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1 Corinthians 6

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Verse 1

Lawsuits Between Brethren

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

Verse 1 indicates that Paul has received reports of brethren taking others to court before unbelievers. He presents an argument in the form of a rhetorical question against such a practice. He asks the Corinthians: "Have you reached the point that you would consider taking your brother to court before the unjust?" Any answer except an unequivocal "NO!" is beyond belief in Paul’s mind; however, their actions prove otherwise.

Dare any of you: The word "Dare" (talmao) means "to bring one’s self to" (Thayer 627-2-5111). No one in particular is mentioned as having done this terrible deed; instead, Paul says "any of you."

having a matter against another: The word "matter" (pragma) means "a matter at law, case, suit" (Thayer (534-1-4229). The sin about which Paul is speaking is "going to law before the unjust" and NOT the reason why one Christian is suing another.

The term "another" (heteros) is defined as "thy neighbor" or "thy fellow" (Thayer 254-2-2087) and would be better translated "neighbor" as in the New American Standard Version. Verse 6, however, shows that the "another" or the "neighbor" does not apply to unbelievers but only to the believers. Paul says, "But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers." The Revised Standard Version renders: "When one of you has a grievance against a brother...."

go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?: To "go to law" (krino) means to "dispute" or to "have a suit at law" (Thayer 361-2-2919). Paul received a report that believers are going to the "unjust" asking them to pass judgment against another child of God. The word "unjust" (adikos) means "unrighteous (or) sinful" (Thayer 12-1-94).

The Apostle Paul could have used the Greek term apistos, which is translated "unbeliever," instead of adikos, meaning "unjust"; however, he chooses to make a play on the word "unjust." He says the just are going to the "unjust" to receive justice. The very idea is ludicrous. They should have taken their problems "before the saints"--the just.

Some, today, think we should never take a Christian to "law" over some insignificant transgression; however, if a lot of money is involved, they change their minds. This type of logic is inconsistent. Thus, we emphasize the sin with which Paul is dealing is not the transgression. It is the ACT of taking a Christian "to law" before the "unjust" instead of before the "saints" that is the sin.

Paul does not say what the crime is, how much money is involved, or how serious the crime is because the crime itself is of no concern. This crime, however, is a serious one, and it has to be dealt with. The question under consideration is not what the suit concerns or if there were a crime committed. The question is "Where is the suit to be solved?"

Because of the teaching in this chapter, some ask, "Is it sinful to go to court against the unbelievers?" The answer is obviously "No." The Apostle Paul himself appealed to Caesar:

For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go (Acts 25:11-12).

Another question of great concern is, "What do I do if my brother in Christ continually wrongs me (for example: stealing personal property) after taking him before the believers?" Jesus explains the proper way of settling conflicts between brethren when He says,

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:15-17).

Christ gives a three-step process to solve problems between brethren:

Step 1 Go and tell him his fault alone.

Step 2 If he will not hear, return the next time with one or two witnesses.

Step 3 If he neglects the second attempt, report it to the church.

These steps are necessary to solve problems between brethren. Unfortunately, we often are still faced with the problem of a brother continuing his sins (example: stealing personal property) after his sins have been reported to the church. What are the proper steps to be taken if the sinful brother continues his evil acts after the problem has been dealt with by the church? Jesus answers by saying, "...but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matthew 18:17). When believers have conflicts with the "unjust," they are to be settled in heathen courts; therefore, since the brother is to be treated "as an heathen man" and is referred to in verse 9 as being "unrighteous" (which is the same Greek term as "unjust"), the heathen courts could solve the problems.

Verse 2

The Saints Shall Judge the World

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?

Do ye not know: After asking the rhetorical question in verse 1, Paul emphasizes it by making the Corinthians think for themselves. The phrase "Do ye not know" (eido) means "it is well known" or an "acknowledged" fact (Thayer 174-1-1492). Paul often uses the expression "do ye not know" as a form of argumentation "by which something well known is commended to one for his thoughtful consideration" (Thayer 174-1-1492). (Compare Romans 11:2; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 9:24.)

that the saints shall judge the world?: Having said, "Do ye not know," Paul emphasizes to the Corinthians the well-known fact that "saints shall judge the world." This judging refers to the final judgment when Jesus returns as well as to judging today.

