1 Corinthians 15:33
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(33) Be not deceived.—The previous words are spoken with sarcasm. That is what you must come to if this life be all. The solemn thought then occurs to the Apostle that perhaps these words do only too truly describe the actual state of some of the Corinthians. They had become tainted by the bad moral atmosphere in which they lived and which was impregnated with the teaching of that false philosophy, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” “Be not deceived,” he adds, solemnly; it is a fact, Evil communications corrupt good manners.” This is a proverb, slightly modified in one word from a line in the Thais of Menander. It is impossible to say whether the Apostle was acquainted with the original line in the poem, or not; for in any case he would probably have quoted it in the form in which it was current amongst ordinary people. The force of the proverb is, that even evil words are dangerous. The constant repetition of an immoral maxim may lead to immoral life. Words that seem harmless, because they float lightly like thistledown, may bear in them a seed of evil which may take root and bring forth evil fruit.

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.Be not deceived - By your false teachers, and by their smooth and plausible arguments. This is an exhortation. He had thus far been engaged in an argument on the subject. He now entreats them to beware lest they be deceived - a danger to which they were very liable from their circumstances. There was, doubtless, much that was plausible in the objections to the doctrine of the resurrection; there was much subtilty and art in their teachers, who denied this doctrine; perhaps, there was something in the character of their own minds, accustomed to subtle and abstruse inquiry rather than to an examination of simple facts, that exposed them to this danger.

Evil communications - The word rendered "communications" means, properly, a being together; companionship; close contact; converse. It refers not to discourse only, but to contact, or companionship. Paul quotes these words from Menander (in Sentent. Comicor. Greek p. 248, ed. Steph.), a Greek poet. He thus shows that he was, in some degree at least, familiar with the Greek writers; compare the note on Acts 17:28. Menander was a celebrated comic poet of Athens, educated under Theophrastus. His writings were replete with elegance, refined wit, and judicious observations. Of one hundred and eight comedies which he wrote, nothing remains but a few fragments. He is said to have drowned himself, in the 52nd year of his age, 293 b.c., because the compositions of his rival Philemon obtained more applause than his own. Patti quoted this sentiment from a Greek poet, perhaps, because it might be supposed to have weight with the Greeks. It was a sentiment of one of their own writers, and here was an occasion in which it was exactly applicable. It is implied in this, that there were some persons who were endeavoring to corrupt their minds from the simplicity of the gospel. The sentiment of the passage is, that the contact of evil-minded men, or that the close friendship and conversation of those who hold erroneous opinions, or who are impure in their lives, tends to corrupt the morals, the heart, the sentiments of others. The particular thing to which Paul here applies it is the subject of the resurrection. Such contact would tend to corrupt the simplicity of their faith, and pervert their views of the truth of the gospel, and thus corrupt their lives. It is always true that such contact has a pernicious effect on the mind and the heart. It is done:

(1) By their direct effort to corrupt the opinions, and to lead others into sin.

(2) by the secret, silent influence of their words, and conversation, and example. We have less horror at vice by becoming familiar with it; we look with less alarm on error when we hear it often expressed; we become less watchful and cautious when we are constantly with the frivilous, the worldly, the unprincipled, and the vicious. Hence, Christ sought that there should be a pure society, and that his people should principally seek the friendship and conversation of each other, and withdraw from the world. It is in the way that Paul here refers to, that Christians embrace false doctrines; that they lose their spirituality, love of prayer, fervor of piety, and devotion to God. It is in this way that the simple are beguiled, the young corrupted, and that vice, and crime, and infidelity spread over the world.

33. evil communications corrupt good manners—a current saying, forming a verse in Menander, the comic poet, who probably took it from Euripides [Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16]. "Evil communications" refer to intercourse with those who deny the resurrection. Their notion seems to have been that the resurrection is merely spiritual, that sin has its seat solely in the body, and will be left behind when the soul leaves it, if, indeed, the soul survive death at all.

good—not only good-natured, but pliant. Intimacy with the profligate society around was apt to corrupt the principles of the Corinthians.

