1 Corinthians 15:32
If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantages it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(32) If after the manner of men . . .—These words imply here, as elsewhere (1Corinthians 3:3), “merely from a human point of view.” What is the advantage or necessity of my incurring daily risks, if I am merely a human being, with a life limited by what we see, and no immortality and resurrection awaiting me?

I have fought with beasts at Ephesus.—The question here arises, Are these words to be taken literally or figuratively? Does St. Paul refer to some actual contest in the arena with beasts, or to his conflict with the opponents at Ephesus, whom he thus designates beasts? It is scarcely possible to accept the former interpretation. There is no mention to be found of it in the Acts, and, moreover, his Roman citizenship would have legally protected him against such treatment. We must therefore conclude that the Ephesians themselves are spoken of as “beasts.” Both Hebrew and Greek literature would have made such a form of expression familiar to the Apostle and to his readers. In the Psalms (see Psalm 22:12-13; Psalm 22:20-21) the opponents of God are similarly spoken of. The Cretans are called “evil beasts” by the poet Epimenides, whom St. Paul quotes in Titus 1:12. Heraclitus calls the Ephesians “beasts”—the same word as St. Paul uses here; and St. Ignatius (Epis. ad Rom.) speaks of “fighting with beasts by land and sea,” and having been bound to ‘ten leopards,’ that is a band of soldiers.”

Although the Greek verb implies that reference is made, not to general or prolonged opposition, but to some one outburst of rage on the part of his opponents, we must not take it as indicating the scene described in Acts 19:23-34, which had probably not taken place when this was written; but no doubt the “many adversaries” (1Corinthians 16:9) at Ephesus had already availed themselves of some opportunity of venting their rage on the Apostle after the manner of wild beasts (See Introduction.)

What advantageth it me?—This sentence is completed with these words, and should be followed by a note of interrogation, thus—“What advantageth it me?” (See next Note.)

If the dead rise not?—Better, if the dead be not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. If the dead be not raised our conduct is illogical. Consistency then belongs to those who disregard God’s call to repentance, and of whom we read in Isaiah 22:13, that they say, “Let us eat and drink.” The reference is directly to this passage in the prophet describing the conduct of abandoned Jews during the siege of Jerusalem; but the words indicate with equal accuracy that school of Epicurean philosophy of which, no doubt, there were many representatives at Corinth. Similar expressions are to be found in many classical writers; but the most remarkable instance of the use of these words is where they occur in an inscription on a statue at Anchiale, a town in Cilicia, which was St. Paul’s native province—“Sardanapalus, the son of Anacyn-draxes, built Anchiale and Tarsus in one day. Stranger, eat, drink, and play, for all the rest is not worth this.” The figure is represented as making a contemptuous motion with its fingers. Saul of Tarsus had probably often seen that statue and inscription.

15:20-34 All that are by faith united to Christ, are by his resurrection assured of their own. As through the sin of the first Adam, all men became mortal, because all had from him the same sinful nature, so, through the resurrection of Christ, shall all who are made to partake of the Spirit, and the spiritual nature, revive, and live for ever. There will be an order in the resurrection. Christ himself has been the first-fruits; at his coming, his redeemed people will be raised before others; at the last the wicked will rise also. Then will be the end of this present state of things. Would we triumph in that solemn and important season, we must now submit to his rule, accept his salvation, and live to his glory. Then shall we rejoice in the completion of his undertaking, that God may receive the whole glory of our salvation, that we may for ever serve him, and enjoy his favour. What shall those do, who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Perhaps baptism is used here in a figure, for afflictions, sufferings, and martyrdom, as Mt 20:22,23. What is, or will become of those who have suffered many and great injuries, and have even lost their lives, for this doctrine of the resurrection, if the dead rise not at all? Whatever the meaning may be, doubtless the apostle's argument was understood by the Corinthians. And it is as plain to us that Christianity would be a foolish profession, if it proposed advantage to themselves by their faithfulness to God; and to have our fruit to holiness, that our end may be everlasting life. But we must not live like beasts, as we do not die like them. It must be ignorance of God that leads any to disbelieve the resurrection and future life. Those who own a God and a providence, and observe how unequal things are in the present life, how frequently the best men fare worst, cannot doubt as to an after-state, where every thing will be set to rights. Let us not be joined with ungodly men; but warn all around us, especially children and young persons, to shun them as a pestilence. Let us awake to righteousness, and not sin.If after the manner of men - Margin, "To speak after the manner of men" (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον kata anthrōpon). There has been a great difference of opinion in regard to the meaning of these words. The following are some of the interpretations proposed:

