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…
It would be greatly to the satisfaction of our curiosity if we could mention exactly what was the historic form of this trial. And there is an interpretation of this passage which insists that Paul was once compelled to fight literally with wild beasts. Indeed, tradition has caught up the story, and told us that he braved the beasts most dauntlessly in the attack, and, while the audience waited to see him torn in pieces, he suddenly invoked the powerful interposition of high heaven with a wonderful gesture of his outstretched hand. The suppliant animals refused to do him harm. Lions came cringing to his feet, and, like so many tame dogs, began licking his wounds where the scourge blows had broken the skin. Now we have in 2 Corinthians a complete catalogue of Paul's sufferings; but fighting in the arena is not among them. We understand this text, therefore, as a figurative description of the great conflict he had with wild Ephesian men; and with such an interpretation the question comes within the reach of every Christian put under severe conflict. When any good man is forced into a fight he is often constrained to ask, "What advantageth it me?" It so happens that the inquiry has a right noble answer.
I. THE FINE POSSESSION OF A MANLY REMINISCENCE. We always have a high respect for a difficulty we have actually surmounted. Evermore there remains deep in our hearts the joyous consciousness for once at least of having stood true when under fire.
II. QUICKENED GROWTH IN GRACE. Conflict makes men sober and thoughtful; then it makes them gentle and kind; then it makes them forbearing and charitable.
III. POWER FOR LEADERSHIP AMONG MEN. Men trust the veterans from hard-fought fields.
IV. FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST (Hebrews 12:3). Those who are persecuted for Christ's sake receive precisely what He received; the disciple is mot above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord.
V. IT RENDERS MORE LUMINOUSLY WELCOME THE HEAVENLY OUTLOOK. "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast." All will be peace and rest and satisfaction.
(C. S. Robinson, D.D)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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; for to morrow we die.