The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:4 Explained

1 Corinthians 10:4

KJV: And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

YLT: and all the same spiritual drink did drink, for they were drinking of a spiritual rock following them, and the rock was the Christ;

Darby: and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank of a spiritual rock which followed them: (now the rock was the Christ;)

ASV: and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.

What does 1 Corinthians 10:4 Mean?

Context Summary

1 Corinthians 10:1-10 - Learn From Bible History
Twice over we are told that the story of the Exodus was intended for our instruction, 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:11. It becomes us, therefore, to study the account with the honest intention to obtain all the warning and suggestion that it is capable of yielding. The great lesson is human failure under the most promising circumstances. Here were people who had been brought out of the most terrible hardships and perils, who were under the greatest obligations to God, but who, in the hour of temptation, absolutely failed Him.
Consider the privileges of the Chosen People. The cloud of divine guidance led them. The Red Sea, like a grave, lay between them and the land of bondage. They ate daily of the heavenly manna and drank of the water that gushed from the rock. But all these are types of spiritual blessings which await us in Christ. His grave lies between us and the world; His guidance is ours; we daily feed on His life and help. Let us take heed that we do not, like Israel, allow Moab to cast the witchery of sensual indulgence over us, lest we excite God's displeasure. Let us not tempt the Lord by murmuring or distrust. Let us ever live worthily of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Corinthians 10

1  The sacraments of the Jews are types of ours;
7  and their punishments,
11  examples for us
13  We must flee from idolatry
21  We must not make the Lord's table the table of demons;
24  and in all things we must have regard for our brothers

Greek Commentary for 1 Corinthians 10:4

For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them [επινον εκ πνευματικης ακολουτουσης πετρας]
Change to the imperfect επινον — epinon shows their continual access to the supernatural source of supply. The Israelites were blessed by the water from the rock that Moses smote at Rephidim (Exodus 17:6) and at Kadesh (Numbers 20:11) and by the well of Beer (Numbers 21:16). The rabbis had a legend that the water actually followed the Israelites for forty years, in one form a fragment of rock fifteen feet high that followed the people and gushed out water. Baur and some other scholars think that Paul adopts this “Rabbinical legend that the water-bearing Rephidim rock journeyed onwards with the Israelites” (Findlay). That is hard to believe, though it is quite possible that Paul alludes to this fancy and gives it a spiritual turn as a type of Christ in allegorical fashion. Paul knew the views of the rabbis and made use of allegory on occasion (Galatians 4:24). [source]
And the rock was Christ [η πετρα δε ην ο Χριστος]
He definitely states here in symbolic form the preexistence of Christ. But surely “we must not disgrace Paul by making him say that the pre-incarnate Christ followed the march of Israel in the shape of a lump of rock” (Hofmann). He does mean that Christ was the source of the water which saved the Israelites from perishing (Robertson and Plummer) as he is the source of supply for us today. [source]
Drink - spiritual drink []
Spiritual, like the meat, in being supernaturally given. The aorist tense denotes something past, yet without limiting it to a particular occasion. They drank at Rephidim (Exodus 17:6), but they continued to drink spiritual drink, for - [source]
They drank [ἔπινον]
The imperfect tense denoting continued action - throughout their journey. [source]
That spiritual rock []
For that read a. Paul appears to recall a rabbinic tradition that there was a well formed out of the spring in Horeb, which gathered itself up into a rock like a swarm of bees, and followed the people for forty years; sometimes rolling itself, sometimes carried by Miriam, and always addressed by the elders, when they encamped, with the words, “Spring up, O well!” Numbers 21:17. Stanley says: “In accordance with this notion, the Rock of Moses, as pointed out by the local tradition of Mt. Sinai, is not a cleft in the mountain, but a detached fragment of rock about fifteen feet high, with twelve or more fissures in its surface, from which the water is said to have gushed out for the twelve tribes. This local tradition is as old as the Koran, which mentions this very stone.” [source]
Was Christ []
Showing that he does not believe the legend, but only uses it allegorically. The important point is that Christ the Word was with His people under the old covenant. “In each case we recognize the mystery of a 'real presence”' (Ellicott). “God was in Christ” here, as from the beginning. The mosaic and the christian economies are only different sides of one dispensation, which is a gospel dispensation throughout. The Jewish sacraments are not mere types of ours. They are identical. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Corinthians 10:4