(1) If I have fought after the manner of people, who act only with reference to this life, and on the ordinary principles of human conduct, as people fought with wild beasts in the amphitheater.

(2) or if, humanly speaking, or speaking after the manner of people, I have fought, referring to the fact that he had contended with mcn who should be regarded as wild beasts.

(3) or, that I may speak of myself as people speak, that I may freely record the events of my life, and speak of what has occurred.

(4) or, I have fought with wild beasts as far as it was possible for man to do it while life survived.

(5) or, as much as was in the power of man, who had destined me to this; if, so far as depended on man's will, I fought, supposing that the infuriated multitude demanded that I should be thus punished. So Chrysostom understands it.

(6) or, that Paul actually fought with wild beasts at Ephesus.

(7) others regard this as a supposable case; on the supposition that I had fought with wild beasts at Ephesus. Amidst this variety of interpretation, it is not easy to determine the true sense of this difficult passage.

The following thoughts, however, may perhaps make it clear:

(1) Paul refers to some real occurrence at Ephesus. This is manifest from the whole passage. It is not a supposable case.

(2) it was some one case when his life was endangered, and when it was regarded as remarkable that he escaped and survived; compare 2 Corinthians 1:8-10.

(3) it was common among the Romans, and the ancients generally, to expose criminals to fight with wild beasts in the amphitheater for the amusement of the populace.

In such cases it was but another form of dooming them to certain death, since there was no human possibility of escape; see Adam's Rom. Ant., p. 344. That this custom prevailed at the East, is apparent from the following extract front Rosenmuller; and there is no improbability in the supposition that Paul was exposed to this - "The barbarous custom of making men combat with wild beasts has prevailed in the East down to the most modern times. Jurgen Andersen, who visited the states of the Great Mogul in 1646, gives an account in his Travels of such a combat with animals, which he witnessed at Agra, the residence of the Great Mogul. His description affords a lively image of those bloody spectacles in which ancient Rome took so much pleasure, and to which the above words of the apostle refer. Alumardan-chan, the governor of Cashmire, who sat among the chans, stood up, and exclaimed, 'It is the will and desire of the great mogul, Schah Choram, that if there are any valiant heroes who will show their bravery by combating with wild beasts, armed with shield and sword, let them come forward; if they conquer, the mogul will load them with great favor, and clothe their countenance with gladness.' Upon this three persons advanced, and offered to undertake the combat.

Alamardan-charn again cried aloud, 'None should have any other weapon than a shield and a sword; and whosoever has any breastplate under his clothes should lay it aside, and fight honorably.' Hereupon a powerful lion was let into the garden, and one of the three men above mentioned advanced against him; the lion, upon seeing his enemy, ran violently up to him; the man, however, defended himself bravely, and kept off the lion for a good while, until his arms grew tired; the lion then seized the shield with one paw, and with the other his antagonist's right arm, so that he was not able to use his weapon; the latter, seeing his life in danger, took with his left hand his Indian dagger, which he had sticking in his girdle, and thrust it as far as possible into the lion's mouth; the lion then let him go; the man, however, was not idle, but cut the lion almost through with one stroke, and after that entirely to pieces.


