even the whole generation that came adult out of Egypt died there, and sometimes in such multitudes, that the ground was overspread with carcasses, as a field is in which a battle has been fought. Now these things — These punishments; were our examples — Showing what we are to expect, notwithstanding our profession of Christianity, if we act like them; if, enjoying the like benefits, we commit the like sins. The benefits are here set down in the same order as by Moses in Exodus; the sins and punishments in a different order: evil desire first, as being the foundation of all; next idolatry, 1 Corinthians 10:7; 1 Corinthians 10:14; then fornication, which usually accompanied it, 1 Corinthians 10:8; tempting and murmuring against God in the following verses. To the intent we should not lust after evil things — Should not indulge irregular and luxurious desires; as they also lusted — After flesh, in contempt of the manna, and thereby brought the wrath of God upon themselves, and were consumed with pestilential distempers, while the meat was yet between their teeth, Psalm 78:30-31. Learn, therefore, as if he had said, by what they suffered, to cultivate that temperance and self-denial which I have just been recommending to you.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.But with many of them ... - That is, with their conduct. They rebelled and sinned, and were destroyed. The design of the apostle here is, to remind them that although they enjoyed so many privileges, yet they were destroyed; and thus to admonish the Corinthians that their privileges did not constitute an absolute security from danger, and that they should be cautious against the indulgence of sin. The phrase rendered here "with many" ἐν τοῖς πλείων en tois pleiōn should have been rendered "with most of them," literally" with the many; and it means that with the greater part of them God was not well pleased; that is, he was pleased with but few of them.

Was not well pleased - Was offended with their ingratitude and rebellion.

For they were overthrown ... - That is, by the pestilence, by wars, or died by natural and usual diseases, so that they did not reach the land of Canaan. But two men of that generation, Caleb and Joshua, were permitted to enter the land of promise; Numbers 14:29-30.

5. But—though they had so many tokens of God's presence.

many of them—rather, "the majority of them"; "the whole part." All except Joshua and Caleb of the first generation.

not—in the Greek emphatically standing in the beginning of the sentence: "Not," as one might have naturally expected, "with the more part of them was," &c.

God—whose judgment alone is valid.

for—the event showed, they had not pleased God.

overthrown—literally, "strewn in heaps."

in the wilderness—far from the land of promise.

But with many of them God was not well pleased; these many were no less than that whole generation, which were at that time twenty years old and upward, according to the threatening, Numbers 14:28,29; of the acccomplishment of which we read, Numbers 26:64,65.

For they were over thrown in the wilderness; as an instance of God’s being displeased with them, he giveth their falling in the wilderness. It is very possible, that many of these were the objects of God’s eternal and special love, and eternally saved, notwithstanding their joining with worse men in their rebellion and murmuring; but that signal judgment of God upon them was enough to prove, that their being baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and being made partakers of those great privileges of eating spiritual meat, and drinking spiritual drink, typifying Christ, did not set them out of the danger of God’s judgments, which is the use the apostle maketh of it. But with many of them God was not well pleased,.... As he is with none but those that are in Christ; and with none of the services of men, but what are done in faith, which become acceptable to him through Jesus Christ; for in him only persons and services are accepted with God; and this was the way of acceptance in the Old, as in the New Testament dispensation: how many of the Jewish fathers God was not well pleased with, or took no delight in, but hated and abhorred, which is the sense of the phrase here, whether they were the greatest part or not, is not certain; however, they were not all, excepting Joshua and Caleb, as some interpreters understand it; for not all that died in the wilderness were out of the special grace and favour of God, witness Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and, it is to be supposed and hoped, hundreds and thousands more; but the apostle has respect to such who were the instances of God's direful vengeance and displeasure, as appears from the reason given;

for they were overthrown in the wilderness: he does not say merely that they died there, for many with whom God was well pleased died there; but these, their carcasses fell in the wilderness, being stricken, thrown down, and overthrown by the immediate hand of God; they did not die a common death, according to the ordinary course of nature; but by the plague, or by the sword, or by fire from heaven, or by fiery serpents, or by a destroying angel, or by one judgment or another, as hereafter mentioned.

But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 10:5. Οὐκ ἐν τοῖς πλείοσιν] not with the greater part of them. A tragical litotes. Caleb and Joshua alone reached the land of promise. Numbers 14:30.

κατεστρώθησαν] were struck down. Comp Numbers 14:16; Numbers 14:29. Their dying in the wilderness (some by a violent, some by a natural death) is here vividly portrayed, in accordance with Numbers 14, as death by the hand of God (Herod. viii. 53, ix. 76; Xen. Cyr. iii. 3. 64; Jdt 7:14; 2Ma 5:26). Comp also Hebrews 3:17.1 Corinthians 10:5. “But not with the greater part (of them)”—a “tragic litotes: only Joshua and Caleb reached the Promised Land” (Numbers 14:30 : Mr[1419]). The result negatives what one expects from the antecedents; hence the strong adversative ἀλλʼ οὐκ.—τοῖς πλείοσιν—“the majority” of the πάντες so highly favoured; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:6. ηὐδόκησεν ἐν (after the LXX), Heb. chaphets b; the ἐν resembles that of 1 Corinthians 9:15; see Wr[1420], p. 291.—κατεστρώθησαν γὰρ κ.τ.λ., “For they (their bodies) were laid prostrate in the wilderness,” gives graphic proof, in words borrowed from the O.T. narrative, of God’s displeasure; sooner or later this doom overtook nearly all the witnesses of the Exodus (cf. Hebrews 3:17). “What a spectacle for the eyes of the self-satisfied Cor[1421]: all these bodies, full-fed with miraculous nourishment, strewing the soil of the desert!” (Gd[1422]).

[1419] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1420] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[1421] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[1422] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).5. with many of them] Rather, most. The point aimed at is, that in spite of their high privileges and great opportunities, the majority of them were destroyed. Cf. Hebrews 3:17. Joshua and Caleb only, Numbers 14:38, were permitted to enter the promised land. See also Numbers 26:64-65.1 Corinthians 10:5. Ἀλλ, but) although they had so many signs of the Divine presence.—οὐκ ἐν τοῖς πλειόσιν αὐτῶν, not with the most of them) The position of the particle not should be noticed. Reason might suggest, that God certainly was well pleased ἐν τοῖς πλειόσιν, with the most of them. This the apostle denies. He not only points out those, who are particularly described presently afterwards, but at the same time many others.—ὁ Θεὸς, God) whose judgment alone is valid.—κατεστρώθησαν, were overthrown) in great heaps, and with great force. The LXX. have used this word in Numbers 14:16.—γὰρ, for) The event showed, that they had not pleased God.—ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, in the wilderness) far from the land of promise.Verse 5. - With many of them; rather, with most of them. They were overthrown in the wilderness. A quotation from the LXX. of Numbers 14:16. All but Caleb and Joshua perished (Numbers 26:64, 65; comp. Jude 1:5). In Hebrews 3:17 the word used is "they fell." Many (τοῖς πλείοσιν)

The A.V. misses the force of the article, the many. Hence Rev., correctly, most of them. All perished save Caleb and Joshua.

Overthrown (κατεστρώθησαν)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., were strewn down along (the ground). The word belongs mostly to later Greek, though found in Herodotos in the general sense of slaying. So Euripides: "He laid low his wife and child with one dart" ("Hercules Furens," 1000). It is used of spreading a couch.

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