1 Corinthians Chapter 6: Taking Christians to Court, Judgment

Nov 10th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Corinthians, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Corinthians Chapter 6: Taking Christians to Court, Judgment

1 Cor. 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

Paul now began to address the matter of litigation, namely, of a brother taking a brother to court. The word “dare” immediately catches the reader’s attention. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another [Christian], go to law before the unjust [the unconsecrated], and not before the saints [the consecrated]?” Verse 1 pertains to a situation where the two parties to the grievance are brethren in Christ. It does not apply to a grievance between a consecrated individual and an unconsecrated person, for the unconsecrated one might institute the lawsuit.

Some scholars suggest that Paul was using sarcasm here. Properly used, this technique can be constructive and beneficial. In verse 1, Paul was playing on the common word “unjust.” Since the courts were known as being the place of “the just,” he was asking, “Do you go before ‘the unjust,’ who have the title of being ‘the just’?” How can a person in the world understand religious matters, especially those dealing with the consecrated? “You … go … before the unjust, and not before the saints.” In other words, if a dispute of a serious nature arises between two brothers, the ecclesia (or part of the ecclesia) should decide the matter. In fact, sometimes it is better not to include the whole ecclesia because the level of congregational thinking on a serious matter might not be a source of wisdom. Then it would be advisable to limit the “saints” who hear the matter to perhaps three or four.

1 Cor. 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

Verse 2 continues the sarcasm: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” The Corinthian brethren knew the promise that those who are faithful unto death will receive the crown of life and judge mankind in the Kingdom. “If the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” Now the sarcasm was even stronger.

Paul’s questions suggest that the Corinthians were still babes in Christ in spiritual matters. They were inclined to go to worldly courts because they did not trust the judgment of the ecclesia. Suppose, for example, the class was divided into three groups, and each group voted differently. Each of the two parties in the grievance, feeling he was right, feared that the judgment would not come out to his favor. This strife was creating such a problem that the parties wanted to go to an unbiased outside element, and that thinking was logical from a worldly standpoint.

Q: To what extent should we judge those in the world even now?

A: When a judge decides an issue in court, he pronounces the sentence. Judging and giving our opinion are one thing, but judging and giving a sentence require more responsibility and have to be done in a scriptural manner.

Comment: Our responsibility at present is not to go around to individuals in the world and tell them what they are doing wrong. Rather, through our example, they should be able to see what is right and thus realize their wrongdoing. Our responsibility in the Kingdom will be to judge righteously, but now we cannot read the heart or fully understand the situation.

Reply: With ordinary, everyday experiences, that should be our attitude. However, there might be a rare case where we would say to a friend, “That action is not advisable. Be careful because of where the act will lead you.” In other words, there are extenuating circumstances where we would say something, but to be too much of a buttinsky is not our role now.

1 Cor. 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

The holy angels do not need to be judged because they passed a severe test at the time of the Flood. Why, then, did Paul introduce, in this context, the thought that the Church will judge the fallen angels, the demons? What bearing does verse 3 have on the discussion of a brother taking a brother to court?

Comment: Since the Little Flock will be judging angels during the Kingdom Age, as well as the world of mankind, Paul was saying that Christians should have enough wisdom to judge matters on the earthly plane now within the ecclesia.

Reply: That is one aspect. The Church has a future career of judging beings of a nature that is superior to that down here on earth. Several conclusions can be drawn. (1) The status of angels is superior to that of humans. (2) Christians in the flesh lack knowledge with regard to what is going on in tartaroo in earth’s atmosphere. (3) Christians should be more knowledgeable with regard to human affairs.

Since the Little Flock will judge angels, then “how much more [Christians should be able to judge] things that pertain to this [present] life.“ If we hope to be judges of the fallen angels and mankind in the future, we cannot go through the present life without thinking about, analyzing, and preparing for this role. We should be keenly observing things in view of the future office. After all, would the Lord put somebody on the throne to judge in matters great and small who does not weigh issues in the present life? To do so would not make much sense.