32. Punctuate thus: "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me? If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink," &c. [Bengel]. If "merely as a man" (with the mere human hope of the present life; not with the Christian's hope of the resurrection; answering to "If the dead rise not," the parallel clause in the next sentence), I have fought with men resembling savage beasts. Heraclitus, of Ephesus, had termed his countrymen "wild beasts" four hundred years before. So Epimenides called the Cretians (Tit 1:12). Paul was still at Ephesus (1Co 16:8), and there his life was daily in danger (1Co 4:9; compare 2Co 1:8). Though the tumult (Ac 19:29, 30) had not yet taken place (for after it he set out immediately for Macedonia), this Epistle was written evidently just before it, when the storm was gathering; "many adversaries" (1Co 16:9) were already menacing him.

what advantageth it me?—seeing I have renounced all that, "as a mere man," might compensate me for such sufferings, gain, fame, &c.

let us eat, &c.—Quoted from the Septuagint, (Isa 22:13), where the prophet describes the reckless self-indulgence of the despisers of God's call to mourning, Let us enjoy the good things of life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of such skeptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. "If men but persuade themselves that they shall die like the beasts, they soon will live like beasts too" [South].

Concerning this fight of the apostle with beasts at Ephesus, there are two opinions; some thinking that he indeed fought with beasts, and we know that in those countries such a punishment was in use, to bring out malefactors to fight with wild beasts; but as we read in the Acts of no such dealings with Paul, so that being a punishment rather for their slaves and vilest men, it can hardly be thought that Paul, who was a free man of Rome, should be exposed to it. They seem therefore better to understand it, who interpret it of his conflict with men, who in their conditions and manners were like beasts; and that he doth not speak here of his scuffle with Demetrius, mentioned Acts 19:34-41, but some other conflict he had there, of which the Scripture giveth us no large account, but it seems to be generally and obscurely mentioned in the next Epistle, 2 Corinthians 1:8, for this Epistle was wrote after his contest with Demetrius. By that phrase, after the manner of men, some think he means, as men use to fight; some have other notions of it: the sense seems to be plainly this: If I have fought with beastly men at Ephesus after the manner that men fight with beasts, exposing my body to their rage and fury, what profit is it to me, if the dead rise not? I have opposed myself to their fury out of a hope for a joyful resurrection; but if there shall be no such resurrection, the epicures, that resolve to stick at nothing, nor to deny themselves in any sensual satisfaction from meat and drink, have the best of it; all men had then best sing their song:

Let us eat and drink, for we have but a little time to eat and to drink in; we know that we shall die, and there will be an end of us. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus,.... This is one of the particulars of the jeopardy and danger of life he had been in: some understand this in a figurative sense, and think that by "beasts" are meant Satan, the roaring lion, and his principalities and powers; or men of savage dispositions, persecuting principles, and cruel practices; as Herod is called a fox, by Christ, and Nero a lion, by the apostle; and suppose his fighting with them at Ephesus designs his disputations with the hardened and unbelieving Jews, his concern with exorcists, the seven sons of Sceva, and the troubles he met with through Demetrius the silversmith, and others of the same craft; the reason of such an interpretation is, because Luke makes no mention of anything of this kind, that befell the apostle in his history of the Acts of the Apostles: but to this it may be replied, that Luke does not relate everything that befell him and the rest; and his omission of this is no sufficient argument against it; besides, a literal sense not to be departed from, unless there is a necessity for it; and especially when it is suitable to the context, and to the thread and reasoning of the discourse, as it is certainly here; the literal sense best agrees with the apostle's argument. There were two sorts of usages among the Romans in their theatres; sometimes they cast men naked to the wild beasts, to be devoured by them, as wicked servants, deadly enemies, and the vilest of men (m); and so the Syriac version renders the words here, "if as among men, , "I am cast to the beasts": and seems to represent it as a supposed case, and not as matter of fact, in which the difficulty about Luke's omission is removed, and the argument in a literal sense is just and strong: sometimes they put men armed into the theatre to fight with beasts (n), and if they could conquer them and save themselves it was well, if not, they fell a prey to them; it is this last custom that is here referred to: and if regard is had to what befell thee apostle at Ephesus, when Demetrius and his craftsmen made the uproar mentioned in Acts 19:21 this could not be in reality, but only in the purpose and design of men; and certain it is, that though he was not then had to the theatre, yet Demetrius and his men intended to have hurried him there, as they did Gaius and Aristarchus his companions; and he himself was desirous of going thither, had he not been prevented by the disciples, and by the Asiarchs his friends, who had the command of the theatre where these practices were used; and then the sense is this, if after the manner of men, or in the intention and design of men, and as much as in them lay, "I have fought with beasts at Ephesus"; though if this epistle was written, as it is said to be, before that commotion by Demetrius, no respect can be had to that; but rather to something in fact before, at the same place, when the apostle did actually fight with beasts, and was wonderfully and providentially preserved; and may he what he refers to, in 2 Corinthians 1:8 when he despaired of life, had the sentence of death in himself, and yet was delivered; and then his sense is, if "after the manner of brutish men", the Romans, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus": which I was obliged to do, or deny the Gospel preached;

