1 Corinthians 15:29-34
29. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
29. Quid alioqui facient qui baptizantur pro mortuis, si omnino mortui non resurgunt? quid etiam baptizantur pro mortuis?
30. And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
30. Quid etiam nos periclitamur omni hora?
31. I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
31. Quotidie morior per nostram gloriam, fratres, quam habeo in Christo Iesu Domino nostro.
32. 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.
32. Si secundum hominem pugnavi ad bestias Ephesi, quid mihi prodest? edamus et bibamus: eras enim moriemr.
33. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
33. Ne erretis: Mores honestos corrumpunt mala colloquia.
34. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
34. Evigilate juste, et ne peccetis: ignorantiam enim Dei quidam habent: ad pudorem vobis incutiendum dico.
Granting, however, that the argument was conclusive, can we suppose that, if such a corruption as this had prevailed among the Corinthians, the Apostle, after reproving almost all their faults, would have been silent as to this one? He has censured above some practices that are not of so great moment. He has not scrupled to give directions as to women's having' the head covered, and other things of that nature. Their corrupt administration of the Supper he has not merely reproved, but has inveighed against it with the greatest keenness. Would he in the meantime have uttered not a single word in reference to such a base profanation of baptism, which was a much more grievous fault? He has inveighed with great vehemence against those who, by frequenting the banquets of the Gentiles, silently counte-nanced their superstitions. Would he have suffered this horrible superstition of the Gentiles to be openly carried on in the Church itself under the name of sacred baptism? But granting that he might have been silent, what shall we say when he expressly makes mention of it? Is it, I pray you, a likely thing that the Apostle would bring forward in the shape of an argument a sacrilege4 by which baptism was polluted, and converted into a mere magical abuse, and yet not say even one word in condemnation of the fault? When he is treating of matters that are not of the highest importance, he introduces nevertheless this parenthesis, that he speaks as a man. (Romans 3:5; Romans 6:19; Galatians 3:15.) Would not this have been a more befitting and suitable place for such a parenthesis? Now from his making mention of such a thing without any word of reproof, who would not understand it to be a thing that was allowed? For my part, I assuredly understand him to speak here of the right, use of baptism, and not of an abuse of it of that nature.
Let us now inquire as to the meaning. At one time I was of opinion, that Paul here pointed out the universal design of baptism, for the advantage of baptism is not confined to this life; but on considering the w6rds afterwards with greater care, I perceived that Paul here points out something peculiar. For he does not speak of all when he says,
It appears from the writings of the Fathers, that as to this matter, also, there crept in afterwards a superstition, for they inveigh against those who delayed baptism till the time of their death, that, being once for all purged from all their sins, they might in this state meet the judgment of God.9 A gross error truly, which proceeded partly from great ignorance, and partly from hypocrisy! Paul, however, here simply mentions a custom that was sacred, and in accordance with the Divine institution -- that if a catechumen, who had already in his heart embraced the Christian faith,10 saw that death was impending over him, he asked baptism, partly for his own consolation, and partly with a view to the edification of his brethren. For it is no small
It is also a form of oath that is not common, but is suited to the subject in hand. Corresponding to this was that celebrated oath of Demosthenes, which is quoted by Fabius,17 when he swore by the Shades of those who had met death in the field of Marathon, while his object was to exhort them to defend the Republic.18 So in like manner Paul here swears by
Now by those that
I return to Paul.23 We see what an extremity God allowed his servant to come to, and how wonderfully, too, he rescued him. Luke,24 however, makes no mention of this fight. Hence we may infer that he endured many things that have not been committed to writing.
Now it is a sentiment that is particularly worthy of attention, for Satan, when he cannot make a direct assault upon us,32 deludes us under this pretext, that there is nothing wrong in our raising any kind of disputation with a view to the investigation of truth. Here, therefore, Paul in opposition to this, warns us that we must guard against evil communications, as we would against the most deadly poison, because, insinuating themselves secretly into our minds, they straightway corrupt our whole life. Let us, then, take notice, that nothing is more pestilential than corrupt doctrine and profane disputations, which draw us off, even in the smallest degree, from a right and simple faith;33 for it is not without good reason that Paul exhorts us not to be
He adds at the same time the reason,
1 "This," it is stated by Barnes, "was the opinion of Grotius, Michaelis, Tertullian, and Ambrose." -- Ed.
2 "De ce seul argument;" -- "With this single argument."
3 "Mats ie ne voy rien qui me puisse amener a suyure ceste coniecture;" -- "But I see nothing that could induce me to follow that conjecture."