As an illustration, a surgeon is usually called a “practicing physician.”

We start as baby Christians. As we grow, we gain a little understanding through each experience. In other words, we are in a state of preparation now. We are practicing judges as we make decisions along various lines—doctrinally, character-wise, etc.—hoping to make our calling and election sure and thus to be granted that power.

Paul’s sarcasm to the Corinthians implied, “You hope to be judging angels in the future, but you cannot judge even the smallest matter down here.” He was shaming them. Many feel that Christians should not judge, and they close their eyes and minds, not wanting to think about issues. They do not want trouble or strife with a difficult-to-understand doctrine, for example, and just want to talk on love and peace, but Paul was saying these matters should be discussed.

1 Cor. 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

Comment: Both the Diaglott and the Revised Standard put verse 4 in question form. The RSV reads, “If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed [that is, the unconsecrated] by the church?” The Diaglott rendering is, “If then, indeed, you should have causes as to the things of this life, do you appoint those, the least esteemed in the congregation?”

Reply: There is a difference in scholars as to how this statement should be rendered. The King James, with “set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church,” gives the impression that Paul’s advice was to settle these cases by putting as judges those who were least capable.

Without extenuating circumstances, this rendering does not make sense because a person who is least esteemed is least qualified. One who is irrational in everyday living should not be the arbiter of a dispute. However, if Paul was using sarcasm, he was saying in effect, “It would be better to have some of the brethren who are not as capable sit in on the issue than to go to a worldly court.” Another way to render this verse is the RSV reading, which is questionable because it goes contrary to Paul’s reasoning. The brethren were already going to a worldly court, to the unjustified, not to those who were least esteemed in the church.

A third application makes more sense with the apostle’s line of reasoning; namely, “If you have judgments of things pertaining to this life, why do you bring these matters before the unconsecrated, who the church should know are not in a condition to judge between brother and brother?” In other words, the church should know that the unconsecrated are not in a position to judge between brother and brother. A dispute is not necessarily a cold civil or political matter, for some disputes touch on the consecrated life and other issues of which the worldly person is completely oblivious.

Comment: A fourth application is that these judgments were brought before those who were least esteemed in the church and the brother got no satisfaction. The dispute ended up in the worldly court because of the foolishness of the judgments and the unwise decisions given in the church. There was a lack of understanding among the brethren on certain matters of judgment because they were not familiar with all of the Scriptures.

Reply: In a great many instances, the brethren do lack scriptural understanding and common sense as well. Paul implied in succeeding verses that not one in the Corinthian church had the spirit of a sound mind. He was saying, in effect, that a brother should suffer the wrong or poor judgment against him and not take the matter to a worldly court. He was tongue-lashing the lack of wisdom of those who did judge and the impropriety of those who received the wrong judgment and did not just suffer it.

Comment: If verse 4 was sarcasm, it would harmonize with verse 1. Paul told the brethren that it was irresponsible to go to a civil court to judge these matters rather than to judge among themselves. It would be better to set those who were least esteemed in the church to judge the matters than to go to a civil court of law. On trivial matters, even the lest esteemed should be qualified to judge.

Reply: With sarcasm, Paul was saying that one should suffer the lesser of two evils. Rather than to go to a worldly court, it was better to suffer the wrong judgment of the brethren.

1 Cor. 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

Here Paul spoke to shame the Corinthian brethren, yet in 1 Corinthians 4:14, he wrote so as not to shame them but to warn them. Why the difference? Why did he admonish in chapter 4 and use shame in chapter 6? In chapter 4, Paul said that he had introduced the Corinthian brethren to the truth, that he had been like an evangelist to them, and many consecrated as a result of his ministry. Moreover, he spoke to them not merely as a teacher but also as an apostle. He called attention to his conduct, what he did for them, his office, and what he suffered. If he had shamed them there—when calling attention to his credentials as an apostle and his suffering life—they would be ashamed to differ with him in any future confrontation, and that would be wrong. Although an apostle, he still had to follow the Lord’s Word and instruction. He was no different from anyone else with regard to the responsibility of Scripture.