what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? instead of its being a glorious action, it was a fool hardy one; and if he had died in it, what profit could he have had by it, if he rose not again; or if there is no resurrection of the dead? instead of incurring such dangers, and running such risks, it would be more eligible to sit down and say with the Epicureans,

let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die; which words seem to be taken out of Isaiah 22:13 and are used in favour of the doctrine of the resurrection, showing that the denial of it opens a door to all manner of licentiousness; and are not spoken as allowing or approving of such a conduct; nor as his own words, but as representing a libertine, and pointing out what such an one would say, and might justly infer from such a tenet, that there is no resurrection of the dead.

(m) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 5. Tertul. Apolog. c. 40. & de Spectaculis, c. 19. (n) Tertul. de Spectaculis, c. 21. & 23. Cicero in Vatinium Orat. 32.

{17} If {q} after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? {18} let us {r} eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

(17) The taking away of an objection: but you, Paul, were ambitious, as men commonly and are accustomed to be, when you fought with beasts at Ephesus. That is very likely, says Paul: for what could that profit me, were it not for the glory of eternal life which I hope for?

(q) Not upon any godly motion, nor casting my eyes upon God, but carried away with vain glory, or a certain headiness.

(18) The seventh argument which depends upon the last: if there is no resurrection of the dead, why do we give ourselves to anything else, except for eating and drinking?

(r) These are sayings of the Epicureans.

1 Corinthians 15:32. Something of a special nature after the general statement in 1 Corinthians 15:31.

If I after the manner of men have fought with beasts in Ephesus, what is the profit (arising therefrom) to me?

κατὰ ἄνθρωπον] has the principal emphasis, so that it contains the element, from which follows the negative involved in the question of the apodosis: “then it is profitless for me.” And the connection yields from this apodosis as the meaning of κατὰ ἄνθρωπον: after the manner of ordinary men, i.e. not in divine striving and hoping, but only in the interest of temporal reward, gain, glory, and the like, whereby the common, unenlightened man is wont to be moved to undertake great risks. If Paul has fought in such a spirit, then he has reaped nothing from it, for he καθʼ ἡμέραν ἀποθνήσκει. The many varying explanations[67] may be seen in Poole’s Synopsis. Against Rückert, who explains it: “according to human ability, with the exertion of the highest power,” it may be decisively urged that κατὰ ἄνθρ. in all passages does not denote what is human per excellentiam. If, therefore, the context here required that κατὰ ἄνθρ. should express the measure of power (which reference, however, lies quite remote), then we must explain it as: with ordinary human power, without divine power. According to Rückert’s view, moreover, κατὰ ἄνθρ. would not be at all the principal element of the protasis, which, however, from its position it must necessarily be. Interpretations such as exempli causa (Semler, Rosenmüller, Heydenreich), or ut hominum more loquar (Estius), are impossible, since λέγω or ΛΑΛῶ does not stand along with it. The conjecture was hazarded: κατὰ ἀνθρώπων (Scaliger).

