Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 15:29 - 15:34

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 15:29 - 15:34

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

B. Refutation of the impugners of the resurrection of the dead (2) from the inconceivableness of certain facts, except on its supposition


29Else what shall they do which are baptized [have themselves baptized, ïἱ âáðôßæüìåíïé ] for the dead, if the dead rise not [are not raised, ïὐ÷ ἐãåßñïíôáé ] at all? why are they then baptized [do they have themselves baptized, âáðôéæïíôáé ] for the dead? 30[om. the dead. ins. them, áὐôῶí ]? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31I protest by your rejoicing [by the boasting which I have concerning you,2 brethren, íὴ ôὴí ὑìåôÝñáí êáý÷çóéí , ἀäåéëöïß ] which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If after the manner of men [with the views of common men, êáôὰ ἄíèñùðïí ] I have [om. have] fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let [me? If the dead rise not, let] us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die. 33Be not deceived: evil communications [associations, ὁìéëßáé ] corrupt good manners 34[useful habits, ἤèç ÷ñçóôὰ ] Awake to righteousness [awake at once, as it is right, ἐêíἡöáôå äéêáßùò ], and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.


1Co_15:29.—Else what shall they do, —The connection here with what precedes involves some difficulties. [As Stanley remarks: “it is one of the most abrupt to be found in St. Paul’s Epistles. He leaves the new topic just at the moment when he has pursued it, as it were, to the remotest point, and goes back to the general argument as suddenly as if nothing had intervened. The two instances most similar are 1Co_5:9, 1Co_2:6; 1Co_2:8; 2Co_6:14; 2Co_7:1. Here, as there, the confusion may possibly have arisen from some actual interruption in the writing or the material, of the letter; the main argument proceeding continuously from 1Co_15:20 to 1Co_15:29, and the whole intervening passage being analogous to what in modern composition would be called a note”]. Inasmuch as ἑðåß , since, ordinarily indicates a connection with what immediately precedes, Meyer insists upon our interpreting it so here, q. d., ‘for if there is nothing in this development of human history onward to the end, when God shall be all in all, then what shall they do, etc’ Such a construction can be maintained only in so far as we regard the resurrection as the chief event in this final consummation. Neander, on the contrary, says: “We must suppose a digression to begin at 1Co_15:22, since, at that point, there opened upon the Apostle’s view a prospect of the whole process of the world’s development proceeding from the redemption of Christ. He started with the idea of the necessary connection which the resurrection to eternal life has with Christianity; and with this he now proceeds.” [The ellipsis hero may be thus supplied: ‘The dead are certainly to be raised, else what shall they do, etc.’ (Hodge); or, inserting it after “else,” ‘if it be as the adversaries suppose, what, etc.’ (Alford)].—The question here suggests the utter uselessness of the practice ho is about to adduce in confirmation of his position. “Every baptism that you perform in behalf of the dead, would be without meaning, if those who deny the resurrection were in the right. He indicates the subjective absurdity of the proceeding in this case.” Meyer.—who are baptized for the dead,—How are we to understand these words? The simplest explanation of the act here spoken of is, the suffering of one’s self to be baptized for the benefit of deceased persons, or in their stead, so as to redound to their advantage, i. e., that the salvation mediated by baptism, might fall to their lot, so that those who themselves died unbaptized, might pass for baptized, and thus have part in the resurrection and in the kingdom of Christ. A custom of this sort is discoverable in subsequent times; yet, however, only among heretical sects, such as the Cerinthians and the Marcionites (comp. Epiph. haer. 28, 3; Tertull. de resurr. 48; adv. Marc. 5, 10; Christ, i.h. 1.). The article before íåêῤῶí , dead, points to definite cases (‘for the dead’ in question). “We might imagine that many, having come to the exercise of faith, resolved to receive baptism, but died ere the rite could be performed. This was so much the more likely to have been the case, inasmuch as according to 1Co_11:30, there was an epidemic prevalent. If, then, a relative had suffered himself to be baptized in the conviction that he was only doing what the deceased would have done had he survived, the proceeding would not have been quite so superstitious.” Neander. But it is probable that this custom could have sprung up so early, and could have been mentioned by the Apostle without disapproval, when it was so inconsistent with his fundamental views of faith and of its efficiency for the attainment of salvation?—The latter, indeed, is perhaps supposable, since he has here primarily to do only with the testimony which might be adduced from an actual occurrence; respecting the relation of which, however, to the truth, there was no need of his explaining himself. Bisping considers the use of the third person (“what shall they do”) as an indirect intimation of disapproval. [And so. Alford: “There is in these words a tacit reprehension of the practice which it is hardly possible altogether to miss. Both by the third person and by the article before âáðô . he indirectly separates himself and those to whom he is writing from participation in, or approval of the practice.” He translates âáðôéæüìåíïé ‘those who are in the habit of being baptized,’ not ïἱ âáðôßóèåíôåò . The distinction, he says, is important as affecting the interpretation]. Indeed, that Paul, as well as the other apostles, exercised a counteracting influence upon this custom, may be inferred from the fact that it afterwards vanished out of the orthodox church, and was perpetuated only among heretics. It is by no means improbable, that the high estimation of baptism, at so early a period, had acquired a superstitious taint. Since the deeply-rooted heathenish notion of the magical influence of sacred rites might easily have been preserved, or at least, have re-appeared, among those of whom the Apostle asserts that they were yet carnal, and who took so low a position in their estimate of spiritual gifts. This view is to be maintained all the more decidedly from the circumstance that all other views are, in part, opposed to the ordinary use of terms, and in part, improbable, and arbitrary on other grounds. But what we have adduced cannot well be questioned.—Proceeding from the signification of ὑðÝñ here pre-supposed, viz: in behalf of, Olshausen could have interpretated it to imply that it was done for the benefit of the dead, in so far as a definite number (pleroma) must needs be baptized ere the second adventand resurrection could ensue; but this view appears in itself questionable, since there is nothing in the context intimating it, and it inclines to another signification of words, viz: ‘instead of the dead,’ i.e., to fill up the gap made by these deceased. But this interpretation would be devoide of significance, and also, in respect to the use of language, very doubtful. Luther’s translation, “over the dead,” i.e., over their graves, is opposed: 1. by the N. T. use of language which no where takes ὑðÝñ with the genitive in a local sense; 2. by a lack of all historical trace of any such burial ceremony in apostolic times. Still less admissible is the explanation that applies it to the baptism of the Clinici, those upon the bed of death, jamjam morituri (Estius), or, quum mortem ante oculos positam hebeant (Bengel); since the words could not mean this, and besides we hear nothing of the baptism of the Clinici at this time. Equally untenable is the reference of the words “in behalf of the dead” to Christ (the plural here being taken in a general sense to designate the category [as Wordsworth,]; since water baptism would require the preposition etc, and to the blood-baptism no allusion whatever can be found in the context, and the word is never used in this sense by Paul. Besser interprets still differently: “Not a few heathen [convinced by the sight of a believer’s triumph over death] would allow themselves to be baptized for the sake of those deceased ones whom they had seen to depart in peace and joy—and before the dying beds and graves over which there seemed to flourish an unfading hope; in order to pass from death into life in company with those who slept in Christ.” Here ὑðÝñ is taken in the sense of, on account of, because of, [not, to their advantage, but, out of admiration, or love for them], as in Rom_15:9. “That the Gentiles might glorify God for ( ὑðÝñ ) his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles and sing unto thy name.”

