NIV 1 Corinthians 10: 1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”a 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test [the] Christ [or, "the Lord"], as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptationc has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedd beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,e he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Did Paul believe that Moses was the Christ?

What does it mean to "test Christ"?

Or is there a translation issue?

Note: Some manuscripts have "test the Lord".


Paul refers here to Christ before His incarnation, who, in his vision, led the people of Israel to the promised land; Paul would have considered it sacrilege to call Moses "Christ" or "Lord", for in the Hebrews before that he states the same relationship between Christ and Moses as that between Master and servant, and Creator and creature (cf. Hebrews 3:1-6).

Paul has in mind the Exodus 23:20:

19"You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. "You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother. 20"Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21"Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.

Now, this Angel is not an ordinary angel, with its own angelic name, it is a totally different Angel, who has not his own name in the way angels have it, like Gabriel, or Raphael, but He carries the very God's name in Him, and has authority to pardon or not to pardon, according to this passage, and such an authority belongs not to any angel, but only to Lord Himself, and thus, saying that the Angel whom He sends before the Israelite fugitives has authority to pardon or not, He says that this Angel is equal to Him in authority and is also Lord. Thus, whether mss write "Christ" or "Lord", the semantics is absolutely the same: equality of authority of Christ with that of God. And also in His earthly mission Jesus shows this divine authority of forgiving sins out of His divine Sovereignty, by which He scandalizes Jews, who rightly are enraged, regarding this a sacrilege and usurping of the feature properly belonging only to God (Luke 5:21); but this is what Jesus wants to them understand, that He is God, carrying in Himself all fullness of God, all authority of God, also after incarnation (Col. 2:9), and surely before the incarnation, as we see from the quoted passage from Exodus.

The Septuagint translator fully understood the scandal of this Angel, who can forgive sins, and to mitigate the impression he translated the Hebrew בְּקִרְבּֽוֹ׃ ("in him [is my name]") as ἐπ᾽αὐτῷ ("upon him [is my name], instead of ἐν αὐτῷ, which would have been exact) so that readers may not think that this Angel is also Jahve. But that is exactly what He is, for He has full divine authority of pardoning or not.

The rabbis were seriously scandalized by this passage and tried to explain it away by saying: "God says: 'do not rebel against this angel, for he will not pardon', not in the sense that the angel has an authority to pardon or not, but 'he will not pardon' means that even if he wished to pardon you, he would not be able, for only I have this authority". But this tortuous and text-mutilating explanation falls short of clarity of the Christian exegesis, which sees also in the Old Testament presence of another one with equal authority with God, bearing His name in Him.

  • Angel in a special sense, not simple messenger (which is the meaning of ἄγγελος), but having full divine authority that no ordinary, created angels have, for they are just servant spirits (Hebrews 1:14), whereas this Angel is Lord. And in Exodus 3:2-6 the same Person is alternatively called "Angel of Lord/Jahve" and "Lord/Jahve", for He is both. Nov 3 '17 at 18:40
  • An analogy: a father and son own a cafe, with absolutely equal, full rights over it. They hear that employees start cheating customers. Father sends son to the cafe, and in this mission son, out of his full sovereign authority, fires at will whom he deems worthy of being fired. Anybody else would not be able to do it, for he would first called father or son - the owners - to ask whom to fire and get permission. Thus, the son is at the same time owner and a representative, for he represents the father. Similarly, the Logos is both God and Angel of God, properly possessing all divine authority. Nov 6 '17 at 6:29
  • Your last view is that of rabbis that I have also indicated in my post, but it is overinterpretative, once D. Boyarin, a leading Jewish scholar told me that "heretics (i.e. Christians) have philological upper-hand in interpreting this passage over Jewish interpretations". Nov 6 '17 at 12:28
  • As to your passages from the Gospels, the "granted", the "given" here mean that Father is the source of the Son and everything the Son has is from the Father, but He (Son) has everything, for the Father gives to Logos His (Father's) entire essence, and in supra-temporal and spiritual dimension this is eternal giving. The Logos did not come from immaturity to maturity, as if there was a little God-Logos, who had not yet everything of Father, but then He grew to be able to contain all Father's things becoming full-grown, mature God-Logos, but it is silly. He has everything of Father, eternally. Nov 6 '17 at 12:37
  • Depends on who "we" are:) But there are good Scriptural and philosophical reasons (I have started giving them already in my last message) not to risk belittling the Son's divine status, for it is impossible to honor the Father properly, unless one gives the same honor to the Son also (John 5:23), and not to honor the Father properly, for a philosopher, is a spiritual harm more dangerous than any bodily malady. Nov 6 '17 at 13:58

The answer, I believe, is contained in the verse itself. The verse does not refer to Moses, but to God. There may be a little confusion in that some manuscripts read "Christ", some read "God", and still others read "the Lord". The majority of manuscripts have "the Lord".

The event behind those who tempted and were destroyed by serpents is described in Numbers 21:5ff:

And the people spoke against God and against Moses, saying, Why is this? Hast thou brought us ought of Egypt to slay us in the wilderness? for there is not bread nor water; and our soul loathes this light bread. And the Lord sent among the people deadly serpents, and they bit the people, and much people of the children of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee: pray therefore to the Lord, and let him take away the serpent from us.

The word translated by the NIV as "tempt" is πειράζω (peirazō) which really means to "test" (the RSV reads We must not put the Lord to the test). The NIV itself translates πειράζω as "test" in other places:

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven (Mark 8:11)

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12)

The "testing" (or "tempting") referred to is failure to trust in God in adversity, and instead murmuring against Him.

  • Thank you. Can you please show that that is a legit translation/meaning from a lexicon? Also, why "test Christ" and not "test Moses"?
    – Ruminator
    Nov 15 '17 at 22:58
  • I added a couple of examples where the NIV itself translates πειράζω as "test". I'm not a huge fan of cutting and pasting Lexicon entries :) If you are interested, though, there are lots of entries here from both the New Testament and Greek Literature. Verse 9 doesn't refer to Moses. Paul switched gears and is referring to an incident out of Numbers, not Exodus.
    – user33515
    Nov 15 '17 at 23:13
  • @user33515 Ahhh, a voice of reason. And, Yes, I am beginning to better understand that we are supposed to "show our work," but I've found that some, using this requirement (intended to be a healthy and helpful RULE), are extensively using it, more so, as simply a very convenient, and ever negative TOOL (to count coup). I liked your reasoning about "to test," I'm going to incorporate it into my readings. Thank you.
    – robin
    Dec 3 '17 at 6:00
  • Moses said: Deuteronomy 6:16 (NRSV) " Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massa" So the word " Lord" 1 Corinthians 10:9 refers to God and not to Jesus or Moses " user 33515 is correct in his opening paragraph. +1 Mar 28 '18 at 18:11

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