Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Posted by Dim Bulb on September 8, 2012
1 Cor 10:14. Wherefore, my beloved, flee from the worship of idols.
1 Cor 10:15. I speak as to the wise; judge yourselves what I say.
1 Cor 10:16. The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communication of the blood of Christ? and the bread which we break, is it not the participation of the body of the Lord?
(vs. 14) For all these reasons, and on the strength of all these examples, avoid idolatry. And the participation in pagan sacrifices is a kind of idolatry. (vs 15) You are wise and sensible, able to judge for yourselves; is not that true, which I have said? (vs 16) The chalice of benediction, which Christ blessed at the last supper, which the priest blesses in the Mass, by drinking of which blessing is poured into the believer (Saint Anselm) is it not the communication of the blood of Christ? do we not, drinking of the blest and consecrated chalice of the Lord, communicate with the Lord, are united with the Lord? (Saint Thomas). Because, Saint Chrysostom says, that which is in the chalice is that which flowed from the side of Christ, and by receiving it, we are united with Christ. Understand, that the chalice of devils, drunk in idol worship, in the same manner unites us with evil spirits, as he explains presently.
The bread which we break—consecrate, offer to God, break when offered, and distribute to the faithful—makes us one with Christ, quia sub specie panis sumitur Corpus Christi. St. Thomas, Father Cornelius states, on the authority of a Protestant writer, that the bread used by Orientals is never cut with a knife, but always broken.
17. Inasmuch as all we who are partakers of the one bread, being many, are one bread, one body.
We are… one bread, one body. The Syriac has: As therefore that bread is one, so we also are one body, inasmuch as we as all receive of that one bread. The body of the Lord being one, the participation of it makes us one body, not many, and that one, the body of Christ.
The Greek text, in verse 16, has the same word for the communicatio and participatio. Saint Chrysostom paraphrases verse 17 thus: Why did I say communication? We are that very body itself; for what is the bread? the body of Christ. And what do they become, who take it? The body of Christ. Not many bodies, but the one body of Christ.
And by receiving the pagan sacrifice you communicate with the demons to whom it is offered.
18. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they who eat the sacrifices, partakers of the altar?
Behold Israel after the flesh.—The same argument is capable of being proved by analogy, from the Jewish religion. In all religions, participation in sacrifice is held to convey and imply communion with the deity to whom it is offered, and the priest who offers it. The Apostle’s argument may be stated thus: All communication with demons is idolatry. Eating things offered to idols is communication with demons: therefore it is idolatry. The major premise will be proved in the following verses. The minor has been proved by comparison with the analogy of the Christian and Judaic worship.
It is to be observed that the Apostle’s argument implies that the holy Eucharist is a real and true sacrifice; and that there is a communication of the real body and blood of the Lord: or else there would be no force in it. All the Fathers so understand it. These two statements having been denied by heretics, it may be worth while to quote the following words of Saint Chrysostom, commenting on this passage.
He speaks faithfully and terribly. That which is in the chalice is that which flowed from the side; and of that we partake. What he suffered not on the cross he suffers in the oblation, and for thee: to be broken, to fill all. How far the charity of Christ passes the munificence of man! These show their liberality in giving money, possessions, clothing: who ever gave his blood? Christ gives his blood, and his body. He has changed the ritual of sacrifice; he no longer commands brute beasts to be sacrificed, but himself. If thou thirstest for blood, go not to altars of idols, reeking with blood of brutes, but to my altar, red with my blood. Elsewhere the same Father explains that the body of Christ in the Eucharist is the same which the Magi worshipped in the stable, which was nailed to the cross, which the sun would not gaze upon in his suffering.
By a legitimate inversion of Saint Paul’s argument, it is allowable to infer that, as in the pagan and Judaic sacrifices, the eating the victim offered was participation in the completed sacrifice, so in the holy Eucharist the eating of Christ, our crucified Saviour, is for each individually the participation and completion of the sacrifice offered for us on the cross.
1 Cor 10:19. What then do I say? That anything is offered to idols? or that an idol is anything?
1 Cor 10:20. But the things which the Gentiles sacrifice; they sacrifice to demons, and not to God. And I would not have you become companions of demons. You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord, and the chalice of demons.
1 Cor 10:21. You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and the table of demons.
1 Cor 10:22. Do we provoke the Lord? are we stronger than he?
(vs 19)~What then do I say? The Greek has: that an idol is anything? or that the meat offered to the idol is anything? He said in 1 Cor 8:4 that an idol is nothing in the world; and in 1 Cor 10:26 below, he says that the earth is the Lord’s, and anything God has made for food, is good, and may be eaten . His statement here apparently contradicts his former assertion; which was in fact a concession argumenti gratia, leaving the point to be dealt with in the present text. What may have originally been the character and origin of the pagan deities worshipped in the south of Europe two thousand years ago, is a question open to dispute. Some writers consider them a deification of the forces of nature; others that they were princes or patriarchs of great antiquity, whose worship had gradually superseded that of the Supreme Creator. In either case, they were, in Saint Paul’s language, nothing in the world. (vs 20)~But under their names and attributes evil spirits had established their own worship, and opened a direct communication between the worshippers and the powers of darkness. (vss 21-22)~And when some of the Corinthians went, as it appears they did, from the table of the demons to the table of the Lord, and from the chalice of demons to drink of the chalice of the blood of Christ, they were tampering with his enemies, and provoking him to a trial of strength, in which they must expect to be defeated. Do we provoke the Lord? Are we stronger than He?