[The most favorite interpretation for the last half century is that of Lightfoot and Rosenmüller, adopted by Robinson in his Lexicon, which takes âáðôéæüìåíïé in the sense of ‘being immersed in sufferings,’ as parallel to ‘being in jeopardy,’ in the next clause. Referring to Mar_10:33; Mar_10:39, and Luk_12:50, it takes ὑðÝñ in the sense of ἕíåêá , and ôῶí íåêñῶí for death. The complete meaning of the words then would be, ‘those who have been overwhelmed with calamities, trials and sufferings, in the hope of the resurrection or with the expectation that the dead would rise.’ But the objections to this view are that the words are here taken in an unusual and unnatural sense, to which we are not to resort, unless compelled by some most evident reason; and also, the ellipsis implied is much too harsh to be admitted. Bloomfield and Barnes follow the interpretation of Chrys., and the early Greek Fathers, supported by Hammond! and Wetstein, which takes the baptism here alluded to as that which is applied to all believers, who, in receiving the rite, witness to their faith in the resurrection of the dead. Here an ellipsis of the word “resurrection” is presupposed. The great objection to this view is, that in this case the persons alluded to, instead of being, as they obviously are, a distinct class in the church, are the whole body of believers, leaving us nothing special here as the ground of the Apostle’s appeal]. The latest attempt now only remains to be mentioned (Theol. Stud, und Krit. 1860. 1. S. 135 ff.) There we have the interpretation, “why should a person suffer himself to be baptized on account of the dead,” i.e., to belong to! them, to come to them, so as to form a kingdom of the dead? However easy and simple this may I appear, yet such an interpretation of the phrase âáðô . ὑðÝñ ôῶí íåêñῶí is an artificial one, and not sufficiently well grounded. Properly it should read, ‘who are baptized on account of the resurrection and in the hope of the same; because death, or coming into the kingdom of the dead, was the only thing to be anticipated without any further hope for this life. Something similar to this appears in Chrys., Theod. and others. Other interpretations may as well be passed over. [For a full list of these, see Pool’s synopsis and also Notes by Stanley and Barnes on this text].—The correct parallelism requires that the next clause, which in the Rec. is connected with that just considered, should be joined with what follows.—if the dead rise not at all? ὀëùò as in v. 1.—why are they even yet baptized for them? êáß intensive, still, even yet. The meaning is, [if we adopt the explanation first maintained above,] in this case nothing at all could be accomplished for the dead: it is therefore, perfectly useless any longer to submit to baptism in their behalf.’

