1 Corinthians 15:34
This is one of several instances in which inspired writers have incorporated in their own compositions the language of current literature. The adoption of a line from Menander is a witness to the harmony between human reason and Divine revelation. From whatsoever source proceeding, truth and justice, wisdom and prudence, possess a Divine authority. We are encouraged to use the wisdom of so called profane writers even m enforcing spiritual truth.

I. INFIDELITY AND IMMORALITY ARE OFTEN ASSOCIATED. It would be unjust to charge all unbelievers with vice; but there is no injustice in pointing out that the natural tendency of infidelity is both to shake the foundations of virtue and to snap the restraints upon vice. If there be no righteous God, no moral law, no future retribution, all sanctions to virtue and uprightness of heart and conduct are removed, except such as are imposed by civil society. Where external penalties are removed, or where they can be evaded, it is not reasonable to expect that the bulk of men will deny themselves, check their appetites and passions, and practise the difficult virtues of justice, chastity, and benevolence. And it cannot be concealed that in most cases the prevalence of infidelity opens the flood gates of all iniquity. The Corinthian false teachers seem to have taught that, the body being perishable, sins of the flesh are immaterial and unimportant, and thus to have given countenance to the maxim of Epicureanism, "Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die."

II. INFIDELITY AND IMMORALITY ARE CONTAGIOUS AND CORRUPTING. By appealing to what is base and selfish in human nature, the champions of error and self indulgence lead especially the young who come under their influence away from the stern steep road of virtue into "the primrose path of dalliance." None are more contemptible than those blasphemers and voluptuaries who, having grown grey in the service of Satan, make it their aim to corrupt and debauch the young and inexperienced. By casting aspersions upon religion, by insinuating doubts, by representing the pleasures of sin, and, above all, by an example of irreligion, profanity, and vice, such persons make themselves a moral plague and pestilence in human society.

III. INFIDELITY AND IMMORALITY SHOULD THEREFORE BE DISCOUNTENANCED AND ESCHEWED. For the sake of our own welfare, for the sake of the family, the Church, and society, it is needful that we should be upon our guard against those evil associations which have a tendency to corrupt even good manners and morals. And, on the other hand, those whose influence has been exerted against the cause of virtue and religion may well be reminded that they cannot perish alone, that their example will probably be injurious and even ruinous to others; so that if there remain in them any spark of pity and unselfishness, they may well be entreated to immediate and sincere repentance, for the sake of others as well as of themselves. - T.







Awake to righteousness.
This chapter generally deals with the resurrection of the body; but the text refers to the resurrection of the soul. And this is a greater and more glorious work than the other, because —

I. The soul is greater than the body. What is the casket to the jewel, the house to the tenant, the barque to the crew? "Heap worlds on worlds; one soul outweighs them all."

2. It can only be accomplished with the full concurrence of the man. In the material resurrection the man has no choice, but the soul will not rise without its own consent.

3. It requires a higher agency. Mere volition and force will effect the material resurrection. Christ had only to say to Lazarus, "Come forth"; but thousands of souls dead in sin He appealed to, yet but few came out of their spiritual graves. Mere volition will not do it; it requires argument, suasion, love, example.

4. It is an invaluable blessing in itself. The material resurrection will be an intolerable curse to the wicked; but the resurrection of the soul is evermore a blessing.

5. It is necessary to qualify us to understand the resurrection of the body. This is suggested by the text when viewed in connection with the apostle's object. Rectitude of soul is a better interpreter than any hermeneutic skill. Note —

I. THE CONDITION FROM WHICH MAN IS SUMMONED. What is moral sleep?

1. It is not the sleep of —(1) The animal faculties; they are often more active in consequence of the sleep of the soul.(2) The intellectual powers; the imagination may be as active as Byron's, the reason as Voltaire's, and yet the soul may be asleep.(3) The social sympathies; they are active when the soul is asleep.

2. When is the soul asleep? When it is not inspired in all its powers by supreme love to God. This is not like sleep —(1) In being the ordination of God, as is natural sleep; it is contrary to His desire and command.(2) In being the means of refreshment. Moral sleep is a corroding and an exhausting state.

