Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. What did Paul want to communicate to his readers in Corinth when he referred to “examples”?
The Greek term used in 1 Corinthians 10:6 (and also adapted in a similar form in 1 Corinthians 10:11), translated as “example” in most English translations, is typos. In English the word type is based on this Greek noun.
A type (or example) is never the original but some kind of symbol or representation of it. It is a model of something else.
Hebrews 8:5 offers a good example of this kind of relationship: “They [the priests of the Old Testament temple service] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain’” (ESV).
This passage in Hebrews highlights the direct link between heavenly and earthly realities, and then it quotes Exodus 25:9, where God told Moses to build the wilderness sanctuary “according to … the pattern” that he had seen on the mountain. The point is that the earthly sanctuary, with all its rituals and procedures, were “examples,” symbols, models of what is going on in heaven, with Jesus as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.
With this in mind, we can better understand what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 10. In these verses Paul revisits some of the key experiences of God’s people in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. “Our fathers” refers to their Jewish ancestors who left Egypt, were under the cloud, passed through the sea, and, thus, were all baptized into a new life of freedom from slavery.
Paul considers these important stations of the wilderness journey as a type, or an example, of individual baptism. In the footsteps of Paul’s logic, the reference to “spiritual food” must refer to manna (compare with Exodus 16:31-35). Israel drank from the rock, which Paul identifies as Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). Think of Jesus, for example, as the “bread of life” (John 6:48) and as the “living water” (John 4:10), and this all makes perfect sense. Thus, what we see here is Paul’s use of Old Testament history as an example of revealing spiritual truths that can be applied to individual Christians today.
|Think back about the experience of the Israelites in the Exodus. What spiritual lessons can we learn from their “examples,” both the good and the bad that they left us?|