1Co_15:30-34. As a second argument in his apogogical demonstration he refers to the perilous self-devotion and the hazards of martyr-death which were incurred by himself and his associates. The utter uselessness and folly of such conduct, in case the dead rose not, are indicated in the form of a question.—And why also do we stand in jeopardy every hour?—[With baptizing for the dead, he had nothing to do. But he, no less than those before mentioned, were pursuing a most absurd and irrational course, if they could count upon no compensation for the pains of their self-denial in a resurrection state. Here, it will be observed, all the way through, that, in the Apostle’s mind, future existence, apart from the resurrection, was as nothing. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul seems with him to have been identified with that of the restoration of the body. What he looked for was the glorification of his entire constitution, body, soul, and! spirit; and to be bereft of any part, was with him a marring of the whole. He “would not be unclothed, but clothed upon,” with a nobler vesture than that he had here. His reasoning is of force only on this supposition]. Dropping his associates he now passes over to himself individually.—Daily do I die.—As he before speaks of himself and his associates being in hourly jeopardy, so here he expresses the continuance of his own still worse condition, by exhibiting it as a daily death. And this dying may be explained, either of the extreme danger he was ever in, being so much greater than that just spoken of, q.d., ‘I daily hover on the brink of death’ (comp. Rom_8:36; 2Co_4:10; 2Co_1:10); or, it may be construed subjectively of his sense of dying (Osiander, according to Luther). Meyer explains it: “I go about dying; I am moribund,’—a vividly symbolic designation of the fatal dangers by which Paul saw himself to be daily threatened.” This explanation also slides over into the subjective, which is supported by the parallels adduced by Wetstein on this passage. This suits well with the adjuration following—(I protest) by your rejoicing,—This is the only place in the New Testament where íÞ occurs; but we meet with, it frequently in the LXX. It belongs to the Attic style, [and occurs in the celebrated oath of Demosthenes, where he swore by the shades of those who had met death in the field of Marathon, exhorting the Athenians to defend the Republic (Calvin)]. It is here used for strengthening the previous assertion [—“an oath by which he wished to arouse the Corinthians to be more attentive in listening to him as to the matter in hand, q. d. ‘brethren, I am not some philosopher, prattling in the shade. As I expose myself every day to death, it is necessary that I should think in good earnest of the heavenly life. Believe, therefore, a man who is thoroughly experienced.’ ” Calvin. And, in explaining the nature of the oath, Theophylact acutely observes, that, in, swearing by his boast over them, “he meant to remind them that he expects them to maintain with constancy this their faith; q. d. ‘If I boast on account of your improvement, so shall I be ashamed, if, at last, ye so wretchedly act as to disbelieve the resurrection,’ ” (cited by Bloomfield)].—That by which he protests, is the boasting which he had over the Corinthians; for we are here to take ὑìÝôåñáí , your, as standing in place of the genitive of the object, ὐìῶí , as in Rom_11:31; ôὸêáý÷çìá ἡìῶí ôὸ ὑðὲñ ὑìῶí , 2Co_9:3. In reference to this boasting, comp. 2Co_3:1; 2Co_10:15. There is something very touching in this declaration, which is still further enhanced by the affectionate address.—brethren,—[On this see Critical Notes]. This boasting over the Corinthians, over their subjection to the faith, and his great success in establishing a church so renowned and gifted, he says, he holds—in Christ Jesus our Lord.i.e., in virtue of his fellowship with Christ, as a servant, who had accomplished great things by His power. The meaning then is, ‘as truly as I can boast of you, in Jesus Christ our Lord, do I daily tremble amid the dangers of death.’ Meyer Ed. 3, laying particular emphasis on “you,” explains it somewhat differently: “So truly as ye, yourselves, are the object of my boasting.” “The Corinthians, whose conversion was an apostolic triumph for Him, could themselves bear witness what fatal dangers beset him in his apostolic work” (?). From the general he now passes over into the special.