How does this teaching correlate with Paul’s words, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without (the world)" (5:12)? There, Paul is speaking about judging the world in the sense of disciplinary actions; however, in this chapter, he is speaking of judging the world in the sense of warning the world about the coming judgment. These warnings come from teaching God’s word both with words and through the righteous lives of the Christian. It is impossible to know exactly how or in what way Christians shall take part in judging the world in the future because very little is found in the scriptures on this subject; however, we can find references to this event.

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father (Revelations 2:26-27).

The word "judge" (krima) is defined as "to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong" (Thayer 361-1-2919). Paul’s argument is based on the idea that since Christians are going to have part in judging the world then certainly they should be able to judge or determine earthly matters between brethren.

How Will the Saints Judge the World?

The saints will judge in the future the same way that they judge now--by God’s word. Christians are not to expect to be co-rulers with God in heaven; however, they will be present when the world is judged by the Lord. It should be remembered that the "saints" are the ones who live in obedience to God’s will while on this earth, even though at times it may mean suffering. Paul says, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him..." (2 Timothy 2:12). John says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne..." (Revelation 3:21). The saints will judge the world in the same way that Timothy spoke of their reigning with Christ. The "saints" are able to overcome evil in this world by knowing and being obedient to God’s will. Likewise, it is through a knowledge of God’s will that the saints will judge and reign in the future.

The saints’ judging of the world can also be compared to the idea of "binding and loosing" spoken of by Jesus:

Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:17-19).

This decision-making or judgment about what is to be "bound" or "loosed," both on earth and in heaven, is not determined by Christians’ likes or dislikes but by God’s word.

Christians will "judge" the world the same way that Jesus judges, by being "one" in agreement with God the Father. Christians will not judge a person to be sinful, today or in the future judgment, if God does not agree because they will be judging through the word of God. Likewise, today, in making decisions between brethren on earthly matters, we must be sure that our judgment is in agreement with God. Jesus says, "If I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me" (John 8:16). If a person obeys God’s instruction, he is "judged" to be righteous; but, on the other hand, if he disobeys these instructions, he is "judged" to be unrighteous. Jesus makes this idea clearer when He says, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).

and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters: Paul’s conclusion is that since "the world shall be judged by Christians they should also be worthy enough "to judge the smallest matters." Paul says,

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (2:15-16).

The word "judge" (kriterion) means "the place where judgment is given; the tribunal of a judge; a bench of judges" (Thayer 362-1-2922). The same term is used by James when he refers to "the judgment seats" (James 2:6). Thus, we see that the "matters" between brethren should be decided by other Christians and not by the unjust. Paul asks, "...are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" By "unworthy" (anazios) Paul is asking whether Christians are "unfit" to judge (Thayer 40-2-370) or if they are not capable?

The word "matter" here differs from the word "matter" in verse 1. In the first verse, "matter" is translated from the Greek word pragma, meaning "a matter at law, case, suit"; however, in verse 2, the word "matter" comes from the Greek word elachistos, meaning "least in size or amount or dignity" (Strong #1646).

Verse 3

The Saints Shall Judge Angels

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

Know ye not that we shall judge angels?: Paul’s use of the pronoun "we" instead of restating the word "saints" has caused some confusion; however, both terms refer to Christian people.

There is much disagreement about whether the "angels" refer to good angels or evil angels--both views have some validity; however, evidence leans toward the former.

The writer of the Hebrew letter teaches that angels are sent to minister to the saints and in the future will be in subjection to them.

Are (angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them (saints) who shall be heirs of salvation?...For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak" (Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 2:5).

how much more things that pertain to this life?: That the saints will judge angels should be reason enough for the Corinthians to understand that they should likewise decide matters "that pertain to this life" when personal conflicts arise between brethren instead of allowing unholy men to decide between them.