3. There are certain points of resemblance which warrant the figure.(1) Insensibility. There is a world of grand and solemn realities around the sinner; voices deep and loud speak to him; and visions of awful majesty pass before him. Yet he is dead to all. He is dead to himself and to God.(2) Fictitiousness. Objects flit before the natural sleeper that have no real existence; to the moral sleeper, heaven, hell, God, eternity, are but as dreams. Sometimes they may startle the man, but like the dream, the impression soon departs. The life of a sinner is fiction — a great lie.(3) Transitoriness. Sleep is not a permanent state. "They that sleep, sleep in the night." There is a dark spiritual night brooding over the moral sleeper, and one of two very different mornings must break the slumbers of all.(a) There is the morning of spiritual reformation — the morning when "God commands the light," etc. Then the soul awakes, and finds itself in a new world — a world full of God, and exclaims, "Surely God is in this place," etc.(b) The other morning is the morning of retribution. The awful manifestations of that morning will startle the most sleepy into active consciousness.

II. THE STATE INTO WHICH WE ARE SUMMONED. Men are not required to awake to business, pleasure, or fashion; they are all alive in relation to these things. But concerning righteousness they are asleep.

1. The state of righteousness includes —(1)Living righteously towards God and His universe.

(a)Be just to yourself; that is virtue.

(b)Be just to others; that is morality.

(c)Be just to God; this is piety.(2) Being treated as righteous.

2. The getting of man into this righteous state is ascribed to Christ. He furbishes —(1) The moral force by which it is done.(2) The moral reasons by which the past wrongs may be overlooked. "He is made unto us," etc.

3. This righteous state includes —

(1)Harmonious action.

(2)Social usefulness.

(3)Spiritual progress.

(4)Heavenly fellowships.

III. THE VOICE BY WHICH WE ARE SUMMONED. "Awake." Paul is but the organ of the Divine voice. This Divine voice sounds through —

1. All history. Turn over the sin-stained annals of the world, and you will find every chapter pealing with the word, "Awake." All the miseries of the awful past sprang from the want of righteousness.

2. The moral constitution of our nature. Conscience, with more or less emphasis, calls upon every man to "awake."

3. The memories of sainted friends.

4. The whole Bible of God.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

I. A LAMENTABLE CONDITION. "Some have not the knowledge of God."

II. A MERITED REPROOF. This is "shameful" with all the means of enlightenment around you, and implies the love of darkness.

III. AN EARNEST CALL TO A BETTER LIFE.

1. Awake. Seek forgiveness.

2. Put away sin and follow after holiness.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. OBSERVE THAT A STATE OF SIN IS HERE REPRESENTED BY SLEEP.

1. Unconcerned.

2. Unapprehensive of danger.

II. OBSERVE THAT MAN, BEING CARELESS AND SECURE IN THE MIDST OF THE GREATEST DANGERS, HE IS CALLED UPON TO "AWAKE." This is an instance of the care and compassion of God. He calls us by His providences, His Holy Spirit, His Word, His ministers, etc.

III. OBSERVE THAT WE ARE CALLED TO AWAKE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND TO RENOUNCE SIN.

1. "Awake to righteousness."

(1)To a sense of the necessity of righteousness.

(2)To the practice and pursuit of righteousness.

2. "And sin not."

(1)Sin not, in hope that there is no resurrection.

(2)Sin not, in hope that there is no judgment.

(3)Sin not, in hope that there is no state of future punishment.

(4)Sin not, in hope of future repentance.

(5)Sin no more. Why shouldst thou destroy thyself, and "stand in jeopardy every hour?" "The soul that sinneth shall die." "The wages of sin is death."

IV. OBSERVE THE CHARGE ALLEGED AGAINST SOME OF THE CORINTHIANS. "Some have not the knowledge of God." May not the same thing be charged upon some of us? Do we know God, so as to fear Him, so as to be reconciled unto Him by Christ, so as to love Him, so as to serve Him with a perfect heart and willing mind? If not, then in the apostle's sense we do not know Him. "I speak this to your shame." It is our shame. Because we have so many means of knowing Him, so many reasons to know Him drawn from our wants, etc.

(J. Walker, D.D.)

Sin not
I. THE CONDITION IMPLIED.

1. Ignorance.

2. Insensibility.

3. Peril.

II. THE EARNEST CALL.

1. To serious reflection.

2. To righteousness, both the knowledge and practise of it.

3. To vigilance.

(J. Walker, D.D.)

