1 Corinthians 10 (NIV):

1 For 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. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things 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 got up to indulge in revelry.”a 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test [the] Christ [or, "the Lord"], as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And 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. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, 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".

4 Answers 4


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. Commented Nov 3, 2017 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. Commented Nov 6, 2017 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". Commented Nov 6, 2017 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. Commented Nov 6, 2017 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. Commented Nov 6, 2017 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
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 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
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 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
    Commented Dec 3, 2017 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 Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 18:11

Ex 17:2 > “17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Mosheh, and said, Give us water to drink. Mosheh said to them, Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test YAHWEH?”

  • Excerpt From Book of The Covenant 5th Ed

Mosheh was indeed YHWH’s “mashiach”(anointed man, to deliver YisraEL from Egypt). Adon YaHshua is the latter day Mashiach of YHWH (to be the Lamb of ELOHIM, Son of ELOHIM, Son of David,everlasting Prophet, Priest & King, etc).

To quarrel with or test YHWH’s anointed (christos, mashiach) man/ angel, is the same thing as quarrelling/ testing YHWH HIMSELF!

The word “christos (mashiach, anointed) does not refer to the anointed Son of ELOHIM alone. Many servants of ELOHIM (prophets, priests, kings, etc) have been anointed (christos) to perform the will of ELOHIM. To quarrel with Mosheh (YHWH’s anointed) is to quarrel with YHWH WHO anointed him.

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    – agarza
    Commented Apr 2, 2022 at 12:59

Some excerpts from REV Commentary.

Every translator will testify to the importance of context in determining the correct translation of Scripture. We feel the context makes it clear that “Lord” is the correct reading. Although there are many times that the Israelites were said to tempt “God” or “Yahweh” (often translated “the LORD”) in the Old Testament, there is not even a single reference to tempting Christ. Furthermore, there is not even a reference to tempting “adonay,” the generic word for “lord.” The Israelites tempted their God, Yahweh, never “Christ.”

By reading 1 Corinthians 10:9 carefully, we obtain a vital clue to its meaning and the proper translation. The verse says that when the Israelites tempted “the Lord,” they were “destroyed by serpents.” This phrase allows us to find the exact record in the Old Testament that is being referred to. In Numbers 21:5, the Israelites “spoke against God” and then “Yahweh sent venomous snakes among them” (Num. 21:6). In the record of this event in the Old Testament, “God” and Yahweh are both mentioned, but “Christ” is never mentioned, neither is the generic Hebrew word for “lord.” Furthermore, there is no scripture anywhere in the Old Testament that says “Christ” poured out his “wrath,” and certainly not by sending serpents. Thus, if some Greek texts read “the Lord” and others read “Christ,” the context points to “Lord” as the correct interpretation.

The sound logic of these considerations is reinforced by the total silence of 'Christ' being in the OT at all. Every prophecy points to him coming - a man and descendant of Abraham and David and not a single reference to a God/man anywhere.

There are some commentators, however, who assert that the context mentions Christ because 1 Cor 10:4 says that the Israelites drank of the rock, and the rock was Christ. We would first point out, ... that actually 1 Cor 10:4 militates against the reading “Christ” in 1 Cor 10:9, because 1 Cor 10:4 says that the Christ was coming in the future, in which case he could not have been tempted by the Israelites (see commentary on 1 Cor 10:4). In fact, we know that Christ followed the Israelites by 1400 years. When Balaam the prophet said the Messiah was coming in the future (Num. 24:17), no one protested and said he was with them at that very time. In fact, all the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah coming in the future were never contested, or clarified as if they meant only that he would come “in the flesh” in the future but was with them at that time as a spirit. (REV Comm.)

In the absence of any scripture even suggesting that Jesus - the Christ, was already present and was somehow also God allows us to categorise such ideas as without merit and from the mouths and minds of men not led by the spirit of God at all.

While it might be tempting to use this single verse as a foundation for a deified Christ, it is without any biblical support except imaginative extrapolation as witnessed in the accepted answer. Noting the absence of a sound biblical basis and that all other scripture informs otherwise quite specifically and endorsed by the Apostles - Paul, Peter and others in numerous places who consistently speak of the man Jesus and his God, and the Gospels which inform unequivocally about the origin of Jesus - when, how and by whom.

God gave the promises to Abraham and his child. And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ. Gal 3:16

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus 1Tim 2:5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 1Pet 1:1

having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 1Pet 3:18

The Rock that followed them

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