—If after the manner of men—Here is where the emphasis in this clause lies. The meaning is not, ‘if, according to man’s ability, with the exercise of the utmost strength’ (Rückert); since neither the contrast points to this, nor is the phrase ordinarily used in this sense. Nor yet does it mean ‘to speak after the manner of men,’ for there is no ëÝãù or ëáëῶ connected with it; [nor yet, ‘as far as man was concerned.’ (Wordsworth)]. But it means, ‘according to the ways of common men,’ ‘according to those interests and views by which men are governed,’—aiming, for example, at reward, or glory, and the like; or, as Neander: “with a merely human hope, and without any expectation of eternal life.”—I fought with beasts at Ephesus,—Respecting the allusion here, expositors are divided. Some take the words literally, and understand by them that the apostle, when at Ephesus, had been actually condemned to fight with beasts in the amphitheatre, from which contest he had been marvelously rescued; others, construe metaphorically, understanding the apostle to speak of a conflict with violent and dangerous men, or with strong and embittered foes. Expressions implying the latter are found in Appian ( ïß ́ ïéò èçñßïéò ìá÷üìåèá ), and in Ignatius Ad. Romans 5. (comp. 2Ti_4:17; Tit_1:12; Mat_7:6). The former interpretation is rendered improbable, not only because of the rights of Roman citizenship, which Paul enjoyed, which precluded such punishment, and to which he would have appealed, in case he had been condemned to it; but also from the fact that no mention of any such extraordinary occurrence is made in the Acts, nor in 2Co_11:23 ff.—But in adopting the metaphorical explanation, we are not to suppose the allusion here to be to the uproar excited by Demetrius (Acts 19), which did not occur until after this epistle was written, and in which Paul incurred no personal danger; nor yet, perhaps, to any one particular circumstance, but rather to his whole conflict with his Jewish opponents. (Comp. Act_20:19.) [The arguments for its being taken literally are thus set forth by Stanley, who, however, regards the metaphorical interpretation as the more likely.” 1. The metaphor would be more violent here than in Ignatius, where it is evidently drawn from the actual prospect of the wild beasts in the amphitheatre; 2. The Asiarchs, who are mentioned Act_19:31 of Acts, as restraining the tumult of Demetrius, appear in Polycarp’s Martyrdom to have had the charge of the wild beasts; 3. Although there are no remains of an amphitheatre at Ephesus, yet traces of a stadium are to be seen; and in the case of Polycarp, wild beasts were used in the stadium at Smyrna; 4. the young men at Ephesus were famous for their bull-fights. Artimedor. 1Co_1:9 (Wetstein); 5. that ἐí ÓöÝóù ̣ seems a forced expression, if the allusion is merely to opponents generally. Whatever be the danger, it must be the same of which he speaks in Rom_16:4; 2Co_1:8; Act_20:19.”] what advantageth it me,—a strong way of putting the negative. His conflict was an aimless, useless hazarding of life.—if the dead rise not?—This clause is not to be connected with what precedes [as in the E. V.], as though designed to explain the words “after the manner of men;” or as forming a second condition to the question just put—although according to the sense, it belongs with it; but, because of the concinnity of the clauses, it must be connected with what follows, where it gives a frivolous turn to the question, “What advantageth it me?” in the spirit of a light hearted unbelief, in order to exhibit in its proper light, how unsuitable, even in a moral aspect, that supposition was, and how it involved the most absurd consequences.—let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die.—These words are taken literally from Isa_22:13, where they occur as the utterance of a God-forgetting light-mindedness. The meaning is ‘He who denies the resurrection of the dead, by thus robbing himself of all the consolations of faith and hope, comes by natural consequence to surrender himself to the constant enjoyment of the present life, since death was soon coming to put an end to all enjoyment. We are not, however, to infer from this that the Corinthian opponents of the resurrection had actually preached such doctrine. All Paul intends is to let them see the consequences of their own position; and he here intimates that this denial was not altogether unconnected with the cultivation of too great intimacy with the profligate society around them. Similar expressions of Epicurean frivolity occur in Isa_56:12; Wis_2:1 ff, and in the classics; (Comp. Wetstein 1. h. 1.) The words “rise not,” and “die,” do not necessarily involve annihilation. Even existence in Hades, without the hope of resurrection, was a joyless state.

