Let the Reader Understand: Interpretation That Sanctifies (1 Corinthians 10:1–13)

sermon photoTypology. Intertexuality. Biblical interpretation. Sanctification.

Those are esoteric subjects for a nerdy few, right? Well, I don’t think so. At least, according to 1 Corinthians 10, we see how the Apostle Paul cites ten different events in Israel’s history, which he says were written down for the church, as a means of instruction and sanctification.

In a section of 1 Corinthians where Paul continues to confront idolatry, Paul teaches us how to read the Bible and what ongoing purpose the Old Testament Scripture has for New Testament churches. You can listen to or read this week’s sermon. Below are discussion questions and resources for further study. 

1 Corinthians 10:1–13

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
         6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
        12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is biblical interpretation so important? How did misinterpretation play a part in the Fall of Adam and Eve (cp. Genesis 2:15–17 and Genesis 3:1–6)? How might we intentionally misinterpret Scripture (read Romans 1:21–23; Ephesians 4:18)?
  2. What roles do (1) continuity, (2) discontinuity, and (3) typology play in interpreting the Bible? How does Paul relate Israel and the church? How does that clarify (or change or correct) your understanding of God’s people under the old covenant and the new?
  3. What is a type? Typology? Where do we find examples in Scripture (see John 1:29; Romans 5:12–21; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 3:20–22; Hebrews 9:23–24)? What is the difference between typology and allegory? See notes for definitions and resources for more explanation.
  4. What is idolatry? What idols were the Corinthians pursuing?Why is it so hard to see our idols?  How does Scripture reveal our idols?
  5. What role does imagination play in our sanctification? Why is Paul’s use of typology more effective than a list of rules? How does Paul’s approach to Exodus and Numbers teach us about reading the Old Testament?
  6. When you come to the place where you struggle(repeatedly) to obey a particular command, what do you do? How do the examples in 1 Corinthians 10 help? In sanctification, why is “intervention” the necessary bridge between indication of sin and ability to obey? (Think: Is obedience devoid of Christ’s cross truly Christian?)
  7. What is Paul’s final encouragement to the believers (see vv. 12–13)? How do people Christians misread this verse? What confidence does the Christian have that they will be able to escape temptations (Hint: consider the nature of the new covenant versus the old — Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 36:26–27)?

For Further Study

Forgive the self-referential nature of these resources. If you have other resources, please leave ideas in the comments.


Books and Such

Soli Deo Gloria, ds