He was on a par with them—he was a brother just like anyone else—with responsibility before God. Therefore, he did not want them to be ashamed to question or differ with anything he said, for the shame aspect would shut out reason. Paul admonished them, saying, “Think out this matter. Does not reason tell you the lack of wisdom that would be involved?” He spoke brother to brother, and sternly and seriously, but was suggesting that they reason out the matter. “You feel that you are reigning. You feel full and rich and are not getting persecuted, yet we are called to suffer. Anyone who lives righteously will have to suffer persecution.” Paul wanted the Corinthians to reason deeply into the matter.

But here in verse 5 of chapter 6, pertaining to bringing a problem in the church before the unconsecrated, why did Paul employ the tactic of shame? He had an ostensible grievance in saying, “Dare any of you go to a worldly court?” (verse 1). It was like saying, but in a more tactful way, “Are you so stupid that you cannot see the error in going to a worldly court on a matter between two brothers?” In chapter 4, pertaining to instructors, it was not a matter of stupidity, for the Adversary was very clever in trying to lead some away slowly and stealthily with instruction, and one had to reason to see the technique or tactic that was being employed.

However, even a babe in Christ should be able to see the impropriety of bringing a dispute among brethren to a worldly court to settle. For Christians who are called to be saints and judges of the world not to settle a matter among themselves was a blatant inconsistency, whereas in the other case, one had to reason on the subtlety of the teachers, Paul’s enemies, orators who spoke very fluently yet belittled him, saying his writings were weighty but his presence was weak and contemptible. These orators liked either Apollos or one of themselves.

Paul purposely did not mention any individual in the class by name lest the brethren lose sight of the real, naked issue through personality attachments. Instead he used his own name as a front for discussing the issue of carnality and sectarianism.

In summary, Paul employed admonition in chapter 4 because he wanted the brethren to think out and reason on the matter. In contrast, chapter 6 was such a simple matter where the inconsistency should have been obvious that Paul used shame rather than admonition.

Paul said, first, that the dispute on “things pertaining to this life” should have been handled by the “saints” (verses 1, 3, and 4). The church should have tried to select an arbitration committee for this problem, but whom would they select? Usually some in a class, a minority, are esteemed for their dedication, fair-mindedness, and consistency in their consecrated life. Such brethren should be chosen as a committee to try to arbitrate the grievance.

Then Paul said in verse 5, “I speak to your shame. Is there not a wise man among you?” In other words, if the Corinthians chose the leaders who were so strong in their opinions, the class would be right back to the first problem of strife and factions. The principle, then, is that the ones who should be chosen to arbitrate a dispute are not necessarily the elected elders.

1 Cor. 6:6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

1 Cor. 6:7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

Paul’s next criticism was that “brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.” Verse 1 began with “Dare any of you?” Verse 7 (paraphrased) reads, “Now therefore you are utterly at fault.” Here was scathing sarcasm. “And you are to be the saints of this world! You are to judge angels and men, yet you cannot judge even a small matter.”

Paul gave different alternatives. A committee does not necessarily solve a particular problem, but if there are multiple problems, some of them will be solved by cool, rational reasoning. In the final analysis, the two with the grievance had to be pacified in one way or another. When Paul asked, “Why do ye not rather take [the] wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” he was, in effect, laying the groundwork in case there was a failure in that direction. In other words, “Submit to the decision.” Of course this reasoning contradicts worldly philosophy head-on. Since the grievance here involved tangible values—and was not a grudge or a case of moral principles, for instance—it would be difficult for a brother who felt he was in the right to submit to what he considered a wrong judgment.

Some of us in our Christian life have been wronged, and sometimes we suffer it to be so for various reasons. What would be some of those reasons?