Verse 4

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

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life: In the first three verses, Paul asks three question to teach that judgments or decisions must be made between Christians to settle personal matters "pertaining to this life." The Greek word translated "pertaining to this life" (biotikos) means "relating to the present existence" (Strong #982). Paul is not speaking about conflicts relating to religion but conflicts about earthly matters. Up to this point, the Apostle Paul has proved that Christians must judge physical matters between brethren on this earth. He now explains the proper way for this judging to be done.

set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church: Paul says, "Since you must decide matters pertaining to this life (personal matters between brethren), are you going to go to the "least esteemed" to make these decisions?" Who are the "least esteemed"? The King James Version makes it difficult to understand who the "least esteemed" are by translating "least esteemed in the church." This translation is unclear. A clearer translation of this phrase is given in the Revised Standard Version: "If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church?"

Those who are "least esteemed" (exoutheneo) are those who are "of no account," meaning "to despise utterly" (Thayer 225-1-1848). Therefore, the "least esteemed" are not members of the church (as could be understood from the King James Version) but those who are "least esteemed by the church (the "unjust" as Paul says in verse 1).

Paul says those in the world have no business judging those who are utterly despised "by the church" because Christians are capable of handling the matters themselves. Paul is not referring to the "least esteemed" Christians judging personal matters because in the next verse he refers to "a wise man" who could judge. The reason that Christians should not go before those who are not Christians to settle matters between themselves is that the unbelievers do not make decisions from God’s law, but instead, from man’s law.

Verse 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?

I speak to your shame: At times Paul writes to issue warnings: "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you" (4:14). At other times, however, he writes with the attempt to shame (entrope) his readers or "to arouse (their) shame" (Thayer 219-1-1791). That is the case here and in 1 Corinthians 15:34. Paul is referring to the things he has said in the last several verses. The Corinthians should be ashamed of going to law against a brother before the unbelievers.

Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?: The words, "Is it so?" (houto) mean "has it come to this?" (Vine 82). Paul asks, "Has it come to the point ’that there is not a wise man among you’ capable of judging between his brethren?" The fact that the Corinthians were going before the unbelievers to settle their personal matters implies that there was no one among them capable or wise enough to deal with the matters themselves.

In the first four chapters, Paul deals with the exalted wisdom that the Corinthians thought they had. He now uses their self-acclaimed wisdom against them by saying, "You say you have wisdom: your wisdom has even divided the church, but now you are saying that you do not have a man wise enough to decide personal matters of conflict between two brethren. I speak this to your shame."

no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?: "Shall be able to judge" is in the future tense because at the present time the Corinthians were not judging personal matters as they should; instead, as verse 6 says, "But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers."

Verse 6

But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

While this verse appears to be a continuation of the question in verse 5, it is actually an independent positive statement of rebuke. Paul speaks of two disgraceful situations in which Christians in Corinth were engaged.

First, he points out the outrageous situation that develops anytime brethren cannot work out personal problems between themselves--they go "to law" with one another.

Second, Paul says "and that" as a way to form a climax to this disgraceful situation by saying they made matters worse by resorting to the unbelievers ("unjust," verse 1) to arbitrate between one another. Such actions can do nothing more than create a scandal of the worst type and bring shame upon the church.

Verse 7

Warning to Immoral Christians

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?

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you: By the term "now," Paul means that even at this point--without going any further--even if they do not go to law before the unjust, the Corinthians already have a fault among them in having strife with one another.

The word "utterly" (holos) means "wholly (or) altogether" (Thayer 444-1-3654). Paul says there is altogether a "fault" (hettema) or "a deterioration" (Strong #2275), "a loss" (Thayer 281-2-2275) among the Christians in Corinth.

because ye go to law one with another: The deterioration among the Corinthians is caused "because (they) go to law one with another." This deterioration refers to their spirituality. Because of such actions as taking one another to law, the Corinthians were weakening the spirituality of the congregation. They had become unChristlike in their failure to show love and forgiveness toward each other. Paul says, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:13).

The Corinthians had two choices. They could forbear and forgive; or they could "go to law." They chose the latter. In deciding to go to law with each other, brethen show their lack of concern for the influence of the church. How could they hope to gain the world when Christians are suing each other?