, to fight with wild beasts (Diod. iii. 42; Artem. ii. 54, v. 49), is here a significant figurative description of the fight with strong and exasperated enemies. So Tertullian (De resurr 48: “depugnavit ad bestias Ephesi, illas sc. bestias Asiaticae pressurae”), Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Pelagius, Sedulius, Beza, Grotius, Estius, Calovius, Michaelis, Zachariae, Valckenaer, Stolz, Rosenmüller, as well as Schrader, Rückert, Olshausen, de Wette, Osiander, Neander, Ewald, Maier, Hofmann, Krauss. Comp. Appian. B. C. p. 763 (in Wetstein), where Pompeius says: οἵοις θηρίοις μαχόμεθα. Ignatius, ad Romans 5 : ἀπὸ Συρίας μέχρι Ῥώμης θηριομαχῶ διὰ γῆς καὶ θαλάσσης, ad Tars. 1, ad Smyrn. 4. Comp. Titus 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17; Ignatius, ad Eph. 7, as also in classical writers brutal men are called θηρία (Plato, Phaed. p. 240 B; Aristophanes, Nub. 184; Jacobs, ad Anthol. XII. p. 114). See also Valckenaer, p. 332. Paul takes for granted that his readers were acquainted with what he describes in such strong language, as he might assume, moreover, that they would of themselves understand his expression figuratively, since they knew, in fact, his privilege of Roman citizenship, which excluded a condemnation ad bestias, ad leonem. His lost letter also may have already given them more detailed information. Notwithstanding, many interpreters, such as Ambrosiaster, Theodoret, Cajetanus, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, Lightfoot, Wolf, and others, including Flatt and Billroth, have explained this of an actual fight with beasts, out of which he had been wonderfully delivered.[68] It is objected as regards the privilege of a Roman citizen (see in particular Flatt), that Paul was in point of fact scourged, etc., Acts 16:22 f. But in Acts, l.c., Paul did not appeal to his right of citizenship, but made it known only after he had suffered scourging and imprisonment, whereupon he was forthwith set free, 1 Corinthians 15:37 ff. Before he was thrown to the beasts, however, he would, in accordance with his duty, have appealed to his right of citizenship, and thereby have been protected. And would Luke in the Acts of the Apostles have left unmentioned an incident so entirely unique, which, among all the wonderful deliverances of the apostle, would have been the most wonderful? Would not Paul himself have named it with the rest in 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff., and Clement in 5?

Upon the non-literal interpretation,[69] however, it cannot be proved whether a single event, and if so, which, is meant. Many of the older expositors think, with Pelagius, Oecumenius, and Theophylact, of the uproar of Demetrius in Acts 19. But in connection with that Paul himself was not at all in danger; moreover, we must assume, in accordance with Acts 20:1, that he wrote before the uproar. Perhaps he means no single event at all, but the whole heavy conflict which he had had to wage in Ephesus up to that time with exasperated Jewish antagonists, and of which he speaks in Acts 20:19 : μετὰδακρύων κ. πειρασμῶν κ.τ.λ.

τί μοι τὸ ὄφελος;] what does it profit me? The article denotes the definite profit, conceived as result. The self-evident answer is: nothing! Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:17. As the gain, however, which he gets from his fight waged not κατὰ ἄνθρωπον, he has in view not temporal results, founding of churches and the like, but the future glory, which is conditioned by the resurrection of the dead (comp. Php 3:10-11); hence he continues: εἰ νεκροὶ κ.τ.λ.