That the frivolous tendency indicated in the foregoing words actually existed among the Corinthian deniers of the resurrection is clear from the warning which follows; for in the “evil communications” he speaks of, he no doubt has these persons in mind, and by reference to a verse of the comedian Menander, expressive of a general truth which perhaps had also taken the form of a proverb among them, he admonishes his readers that they had reason to guard against the influences of such people.—Be not deceived:—The caution implies a strong temptation [inherent in human nature and its social tendencies, by which many are insensibly beguiled into the formation of views and habits from which they would at first have strongly recoiled],—Evil communications corrupt good manners.—’ Ïìéëßá means association, intercourse, and conversation which arises from it; the plural form is found in the New Testament only here. Çèïò , a mode of action, character, disposition, moral quality. ×ñçóôüò elsewhere in the New Testament means kind, mild, good, suitable, etc., here being contrasted with êáêáß it implies moral goodness (Plato: ÷ñçóôüôçò = ῆèïõò óðïíäáéüôçò ). Lachmann gives the reading ÷ñÞóè ’. So it reads in the original of Menander ; but it is a question whether the apostle observed the metre. The authorities are not sufficient to decide. [“The quotation shows the apostle’s acquaintance with heathen literature, and to a certain extent his sanction of it, as in his quotation from Aratus in Act_17:28, and Epimedes in Tit_1:12. Menander was famous for the elegance with which he threw into the form of single verses or short sentences, the maxims of that practical wisdom in the affairs of common life which forms so important a feature in the new comedy. In the sentence cited, each word is emphatic; character ( ̓ èç ) may be undermined by talk ( ὁìéëßáé ): honesty ( ÷ñçóôÜ ) may be undermined by roguery ( êáêáß ).” Stanley].—To those already contaminated by the treacherous influences of such frivolous men he now calls out abruptly— ἐêíÞøáôå äéêáßùò lit:—sober out rightly,—[“An exclamation full of apostolic majesty.” Bengel.] By this he gives them to understand that the susceptibility to such trifling communications lies in a state of spiritual drunkenness, out of which they ought at once to rouse themselves. The same expression is used of drunkards in Joe_1:5. [The aorist form adds force to the imperative, implying that the act must be done instantly.] Äéêáßùò means as it befits them, in the right way. By this he indicates, not so much the degree as the kind of sobriety he would have them cultivate—in contrast perhaps with the false sobriety of their new light which might appear to them as an emerging from the narrowness of their traditional notions into a state of luminous thought and feeling. Others explain the word of the direction which they were to take; or they refer it to the object to be pursued. So Calvin: ‘Turn your mind to good and holy things.’ But this transcends the simple meaning of the term. [Alford says, however, “The last meaning is well defended by Dr. Peil from Thuc. 1Co 1Co_1:21 : ἀðßóôùò ἐðὶ ôὸ ìõèῶäåò ἐêíåíéêçüôá ,—where the adverb ἀðéóôùò must be rendered ‘so as to become incredible,’ and seems to be the best”]. and sin not;—The imperative is here in the present, and so implies the continued and perpetual abstaining from all sin. The words convey an exhortation, and not in inference, [as Bengel, who says that the imperative after an imperative has the force of a future (Joh_7:37. Note)], ‘so ye will not sin.’ Nor are we to understand by ‘sin,’ a mere error of the understanding (Bengel), (this may accord with the classical use of the word ἀìáñôÜíåéí , but not with its Biblical and Pauline use); but a turning aside from the ways of righteousness, moral error in consequence of unbelief and a denial of the resurrection. “In the apostle’s view, a frivolous mind appeared as something sinful.” Neander.—The reason for this admonition he further assigns by referring that treacherous unbelief which appeared to them as the result of profounder knowledge, to a lack of that true knowledge which is the ground of all other knowledge.—for some have ignorance of God.—As his previous admonition was directed to those in the church who were in danger of being ensnared by the talk of the frivolous deniers of the resur rection, so does this statement here point to the false teachers themselves, setting them in such light as to open the eyes of the others in regard to their true character and to bring them to see the vanity of this unbelief. Accordingly, by the word “some,” we are not to understand another portion of the church, but those mentioned in 1Co_15:12, and of these, not simply a portion, but the whole. “The ignorance of God” which they manifested and which was nothing less than a practical alienation from God, is exhibited as an abiding trait by the use of the word “have,” i. e. they are permanently affected with it. They are thus represented as having settled down upon the platform of heathenism. The thought is essentially the same as in Mat_22:29. “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Not knowing God as the Living and Omnipotent One, is the reason why people assert the impossibility of the resurrection.—That such persons should be found in the church of God was a disgrace to the whole church. This he gives them to understand in the words annexed.—To your shame do I speak.—[“boldly—he speaks more severely than at the beginning on another subject.” 1Co_4:14. Bengel. There is no need of adding “this,” as the E. V., since the language here refers to what is said in the whole passage].


