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The First Epistle to the Corinthians.
pp. 9 - 14
In the context of I Cor. 15: which we are considering, the futility of life without
resurrection is stressed. If there is no future life beyond the grave we might just as well
`eat and drink for tomorrow we die' (verse 32), and the Apostle Paul's constant exposure
to danger and death in his faithful witness for Christ would likewise be useless. If death
is the end, there is little left to do but to pluck the temporary pleasures of the moment.
But such carelessness, however much it may appeal to unbelievers, is not for those who
are redeemed and belong to Christ. Paul now interjects:
"Be not deceived: evil company doth corrupt good manners" (I Cor. 15: 33 R.V.),
or it could possibly mean `good characters' and so would read `bad company ruins good
characters'. This quotation is not from the O.T., but from a lost comedy of Menander's
called Thais, which had evidently become proverbial. The Apostle stresses that the
witness of the Corinthian believers would be ruined if they identified themselves with the
unbelieving around them who lived so carelessly. Not that he expected them to be
isolated entirely from the world. To live in the world was one thing. To cultivate bad
company was quite another.
We have a saying today that a `person is known by the company he keeps' and it was
evident that some of the Corinthians were associating themselves too closely with
pagans, hence his exhortation:
"Awake up righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak
this to move you to shame" (15: 34 R.V.).
Professor Barrett's translation is to the point, "Wake up properly to a sober life and
stop sinning. What some people have is ignorance of God. I say this to shame you".
A section now commences which amplifies the phrase of verse 23, `every man in his
own order', showing that a general resurrection is untrue.
"But some will say, how are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they
come?" (15: 35 R.V.).
Some questions do not arise from faith nor are they edifying. God has nowhere
revealed how the dead are raised and to speculate therefore is profitless. He has however
reveled that resurrection will be a fact and so calls for our faith and hope. To the merely
curious Paul writes:
"Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened, except it die: and
that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may
chance of wheat, or of some other kind; but God giveth it a body even as it pleased Him,
and to each seed a body of its own" (15: 36-38 R.V.).