This warning, in the midst of an elaborate argument about the resurrection, reminds us that Christianity is intended to be a regulative rather than a speculative system, that it is a law for our life, not merely a theme for our thought. Paul brings to bear the resurrection as an argument against sinning. It is an argument against —

I. DEGRADING THE BODY. It is the body that is to rise as well as the spirit. Avoid, then, both the extreme of pampering it in animalism, and of despising it in asceticism.

II. ABSORPTION IN THIS WORLD. Beyond the time-world there is another; beneath the sense-world there is another. Live for the unseen and the eternal.

III. WRONGING CHRIST, For us He was the Conqueror, which implies that for us He went through the battle. The resurrection is —

1. The seal of His Divinity. Shall we slight His Divinity?

2. The sign of His power. Shall we defy His power?

3. The token of His love. Shall we neglect His love?

(U. R. Thomas.)

For some have not the knowledge of God
1. Knowledge lies at the foundation of religion; for, if we are to serve and worship God we ought to know who and why we are to worship; and it is this which renders religion a reasonable service.

2. Ignorance is the fruitful source of wickedness. The heathen were devoted to the grossest abominations — because "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge," the Corinthians were erroneous in doctrine and licentious in practice, because "they had not the knowledge of God."

I. WHAT IS THIS KNOWLEDGE? It cannot be a knowledge of the Divine essence; for of the essence of anything we know just nothing at all. "Canst thou, by searching, find out God?" etc. This knowledge must be considered as —

1. Theoretical to begin with. From the visible things of creation may be clearly inferred the existence and perfections of a great First Cause; but we can learn nothing of His justice or His mercy, or of the method of reconciliation with Him through Christ from nature. The Bible is the only book whence we can acquire a satisfactory knowledge of God; because there God has been pleased to give a revelation of Himself. Here He is seen as the just God and the compassionate Saviour, giving His Son to death that He may make the sinner alive.

2. Experimental. A person may study navigation at school and acquire a theoretical knowledge of it, but he must reduce that knowledge to practice, then, becoming a skilful pilot, his knowledge is experimental. We may study medicine by books, or at a university; but until we walk the hospitals our knowledge is not experimental. Now, we may believe that God knows all things, and our belief may be merely theory; but when He has removed the veil from our understandings, and shown us all that is in our hearts, then we have experience of the infinite knowledge of God. We may believe that God is pure, and this may be all theory; but when we have been given to see sin as exceeding sinful, Then we have an experience of the purity of God. We believe that God is almighty — but that, too, may be all theory. When, however, He has effected a change in our moral nature, which is nothing less than a new creation, then have we experimental proof of the power of God. We may believe that Christ is a Saviour; but this may be nothing more than a mere general apprehension; but when we have seen ourselves guilty and undone, and when He has said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," we experimentally know the power of the grace of the Lord Jesus.

3. Practical. There is no perfection of God but which, if experimentally known, will have a practical influence upon us. If we know His greatness and codescension, this will humble us; if we know His holiness, we shall abhor whatever is offensive to His purity; if we know His justice, we shall tremble at His power and be driven for a refuge to the great atonement; ii we know the whole Divine character, we shall love Him with all our heart, and serve Him with all our powers. That knowledge which does not improve the life is very little worth. Hence the character of a wicked man is included in this, that "he knows the God."

II. SOME HAVE NOT THIS KNOWLEDGE.

1. They do not admit the truth of God.

2. They do not fear Him. They who know God, know that He is awful in power, glorious in holiness, and that it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands. As such, they fear to offend Him, and reverence His law.

3. They do not trust in Him. Every instance of doubt or of unbelief are just a total or partial ignorance of the Divine character; for "They that know Thy Name will put their trust in Thee."

4. They do not love Him.

III. THE WANT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS A GREAT SHAME.

1. Nothing can be more important than that ignorant creatures should know their safety; that weak and perishing creatures should know where their strength lies; that the miserable should know where happiness is to be found; and that an immortal spirit should know its portion.

2. This knowledge will have considerable influence upon our duties. We are called to serve God, and we cannot, serve an unknown God.

3. We have adequate means put into our hands to acquire this knowledge, if we have inclination to avail ourselves of them in nature, the Scriptures, through the Holy Spirit, etc.

4. For this knowledge, too, we have also adequate faculties. Can it be said that our faculties are adequate to the attainment of every other kind of knowledge but that which most concerns us to be acquainted with?

5. We have the most important and positive motives to urge us on to secure this knowledge. "Godliness is profitable unto all things," etc. In this knowledge standeth our eternal life.Conclusion: This is interesting to us all; and every man ought to inquire of his own conscience, "Do I know God?"

