We read:

“Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭15:33‬ ‭NKJV

‬‬One might assume that Paul means evil company can corrupt good habits, but people are in control of their own habits. So why doesn’t Paul use some term by the use of “influence”? How can evil company corrupt or ruin good habits if a person is in control of their choices?

Q: Why doesn’t Paul use the terms “Evil company negatively influences good habits”?

  • Even without the evidence showing the origin of this phrase, questions asking "why doesn't the Bible say something different?" are pretty much never a very useful question to ask. We're here to study and analyse the texts that exist, not hypothesise what could have been written instead. Why even should he have talked about "influence"? Just because you might talk that way doesn't mean others have to.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 4:26
  • @curiousdannii Realizing what Paul is saying sounds “hard to understand” I stand by what language I used. I don’t disagree with Paul, but I find his words confusing. How does “Evil company corrupt a good habit”? Hence my question.
    – Cork88
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 5:29
  • 2
    In context Paul seems to be warning his listeners about associating with the false teachers who were telling them that there was no resurrection, and he seems to use the phrase in question to make this warning, having already argued against the false teaching in the passages that precede it. One way that evil company can corrupt good habits is that the person observing wrong teaching and bad behavior day in and day out can start to normalize it in their minds and it can start to sound true and good. We're not generally misled all at once. It usually happens little by little without us noticing
    – bob
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 17:47
  • 1
    Paul is of course (as he says elsewhere) not telling them to avoid associating with unbelievers; the problem here appears to be false teachers--people who claim to be Christians but teach a false gospel.
    – bob
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 17:50
  • @bob Noted. Normalization makes sense actually.
    – Cork88
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


Paul is using a line from the Thais of the Greek poet Menander1, whose work would have been well-known to Paul's Corinthian audience.

It is not uncommon for preachers in English to quote Shakespeare, Dickens, Carroll, etc in their sermons. Their words are considered insightful, effective, and well-spoken, even if they did not originate in a theological context.

Paul quotes Classic Greek works on a number of occasions to aid his teachings.

Why didn't he use a different word? Apparently he found Menander's words adequate to get the point across. It would have made his (Paul's) message more memorable as well.

1: see discussion of Paul's use of Menander here. See also the sections on this verse in Ellicott, Barnes, and Pulpit commentaries.


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