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…
Note here —
I. A LOW JUDGMENT OF HUMAN NATURE.
1. There is no good reason for taking the text literally. Had such a terrible struggle taken place it would have been recorded in the Acts, and often referred to by Paul himself.
2. By wild beasts he means men, gross and savage in wickedness. Heraclitus called the Ephesians θήρια. If we refer to Acts 19. we shall find that certain men were entitled to the designation. We read of them "being full of wrath," of the whole city "filled with confusion," of some "crying out one thing and some another." They seem to have been bereft of reason and given up to the wildest fury of passion.
3. Paul was not alone in classifying such men with beasts. The Baptist called some of his hearers vipers, and Christ compared such men to swine. The Bible speaks of wicked men in two stages lower than humanity.
(1) The sensual, who are in a state where the senses rule the soul, where the animal is supreme. Is not this the state of the mass of men? The great question is, What shall we eat, what shall we drink? etc.
(2) The devilish. Men have the power of getting lower than the beasts. By the power of their imaginations they kindle their passions into a diabolical heat, and, by bringing the elements of nature into new combinations, they generate and nourish unnatural appetites.
II. A FIERCE STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN NATURE. "I have fought with." Paul fought with men for men.
1. The battle was inevitable to his mission. He was the messenger of truths that struck directly at their prejudices, their habits, their greed (Acts 19:27).
2. The battle was most benevolent on his part. Love, not anger, was its inspiration. He fought for them by fighting against their prejudices and their sins.
3. the battle was most unequal in circumstances. Numbers, authority, influence, wealth, were all arrayed against one penniless foreigner. In moral battles numbers are an inferior consideration. One man in truth may conquer a nation in error.
III. A GREAT PROBLEM FOR HUMAN NATURE. "What advantageth it me?" etc. The apostle does not say either that there would be no advantage in a godly struggle for truth were there no future life, nor that such a struggle was to be conducted with a view of advantage. He puts the question and leaves it to be answered. Our answer will be that on the assumption that there is no future life, godliness will be —
1. Of physical advantage to man. The habits of life promoted by Christianity are conducive to bodily health and longevity.
2. Of mental advantage to man. It generates sentiments, it starts trains of thoughts, it awakens hopes, which yield to the mind a happiness which nothing else on earth can afford. If Christianity is only a dream, it is a dream from which we would not awake.
3. Of social advantage to man. Christianity has proved itself to be infinitely the best system for promoting the peace of families, the order of society, the prosperity of nations.
(D. Thomas, 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.