εἰ νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρ.] is referred by the majority of the old interpreters (not Chrysostom and Theophylact, but from Pelagius and Theodoret onwards) to the preceding. It would then be a second conditional clause to ΤΊ ΜΟΙ ΤῸ ὌΦΕΛΟς (see on 1 Corinthians 14:6); but it is far more suitable to the symmetry in the relation of the clauses (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:29) to connect it with what follows (Beza, Bengel, Griesbach, and later expositors). For the rest, it is to be observed that ΕἸ ΝΕΚΡ. ΟὐΚ ἘΓΕΊΡ. corresponds to the thought indicated by ΚΑΤᾺ ἌΝΘΡ. as being in correlative objective relation to it; further, that Paul has not put an ΟὖΝ or even a ΓΆΡ after ΕἸ, but has written asyndetically, and so in all the more vivid and telling a manner; likewise, that for the apostle moral life is necessarily based on the belief in eternal redemption, without which belief—and thus as resting simply on the abstract postulate of duty—it cannot in truth subsist at all; lastly, that the form of a challenge is precisely fitted to display the moral absurdity of the premiss in a very glaring light, which is further intensified by the fact that Paul states the dangerous consequence of the earthly eudaemonism, which τῇ γαστρὶ μετρεῖ καὶ τοῖς αἰσχίστοις τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν (Dem. 324, 24) in set words of Scripture (comp. Chrysostom), LXX. Isaiah 22:13. Analogies to this Epicurean maxim from profane writers, such as Euripides, Alcest. 798, may be seen in Wetstein; Jacobs, Del. epigr. vii. 28; Dissen, ad Pindar. p. 500; comp. Nicostr. in Stob. Flor. lxxiv 64: τὸ ζῆν οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἐστὶν ἢ ὅστις ἂν φάγῃ. See also Wis 2:1 ff.

] light-minded concrete expression for what is to be very soon. Comp. Theocr. xiii. 4.

It is not implied, however, in ΑὔΡΙΟΝ ΓᾺΡ ἈΠΟΘΝΉΣΚ. that ΕἸ ΝΕΚΡΟῚ ΟὐΚ ἘΓ. includes the denial of life after death absolutely (Flatt, Rückert, al.), but Paul conceives of death as the translation of the soul into Hades (comp., however, on Php 1:25 f., Remark), from which the translation of the righteous (to be found in Paradise) into the eternal Messianic life is only possible through the resurrection.

[67] Chrysostom and Theophylact: ὅσον τὸ εἰς ἀνθρώπους, as far as a beast-fight can take place in reference to men. Theodoret: κατὰ ἀνθρώπινον λογισμὸν θηρίων ἐγενόμην βορά.

[68] From this literal interpretation arose the legend in the apocryphal Acta Pauli in Nicephorus, H. E. ii. 25 (p. 175, ed. Paris, 1630), that he was thrown first of all to a lion, then to other beasts, but was left untouched by them all.—Van Hengel (comp. previously his Annot. p. 208), while likewise holding fast the literal view, has explained it only of a supposed case: “Sumamus, me Ephesi depugnasse cum feris,” etc. But this would not at all fit into the connection with the actual dangers and sufferings which Paul has mentioned before. Observe, on the contrary, the climax: κινδυνεύομεν, ἀποθνήσκω, ἐθηριομάχησα, which latter word brings forward a particular incident, which has occurred, as proof of the general ἀποθνήσκω.

[69] Which Krenkel also follows in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1866, p. 368 ff., assuming in connection with it a use of language among the primitive Christians based upon Mark 1:13, which resolves itself into a hypothesis incapable of proof.32. If after the manner of men] After man, Wiclif. Either (1) as margin, ‘to speak after the manner of men,’ or (2) for purely human and temporal objects, like those of men in general. See for this expression ch. 1 Corinthians 3:3, and Romans 3:5, Galatians 1:11; Galatians 3:15.

