“I die daily”—1 Corinthians 15:31

It is common to hear this phrase amongst many a Christian, by way of Christianese. It is often used in the presumption that “dying daily” refers to overcoming sin daily i.e. killing “the flesh” on a daily basis.

Now, the Bible DOES teach walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. We are instructed to not be flesh-ruled or sensual (Gal 5:24-26, Eph 4:22-24, Col 3:5, 8-10).

To walk in the Spirit is to conduct our lives according to our new nature in Christ. This happens by the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:1-2), whereby the believer allows the Word influence, correct and reshape his perspectives and worldview, leading to godly living.

The imperative to lead a godly life cannot be found in 1 Corinthians 15:31, however. Paul, in this text, speaks of the trials he had faced, in the work of the ministry. Some had asserted that there is no resurrection from the dead (1 Corin 15:12-18). Paul’s point is this: if the dead are not raised, why risk his life daily to preach Christ? (vv. 30-31). He speaks of fighting “beasts at Ephesus” (vs. 32), referring to his conflict with persecutors there (Acts 19:21-41).

Paul’s comfort in all this (the persecutions he faced) was that even if he were killed by his persecutors, he would one day be raised by the Lord, never to die again (2 Corin 1:8-9). In that resurrection, he would receive a reward for his labours (1 Corin 9:24-25, 2 Corin 5:10, 2 Tim 4:6-8). So he gladly laid down his life in service, with this assurance in mind.

But if the dead are not raised (as these heretics at Corinth claimed), then “why do we (preachers of the Gospel) stand in jeopardy every hour?,” Paul exclaims! (vs. 30). His “dying daily” (i.e. exposing his life to death daily) was in vain! It would be better to just live nonchalantly, Paul argues. He says, “If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (vs. 32). If our entire lives ended at death, with no real consequence afterwards, then why live with any committment to any cause? Of course, Paul’s argument here is ironical, to reveal the absolute absurdity of these false teachers’ claims, at Corinth.

Thus, Paul’s “dying daily” is not a daily putting off of the flesh. It refers to the perils and persecutions he was faced with DAILY, for the sake of the Gospel.

Paul says this in different ways throughout his Epistles to the Church at Corinth.

In 2 Corinthians 4, he says, “For we who live (preachers of the Gospel) are ALWAYS DELIVERED TO DEATH FOR JESUS’ SAKE, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then DEATH IS WORKING IN US (preachers of the Gospel), but life in you” (vv. 11-12).

In 2 Corinthians 11, he recounts his sufferings for the sake of the Gospel (vv. 23-33). He lived every day as though it were his last, risking his very existence and welfare. This is how Paul “died daily” (1 Corin 15:31). That expression refers to his constant exposure and expectation of death.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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