1 Corinthians 6

These notes are based on the NASB text.

6:1 Does any one of you, when he has a case [inter-Christian matters] against [two-sided grievances] his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous [who must adjudicate without the benefit of the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit], and not before the saints?

There was yet another problem that was brought to Paul’s attention, perhaps by Chloe’s people. It was the matter of lawsuits among believers who were taking their cases before secular courts and unbelieving judges, something the Jews would never do. This was yet one more issue eroding the witness of the church in the community. Seeing a Christian pitted against a fellow Christian surely cast doubt about the validity and transforming power of the Gospel in the minds of unbelievers. The Corinthians should have settled their [perhaps petty] disputes “before the saints for the sake of preserving their witness in the community.

6:2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?

6:3 Do you not know that we shall judge [fallen] angels [see 2 Peter 2:4]? How much more, matters [food, clothing, property, etc] of this life?

In light of the fact that Christians will participate in the judgement of the world and fallen angels, it seems utterly ridiculous that they are unable to settle disputes that are lesser and trivial by comparison.

Note: “Do not become so bogged down in debating how Christians will judge the world that you miss Paul’s main point. Paul’s main point was to highlight the qualifications of those in the church who could settle individual conflicts within the fellowship.” [Brian Harbour]

6:4 If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them [non-Christians] as judges [those who sit on secular/pagan courts] who are of no account in the church?

6:5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren,

6:6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
By going to the secular courts the Corinthians were, in essence, saying that there was not one wise man in the church capable of settling their disputes.

6:7 Actually, then, it is already a [moral and spiritual] defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

6:8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that your brethren.

Paul here describes a lose/lose situation. Even if a Christian took a Christian brother to court and won, he lost! He lost a brother, his testimony, and damaged the testimony of the church.

6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [a technical term for the passive partner in homosexual relations -Rienecker/Rogers], nor homosexuals [the active partner in a homosexual relationship],

6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

6:11 And such were some [not all] of you; but [this conjunction introduces a contrast between their past and present states] you were washed [purified from defilement], but you were sanctified [“you were claimed by God as His own and made a member of His holy people” -Rienecker/Rogers], but you were justified [put right with God] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

The only way a lost world will be able to understand the difference Christ can make is by observing the distinctive lives of believers. Believers are indeed the only Bible, the only Jesus, some will ever see. Paul was concerned that unbelievers in Corinth would conclude that Christianity has little to offer as a result of observing the disputes and immoral compromise of believers.

6:12 All things are lawful for me [a popular phrase in Corinth], but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

Guideline for moral decision-making number one: Is it profitable for me? Is it spiritually, physically, mentally, and morally helpful?

Guideline for moral decision-making number two: Will it enslave me? will it bring me under its power? Will it master me?

6:13 Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food [this was another popular phrase in Corinth]; but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.

6:14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.

Some in Corinth were arguing that just as the stomach is for food, so the body was for physical gratification [a Gnostic view]. These believed that the things done to gratify the body had no impact upon the inner man. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The stomach would be done away with but the body transformed and raised from the dead.

6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ [“Christ is the body of which individual Christians are members.” -BBC, Vol. 10]? Shall I then take away the members of Christ [the body of Christ] and make them members of a harlot [the body of a harlot]? May it never be! [God forbid!]

6:16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot [there were many opportunities to do this in Corinth with one of the many temple prostitutes at the temple of Aphrodite] is one body with her? For He says, “The two will become one flesh.”

6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit [“Illicit union with a harlot effects a oneness of physical relationship which contradicts the Lord’s claim over the body and creates a disparity between the body and the spirit [still united to the Lord] -Rienecker/Rogers] with Him.

6:18 Flee [continually, urgently, and as a habit] immorality [sexual promiscuity]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body [“A man’s own body becomes the very instrument of his iniquity and destruction.” -M.J. Berquist].

6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple [abiding place] of the Holy Spirit [to be used by Him and not abused by us] who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own [see 2 Corinthians 5:15]?

Because the body of the believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Christian does not have the right to give his body to a prostitute or to abuse it in either an ascetic or liberal way. To say that the body was a temple of the Holy Spirit was in contrast to the Gnostic view of the body.

6:20 For you have been bought [purchased at the marketplace] with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

By virtue of the fact that Christ has bought us, we are no longer our own. We belong to Him. He is our new owner, master, authority. We are under no obligation to obey our former master. We are to live our lives in such a way as to bring glory to our new master [see Matthew 5:16].

Practical Considerations

If possible, Christians should seek to settle their disputes with fellow believers under the counsel and guidance of Christian arbiters.
With regard to inter-Christian or inter-church matters, Christians should seek the counsel and guidance of Christian arbiters. This should be done for the sake of protecting the witness of both individuals and the church in the community.

You’re the only Bible some will ever read.
Believers are indeed the only Bible some will ever read or the only Jesus some will ever see. This should motivate Christians to live their lives above reproach and in a manner that pleases God. Only a distinctive Christian life-style will convince a confused and lost world that Christ can make a difference.

Ask before you touch or indulge.
Believers should ask the two moral guideline questions discussed in 1 Corinthians 6:12, especially when they are unclear whether something is right or wrong. [A] Is it profitable [spiritually]? [B] Will it enslave or master me?

We belong to Christ.
Believers have been bought with a price and belong to Christ. The believer is no longer under the authority of his old master and, as such, is under no obligation to obey his old master. See also Colossians 1:13-14. The believer should heed only the voice of Christ.

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