Comment: (1) To take the matter to a worldly court would be too expensive. (2) The final reward might not be worth the trouble of pursuing the matter further. (3) If a brother were wronged by one from another ecclesia or another part of the country, it would not be feasible to follow Matthew 18:15-17. (4) Sometimes a matter is so muddled that even those with the best of intentions cannot judge fairly. (5) Taking the matter to a worldly court could bring injury to the cause of Christ in the eyes of other brethren or the unconsecrated.

Reply: With regard to the last reason, taking a matter to court might bring evil repute against the Christian mode of life. Even the quarreling, if it gets to be public, unnecessarily puts some shame on the movement. Suffering the wrong is sometimes part of a Christian’s persecution.

For instance, during the Dark Ages, Christians were persecuted as heretics, unjustly maligned, and even put to death. Therefore, because brother taking brother to court would bring notoriety to the Church, such an action should be distasteful to the consecrated.

1 Cor. 6:8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

In verse 7, Paul said it was wrong to take the matter to a civil court for justice. It was better for the one to be faulted unjustly than to go outside the church to seek righteous judgment from the unrighteous. In verse 8, Paul was warning that it was defrauding the brotherhood by not letting them decide the matter and going instead to the law. Settling the issue in worldly courts not only deprived the ecclesia of its responsibility but also encouraged lawlessness.

1 Cor. 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

1 Cor. 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

“The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Whoever was responsible in committing the deed had to answer to the Lord, and whoever pressed the matter to the worldly court also had to answer to the Lord. Both were “unrighteous” and would not inherit the Little Flock. This dispute did not pertain to conscience or a moral issue, for such matters could not be taken to a worldly court. Therefore, the dispute had to do with a physical, or material, problem—perhaps a tract of land or a slave, for example. Paul was indicating that a material dispute is small, or trivial, compared to a Christian’s spiritual hopes. What is the material when contrasted with inheriting spiritual blessings?

With the categories listed in verses 9 and 10, was Paul speaking about just getting spirit life in the future or about obtaining rulership?

Comment: Even for the world of mankind, those who are “fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8; see also Rev. 22:14,15). If these categories of the world will not get life, how much more that would be true for the consecrated of the present age—unless, of course, they repent.

Reply: Yes, the principle is the same for the consecrated now and the world in the Kingdom. There is no question that anyone who practices these sins will not get life, spiritual or earthly, even though Paul was speaking to the Corinthian brethren about the heavenly Kingdom and their spiritual hopes here in verses 9 and 10.

Incidentally, the Apostle Paul, in connection with the truth, appealed his case of being unjustly persecuted. He called attention to the fact that as a Roman citizen, he had the right to a trial, and he received his freedom. In another case, when the Jews would have killed him in Israel, a centurion rescued him, and he then appealed to the emperor in Rome. Thus Paul made use of legal resources on occasion, if doing so would further the truth. In other words, he did not appeal for personal reasons.

In verses 9 and 10, Paul broadened the categories of 1 Corinthians 5. “Adulterers” were married; “fornicators” were unmarried. In regard to the category “nor [men being] effeminate [nor, by extension, women being masculine],” one can usually discern changes in mannerisms, dress, and voice in those who are given to that style of life. “Nor abusers of themselves with mankind” refers to sexual perversion, particularly of man with man (homosexuality) or woman with woman (lesbianism). A later verse in the chapter helps to clarify the meaning, for there are different degrees of sodomy.

Corinth was the “sin city” of its day. Rome had excesses, but Corinth had more because it was a city of commerce, a meeting place between two cultures; that is, the sins of both East and West were brought into the city through commerce. Later on in history, Ephesus had excesses  very much like Corinth, both being traffic centers. In fact, the normal short trade route from Rome to Turkey went to Corinth and Ephesus.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” There are degrees of unrighteousness in not inheriting the “kingdom of God,” a term that can be considered from the standpoint of either the Little Flock or the Great Company. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Among them that are born of women [of this generation] there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven [the Little Flock] is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11). With the exception of Jesus himself, the least in the Little Flock will be superior in office (but not necessarily in character) to John the Baptist. Therefore, some who have committed a serious fault and been forgiven after taking the proper steps would forfeit membership in the Little Flock, but possibly they will get life in the Great Company. An example is the individual who was excommunicated for fornication in chapter 5 and later reinstated after proper repentance (2 Cor. 2:7). However, such repentance from grievous sin committed after consecration is rare.