Why do ye not rather take wrong?: To "take wrong" (adikeo) means "to suffer one’s self to be wronged," that is, to have one to "act wickedly toward him" (Thayer 12-1-91).

why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?: The term "defrauded" (apostereo) means to be "robbed" (Thayer 68-1-650). Vincent says it means "to deprive of what is one’s due, whether by ’hook,’ ’crook,’ or force, or in any other way."

By these two questions, Paul is insinuating that it would be better to put up with the wrong done, even to the point of being robbed, than to "go to law one with another" and, therefore, suffer spiritual damage. Instead of going to law with one another, the Christian attitude should be as Jesus says,

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Matthew 5:38-42).

Verse 8

Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Paul uses the same words "wrong" and "defraud," as in the previous verse, to emphasize the Corinthians’ unChristlike attitude. Paul is explaining how the Corinthians’ spirituality has deteriorated rapidly. "Do they allow themselves to be wronged?" Paul says, "Nay," (alla) or "contrariwise" (Strong #235). Instead of being like Christ and suffering wrongs done to them, the one who has been wronged turns around and wrongs and defrauds another brother. Obviously this sin was characteristic of the church in Corinth.

Verses 9-10

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, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?: Once again, as in verses 2 and 3, Paul says, "Do you not know," indicating that his statement is well known to everyone. The word "unrighteous" (adikos) means "sinful" (Thayer 12-1-94), referring to any person who breaks God’s laws.

The "kingdom of God" at times refers to the church as in Matthew 16:18 and in Colossians 1:13-14; however, here, as in Matthew 7:21, Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:5, and 2 Peter 1:10-11, it refers to the future eternal kingdom--heaven. Paul’s warning reminds the Corinthians of truths they already know--sinners (backsliding Christians), regardless of what sins they have committed, will not "inherit" the "kingdom of God."

The word "inherit" (kleronomeo) means they will not "partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom" (Thayer 349-1-2816)--they will not go to heaven.

In this verse Paul names ten sins that were found in Corinth. By naming these sins, he is leading to the next point of discussion.

Be not deceived: "Be not deceived" (planao) is a passive term meaning to be lead astray or "to lead into error" (Thayer 514-2-4105). Paul is concerned that some in Corinth are being deceived into thinking that they could not miss heaven regardless of their sins (such as dividing the church over teachers, committing adultery, and taking one another to law). If Christians in Corinth, or even in our congregations today, are guilty of any of the following ten sins, they are "unrighteous" and "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

In today’s society people are "deceived" about many of these sins because man changes the names of the sins: Fornication and adultery are now called "affairs"; idolatry is called "freedom of religion"; effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind are called "gays"; and drunkenness is called a "sickness." Regardless of what terms they are called by today, people should not be deceived--the Apostle Paul refers to those who commit them as the "unrighteous."

neither fornicators: "Fornicators" (pornos) are people "who indulge in unlawful sexual intercourse" (Thayer 532-1-4205).

nor idolaters: "Idolaters" (eidololatres) are "worshippers of false gods" (Thayer 174-2-1496).

nor adulterers: The word "adulterers" (moichos) "denotes one who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another" (Vine, Unger and White 14).

nor effeminate: "Effeminate" (malakos) is "a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness" (Thayer 387-2-3120). In this verse, the word refers to "persons in general, who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh, voluptuous" (Vine, Unger, and White 195).

nor abusers of themselves with mankind: "Abusers of themselves with mankind" (arsenokoites) are those who lie "with a male as with a female, a sodomite" (Thayer 75-1-733).

Nor thieves: "Thieves" (kleptes) are "stealers" (Strong #2812).

nor covetous: "Covetous" (pleonektes) refers to those "greedy of gain" (Thayer 516-1-4123).

nor drunkards: "Drunkards" (methusos) refer to those who are "intoxicated" (Thayer 396-1-3183).

nor revilers: "Revilers" (loidoros) are "railers" (Thayer 382-1-3060).

nor extortioners: "Extortioners" (harpax) refer to "robber(s)" (Thayer 75-1-727).

shall inherit the kingdom of God: In verse 9, before Paul names these sins, he says that the "unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Now, he restates this fact to draw the seriousness of these sins to the Corinthians’ minds. The seriousness of these sins is seen in the letter to the church in Ephesus as Paul says,

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them (Ephesians 5:3-7).