The power of the believer’s faith and hope. Faith in a living Saviour, who was dead and rose again, and now lives eternally to take His own into the fellowship of His eternal and perfect life,—and also the root of this faith, even the knowledge of the living God, who is exalted above all changes of life and death, and lifts His kindred creature man out from his transient, mortal state, into His own unchanging felicity, through the redemption of His incarnate Son,—awakens in the believer a lofty, cheerful courage, which shrinks from no danger, which readily exposes itself to the most painful and appalling conflicts, and which is willing to lead a dying life, yea even to lay down body and soul when the Master’s cause requires it. For what is temporal life, with all its joys and pleasures, with all its needs and struggles, in comparison with that eternal life, from whence all that is transient has vanished, and where all that is now upon us and in us worthy of preservation, is insured and perpetuated after having been purified, developed and matured for unspeakable blessedness and glory?

Far different is it, where that faith and knowledge are wanting, and where a person is constrained to give up the hope of such blessedness. In such a case all sacrifices of whatever is transient, all hazards and self denials and conflicts, must appear useless and absurd. The sole reasonable course is to seize the passing moment, and enjoy to the full whatever this life may afford, and to use all means for obtaining, preserving and increasing such enjoyment.—Experience teaches, also, that that system of speculation which abandons the true Gospel foundation—a pantheistic gnosis, for example—however spiritual it may appear at the first, and even though asserting an ethical character, sinks at last gradually, if not suddenly, into downright materialism and carnal license. Its earlier aspects and attitude, both in its theoretical and practical bearings, must be ascribed to a previous knowledge, and regarded as the lingering result of the truth which has been essentially abandoned. We may also say, that the higher moral attitude maintained by any system which lacks the true faith and its attendant hope, is owing to a hidden faith and hope, still slumbering in the depths of the spirit, which, however, in consequence of the prevailing views can attain to no settled form in the thoughtful mind. But those who are of a frivolous nature, and who shamelessly proclaim their folly in word and deed, form a dangerous class for the unsteadfast to associate with. Against these it is needful to guard, since by them the fruit of a good education is often destroyed. And these influences are the more dangerous, in proportion as they carry the appearance of a high tone of spirituality, or fall in with the current of the time. In such a case we may well call to mind the language of the apostle where he speaks of Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”



1Co_15:34. “He who would recognize God, must learn to know Him through His Word. This they [the worldly-wise] don’t do; but they go directly at the articles of faith with their own understandings, and with their own thoughts, and so presume to judge of God, and of all things concerning Him. Hence they never hit Him.”


1Co_15:30. No pains, or labors, or watchings, or strivings, to serve God are lost. As surely as God is a righteous judge will there come a resurrection of the dead.

1Co_15:31. What is the daily spiritual dying of the faithful, and their constant familiarity with sufferings and persecutions other than a confirmation of the resurrection to a life eternal? 1Co_15:32. Hostile, dangerous men are worse than wild beasts. If thou hast to deal with such, sigh to God; be watchful, circumspect, and patient.—Unhappy man, who believest not in the resurrection of the dead! For such a one grows secure, falls from one sin to another, and slides on towards damnation.


1Co_15:33. If we flee the plague and contagion, why not also evil companionship? Is temporal life more than the soul? Ordinarily, men guard against disease more than against sin. (2Ti_2:17).—There are words and speeches which, under cover of worldly respect and courtesy, conceal a dangerous poison to faith and life. Whoso is wise let him take heed. (Jam_3:8).

1Co_15:34. All who have the means for knowing God, and still are blind, are involved in disgrace. Oh! that they may not thereby be brought to shame and everlasting contempt! (Dan_12:2).

Berlenburger Bibel:

1Co_15:31. Dying means to hate one’s own life in true self denial, and to give it over to death and destruction, with everything which is in and upon man from the fall.—The fact itself is well substantiated, but what a great, deep, rich mystery of God is in it, that faith alone can see. This is already a kind of secret dying, when we dare not even reckon upon our own righteousness before God, but condemn it as a filthy rag. (Php_3:8-10). Accordingly, it is a sort of dying when we abandon ourselves in contradiction to, and beyond our own reason, solely to the unseen, and rest upon the simple promise of God, and that, too, after we have been accustomed to stand upon our own gifts and, works. And these secret crucifixions of nature, in its pride and self-willedness, and seeming sanctity, must take place daily, yea, momentarily, in the very best of Christians if they would not backslide. Yea, in all believers there is no surer safeguard against all kinds of pride which may arise easily in connection with much grace, than this daily dying to self, and one’s own life. But traces of this are manifest only in the children of light. Crude and unbroken spirits know as little of this as do hypocrites, who put their Christianity in much outward show. No one can occupy himself in this save he who is trained in conflict against the mysteries of iniquity hidden in himself.—He who does not of his own accord daily die unto the old man and his evil lusts, constrains God to lay hold on him with power and humble him; but he who willingly resolves to follow Christ, and confesses him honestly before men, will not long be exercised with tribulations.—In sum: Every thing with which man has to do, gives a believer cause and opportunity for mortifying his own life, and hastening to a complete separation from the false things of ‘this world.

1Co_15:32. The Christian’s life-walk, which consists in the constant renouncing of the works of darkness, in the mortification of the flesh and sin, in turning away from the godless; ways of this world, and in the denial of all lusts, desires, and vanities, is an earnest preparation! for the resurrection. Hence Christians prefer the Cross of Christ, and all the shame, and persecution, and contempt which may be heaped I upon them daily by the children of unbelief, to all the treasures, and honors, and enjoyments, and friendships of this present life. And this they could not certainly do, if they believed in no resurrection. The last refuge and comfort of the world is, to take what one can get.—But is there so much depending upon the resurrection? Could not the simple happiness of the soul after death recompense every thing? No. However much of enjoyment it may have, the soul must still always miss something, and through its natural inward longing, must ceaselessly urge God to bestow upon it again a suitable body.

1Co_15:33. There are many spirits who transform themselves into angels of light, and go about in sheep’s clothing, by whom many persons are befooled into dancing around some Aaron’s calf that has been set up. But if any one imagines that he is fully competent to take care of himself, such a person is altogether too confident, and will be certain not to escape unharmed.—Man has in himself enough which should humble him. But if he insists on spreading his feathers, alas! it is all over with him. The excuse: ‘I was young then, does not exonerate a person.