1. Alas! of some it may be said — by your fruits your ignorance of God is too clearly manifested.

2. There are some who profess to know God — but is that knowledge real? is it experimental?

(W. Atherton.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. THE KNOWLEDGE. OF GOD.

1. There is a knowledge of God obtained by reflecting on His works.

2. There is a knowledge of God obtained by perusing His Word.

3. There is a knowledge of God by a revelation of Himself to the mind. This knowledge has been usually termed experimental.

II. SOME HAVE NOT THIS KNOWLEDGE.

1. Avowed infidels have not the knowledge of God.

2. Profligate sinners have not the knowledge of God.

3. Nominal Christians have not the knowledge of God.

III. THIS WAS SPOKEN TO THEIR SHAME.

1. Consider the object of this knowledge. A Being who unites in Himself all possible perfections. How disgraceful to live in ignorance of God!

2. Consider the congeniality of this knowledge with the nature of man. Our first parents were invested with a large share of it; and the human soul was formed for its possession.

3. Consider the means afforded us for obtaining this knowledge.

4. Consider the ease with which this knowledge may be secured. Human knowledge is often obtained with difficulty.

5. Consider the happiness which you will forego, and the misery you will share, by living without this knowledge.We conclude by observing —

1. How important is the knowledge of God! How insignificant is human science when put into competition with this!

2. How solicitous should we be to ascertain whether we are in the possession of this knowledge.

3. How shameful to live without the knowledge of God!

(Sketches of Sermons.)