Verse 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.

And such were some of you: By the word "some," Paul indicates that everyone is not guilty of the sins mentioned in verses 9 and 10. The word "such" (tauta) means "these things" (Strong #5023); therefore, Paul is saying that those who were guilty of "these things" are no longer guilty and should never involve themselves in these sins again. They have put off the old man of sin and have put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24); now they must be cautious that they do not become as "the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:22). They are no longer held accountable for these sins because they changed their lives from sin to righteousness by giving up the sins of the flesh through faith, confession, and baptism.

but ye are washed: The term "ye are washed" (apolouo) is in the middle voice, indicating they permitted themselves to be washed. However, the terms "sanctified" and "justified" are in the passive voice, showing that sanctification and justification came from their act of being "washed."

Being "washed" has reference to baptism as it did when Ananias said to Saul, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). The one act of baptism, therefore, causes a person’s sins to be "washed" away; the person is then "sanctified" and "justified."

Thus, baptism is essential to salvation because it removes sins. In the first gospel sermon, Peter preaches, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). Again Peter says, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (1 Peter 3:21). The water in baptism has no special power. The power is in man’s obedience to God when he is baptized for the remission of his sins. (For the importance of baptism, see notes on 1:17.)

but ye are sanctified: The term "sanctified" (hagiazo) means "to purify by expiation" (Thayer 6-2-37); that is, they have been freed from the slavery of sin by repentance and baptism. Sanctification involves a separation from past sins with the determination to be obedient to God’s law. Sanctification was made possible when Christ died on the cross for our sins. Paul says, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10).

but ye are justified: By being "justified" (dikaioo), the Corinthians had been "pronounced...to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be" (Thayer 150-2-1344). Paul says, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:9). In baptism, the blood of Jesus Christ washes away sins and, therefore, justifies. This justification is made possible when a person develops faith in Christ as the Corinthians did. Paul says, "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8). This is not faith only, but a faith that leads to obedience of God’s will.

in the name of the Lord Jesus: "The definite article (the) is used because the subject applies to God’s grace toward all believers" (Vine 85). Because of His grace, God has provided a way that man can be saved. The word "name" (onoma) suggests that sanctification and justification came by man’s "acknowledging, embracing, (and) professing, the name of Christ" (Thayer 448-1-3686). It is only through the name of Christ, through His authority, that man can be saved. The Apostle Peter teaches, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

and by the Spirit of our God: This is the only New Testament scripture that states "the Spirit of our God." The "Spirit of our God" refers to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a promise for those obedient to God. Paul says,

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14).

Having been forgiven and, therefore, saved from their past sins, the Corinthians must now remain faithful; otherwise, the consequences are terrible. Peters says, "For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them" (2 Peter 2:21).

Verse 12

Fornication

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.

It is difficult to understand Paul’s purpose in abruptly changing his subject to liberties unless we acknowledge that he is answering arguments made by the Corinthians. Evidently, in a previous letter or in person, Paul made reference to this same thought of "all things being lawful" and the Corinthians misapplied his statement to include such sins as fornication. It seems that they were attempting to justify their sins of fornication by Paul’s statement about liberties. Their conclusion was reached by a syllogism:

Syllogism

Major premise:Paul says, "All things are lawful."

Minor premise:Fornication is a thing.

Conclusion: Therefore, fornication is lawful.

All things are lawful unto me: The word "lawful" (exesti) means "it is right" (Strong #1832). When Paul says, "All things are lawful," he does not refer to things that are sinful (doing things that are forbidden or failing to do things God has commanded). Sins are as unlawful to Paul as to anyone. Paul is referring to "all things" that are permitted, but not commanded--in other words, liberties.

but all things are not expedient: All liberties are "lawful" but are not necessarily "expedient" (sumphero). The word "expedient" means "profitable" (Thayer 597-2-4851). The Greek word sumphero, translated "expedient" here, is translated "profitable" in Matthew 5:29-30 and "profit withal" in 1 Corinthians 12:7.