Comment: Jude 23, which reads, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh,” shows a possibility of retrieval to the Great Company.

The ten categories—fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners—are to be considered literally, not spiritually. Paul was speaking bluntly, right to the point, about gross fleshly failings. For a Christian to do any of these things would be like the sow going back to the mud and the dog to the vomit (2 Pet. 2:22). “Idolaters,” for example, refers to literal idolatry. In Paul’s day, idols were prayed to and worshipped. A milder form seen today is the use of the Rosary, crosses, and little icons and statues. Judas was an example of a literal thief (John 12:6).

Not only did he take money for betraying Jesus, but also he took from the bag containing money for the brethren. The “love of money” can lead to gross sin (1 Tim. 6:10). An example of being “covetous” would be advising brethren to leave their money to a certain ecclesia or religious organization. Such individuals think they are helping the Lord’s work, but the principle is that one should not covet another’s wife or goods. Covetousness, which cannot be judged unless it is manifested and becomes obvious, starts in the mind, where it must be fought vigorously. With the natural heart being desperately wicked, part of the Christian warfare is a mental battle (Jer. 17:9). Simon coveted the power to give gifts of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:18-20). With regard to “drunkards,” Jesus was falsely called a “winebibber” by his enemies. Hence an evil mind can misconstrue into a gross sin something that is scripturally done with moderation. Going to the other extreme, some accused John the Baptist, who ate locusts and honey and wore plain clothing, of having “a devil.” Jesus likened that generation to little children without character sitting on a fence judging others and calling out derogatorily (Matt. 11:16-19). “Extortioners” use leverage such as blackmail.

1 Cor. 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Before being called, some of the Corinthians (and some of us) were covetous, drunkards, etc. Why is the sequence (1) “washed,” (2) “sanctified,” and (3) “justified”? The proverbial question is, Which comes first: justification or sanctification? Why would sanctification precede justification here, especially when in many other Scriptures, the order is reversed? When justification precedes consecration, it is merely tentative. In other words, there is a measure of justification (sometimes called partial or “tentative justification”) before consecration, for the Lord deals with individuals prior to consecration if they are approaching Him. However, vital (or full) justification does not happen until a person consecrates.

There are two justifications and two sanctifications. The Tabernacle picture is helpful with regard to the first sanctification. Consecration takes place at the First Veil when the goat is brought into the Court and tied to the door of the Holy. The second sanctification occurs when God accepts the individual. In other words, (1) the individual voluntarily sets himself apart. He allows himself to be led by God’s Spirit and then decides to give his heart to the Lord with a vow. (2) God accepts that consecration; He consecrates (sanctifies) the individual. With regard to justification, (1) faith (tentative, partial, progressive) justification precedes consecration. Once one has consecrated and God accepts that consecration, the individual is (2) vitally justified.

“Ye are washed.” Before consecration, one washes with water at the Laver in the Court. Then comes consecration, stated here as “ye are sanctified.” The terms “sanctified,” “consecrated,” and “set apart” are used interchangeably in the Scriptures. Individuals consecrate (they set apart, or sanctify, themselves), and God consecrates (sanctifies, sets apart) the priesthood.

When sanctification precedes justification, as in verse 11, the thought is that an individual’s consecration precedes his vitalized justification. One is washed, he consecrates, and then, almost instantaneously, God both sanctifies and justifies the individual. Technically speaking, the goat is tethered to the door of the Tabernacle, and the priest comes out and puts his hand on the goat, showing, antitypically, that the individual is accepted in the Beloved by God. That acceptance is God’s consecration of the Christian, who almost immediately is vitally justified.