1Co_15:34. Ah! what charm is there not for throwing men into a deep sleep? Hence the necessity of holding fast, betimes, to what is fundamental. Wake at once out of such a fool’s sleep! Oh, how willingly does man linger in the haven of carnal security and indifference! From such places of case does He who walks in the midst of His Church summon all to come forth to earnest labor, and to advancement in their holy calling.—People deem it a disgrace if they are told, ‘they know not God,’ but it should only shame them into improvement.—There are two sorts of divine knowledge; the one is external, literal, dead, and unfruitful; the other is internal, spiritual, living, and fruitful. The former is grounded simply in natural knowledge, in learning, or speaking of God, as when one can use the language of Scripture, or repeat it again to others without experiencing its power. But if that which has been externally apprehended is sealed upon the conscience through the Holy Spirit, and if all the testimonies of God awaken in one a new life, so that he is actually changed and improved thereby, then does God appear before the eyes of the heart, and the man becomes inwardly convinced how righteous, true, good, and holy He is; then are the eyes of the understanding widely opened to see what and how much God does for him, and what he is bound to do in return—what God has promised, and what we have to expect of Him.


1Co_15:30 ff. In all the joy won by communion with Christ, there is daily opportunity to bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Now if, with all this, I could not: set my hope upon the living God who raises the! dead; if I could not regard all the steps I take in the communion of His sufferings and in the likeness of His death as well-measured approaches to the resurrection of the dead; if all this is only for the maintenance of my own opinion,! and only with reference to this short life, what availeth it for me? To suppose that Divine! blessedness and also the sufferings endured in behalf of righteousness should avail nothing, is a thought which destroys all religion and sunders the connection between God and man. If we hold not to the word of promise, and to the hope afforded therein, we have no certainty for eternity, and consequently no assurance that we shall not slide into the old forms of speech, wherein everything runs to the enjoyment of this life, but where death, and its sting are frivolously denied, and all the weighty things which follow thereupon, together with all Christian hope, are thrust out of sight, and all exhortation to diligence in salvation will be heard no more.—That which deserves to be called good morals, and sound knowledge, and correct taste, I should aim at what is unseen and eternal, and be sustained and be kept in exercise by a spirit of faith and self-denial. But how full the world is of such idle talk which turns us away from this, and makes us uncertain and credulous, as if overcome by some magic potion. Error, slumber and in difference towards God and his counsel, and the observance of His ways, are the cause of much sin.


1Co_15:30 ff. Without faith in a future life, many acts of the Christian life, many sacrifices and hazards, would be foolish and purposeless. This faith and steadfast virtue are inseparable. Without this faith that virtue which looks not to the unseen, would be a vain over-straining and fanaticism; and a prudent enjoyment of life would be the highest wisdom. 1Co_15:34. Sobriety, is the clear consciousness of God and His will. A correct self-knowledge leads to a correct faith. Unbelief comes from thorough self-ignorance, dissipation and unrestrained frivolity.

W. F. Besser:

1Co_15:33. If traitors to God find ready helpers in our own lusts, then is it a Christian duty to avoid all needless intercourse with them, and not allow ourselves to purchase their vain words for the sake of setting forth our own hateful inclinations in a seemly garb (Eph_5:6-7).

1Co_15:34. The poison of all erroneous doctrine is intoxicating; and in imbibing it, we allow ourselves to be intoxicated. Well for us, if we properly awake when the voice of truth arouses us, in order that we may spue out the poison of sin, ere we die therein!—“God is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Mat_22:32). Hence, he who denies the resurrection of the dead knows not the true God.


1Co_15:32. “How many of the myriads of the human race would do right for the sake of right, if they were only to live fifty years and then die for ever more? Go to the sensualist, and tell him that a nobler life is better than a base one, even for that time, and he will answer: ‘I like pleasure better than virtue; you can do as you please; for me, I will enjoy my time. It is a matter of taste. By taking away my hope of a resurrection you have dwarfed good and evil, and shortened their consequences. If I am only to live sixty or seventy years, there is no eternal right or wrong. By destroying the thought of immortality, I have lost the sense of the infinitude of evil, and the eternal nature of good.’ Besides, with our hopes of immortality gone, the value of humanity ceases and people become not worth living for. We have not got a motive strong enough to keep us from sin. Tell the sensualist that, though the theory of the life to come be a dream, yet that here the pleasure of doing right is sublimer than that of self indulgence, and he will answer: ‘Yes, but my appetites are strong; the struggle will be painful, and at last, only a few years will be left. The victory is uncertain, the present enjoyment is sure, why should I refrain? Do you think you can arrest that with some fine sentiment about nobler and baser being. No, the instincts of the animal will be more than a match for all the transcendental reasonings of the philosopher” (abbreviated).