Many things are acceptable to God but are not profitable. For example: eating meat is acceptable as Paul says, "But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse" (8:8). However, when eating meat causes others to sin, it is not "expedient," it is not profitable and, therefore, must be avoided. Paul continues, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak" (8:9). Anytime that a liberty is involved, we must be willing to sacrifice liberty for the sake of unity. We should have the attitude of Paul about eating meat: "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend" (8:13). We must be very careful not to confuse commands with liberties and must never sacrifice a commandment of God for the sake of unity.

all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any: "Be brought under the power of any" (exousiazo) means "to be master of any one, exercise authority over one" (Thayer 225-2-1850). Paul’s teaching is that even though Christians have many liberties, they must never become such slaves to these liberties that they hold on to them, even if it means other Christians’ losing their souls.

The conclusion of verse 12 pertaining to liberties is "all things are lawful" unless: (1) the liberty causes a brother to sin or (2) the liberty causes the person to sin by becoming enslaved to its use.

Verse 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.

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them: The word "meats" (broma) means "that which is eaten, food" (Thayer 106-1-1033). God created food and the man’s belly ("stomach" RSV) for each other; therefore, it is in harmony with God’s will for man to satisfy his appetite by eating food. This arrangement is only temporary, however. Paul says God shall "destroy" the stomach and the food created for it. The word "destroy" (katargeo) means "to cause to cease," to "put an end to," "to do away with, annul, abolish" (Thayer 336-1-2673).

Now the body is not for fornication: Paul contrasts the "stomach" to the "body" by showing that while "meats" or foods were created for the "stomach," the "body" was NOT created for "fornication." Food sustains the stomach; it cannot exist without it; however, "fornication" does not sustain the body, and the body can and must live without it.

but for the Lord: Man’s physical body has different desires--it desires sexual pleasures; however, the body must not be enslaved to sexual pleasures and, furthermore, God did not create the body simply for its desires to be gratified, for example, through "fornication." The body has only one true purpose and that is "for the Lord"--to serve God as being "the temple of the Holy Ghost" (6:19). For man to defile the body with fornication, therefore, is incompatible with God’s will, thus, bringing forth destruction. David says, "But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul" (Proverbs 6:32).

and the Lord for the body: Paul says that as the body is for the Lord "the Lord (is) for the body." The Lord is for the body in the sense that the Lord created and sustains the body by providing its physical and spiritual food. The Lord is also for the body in the sense of eternal destiny as is referred to in 1 Corinthians 1:14.

Verse 14

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us: In verse 13, Paul says that God "shall destroy" the belly and the meats, but now he shows a difference between "meats" (food) and the "belly" (body). While the food will be destroyed forever, God will resurrect Christians’ bodies to a state of immortality just as He raised up the Lord.

by his own power: By Paul’s saying that this resurrection will happen "by (God’s) own power," it is obvious that someone in Corinth questioned how it was possible (probably the same individual in 15:35); thus, Paul says that God will resurrect the body "by his own power," miraculously. When man dies, his spirit and body are separated. The spirit returns to God, and the body is buried; however, upon the final day, the body will be raised to an incorruptible state. Paul says,

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you (Romans 8:10-11).

For more about the eternal state of the body, notice Paul’s words in chapter 15:

But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him....It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body....Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (15:35-56).

Verse 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.

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?: Paul is continuing to ask rhetorical questions involving truths that are well known to everyone (see comments on verse 2). It is a well-known fact that Christian "bodies are the members of Christ." The term "members" (melos) has reference to "a limb or part of the body" (Strong #3196). Christian bodies are said to be the limbs of the Lord’s body, which is the church (Colossians 1:24; Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 3:16). Paul says, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (12:27). To the church at Ephesus, Paul says, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Ephesians 5:30). Jesus was speaking of this same idea when He says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches..." (John 15:5).

shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?: After saying that the Christian bodies make up the Lord’s body, Paul asks another rhetorical question: "shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?" This statement is made as a way to show the repulsiveness Paul has for the sin of fornication when Christians are involved. When Christians join their bodies (through fornication) to an harlot, nothing but evil can come from it; therefore, the Spirit of Christ leaves it. Christians have no right to join their bodies to those of harlots because the Christians’ bodies do not belong to them anymore. Christ bought them; therefore, they belong to Him (Acts 20:28).

