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.
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].