1Co_15:33. “It is only when men associate with the wicked with the desire and purpose of doing them good, that they can rely on the protection of God to preserve them from contamination.”]

[Sermons.—J. Owen:

1Co_15:31. The Christian’s work of dying daily. This to be done cheerfully, comfortably, and triumphantly in the Lord. To this three things requisite: 1. The constant exercise of faith as to the resignation of a departing soul unto the hand and sovereign will-of God. 2. A readiness and willingness to part with this body on the grounds: a, That to depart is to be with Christ; b, That the body is dead because of sin. 3. Constant watchfulness against being surprised by death. R. Hall:

1Co_15:33. Nature and danger of evil communications. 1. What these communications are; a, such as tend to sensualize the mind; b, such as utterly lack a religious spirit; c, such as abound in skeptical objections to Christianity; d, such as are full of hatred to Christianity; e, such as are loose with respects to fundamental moral principles. 2. The way in which they corrupt through the natural suceptibilities of the human mind. 3. The need of the warning, “be not deceived”: a, by the adduction of false precedents; b, by your past experience; c, by any complacent reference to your age and attainments in piety; d, by any supposed strength of resolution].


1Co_15:31.—Others have ἡìåôἐñáí . Meyer thinks that ὑìåôÝñáí was not understood, and ἡìåôÝñáí seemed demanded by ἥí ἕ÷ù . It has however, the weight of evidence against it.

1Co_15:31.—The Rec. leaves out ἀäåëöïß with D. E. F. G. L. several Ital. versions, the later Arm. Orig. Chrys. Theodt. Damasc. Ambrst.; but A. B. K. Siuait. Vulg. Syr. (both) Goth. Basm. Ann. Aeth. Arab. and Slav. Dial. Aug. Pel. Bede insert it. Some of these add ìïõ C. P. W.]

[1Co_15:33.—The Rec. has ÷ñῆóè ̀, Lachmann edits ÷ñῆóè ̀ but they have no good MSS to support them. Clemens Alex. and Amphilochius (of Leon.) have the word thus abbreviated to constitute with the previous syllable a spondee; in our passage read as an iambic trimeter acataletic, which the Latins call senarius. Winer, Gram, of the N.T.§ 68.—JC. P.W.]

1Co_15:34Lachmann and Tischendorf have ëáëῶ . The Rec. gives ëþãù on equally good authority. [The former is sustained by B. D. E. Sinait. Dial. Several Latin versions and Armbrst. have loquor. The latter is favored by A. F. G. K. L., Chrys. Theodt. The Vulg. (Flor.) and two Latin and one Vulg. MSS. have dico—C. P. W.]

[In similar style Hodge accounts for Paul’s appeal to a wrong custom. “This method of arguing against others from their own concessions, is one which the Apostle frequently employs. When his mind is full of a particular subject, he does not leave it, to pronounce judgment on things incidentally introduced. Thus, in 1Co_11:5, when treating of women speaking in the church unveiled, he expresses no disapprobation of their speaking in public, although he afterwards condemned it. A still more striking example of the same thing is to he found 1Co_10:8, where ho speaks of the Corinthians “sitting at meat in an idol’s temple,” without any disapprobation of the thing itself, but only of its influence on the weaker brethren. Yet, in 1Co_10:14-22, he proves that the thing itself was an act of idolatry. The entire disappearance of this custom in the orthodox church, although other superstitious observances, not less objectionable, soon prevailed, is probably to be referred to the practice, having been forbidden by the Apostle as soon as he reached Corinth. This may have been one of the things which he left to be set in order when he came. 1Co_11:34.”]

[See this view wrought out with great originality and convincing argument by the Rev. H. D. Ganse. in the Amer. Pres. and Theo. Review, 1863, p. 83. It merits the preference over all others, because, while answering all the requirements of grammar, and conceding to each word its full and proper meaning, it rests on a natural hypothesis and relieves us of the difficulty of supposing that the Apostle here appeals for support to a practice wholly at variance with his fundamental doctrines. The whole article merits attention as a masterly specimen of exegesis, and as illustrating other points in this chapter with great beauty and force.]

[The following instances may be quoted as a specimen: “O beate Sesti!

Vitae summa brevis nos vetat inchoare longam,

l am te premet nox, fabulaeque Manes

Et domus exilis Plutonia:

O happy Sestius! the brief span of human life forbids us to indulge a distant hope. Soon will night descend upon thee, and the fabulous Manes, and the shadowy mansion of Pluto.” Hor. Carm. 1Co_1:4; 1Co_1:13-17.

Sapias, vina liqnes, et spatio brevi

Speram longam reseces. Durn loquimur, fugerit invida

Aetas. Carpe diem, quam minimuu credula postero.

Be wise: rack off your wines; and abridge your distant hopes in adaptation to the brevity of life. While we speak, envious age has been flying. Seize the present day, depending as little as possible on any future one.”—Hor. Carm. 1Co_1:11; 1Co_1:6-8.]