God forbid: The words "God forbid" (ginomai) would be better rendered "far be it!" (Thayer 115-2-1096) or "let it not be" (Vine 89). The New American Standard Version translates this passage, "May it never be."

Verse 16

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

What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body?: Paul asks another rhetorical question: "Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body and the two become one flesh." Paul now compares the joining, through fornication, of a Christian to a harlot to the marriage relationship.

"Joined" (kollao) means "to join one’s self to" or "to cleave to" (Thayer 353-1-2853) and refers to an intimate union between two people.

for two, saith he, shall be one flesh: Fornication involves such a union that the "two" individuals become "one flesh." The same thought is spoken of by Christ in reference to the marriage relationship:

...For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:5-6).

Paul is not saying that the act of fornication between a Christian and a harlot constitutes marriage. He is comparing the two because sexual relations are involved with both. When a person is baptized, he is joined to Christ (Galatians 3:27), and he is one with Christ; however, when he sins by committing fornication, he destroys the union he has with Christ and becomes one with the harlot. Repentance is the only way to dissolve this new made union with the harlot.

Verse 17

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

Being "joined unto the Lord" is contrasted with being "joined to a harlot." Likewise, being "one spirit" is contrasted with being "one flesh." It is impossible to be joined to a harlot and the Lord at the same time. The very union of one dissolves the union of the other. Having been "joined unto the Lord" through baptism, we become "one" in "spirit." We are "one spirit" by being one in faith, one in thought, one in word, and one in action with Christ. This same idea is expressed by Paul when he says,

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Verse 18

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

Flee fornication: The term "flee" (pheugo) means "to shun or avoid by flight" (Thayer 651-1-5343) and indicates that it is something that must be a habitual practice. Paul gives this same instruction when he says, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Many sins can be abstained from by fighting against them; but the only sure way to avoid "fornication" is by running from it as Joseph did in Genesis 39:12 when Potiphar’s wife attempted to entice him.

Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body: This statement is given as a conclusion of the strong teaching the Apostle Paul has done about fornication. It is extremely difficult to know exactly what Paul has in mind because it appears there are other sins (drunkenness, gluttony, drug abuse, etc) that may be sins against the body.

Paul names "fornication," but most likely is speaking of sexual immorality in general. This statement is not teaching that fornication is greater than other sins, for all sins will lead to destruction; however, Paul has reference to the fact that sexual sins, such as fornication, are solely for the purpose of gratifying the body. Also, fornication is the one and only sin that actually has the body as the instrument. Other sins involve things outside the body. In other words, it is not alcohol, food, or drugs that are used to sin against the body, but in fornication it is the body sinning against itself. It is doubtful that Paul is considering diseases as being the sin "against" his body. Instead, in keeping with the context, he is saying that fornication severs the body from the purpose for which it was given--to be "the temple of the Holy Ghost" as mentioned in the next verse. Throughout the scriptures, fornication is spoken of with greater contempt and consequences than any other sin. For example, fornication is the one exception that can lead to the dissolving of a marriage. Jesus says,

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery (Matthew 19:9).

Verse 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?

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God: Paul repeats his teaching in verse 15 saying that the "body is the temple of the Holy Ghost" (see comments on 3:16).

and ye are not your own?: Paul ends verse 18 by indicating that the body belongs to man; however, he now says "ye are not your own." The body belongs to man only in the sense that he controls it; however, Christians realize the purpose of the body is as a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, they do not commit sin with it.

Verse 20

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

For ye are bought with a price: Paul draws his arguments against sexual immorality to a close by referring to the purchase price of the church. As Christians we are bought with the blood of Christ. Peter says,

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19)

therefore glorify God in your body: Because Christians are "bought with a price" (the blood of Christ), Paul says, "glorify God in your body." The term "glorify" (doxazo) means "to honor." Since we are bought by the precious blood of Christ, we must honor God in keeping the body pure and sinless.

and in your spirit, which are God’s: The last phrase of this verse ("and in your spirit, which are God’s") was added by the translators of the King James Version and is not in the original manuscripts.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/1-corinthians-6.html. 1993-2022.
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