These two processes, which are technically different, are only a split second apart in fulfillment. When the high priest, picturing Jesus, entered the Holy from the Court, he came with his two hands full of incense, which he burned at the Incense Altar before entering the Most Holy. The two hands full of incense represent consecration. In any event, the justification of verse 11 is vitalized justification. The sanctification could be either the individual’s consecration or God’s acceptance of the individual, both of which precede vitalized justification.

The progressive principle of the drawing process is shown by James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” The Lord says in effect, “Come unto me, and I will come unto you.” “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26) is another text. The principle is that as a person moves in the direction of God, God moves in that individual’s direction. The drawing process is a mutual attraction—God begins to draw one, the person responds, and all the steps taken that lead to vitalized justification are the individual’s drawing nearer and nearer to God, until he is fully in the family.

We are washed, sanctified, and justified (1) in the name of the Lord Jesus and (2) by the Holy Spirit of God. No man can come to Jesus unless the Father first draws him (John 6:44). The Holy Spirit operates in different degrees; that is, the calling, or drawing, goes out, and the Holy Spirit operates in us in the same proportion that we respond to the drawing. There was a time during the Gospel Age when the door was open for everyone. This “general call” existed until 1881.

Until that date, anyone who consecrated to the Lord could be considered as legally running in the race. After the general call ceased, God has been more selective as to who is drawn because the number of vacancies in the 144,000 is dwindling. It is taking 2,000 years to get that number, and as we get closer to the end of the age, God will not instill the hope of the high calling in someone’s breast if the opportunity does not exist. To do so would be to encourage a false hope. Therefore, the call has become more limited since 1881.

The Holy Spirit operated when God prepared the earth for man. The Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the waters and eventually said, “Let there be light: and there was light,” etc. (Gen. 1:2,3). In other words, God’s Spirit worked on inanimate materials. That same Spirit broods over the earth, going throughout the earth searching for those whose hearts are right toward Him (2 Chron. 16:9). Those who are moved by that Spirit come under the arrangement of God. The Spirit has an early beginning of operation until it gets in the individual himself. First, it is more of an outside force, and then, as the individual responds, it becomes an inner force. In other words, justification, sanctification, and the Holy Spirit are all progressive, leading to a legal act, or stage, from which one cannot turn back. They become the point of no return, which can be for good or for evil depending upon the individual.

Q: Is the tying of the goat to the door of the Tabernacle like the piercing of a servant’s ear with an awl?

A: Yes. When a servant of the master’s household wanted to make the arrangement permanent, he put his earlobe against the wood of a door, and an awl pierced the ear (Exod. 21:5,6). The person was then yoked (consecrated) for life to his master’s household. This type shows that there is a period of recognition before the act, when the person is on a tentative basis as a servant, and then submitting to having his ear pierced with the awl makes the basis permanent and more serious.

1 Cor. 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

What did Paul mean when twice he said, “All things are lawful unto [or for] me, but all things are not expedient [helpful or needful]: … I will not be brought under the power of any”? What are the “all things”? Paul particularly had in mind the statement in verse 13 “meats for the belly, and the belly for meats.” Many Jews who became Christians felt that the Law of Moses, as well as the “law” of Jesus, had to be obeyed even after consecration. These Christian Jews felt that even Gentiles should be under the bondage of the Law. However, a Jew coming into Christ was relieved of certain obligations of the Law because he was now under a new Master.

Stated another way, the Jew who consecrated died to the Law, whereas the Gentile, never having been under the Law, did not die to the Law but died, nevertheless, and walked in newness of life under a different arrangement. Both Jew and Gentile had a new standing and thus became one in Christ. Paul, a Jew, was no longer yoked to the technicalities that Jews had to observe under the Law. However, in some cases, he voluntarily submitted to the Law where he saw that doing so would create less of a reproach; that is, at times, he sacrificed certain liberties in the interest of furthering the gospel, but he was not under obligation to do so. In other areas, to submit would have yoked him again under the bondage of the Law, which was the very thing he reproved the Galatians for: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you [to come under the Law], that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal. 3:1).