I have fought with beasts at Ephesus] It must have been a metaphorical, not a literal fighting with beasts of which the Apostle spoke. His Roman citizenship (Acts 16:37; Acts 22:25) protected him from being thrown to the lions in the arena. And it is generally believed that he eventually died by the sword, as a Roman citizen. He means to say that he contended with men who had the passions of beasts (as in Acts 19:29-34, though it is not certain that this particular event had yet occurred). So did Ignatius afterwards, who, referring to the demeanour of the Roman legionaries by whom he was conducted to Rome, says, “I am bound to ten leopards, that is, a troop of soldiers, who are only made worse by kindnesses.” Cf. Ad Romans 5. 2 Timothy 4:17. Also Psalm 22:20-21; Psalm 35:17.

what advantageth it me] i.e. as we should say, where is the use of it?

let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die] “With our hopes of immortality gone, the value of humanity ceases” and life becomes not worth living. “Go, then, to the sensualist Tell him that the pleasure of doing right is a sublimer existence than that of self-indulgence. He will answer you … ‘The victory is uncertain, present enjoyment is sure.’ … Do you think you can arrest that with some fine sentiment about nobler and baser being? Why, you have made him out to be base yourself. He dies, you tell him, like a dog. Why should he live like an angel?… The instincts of the animal will be more than a match for all the transcendental reasonings of the philosopher.” Robertson. Perhaps the words, ‘if the dead rise not,’ should be taken in connection with this sentence, rather than with that which precedes.1 Corinthians 15:32. Εἰ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ἐθηριομάχησα ἐν Ἐφέσῳ, τί μοι τὸ ὄφελος; εἰ νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, φάγωμεν καὶ πίωμεν, αὔριον γὰρ ἀποθνήσκομεν, if after the manner of men, I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it to me? if the dead rise not, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die) This clause, if the dead rise not, is now for a long time properly connected with the words that follow; for in the foregoing, the formula, after the manner of men, is equivalent to it in force: that is, if, after human fashion, for a human consideration, with the mere hope of the present life, not in the hope of a resurrection to be expected on Divine authority, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, etc.—ἐθηριομάχησα ἐν Ἐφέσῳ, I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus) This one contest Paul expressly mentions, not only because it was a very great one, but also, because it was very recent. He was still at Ephesus; 1 Corinthians 16:8 : and there, before this epistle was written, he had been exposed to extraordinary danger, which seems to be the same occasion as that described, Acts 19:29-30; 2 Corinthians 1:8; wherefore he calls it a fight with wild beasts, in which his life was in jeopardy; comp. 1 Corinthians 4:9 : as Heraclitus of Ephesus had been in the habit of applying the term wild beasts, θήρια, to the Ephesians four hundred years before: comp. Titus 1:12 concerning the Cretans and Epimenides.—φάγωμενἀποθνήσκομεν, let us eat—we die) So the LXX., Isaiah 22:13, that is, let us use the good things of the body and of the present life. This is a Mimesis or the imitation of a supposed opponent’s wicked manner of speaking.Verse 32. - After the manner of men. The phrase is a qualification of the strong metaphor, "I fought with beasts." It is equivalent to "humanly speaking." This is Chrysostom's view. It is the most reasonable, and accords with the use of the phrase in Romans 3:5; Galatians 3:15. Meyer, however, explains it to mean "with mere human motives." I have fought with beasts. Not literally, for in that case he would have mentioned it in 2 Corinthians 11. as one of his deadliest perils, and it must have been recorded by St. Luke in his full account of St. Paul's life at Ephesus. A Roman citizen was legally exempt from this mode of punishment. The word points to some special peril incurred in resisting the hostility of the worshippers of Artemis (Acts 20:19), but not to the tumult in the theatre, which did not happen till after this letter was despatched (1 Corinthians 16:8, 9). The metaphor is not uncommon. Thus in 2 Timothy 4:17 St. Paul alludes to Nero (probably) as "the lion." David often compares his enemies to wild beasts (Psalm 22:21, etc.). When his jailor informed Agrippa of the death of Tiberius, he did so in the words, "The lion is dead." St. Ignatius writes of the ten soldiers who were conducting him to Rome as "ten leopards." Epimenides, in the line quoted by St. Paul in Titus 1:12, spoke of the Cretans as "evil wild beasts," and the pseudo-Heraclitus gives this same uncomplimentary title to these very Ephesians. Let as eat and drink; for tomorrow we die. Perhaps the "if the dead are not raised" belongs to this clause. He means that such an Epicurean maxim, if never excusable, would at least be natural, if men could only look to life in the present. The sentiment is found on the lips of the despairing and the sensual alike in Isaiah 22:13, and in the writings of the heathen (Horace, 'Od.,' 1:4, 13-17, etc.). St. Paul would be all the more familiar with it because it formed the infamous epitaph of a statue of Sardauapalus, which he must have often seen in his boyhood at Anchiale, near Tarsus. It represented the debased king as snapping his fingers, and using almost these very words. It is strange that similar passages should be found even in the Talmud. Shemuel said to Rav Yehudah, "Seize and eat, seize and drink; for the world is like a wedding feast (soon over)" ('Eiruvin,' fol. 54, 1). After the manner of men (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον)