Do not suffer yourselves to be abused with evil and corrupt discourses of those philosophers amongst whom you converse, who argue from innate principles of reason against articles of faith; though you may judge that they talk but for discourse sake, yet their communication or discourse is naught, and will influence men as to things of practice, and debauch men in their morals. It is a verse or saying taken out of, or at least found in, one of the pagan poets; but containing in it much truth. Be not deceived,.... By such as deny the doctrine of the resurrection, and by their reasonings about it; or by such libertines who go into the denial of it, and argue from thence in favour of their licentious course of life:

evil communications corrupt good manners. This is a sentence taken out of Menander, an Heathen poet, showing how dangerous is the conversation of evil men, and what an influence bad principles communicated and imbibed, have on the lives and practices of men. This the apostle cites not out of ostentation, or to show his reading, learning, and acquaintance with such sort of writers; but partly to observe, that this was a truth obvious by the light of nature, and partly because such a testimony might be more regarded by the Corinthians, who might be fond of such authors, and what was said by them; just as when he was at Athens among the philosophers there, he cites a passage out of Aratus, Acts 17:28 as he does another out of Epimenides concerning the Cretians, Titus 1:12.

{19} Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

(19) The conclusion with a sharp exhortation, that they take heed of the wicked company of certain ones. And from this he shows where this evil sprang from: warning them to be wise with sobriety to righteousness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 15:33 f. The immoral consequence of the denial of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:32) gives occasion to the apostle now in conclusion to place over against that Epicurean maxim yet a word of moral warning, in order thereby to express that the church should not be led astray, i.e. be seduced into immorality (πλανᾶσθε, passive, see on 1 Corinthians 6:9), by its intercourse with those deniers who were in its bosom (τινὲς ἐν ὑμῖν, 1 Corinthians 15:12; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:34).

φθείρουσιν κ.τ.λ.] justification of the admonition μὴ πλανᾶσθε. The words (forming an Iambic trimeter acatalectic[70]) are from the Thais of the comic poet Menander (see his Fragmenta, ed. Meineke, p. 75); although it still remains a question whether Paul really recognised them as an utterance of this comic poet (as a Μενάνδρειος φωνή, Lucian, Am. 43), or only generally as a common Hellenic saying, which, just as such, may have been taken up by that poet also. The latter is probable from the proverbial character of the words, and in the absence of any indication whatsoever that they are the words of another. Similar classical passages may be seen in Alberti, Obss. p. 356 ff., and Wetstein. Comp. especially, Theognis 35 f.

ἤθη χρηστά] good morals, the opposite being κακά, Soph. O. R. 610, Antig. 516, and πονηρά, Plato, Gorg. p. 499 E, Phil. p. 40 E; Plat. Def. p. 412 E: χρηστότης ἤθους ἀπλαστία μετʼ εὐλογιστίας.

ὁμιλίαι κακαί] Vulgate: colloquia mala. So Luther, Erasmus, and many, including van Hengel and Krauss. Comp. Dem. 1468, 27, 1466, 2; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 6. But the context does not justify this restriction of the conception. Comp. Beza. Hence it is rather: good-for-nothing intercourse, bad company. Regarding the plural, comp. Plato, Pol. p. 550 B: ὁμιλίαιςκακαῖς κεχρῆσθαι, Soph. O. R. 1489; Xen. Mem. iii. 7. 5, Hier. iv. 1. In the application the readers were meant to think of intercourse with the deniers of the resurrection, to be on their guard against moral contagion through the.

ἐκνήψατε δικαίως, κ. μὴ ἁμαρτ.] Parallel to μὴ πλανᾶσθε, but representing the readers as already disturbed in the moral clearness and soundness of their judgment, already transferred by the influence of those τινές, 1 Corinthians 15:34, into a certain degree of moral bondage (intoxication); for the idea of being completely sobered from the condition in which they were before their conversion (Hofmann) is remote from the text, as, in particular, the very ground assigned, which immediately follows, points to the hurtful influence of the τινές. He separates the church from these individuals among her members; the former is not to let herself be injured through the latter (1 Corinthians 5:6), but to become sober, in so far as she has already through them experienced loss of moral soberness. Become sober after the right fashion, properly as it behoves. Comp. Livy, i. 41: expergiscere vere; Homer, Od. xiv. 90: οὐκ ἐθέλουσι δικαίως μνᾶσθαι, Dem. 1180, 25. Comp. Lobeck, ad Soph. Aj. 547. As regards ἐκνήφειν, to become sober in a non-literal respect, comp. Plutarch, Dem. 20; Aret. iv. 3; Joel 1:5. Bengel, we may add, says well: “ἐκνήψατε exclamatio plena majestatis apostolicae.” The aorist imperative denotes the swift, instant realization of the becoming sober; μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε,[71] on the contrary, requires the continuous abstinence from sinnin.