John 7:38 Belly [κοιλίας]
The word is often used in the Old Testament for the innermost part of a man, the soul or heart. See Job 15:35; Job 32:19; Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 20:27, Proverbs 20:30. The rite of drawing and pouring out the water pointed back to the smitten rock in the desert. In Exodus 17:6, “there shall come water out of it,” is literally, “there shall come water from within him.” The word belly here means the inmost heart of the believer, which pours forth spiritual refreshment. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:4; John 4:14. [source]
John 1:43 Follow [ἀκολούθει]
Often used in the New Testament with the special sense of following as a disciple or partisan. See Matthew 4:20, Matthew 4:22; Matthew 9:9; Mark 1:18; John 8:12. Also with the meaning of cleaving steadfastly to one and conforming to his example. See Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; John 12:26. The verb occurs but once outside of the writings of the Evangelists, 1 Corinthians 10:4. It appears in the noun acolyte, or acolyth, or acolothist, a church-servant ranking next below a subdeacon, whose duty it was to trim the lamps, light the church, prepare the sacramental elements, etc. Under the Byzantine emperors the captain of the emperor's bodyguard was called Acolouthos, or the Follower. See Scott's “Count Robert of Paris.” [source]
Romans 14:17 Meat and drink [βρῶσις καὶ πόσις]
Rev., eating and drinking. Both words, however, occur frequently in the sense of A.V. Meat ( βρῶμα ), that which is eaten, occurs in Romans 14:15. The corresponding word for that which is drunk ( πῶμα ) is not found in the New Testament, though πόμα drinkoccurs 1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 9:10, and both in classical and New-Testament Greek, πόσις theact of drinking is used also for that which is drunk. See John 6:55. A somewhat similar interchange of meaning appears in the popular expression, such a thing is good eating; also in the use of living for that by which one lives. [source]
Galatians 4:24 For these are []
Hagar and Sarah are, allegorically. Signify. Comp. Matthew 13:20, Matthew 13:38; Matthew 26:26, Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 10:4, 1 Corinthians 10:16. [source]
Jude 1:5 Though ye know all things once for all [ειδοτας απαχ παντα]
Concessive perfect (sense of present) active participle as in 2 Peter 1:12, but without καιπερ — kaiper Lord Some MSS. add Ιησους — Iēsous The use of κυριος — kurios here is usually understood to mean the Lord Jesus Christ, as Clement of Alex. (Adumbr. p. 133) explains, Exodus 23:20, by ο μυστικος εκεινος αγγελος Ιησους — ho mustikos ekeinos aggelos Iēsous (that mystical angel Jesus). For the mystic reference to Christ see 1 Corinthians 10:4, 1 Corinthians 10:9; Hebrews 11:26. Some MSS. here add τεος — theos instead of Ιησους — Iēsous Adverbial accusative, “the second time.” After having saved the people out of Egypt.Destroyed (απωλεσεν — apōlesen). First aorist active indicative of απολλυμι — apollumi old verb, to destroy.Them that believed not First aorist active articular participle of πιστευω — pisteuō The reference is to Numbers 14:27-37, when all the people rescued from Egypt perished except Caleb and Joshua. This first example by Jude is not in 2 Peter, but is discussed in 1 Corinthians 10:5-11; Heb 3:18-4:2. [source]
Revelation 11:8 Spiritually [πνευματικῶς]
Typically or allegorically. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:3, 1 Corinthians 10:4. [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Corinthians 10:4 mean?

and all the same spiritual drank drink they were drinking for from [the] spiritual accompanying [them] rock the rock then was - Christ
καὶ πάντες τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν ἔπιον πόμα ἔπινον γὰρ ἐκ πνευματικῆς ἀκολουθούσης πέτρας πέτρα δὲ ἦν Χριστός

αὐτὸ  same 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Accusative Neuter 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
πνευματικὸν  spiritual 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: πνευματικός  
Sense: relating to the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ.
ἔπιον  drank 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: πίνω  
Sense: to drink.
πόμα  drink 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: πόμα  
Sense: drink.
ἔπινον  they  were  drinking 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: πίνω  
Sense: to drink.
πνευματικῆς  [the]  spiritual 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: πνευματικός  
Sense: relating to the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ.
ἀκολουθούσης  accompanying  [them] 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἀκολουθέω  
Sense: to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him.
πέτρας  rock 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: πέτρα  
Sense: a rock, cliff or ledge.
πέτρα  rock 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: πέτρα  
Sense: a rock, cliff or ledge.
  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Χριστός  Christ 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Χριστός  
Sense: Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God.