33 “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”
Do not be deceived:
Some in the Corinthian church were deceived (1 Co 6:9; Ga 3:1; 6:7; 1 Jn 1:8; 3:7). Christians can be deceived about the resurrection.
“Evil company corrupts good habits.”
The third incentive for believing in the resurrection is sanctification (vv. 33-34).
The quotation here may be a reference to a comedy by Menander entitled Thais that had become proverbial, dating back to Euripides. The Greeks viewed the statement “Evil company corrupts good habits” as a wise statement. Paul used this idea to warn the Corinthians about people in their church who deny the resurrection. Scuttlebutt in the church about the denial of the resurrection among some infected the thoughts of others. Casual talk can produce practical results.
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin;
The Corinthian church needed to do some serious thinking – they needed to wake out of doctrinal sleep about the resurrection. The more righteousness in our lives, the less sin there is in our lives. Corinthian believers stood in need of sober thinking about eternal things, for some of them did not know what they were talking about. They were not to enter into the sinful thinking of “Eat, drink, for tomorrow we die.”
The Bible uses the metaphor “awake” three times, here and as follows:
Ro 13:11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
Ep 5:14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
for some do not have the knowledge of God.
The knowledge of God in this context is knowledge of bodily resurrection – the linchpin of Paul’s entire argument in chapter 15. The Corinthian church prided itself on its knowledge, but it did not possess a crucial piece of knowledge – the resurrection.
I speak this to your shame.
It was a shame that the false idea of no resurrection caught the imagination of some in the Corinthian church.
It is inevitable that bad companions will warp our values.
God’s people are susceptible to deception, especially from their cronies and associates. Water flows downhill. Birds of a feather flock together. Crooks like to be with crooks. Sheep like to be with sheep. If you run with the deceived, then do not cry when people charge you with error. If we lay down with dogs, then we will get up with fleas. It is inevitable and inexorable that evil companions warp good morals.
1 Co 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person.
2 Th 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. …14And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.