As men ordinarily do, for temporal reward; and not under the influence of any higher principle or hope.

I have fought with beasts (ἐθηριομάχησα)

Only here in the New Testament. Figuratively. Paul, as a Roman citizen, would not have been set to fight with beasts in the arena; and such an incident would not have been likely to be passed over by Luke in the Acts. Compare similar metaphors in 1 Corinthians 4:9, 2 Timothy 4:17; Titus 1:12; Psalm 22:12, Psalm 22:13, Psalm 22:20, Psalm 22:21. Some, however, think it is to be taken literally. They refer to the presence at Ephesus of the Asiarchs (Acts 19:31), who had charge of the public games, as indicating that the tumult took place at the season of the celebration of the games in honor of Diana; to the fact that the young men at Ephesus were famous for their bull-fights; and to the words at Ephesus as indicating a particular incident. On the assumption that he speaks figuratively, the natural reference is to his experience with the ferocious mob at Ephesus. There was a legend that Paul was thrown, first of all, to a lion; then to other beasts, but was left untouched by them all. In the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans occur these words: "From Syria even unto Rome, I fight with beasts, both by land and sea, both night and day, being bound to ten leopards. I mean a band of soldiers, who, even when they receive benefits, show themselves all the worse" (5). Compare Epistle to Tralles, 10: "Why do I pray that I may fight with wild beasts?" So in the Epistle to Smyrna he says: "I would put you on your guard against these monsters in human shape" (θηρίων τῶν ἀνθρωπομόρφων); and in the Antiochene "Acts of Martyrdom" it is said: "He (Ignatius) was seized by a beastly soldiery, to be led away to Rome as a prey for carnivorous beasts" (ii.).

Let us eat and drink, etc.

Cited, after the Septuagint, from Isaiah 22:13. It is the exclamation of the people of Jerusalem during the siege by the Assyrians. The traditional founder of Tarsus was Sardanapalus, who was worshipped, along with Semiramis, with licentious rites which resembled those of the Feast of Tabernacles. Paul had probably witnessed this festival, and had seen, at the neighboring town of Anchiale, the statue of Sardanapalus, represented as snapping his fingers, and with the inscription upon the pedestal, "Eat, drink, enjoy thyself. The rest is nothing." Farrar cites the fable of the Epicurean fly, dying in the honey-pot with the words, "I have eaten and drunk and bathed, and I care nothing if I die." Among the inscriptions from the catacombs, preserved in the Vatican are these: "To the divine shade of Titus, who lived fifty-seven years. Here he enjoys everything. Baths and wine ruin our constitutions, but they make life what it is. Farewell, farewell." "While I lived I lived well. My play is now ended - soon yours will be. Farewell and applaud me." Compare Wisdom of Solomon, 2:1-9.

1 Corinthians 15:32 Interlinear
1 Corinthians 15:32 Parallel Texts

1 Corinthians 15:32 NIV
1 Corinthians 15:32 NLT
1 Corinthians 15:32 ESV
1 Corinthians 15:32 NASB
1 Corinthians 15:32 KJV

1 Corinthians 15:32 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 15:32 Parallel
1 Corinthians 15:32 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 15:32 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 15:32 French Bible
1 Corinthians 15:32 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Corinthians 15:31
Top of Page
Top of Page