4 "Ce sacrilege horrible;" -- "This horrible sacrilege."
5 The form of expression referred to is made use of by Cicero. (Art. 8.1.) -- Ed.
6 "Proufite apres la mort, et non pas la vie durant;" -- "Profits after death, and not during life."
7 "Estans encore sur la premiere instruction de la doctrine Chrestienne;" -- "Being as yet in the first rudiments of Christian doctrine."
8 "Quelque maladie dangereuse; -- "Some dangerous malady."
9 Cornelius a Lapide, in his Commentary on the Canonical Epistles, (Paris, 1631,) adverts in the fbllowing terms to the custom referred to by Calvin: "Inter conversos olim multi erant qui Baptismum diu differebant, etiam usque ad mortem, adeoque aegri in lecto baptizabantur, ut per Baptismum expiati ab omni culpa et poena illico puri evolarent in coelum:" -- "Among the converted there were anciently many who deferred baptism for a long time, even up to the time of their death, and were accordingly baptized when sick in bed, that cleared by baptism from all fault and punishment, they might fly up to heaven pure." Milner, in his Church History, (volume 2,) when treating of Gregory Nazianzen, says, "In another discourse, he protests against the too common practice of delaying baptism, which, from the example of Constantine, had grown very. fashionable, for reasons equally corrupt and superstitious. Men lived in sin as long as they thought they could safely, and deferred baptism till their near approach to death, under a groundless hope of washing away all their guilt at once." See also Turretine's Theology, (Geneva, 1690,) volume 3. -- Ed.
10 "Si celuy qui n' estoit pas encore parfaitement instruit en la doctrine Chrestienne, et toutesfois auoit desia de vraye affection embrasse la foy;" -- "If one, that had not as yet been fully instructed in Christian doctrine, but yet had already embraced the faith with true affection."
11 "Baptism," says Dr. Dick, in his Lectures on Theology, (volume 4) "imports our interest in the resurrection of Christ and its consequences. It was called by the ancients ' the earnest of good things to come,' and 'the type of the future resurrection.' May not this be the meaning of that passage in the fifteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, concerning which there has been such a diversity of opinion? ' Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not? why are they then baptized for the dead?' (1 Corinthians 15:29.) Some of the Fathers understood the expression,
12 "Quand quelques fois les mondaines s'exposent a la mort seulement pour acquerir vn bruit immortel;" -- "When worldly persons in some cases expose themselves to death, merely to acquire an immortal fame."
13 The rendering in Wiclif (1380) is -- for youre glorie. -- Ed.
14 The particle
15 "Veu qu'il parloit a bon escient, ayant luy-mesme les mains a la besongne, ainsi qu' on dit;" -- "Inasmuch as he spoke in good earnest, having himself his hands in the work, as they say."
16 "Quelque Philosophe qui triomphe de dire, estant loin de la prattique;" -- "Some Philosopher, that talks loftily, while far from the scene of action."
17 "Lequel Quintilian allegue;" -- "Which Quintilian quotes."
18 "Quid denique Demosthenes? non illud jusjurandum per caesos in Marathone ac Salamine propugnatores reipublicae, satis manifesto docet, praeceptorem ejus Platonem fuisse?" -- "What in fine as to Demosthenes? Does not that celebrated oath by these defenders of the Republic who were slain at Marathon and Salamis, afford ample evidence, that Plato was his preceptor?" Quinctilian, (Edin. 1810,) volume 2. The celebrated oath of the Grecian orator referred to, was in these terms --
19 "Et mesme comme il y auoit le ieu de l'escrime pour duire des gens h combatre les vns contre les nutres, pour donner passetemps au peuple, aussi il y auoit vn ieu auquel on faconnoit des gens a combatre contre les bestes es spectacles publiques;" -- "Nay more, as there was a game of fencing for training persons for fighting with each other, to afford ammuse-ment to the people, so there was a game in which they made persons fight with wild beasts in the public shows."
20 "N' estoit pas quitte, mais il luy faloit retourner au combat contre la seconde." -- "He was not let go, but had to return to fight with a second."
21 "Sometimes freemen, of desperate circumstances, sought a precarious subsistence by hazarding their -lives in this profession; but it was chiefly exercised by slaves, and prisoners of war, whom their masters or conquerors devoted to it; or by condemned persons, to whom was thus afforded an uncertain prolongation of existence, dependent upon their own prowess, activity, or skill." -- Illustrated Commentary. -- Ed.