Who, then, are these Corinthian disciples, that they have not so much as the knowledge of God? Plainly enough our apostle is not charging them here with ignorance, but with some lack of the Divine illumination which ought, if they are true disciples, to be in them. They certainly know God in the traditional and merely cognitive way. Indeed, the apostle is discoursing to them here of the resurrection of the dead, which is itself a matter based in Christian ideas. We shall best understand the point assumed in this impeachment, I think, if we raise the distinction between knowing God, and knowing about God. Doubtless it is much to know about God, about His operations, His works, His plans, His laws, His truth, His perfect attributes, His saving mercies. But true faith itself discovers another and more absolute kind of knowledge, a knowledge of God Himself; immediate, personal knowledge, coming out of no report, or statement, or anything called truth, as being taught in language. It is knowing God within, even as we know ourselves. The other is only a knowing about God, as from a distance. It may be well to say that we have two denials set against this doctrine. One is the denial of the philosophers outside of Christianity, speculating there about the cognitive functions, and making what they conceive to be their specially profound discovery, that knowledges are possible only of things relative. Therefore, God being infinite, cannot be known — God is unknowable. They say nothing of faith, they have no conception of any such super-eminent, almost Divine talent in our humanity. Could they simply trust themselves over to God, to live by His tender guidance and true inward revelation, they would never again call Him the Unknowable. The other and second form of denial as regards the immediate knowledge of God, sets up its flag inside of the Christian Church and among the muniments of doctrine. Here the possibility of faith is admitted, and the necessity of it abundantly magnified. But the faith power is used up, it is conceived, on propositions; that is propositions which affirm something about God. It does not go through, and over, and beyond, such propositions, to meet the inward revelation or discovery of God Himself. They do not even conceive it as a possibility, that we should know God Himself as a presence operative in us; even as we know the summer heat by its pervasive action in our bodies. We do not know the heat by report, or debate, or inference, or scientific truth interpreting medially between us and it; we do not see it, or hear it, or handle it, and yet we have it and know that we have, by the inward sense it creates. What then is the truth of this matter? Why it is that human souls or minds are just as truly made to be filled with God's internal actuating presence, as human bodies are to be tempered internally by heat, or as matter is made to be swayed by gravity, or the sky-space to be irradiated by the day. God is to them heat, gravity, day, immediately felt as such, and known by the self-revelation of His person. So at least it was originally to be, and so it would be now, had not this presence of God internally and personally to souls, this quickening, life-giving God-sense, been shut off by sin. Is it, then, to be said or imagined that, in the new birth, or new-begun life of faith, the subject really knows God by an immediate knowledge? He may not so conceive it, I answer, but it is none the less true. He will speak, it may be, only of his peace, but it will seem to him to be a kind of Divine peace. Thus you have every one two kinds of knowledge relating to yourself. One is what you know mediately about yourself, through language, and one that which you have immediately as being conscious of yourself. Under the first you learn who your parents were, what others think of you, what effects the world has on you, what power you have over it, and what is thought to be the science, it may be, of your nature, as an intelligent being. Under the second you have a knowledge of yourself so immediate, that there is no language in it, no thought, no act of judgment or opinion, you simply have a self-feeling that is intuitive and direct. Now you were made to have just such an immediate knowledge of God as of yourself; to be conscious of God; only this consciousness of God has been closed up by your sin and is now set open by your faith; and this exactly is what distinguishes every soul enlightened by the Spirit, and born of God. Observe now in what manner the Scriptures speak on this subject. And the time would fail me to merely recount the ways in which it is given as the distinction of faith or holy experience, that it carries, in some way, the knowledge of God, and differs the subject in that manner from all that are under the blindness of mere nature. The Holy Spirit, in like manner, is spoken of in a great many ways, as the intercoursing life and immediate inward manifestation of God. But there is an objection to this mode of conceiving holy experience, as implying an immediate discovery of God, which I am properly required to notice. What is the use, in this view, some will ask, of a Bible, or external revelation? what use of the incarnation itself? Does it follow that because we have an immediate knowledge of heat we have therefore no use at all for the scientific doctrine of heat, or the laws by which it is expounded? There is also another objection to be noticed here, which moves in the exactly opposite direction, where those who know not God complain that revelation, as they look upon it, does not reveal Him, and that God is dark to them still, as they could not expect Him to be. If there be a God, they ask, why does He not stand forth and be known as a Father to His children? Why allow us to grope and stumble after Him, or finally miss Him altogether? They are not satisfied with the Bible, and if we call it a revelation of God, they do not see it. We must not make Him responsible for the blear and self-blinding of our sin. And if it were not for this I think we should all see Him plainly enough, and always, and everywhere. For it is the whole endeavour of His management to be known. Now this exposition of God's truth converges practically, as I conceive, on a single point of broadest consequence; correcting a mistake almost universally prevalent in some greater or less degree; the mistake I mean of being overmuch occupied in religion with matters of the head. The true evidence of discipleship is knowing God. Other men know something about Him. The Christian knows Him, has Him as a friend. And there is no substitute for this. Observances, beliefs, opinions, self-testing severities — all these are idle and prove nothing. If a man knows God, it is a fact so grand, so full of meaning, that he wants no evidence beside. Now as these keep off the light of their day by the ever-busy meddling of their understanding, there is another class who have never found the day by reason of their over-busy, over-curious endeavours to make ready for it. They are waiting, and reading, and reasoning, as they think, to get light for conversion. They are going to be converted rationally, nursing all the while a subtle pride of this, which only makes them darker and puts them farther off. After all you have reasoned, faith is still to come. The roads of the natural understanding are in a lower plane, you must rise, you must go up into trust and know God — God Himself — by the inward discovery of His infinite spirit and person. What is wanted, therefore, for us all, is summed up in this Christian word faith — faith in Christ, or faith in God; for it makes no difference. Thinking and questioning stir the mind about God, faith discerns Him, and by it, as the soul's open window, he enters to be discerned. Would that all of you could know how much this means.

(H. B Bushnell, D.D.)

How deplorable would be our condition if universal knowledge were necessary in order to our happiness! For, alas! how very little do the wisest know! There is, however, a certain kind of knowledge essentially necessary to our happiness, viz., "the knowledge of God." If we would enjoy peace, and secure future good, we must be "acquainted with Him" (Job 22:21). This knowledge infallibly leads to eternal life, and is, in fact, an anticipation of it (John 17:3), whereas they who are destitute of it remain in spiritual death (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8). And quite agreeable to Scripture is the testimony of reason. As creatures who are dependent continually upon God for all we have or hope for, we owe to Him our worship and service. But to worship and serve Him in an acceptable manner is impossible if we do not know Him. Consider —

I. THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. He is infinite and incomprehensible to our limited faculties. He is a Spirit, and invisible to our bodily eyes. If therefore He do not reveal Himself to us, we can never know Him. But He does reveal Himself in the works of creation and providence, in the Bible, in His Son, and by the illumination of His Spirit.

II. THE FRUITS OF THIS KNOWLEDGE.

1. Humility.

2. Confidence attended with inward peace (Psalm 9:10; Isaiah 26:3).

3. Love (1 John 4:8).

(J. Benson.)

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