Comment: 1 Corinthians 10:23 uses almost the same wording in the context of eating meat sacrificed to idols: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” As Christians, we are under the law of liberty in Christ. All things are lawful, but from the Scriptures, we decide for ourselves what is expedient and profitable for the new creature.

Reply: The Lord gives us the privilege of more meritorious service by voluntarily denying ourselves certain liberties, and He accordingly honors an individual based on his zeal, devotion, and concern for the gospel itself. Yes, there was a danger with regard to eating meat offered to idols. Of course a dumb idol cannot contaminate meat, but the conscience of others who might witness the Christian’s conduct in eating such meat could be defiled.

1 Cor. 6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Paul was saying that food is superficial and relatively immaterial. To judge a person and his relationship to God on the basis of whether he washes his hands before he eats a meal or whether he eats clean or unclean meats is foolish, for these things are temporal—the meat and the stomach will perish. Verse 13 is not talking about excesses, which are treated elsewhere, but about being brought under bondage to the technicalities of the Law and being forced by others to do or not to do certain things. For example, when Jews from Jerusalem came in and saw Peter eating at a table with Gentiles, he got up (dissembled) in embarrassment. It was wrong to allow himself to be brought under the power of others, who looked unfavorably on what he had every right to do. He should have remained eating with Gentiles. In getting up, he not only created an improper atmosphere but also came under the power of what other people thought. Every situation has to be weighed as to how it is involved with Scripture.

“Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.” Verses 9-20 revert back to the subject matter of chapter 5 with regard to purging out leaven. Here Paul was generalizing on fornication, thieves, revilers, etc. Thus the “all things” not being expedient had to do with the individual’s interest in connection with furthering and honoring the gospel.

The thought is, “The body is … for the Lord; and the Lord [is] for the body.” The reference is to the Christian’s personal, mortal body, as well as to the spiritual body of the Church. The “body” involves both aspects. While the body of the Lord’s goat represents the depraved humanity of the individual, that body is justified. The “body” is not merely a legal or technical matter, for serving the Lord comes right down to the nitty-gritty of one’s personal being and the flesh. From that standpoint, verse 13 is very comprehensive, for Paul was not necessarily emphasizing spiritual fornication.

The Church of Christ can be considered the body of Christ on earth. For example, when Paul persecuted the Church before becoming a Christian, Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me [that is, my followers, human beings, who have the hope of the high calling]?” (Acts 9:4). That which is left behind of the “afflictions of Christ” is not only a mystical body but also a figurative body involving both the spiritual and the natural aspect (Col. 1:24).

Comment: Many might say, “It is not what you see on the outside but what is in the heart.” However, the vessel must be cleansed both within and without.

Reply: In other words, if a person has perfect heart intentions, the flesh will not be perfect, but there will be some outward manifestation (words and actions), as well as an inner manifestation. It is true that God judges the inner manifestation, but to say there is no manifestation on the outside is like saying, “Faith without works is dead and in vain.” God does not judge imperfect works but the faith which produces works that are pleasing to the Lord to the extent of one’s ability. Thus there must be both works and outward cleansing.

“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats.” From one standpoint, this saying naturally followed Paul’s statement “I will not be brought under the power of any [excessive appetites].”

From another standpoint, Paul was discussing that God created in man the desire, appetite, and hunger for food and that He has provided a great variety of meat with different flavors.

However, one should not live for the pleasure of eating, for such things are trivial. The Christian should live a normal life, for “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).

From talking specifically about food, Paul went a step higher, extending the subject to “meat,” or flesh, of another kind: “Now the body is not for fornication [fleshly desires], but for the Lord; and the Lord [is] for the body.”

1 Cor. 6:14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

The raising up of verse 14 has both a future and a present application. Jesus said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50).

