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Verse 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ. If our hope in Christ shall not be followed by the resurrection of the dead and future glory, and if all our hopes shall be disappointed.

We are, etc. Doddridge, Macknight, Grotius, and some others, suppose that this refers to the apostles only; and that the sense is, that if there was no resurrection, they, of all men, would be most to be pitied, since they had exposed themselves to such a variety of dangers and trials, in which nothing could sustain them but the hope of immortality. If they failed in that, they failed in everything. They were regarded as the most vile of the human family; they suffered more from persecution, poverty, and perils, than other men; and if, after all, they were to be deprived of all their hopes, and disappointed in their expectation of the resurrection, their condition would be more deplorable than that of any other men. But there is no good reason for supposing that the word "we," here, is to be limited to the apostles. For,

(1.) Paul had not mentioned the apostles particularly in the previous verses; and,

(2.) the argument demands that it should be understood of all Christians, and the declaration is as true, substantially, of all Christians as it was of the apostles.

Of all men most miserable. More to be pitied or commiserated than any other class of men. The word here used (eleeinoteroi) means, properly, more deserving of pity, more pitiable. It may mean, sometimes, more wretched, or unhappy; but this is not necessarily its meaning, nor is it its meaning here. It refers rather to their condition and hopes than to their personal feeling; and does not mean that Christians are unhappy, or that their religion does not produce comfort, but that their condition would be most deplorable; they would be more deserving of pity than any other class of men. This would be,

(1.) because no other men had so elevated hopes, and, of course, no others could experience so great disappointment.

(2.) They were subjected to more trials than any other class of men. They were persecuted and reviled, and subjected to toil, and privation, and want, on account of their religion; and if, after all, they were to be disappointed, their condition was truly deplorable.

(3.) They do not indulge in the pleasures of this life; they do not give themselves, as others do, to the enjoyments of this world. They voluntarily subject themselves to trial and self-denial; and if they are not admitted to eternal life, they are not only disappointed in this, but they are cut off from the sources of happiness which their fellow-men enjoy in this world.—Calvin.

(4.) On the whole, therefore, there would be disappointed hopes, and trials, and poverty, and want, and all for nought; and no condition could be conceived to be more deplorable than where a man was looking for eternal life, and for it subjecting himself to a life of want, and poverty, and persecution, and tears, and should be finally disappointed. This passage, therefore, does not mean that virtue and piety are not attended with happiness; it does not mean that, even if there were no future state, a man would not be more happy if he walked in the paths of virtue, than if he lived a life of sin; it does not mean that the Christian has no happiness in religion itself—in the love of God, and in prayer and praise, and in purity of life. In all this he has enjoyment; and even if there were no heaven, a life of virtue and piety would be more happy than a life of sin. But it means that the condition of the Christian would be more deplorable than that of other men; he would be more to be pitied. All his high hopes would be disappointed. Other men have no such hopes to be dashed to the ground; and, of course, no other men would be such objects of pity and compassion. The argument in this verse is derived from the high hopes of the Christian. "Could they believe that all their hopes were to be frustrated? Could they subject themselves to all these trials and privations, without believing that they would rise from the dead?

Were they prepared, by the denial of the doctrine of the resurrection, to put themselves in the condition of the most miserable and wretched of the human family—to admit that they were in a condition most to be deplored?

{a} "we are of" Joh 16:2; 1 Co 4:13; 2 Ti 3:12

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