Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 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.”
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:29-34
Reading this passage, one might have the impression that Paul is going for the kill in dealing with the issues relating to the resurrection that he has been discussing in this section. We might even detect the presence of a bit of ad hominem here. An argument is said to be ad hominem when a person attacks another person in stead of that person’s position on an issue. In our time, we should be quite familiar with ad hominem attacks, for the entire political world is engaged in such tactics. Just turn on any cable news station this afternoon, and you will see examples of this. If someone attacks you for your faith, saying you are “deluded, deranged and dangerous”, you have just received an ad hominem attack.
An ad hominem argument is a logical fallacy, and if this paragraph was all that Paul wrote on the issue in 1 Corinthians, it would’ve been a fallacious argument. However, in this case, after having addressed the actual issue very thoroughly, Paul is really using it as a sort of wake-up call for any remaining holdouts to really consider how poor their arguments against the resurrection are.
He begins with a practice of being baptized for the dead. Read his words carefully and ask yourself if he was endorsing the practice.
We might even infer that whoever was doing this was also promoting the no resurrection point of view: It sounds an awful lot like ridicule to me.
Look at vv. 30-32 in which Paul puts forth a comparison and contrast between his constant danger of being arrested and/or killed for preaching the gospel, and the whole notion of “eat, drink and be merry”. If there were no hope of a resurrection, why would he and those with him expose themselves to such danger? If there is no resurrection, there could be no judgement or eternity, and if that were true, why not eat, drink and be merry?
He winds up this part of the discussion by calling on everyone to set aside such nonsense and to be sensible on the subject. Instead of spreading such ridiculous thinking, they should be spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and just to be clear about everything, yes, he was trying to shame them.
I can’t help but wonder how our reactions to such teaching would compare to Paul’s.