ἀγνωσίαν γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] for some persons have ignorance of God; how carefully should you guard yourselves from being befooled by such! Ἀγνωσία (1 Peter 2:15) is the opposite of γνῶσις, see Plato, Pol. v. p. 477 A, Soph. p. 267 B. The τινές are those spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:12, not, as Billroth arbitrarily assumes, only a small portion of them. The nature of their unbelief in the resurrection is apprehended as in Matthew 22:29. The expression ἀγν. ἔχειν, “gravior est phrasis quam ignorare,” Bengel. They are affected with it. Comp. Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 574 E.

πρὸς ἐντρ. ὑμ. λέγω] For it disgraced the church, that such τινές were within it; all the more alert should it be. Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:5, 1 Corinthians 5:6. Ὑμῖν belongs to λέγω.

[70] The reading χρήσθʼ (Lachmann; Elzevir, with wrong accent: χρῆσθʼ), which is, however, almost without support, suits the metre. According to the correct reading χρηστά, Paul has left the metrical form out of account, perhaps was not aware of it at all.

[71] The context gives no warrant for lending (comp. on Ephesians 4:26) to the imperative vim futuri (Bengel, Krauss). As regards the general μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν, comp. the ποιῆσαι κακὸν μηδέν, 2 Corinthians 13:7.

REMARK on 1 Corinthians 15:32-34.

Billroth, followed by Olshausen, is too hasty in inferring from 1 Corinthians 15:32 that the opponents of a resurrection would themselves have abhorred the maxim φάγωμεν κ.τ.λ. Paul assumes of his readers generally that they abhorred that maxim as anti-Christian; but the τινές among them, who denied the resurrection, must, according to the warning and exhortation 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, have been already carried away in consequence of this denial to a frivolous tendency of life; otherwise Paul could not warn against being led away by their immoral companionship (1 Corinthians 15:33). Nay, several others even must already have become shaken in their moral principles through the evil influence of the τινές; else Paul could not give the exhortations which he does in 1 Corinthians 15:34. For that, in 1 Corinthians 15:33 f., he is not warning against mistaking and neglecting of saving truths, as Hofmann thinks, but against corruption of wholesome habits, consequently against immorality, is certain from ἤθη in the words of Menander, and from μὴ ἁμαρτ.; hence, also, the danger of going astray is not to be conceived of as having arisen through intercourse with heathen fellow-countrymen (Hofmann), but through association with those τινές in the church, who had become morally careless by reason of the denial of the resurrection. This is demanded by the whole connection. The τινές were sick members of the church-body, whom Paul desires to keep from further diffusion of the evil, alike in faith and in life.1 Corinthians 15:33-34 deliver Paul’s judgment upon the situation: the disbelief in the Resurrection declared in the Cor[2458] Church is of a piece with its low ethics (1 Corinthians 3:1 ff., 1 Corinthians 4:18 to 1 Corinthians 5:2) and its heathen intimacies (1 Corinthians 8:10, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, 2 Corinthians 5:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1); it springs from ἀγνωσία Θεοῦ, from a feeble religious consciousness.—μὴ πλανᾶσθε (see parls.), “Be not misled (seduced)”: the seduction lay in the specious philosophy under which sceptical tenets were advanced, concealing their demoralising tendency. The line the Ap. quotes (an ordinary senarius of the dialogue in the Attic drama: χρηστά, so written in the best copies, was probably read f1χρήσθʼ, Wr[2459], Hn[2460]) is attributed to Menander (322 B.C.), of the New Comedy and an Epicurean, by Tert[2461] and Hier., followed by most others. But this was a proverbial gnomé, and probably current long before Menander. ὁμιλίαι bears the narrower sense of conversations (A.V.; colloquia, Vg[2462]), or the wider sense, more fitting here, of intercourse, companionships (R.V.).—ἐκνήψατε δικαίως κ.τ.λ. (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32 b, 1 Corinthians 11:21; and parls. for ἐκνήφω): “Rouse up to soberness in righteous fashion, and cease to sin” (the first impv[2463] is aor[2464], of a single action; the second pr., of a course of action)—a startling call, to men fallen as if into a drunken sleep under the seductions of sensualism and heathen society and the fumes of intellectual pride. δικαίως signifies the manner of the awaking; it is right the Cor[2465] should rouse themselves from self-delusion; P. assails their conscience.—ἀγνωσίαν γὰρ Θεοῦ τινες (cf. 12) ἔχουσιν, “For some have (maintain) an ignorance of God” (cf. the use of ἔχω in 31, 1 Corinthians 8:1, Romans 4:2; Romans 5:1, respecting states of mind); this asserts, beyond τὸν Θεὸν ἀγνοοῦσιν, a characteristic, a persistent condition, in which the Cor[2466] τινὲς share with the heathen (1 Corinthians 12:2, Romans 1:19 ff., etc.).—πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λαλῶ, “I say (it) for a shame to you,” otherwise than in 1 Corinthians 4:14. “Ignorance of God” is a deeper evil than the ingratitude toward the Ap. which he censured earlier; this can only be remedied by a thorough inward reaction—“ad pudorem vobis incutiendum dico” (Cv[2467]). That these wise Cor[2468] should be taxed with “ignorance,” and “of God” on the knowledge of whom they flattered themselves above all (1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:4), was humiliating indeed.