Jesus’ baptism eventually involved his death on the Cross, but it also involved the process leading up to the Cross. In other words, Jesus’ baptism was progressive, yet it was spoken of in a future tense. The emphasis was on the present, culminating in the future. With regard to verse 14, which says, “God hath … raised up the Lord,” God raised up Jesus out of Jordan and also raised him up from Calvary 3 1/2 years later. With regard to the Church, the clause “will also raise up us by his own power” definitely has a future import, but it is also progressive, referring to the present leading up to the future.

Comment: We hope to grow (increase) in grace and in knowledge as we obey what we learn.

Reply: Yes, the raising is a process. The principle is similar with the resurrection (Greek anastasis) of the world of mankind. Mankind will awaken from the tomb in the Kingdom and walk up the highway of holiness, being gradually raised to an upright condition at the end of the Millennial Age, when they will get their final, formal test. In other words, the anastasis will be accomplished at the end of the Millennium, when all who get life will be raised up to the position Adam had before he sinned.

Paul was saying that for those who faithfully practice the Christian life unto death, the reward is to be joint heirs with Christ. Just as he was raised from death because of obedience to his Father’s will in all matters, so this will be the experience of the faithful Christian.

1 Cor. 6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

1 Cor. 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

1 Cor. 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

Verses 15-17 apply to the Church in the flesh. Paul was pointing out the incongruity of trying to be “members of Christ” and “members of an harlot [committing fornication]” at the same time. Those who would be the Lord’s and of his spirit must flee gross sins, as well as weaknesses of the flesh. This admonition was especially needed by Christians in the sinful city of Corinth. The ecclesia comprised both Jews and Gentiles, but mostly Gentiles.

Paul was returning to his previous thought of fornication but in the sense of joining the body to another in an illicit relationship. “He which is joined to an harlot is one body” with that harlot. Marriage was ordained with regard to Adam and Eve. They twain became one, and that oneness produced children—but oneness with a harlot was fornication.

1 Cor. 6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

The Greek interlinear rendering in the Diaglott is, “Flee you the fornication. All sins which if may do a man, outside of the body is; he but committing fornication against the own body sins.” Obviously, Paul was talking about the sins of the flesh, as opposed to sinning in deeds such as theft, murder, and evil speaking. Although the sin of immorality has to do with one’s personal body, the expression “the body … for the Lord; and the Lord for the body” includes the spiritual body of Christ as well (1 Cor. 6:13). However, Paul was emphasizing the fleshly aspect to the church in Corinth.

To remain in the body of Christ, one must “flee fornication.” If one commits fornication (or any kind of sin), the sin is disassociation with the body of Christ; that is, it is without, or outside, the body of Christ. The Christian’s not wanting to be outside the body is what drives him to the throne of grace for forgiveness. When sin is committed, one must ask for forgiveness so that his robe will be washed and the wrinkles removed, spiritually speaking.

1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1 Cor. 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Verses 19 and 20 are powerful for showing the responsibility of a Christian to the Lord. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in an individual’s life. Since Christians have been bought with a price (Jesus’ blood), they are slaves of Christ, and submission to the will of God and of Christ is required of blood-bought slaves. As slaves of the Master, Christians must be very careful not to misrepresent him.

“Know ye not that your body is the temple” of God? Therefore, if the Christian defiles his own body by fornication, he is defiling the “temple” of God.

Verse 20 is a summary. Although Paul was saying that a Christian should glorify God in his spirit, the emphasis was on glorifying God in his body.

Comment: Since we were bought like slaves with the price of Jesus’ blood, only the Master should have control of our bodies, and we should glorify God with them. We do not have the liberty to sell our bodies to someone else.

Chapters 5 and 6 should be combined, for they both pertain to fornication. Chapter 7 starts a new subject. This epistle to the Corinthians is just packed with astonishing information on the nitty-gritty issues of life.

1979, 1997, and 2001 Studies

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