1 Corinthians 15:32 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 15:32, NIV: "If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'"

1 Corinthians 15:32, ESV: "What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”"

1 Corinthians 15:32, KJV: "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."

1 Corinthians 15:32, NASB: "If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what good is it to me? If the dead are not raised, LET’S EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE."

1 Corinthians 15:32, NLT: "And what value was there in fighting wild beasts--those people of Ephesus--if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, 'Let's feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!'"

1 Corinthians 15:32, CSB: "If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus as a mere man, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."

What does 1 Corinthians 15:32 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul continues to make his case to the group in Corinth saying that there is no resurrection from the dead for Christians. He has shown that everything he has taught from the gospel becomes pointless if Christ was not raised and if those who belong to Him will not also be raised.

The last few verses have focused on Paul's motivation for continuing in his hard and dangerous life of preaching the gospel against so much opposition. Now he continues by asking: what could he possibly stand to gain in human terms? Preaching the gospel does not bring him wealth or pleasure or status. Instead, it led him to fighting with beasts in Ephesus.

It's unclear exactly what this phrase means. It evokes imagery of Christians being torn apart by the lions in Roman spectacles. Scholars suggest, though, that it's unlikely Paul fought actual beasts in Ephesus. In a world without high-powered rifles, "fighting beasts" was significantly more dangerous than it is today. Paul seems to be using this as a metaphor for facing overwhelming and dangerous circumstances, perhaps including being attacked by angry mobs.

In any case, without the hope of resurrection for himself and those he preaches to, Paul assures his readers he would not continue to do what he is doing. Instead, he would live like those philosophers of his day known as the Epicureans, who attempted to live life to the fullest since they were convinced nothing came after. He quotes from Isaiah 22:13 to capture that spirit, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."

Paul does not live for pleasure, however. The life he does lead should convince everyone who knows him of how deeply confident he is in both the resurrection of Christ from the dead and the eventual resurrection of all Christians.