Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. -1 Corinthians 15:33
Meaning of 1 Corinthians 15:33
The verse 1 Corinthians 15:33 means that a Christian must not be betrayed by people who might be disguised as good people and may lead them to make terrible choices. The verse is also written to describe false teachers at the early church. In other words, the author Paul is writing to a warning to the church, asking them to be cautious of who they listen to and follow. The words ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’ is also applicable to listening and associating with friends and relatives.
Interpretations of 1 Corinthians 15:33
1 Corinthians 15:33 is one of the most taught verses in the church as well as in non-Christian communities. A few interpretations of the verse are given below.
Interpretation #1 There is evil everywhere
This interpretation is one of the most convincing versions of the Christian community. Here the reader believes that ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’ is a warning by Apostle Paul as well as a direct commandment from God. Also, he or she understands that Christians are chosen to be holy and follow God by obeying the Bible. However, if they are friends with a person who is not a churchgoer, it is considered bad company. Also, the churches teach that, except for the Christian communities, the rest of the world is filled with evil. They give examples of immoral and progressive ideologies as examples to make Christians refrain from having friends outside their communities to stay away from evil.
Interpretation #2 Christians are ignorant and weak
In this interpretation, the readers believe that God, Apostle Paul, as well as preachers in a few churches consider Christians as naïve people. Hence, they are easily manipulated or vulnerable without constant reminders or guidance. Hence the verse ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’ implies that a Christian is either weak and ignorant or a newly converted follower who is yet to learn the ways of the Bible. In another scenario, the reader also believes that Christians are very kind towards others; hence it makes them weak and trusting towards others. Such an attitude may either corrupt them or lead them into trouble.
Interpretation #3 Parents are responsible for teaching morals to children
According to this interpretation, the readers understand that churches are not solely responsible for educating young children. Parents are particularly asked to train their children to fear God and also avoid bad company in their neighborhood as well as school. Hence the verse ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’ must be a constant reminder to every child. Also, it is not wise or advisable for parents to depend on church priests or Sunday school teachers to train children in morals and wisdom. Using this verse, the parents can warn children while teaching them the difference between truth and lies related to life and the Biblical lessons.
Interpretation #4 Delight in good company and avoid false teachers
In this interpretation, the reader understands the context, which is the verse 1 Corinthians 15:32 as well as the verse 1 Corinthians 15:34. Through the verse ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’, Apostle Paul is warning the readers, especially Christians that people who didn’t believe in the resurrection account of Jesus. Hence, the verse here means to beware of false teaching as well as immoral people. Paul is also asking Christians to be careful of spiritual failure if a strong Christian associates with a weak believer as it could lead them to lose faith and even become an apostate.
Historical background of 1 Corinthians 15:33
The epistle 1 Corinthians was written by Paul during his stay or visit to Ephesus. It was perhaps written around 53-54 A.D., during his early ministry and a year after establishing a church in the city of Corinth. It is believed that Paul had co-written the book of 1st Corinthians with Sosthenes, head of Corinth synagogue, especially chapters 1 and 2. While writing the first Corinthians chapter 15, Paul comes to know that the few preachers who claimed to be Christians preached against the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, they were teaching that the dead cannot be resurrected. In verse 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul is quoting Euripides, a Greek tragedy writer.
Literary Devices of 1 Corinthians 15:33
The verse 1 Corinthians 15:33 is one of the most quoted verses among Christians and non-Christians, with good literary devices. A few examples are given below.
Adage – The phrase ‘evil communications corrupt good manners’ in NIV is written as ‘Bad company corrupts good character’. It is also a good example of an adage as the verse 1 Corinthians 15:33 is a short and universal truth based on facts.
Assonance – The verse shows good use of vowel sounds, though not all in quick succession. For example, the sound of /ee/, the sound of /i/, and the sound of /uh/ in ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good’.
Alliteration – The verse 1 Corinthians 15:33 also has one repeated consonant sound in quick succession at the start of the word. For example, the sound of /c/ in ‘evil communications corrupt good manners’.
Consonance – The verse also has repeated consonant sounds without quick successions. For example, the sound of /s/ and the sound of /r/ in ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’.
Theme – The major themes of 1 Corinthians 15:33 are morality, caution, and conviction. The minor themes include belief and corruption.