Why does Paul refer to the ones who came out of Egypt as “our fathers” when he says, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea”? Is it the same as the fatherhood of Abraham, as in Romans 4?

 The “fatherhood” of Abraham issue, as in Galatians 3 and Romans 4 would be the issue if Abraham alone was in view. But seeing that the issue in I Corinthians 10 is plural, “fathers,” and it is dealing with an historical event past the time of Abraham, it is evident that Paul is using the word “fathers” in another way.

The word “father” in the singular is often used to refer to one who is either the author, originator, founder, etc., of something, or the first person associated with some particular thing. When more than one person would qualify for such a distinction then the word “fathers” would be applied to them. This is Paul’s use of the term in I Corinthians 10:1.

The Israelites coming out of Egypt were “our fathers” in connection with the sanctification that Paul is talking about. They experienced an identifying sanctification by which they were to see themselves as completely dead to what they used to belong to, just as we do in this dispensation. However, as Paul shows, they failed to appreciate their identifying sanctification and so experienced grievous consequences in view of it. And as such, with them being “our fathers” in this area, Paul makes the application that we ought not follow their example.

– K.R. Blades

Right Division, Apostle Paul, Dispensation of the Grace of God