22 "What was called venatio," (hunting,)" or the fighting of wild beasts with one another, or with men called bestiarii, (fighters with wild beasts,) who were either forced to this by way of punishment, as the primitive Christians often were; or fought voluntarily, either from a natural ferocity of disposition, or induced by hire, (auctoramento,) Cic. Tusc. Quaest. it. 17. Faro. 7:1., Off. it. 16., Vat. 17. An incredible number of animals of various kinds were brought from all quarters, for the entertainment of the people, and at an immense expense. Cic. Faro. 8:2, 4, 6. They were kept in inclosures, called vivaria, till the day of exhibition. Pompey in his second consulship exhibited at once 500 lions, who were all dispatched in five days; also 18 elephants. Dio. 39. 38. Plin. 8.7. Adam's Roman Antiquities, (Edin. 1792,). -- Ed.
23 "Ie retourne maintenant a parler de Sainct Paul;" -- "I now return to speak of St. Paul."
24 "Sainct Luc aux Actes;" -- "St. Luke in the Acts."
25 "De ruine et perdition;" -- "With ruin and perdition."
26 "Car quant a ce qui on trouue entre les histoires ancicnnes que quelqu'vn disoit aux soldats;" -- "For as to its being recorded in ancient histories, that one said to his soldiers."
27 The allusion is to Leonidas, king of Sparta, when addressing 300 Spartans, at the Pass of Thermopyhe, who "by an act of intrepidity, rarely paralleled in history, set themselves to defend that Pass, in opposition to 20,000 Persian troops, and during the night spread dreadful havoc and consternation among the Persians, but the morning light at length discovering their small number, they were immediately surrounded and slaughtered." -- Robertson's History of Greece, page 151. -- Ed.
28 The following instances may be quoted as a specimen : --
"O beate Sesti !
Vitae summa brevis nos vetat inchoare longam,
Jam to premet nox, fabulaeque Manes
Et domus exilis Plutonia:
O happy Sestius! the brief span of human life forbids us to indulge a distant hope. Soon will night descend upon thee, and the fabulous Manes, and the shadowy mansion of Pluto." -- Hor. Carm. I. 4, 13-17.
"Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
Spem longam reseces. Dum loquimur, fugerit invida
Aetas. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
Be wise; rack off your wines; and abridge your distant hopes in adaptation to the brevity of life. While we speak, envious age has been flying. Seize the present day, depending as little as possible on any future one." -- Hor. Carre. I. 11.6-8.
29 "De douter et s'enquerir;" -- "Of doubting and inquiring."
30 "Les bonnes moeurs;" -- "Good manners."
31 "Menander was a celebrated comic poet of Athens, educated under Theophrastus. His writings were replete with elegance, refined wit, and judicious observations. Of one hundred and eight comedies which he wrote, nothing remains but a few fragments. He is said to have drowned himself' in the fifty-second year of his age, B. C. 293, because the compositions of his rival Philemon obtained more applause than his own." -- Barnes. -- Ed.
32 "Pour nous seduire;" -- "To draw us aside."
33 "De la simplicite de la foy;" -- "From the simplicity of the faith."
34 "The connection is not that in which we should have expected such a maxim to be inserted. It is in the midst of a very affecting and instructive view of the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting; but the occasion of it was this: the Corinthians had received, from the intrusion of false teachers, principles which militated against that great doctrine. They had been taught to explain it away, and to resolve it merely into a moral process which takes place in the present world'; interpreting what is said of the resurrection of the dead in a mystical and figurative manner. The apostle insinuates, that it was by a mixture of the corrupt comnmnications of these men with the Christian Church, and the intimate contact into which they had permitted themselves to come with them, that they had been led off from the fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and rejected a primary part of the apostolic testimony. 'For if there be no resurrection of the dead, then,' as he observed, 'is Christ not risen, and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain; ye are yet in your sins.' We see, that notwithstanding the apostle had planted pure Christianity among the Corinthians, and had confirmed it by the most extraordinary miracles and supernatural operations, yet such was the contagion of evil example and corrupt communication, that the members of the Corinthian Church, in a very short time, departed from the fundamental article of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ; and hence we may learn the importance, nay, the necessity, of being on our guard in this respect, and of avoiding such confidence in ourselves as might induce us to neglect the caution here so forcibly expressed -- ' Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners.'" -- R. Hall's Works, (Lond. 1846,) volume 6:pages 273, 274. -- Ed.
35 The original word