[2458] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2459] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[2460] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[2461]ert. Tertullian.

[2462] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2463] imperative mood.

[2464] aorist tense.

[2465] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2466] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2467] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[2468] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.33. evil communications corrupt good manners] This passage is taken from the Thais of Menander, and like Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12, shews that St Paul was familiar with classical literature.1 Corinthians 15:33. Μὴ πλανᾶσθε) in the Middle voice.—φθείρουσιν) they corrupt. Its conjugate corruption, is found at 1 Corinthians 15:42. He uses the well-known sentence of Menander in a sublimer sense, and opposes it to the Epicurean creed, 1 Corinthians 15:32; presently after, at 1 Corinthians 15:34, he was about to apply a more weighty stimulant. [The multitude of wicked sayings and vicious proverbs in human life is indeed very great, by which a vast number repel things however sacred and salutary and endeavour to defend their own wantonness and hypocrisy. Scoffs of that kind were also common among the Israelites, Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 11:15; Ezekiel 12:22; Ezekiel 18:2.—V. g.]—ἤθη, manners) Good manners [principles] are those, with which a man passes from things that are fading to things that are eternal.—χρηστὰ) good or even easy, light [pliant dispositions]: see Scap. on this word, col. 1820. Comp. Romans 16:18.—κακαὶ, evil) opposed to faith, hope, love. On the other hand, good communication [conversations] as for instance concerning the resurrection, puts an end to gluttony and depravity of manners.Verse 33. - Be net deceived. Do not be led astray by such specious maxims. They can only arise from that too great familiarity with the heathen against which I have already put you on your guard. Evil communications corrupt good manners. An iambic line from the 'Thais' of Menander, and perhaps taken by Menander from a play of Euripides. More accurately it means "evil associations corrupt excellent morals." According to the best reading (χρηστὰ, not χρησθ), St. Paul does not quote it as an iambic, and in itself it does not offer the least shadow of proof that St. Paul was familiar with classic literature. It is just such a line as he might have seen carved on the Hermae of any Greek town, or preserved in any chrestomathy or gnomology which may have chanced to pass through his hands. His other classic quotations (from Epimenides, Titus 1:12; and Aratus or Cleanthes, Acts 17:28) are of the same common and proverbial character. It is very unlikely that he would have deliberately quoted from the immoral play of a corrupt comedian like Menander. (For the sentiment, see 2 Timothy 2:16-18.) Communications (ὁμιλίαι)

Wrong. Lit., companionships. Rev., company.

Manners (ἤθη)

Only here in the New Testament. Originally ἦθος means an accustomed seat or haunt; thence custom, usage; plural, manners, morals, character. The passage, "Evil company doth corrupt good manners," is an iambic line; either the repetition of a current proverb, or a citation of the same proverb from the poet Menander. Compare Aeschylus: "Alas for the ill-luck in mortals that brings this honest man into company with those who have less regard for religion. In every matter, indeed, nothing is worse than evil-fellowship" (ὁμιλίας) ("Seven against Thebes," 593-595).

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