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FIRST CORINTHIANS-CHAPTER 6
OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN
I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER SIX:
I. Lawsuits: 6:1-8
II. Such Were Some of You: 6:9-11
III. Liberty and Licence/The Question of Religious Fornication: 6:12-20
II. INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER SIX:
'There was a pathetic lack of discipline at Corinth. Chapter 5 makes that clear enough...the problems in the assembly were not only sexual, there was fraud being perpetrated. Christians were being fleeced by saints. Saints were finding themselves driven to take other saints before pagan judges because nothing was being done about the thievery at a congregational level . And, apparently, there were those who would go to court before they'd permit anyone under any circumstances to defraud them. "I'll get my rights!" was their motto.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 69]
Paul had just stated in Chapter five the necessity of exercising some "judgement" in respect to our brethren (5:11). This "judgement" has another application, besides withdrawing from unrepentant brethren...'but it also has to do with another kind of judgement that must take place within the Christian community, namely in matters of everyday life where one member has a grievance against another..Everything in this church is in reverse order. If the church does not "judge" those outside, neither does it go outside with inside affairs. ' [Note: _ Fee p. 228]
And again, we find that the Corinthians had brought some of their culture into the church with them:
'In this section Paul is dealing with a problem which specifically affected the Greeks. The Jews did not ordinarily go to law in the public law-courts at all; they settled things before the elders of the village or the elders of the Synagogue; to them justice was far more a thing to be settled in a family spirit than in a legal spirit..it was far otherwise with the Greeks; the Greeks were naturally and characteristically a litigious people. The law courts were in fact one of their chief amusements and entertainments. Going to law was integrally bound up with Greek life.' [Note: _ Barclay p. 55]
III. COMMENTARY ON CHAPTER THREE:
1Co_6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
'Dare' -'does not express the boldness of the act involved but the lack of shame thus shown.' (Lenski p. 234) 'The insulted majesty of Christians is denoted by a grand word.' (Vincent p. 212)
'any of you' -no specific individual is named. From verses 7-8, it appears that this litigation was more widespread than just one isolated case.
'against his neighbor' -i.e. fellow Christian. (6:5,6,8) This section is specifically dealing with lawsuits between Christians.
'With reference to the man of chapter 5 the Corinthians adopted a "we cannot judge or condemn" attitude. But when it came to their own gain or loss they weren't slow in recognizing who was right or wrong.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 69]
'go to law' -'to have his case tried before the heathen' (TCNT)
'the unrighteous' -Now it wasn't that the courts in Corinth were "corrupt" (or more corrupt than any other). For even Paul himself, had found justice before the courts in Corinth. ( Act_18:12-16 ) And Paul isn't forbidding all use of the courts. After all, we are commanded to obey the laws of the land ( Rom_13:1-14 ), and obeying certain laws demands that we use the court system, i.e. marriage licenses, adoptions, jury duty, etc..
But Paul is dealing with disputes between brethren (6:5). 'The apostle is not so much depreciating the justice of the Gentile courts as he is emphasizing the different standards of authority employed by Christians and non-Christians. How can non-Christians make decisions compatible with Christian standards of morality?' (Willis p. 180)
'and not before the saints' -indicating the course of action that should have been taken.
'Rather than allowing these personal matters to get out of control and be taken before pagan courts, the matters should have been handled by the brethren. The brethren were sinfully negligent of the spiritual needs of the congregation; they not only failed to become involved in the case of incest but also in matters of disputes between members which eventually ended up in heathen courts.' [Note: _ Willis p. 181]
This verse isn't authorizing the institution of "Christian Courts". Rather, if the unbelieving world, with it's wisdom (1:21) is viewed as competent to resolve issues, then shouldn't the local congregation, with God's wisdom (2:9-13), be able to handle it's own problems? ( Mat_5:23-24 ; Mat_18:15 ff; Gal_6:1 ff)
At this point some in Corinth might of responded, 'but we aren't competent to judge such matters!' 'We can't handle such issues!'
Points to Note:
1. While this section deals with taking brethren to law before pagan courts. Some of the principles here must apply to a couple of other areas. (a) Two Christians using the courts to get a divorce (no fornication was involved by either party), and airing their dirty laundry before unbelievers. (b) A Christian couple going to a secular marriage counsellor for help with their marriage.
2. Unfortunately, Christians who claim to possess "all the truth", sure don't act like it when they appeal to the "world" for help with a problem. Has God given us everything we need, or hasn't He? ( 2Pe_1:3 )
3. But often members will say, 'but these people are the experts'. But whose "wisdom" are these experts using? ( Jer_8:9 ; 1Co_1:21 ; Jam_3:14-18 )
4. How credible and relevant does Christianity look, when members of the church must continually run to the world for the answers to their personal problems?
5. Unfortunately, the church has been intimidated by the world into believing that the local congregation doesn't have the resources nor the "expertise" to help people with many of their personal problems.
And it isn't that the world never has a good idea. But it is only the Christian (because of his attachment to truth), who is able to sort out the good advice of the world, from the bad and harmful.
This presents an interesting scenario. We have the truth to save your soul, but we can't help you stop drinking, gambling, or beating your wife. We have all truth, but we don't know what to tell you about your marriage problem, or the problem your having with your teenage son.
1Co_6:2 Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
'know ye not' -'Was the cause of this obviously sinful conduct reckless disregard for the will of God or ignorance? Could it be possible that the congregation which thought themselves to be somewhat actually were ignorant?' (Willis p. 181)
'that the saints shall judge the world?' -Paul does not tell us specifically in what sense Christians will or do judge the world?
Points to Note:
1. 'One view understands that the saint's faith will condemn the unbelief of the world just as the Ninevites will rise in judgement against the generation that rejected the Christ.' ( Mat_12:41 ) [Note: _ Willis p. 181]
2. 'I think the world will be judged in light of the choices the saints made . In choosing Christ the saints have charged the world that it is foolish. They have rejected the world's wisdom as nonsense, its priorities and values as upside down and its goals as madness.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 70]
3. In the final judgement, I find simply one judge that both saint and sinner must stand before. ( 2Co_5:10 )
I think that McGuiggan is on the right track in reference to this verse. In choosing Christ and eternal treasure over temporary gain, we like Moses, have demonstrated ourselves more in touch with reality than the world. ( Heb_11:26 ) By laying up treasures in heaven, instead of upon the earth, we have demonstrated that we can assess and determine "true value" better than the world. ( Mat_6:19-20 ) By choosing God's ethic's over the world's, I have demonstrated that I can tell the difference between good and evil, truth and error, reality and a sham. ( Heb_5:14 ) In view of all of this, how can Christians every say, "my brethren aren't qualified to help me, but an unbeliever is."????
'are ye unworthy' -'are you not competent.' (NASV) 'Are you unfit to try the most trivial cases' (TCNT)
Well, are we? If your brethren in Beaverton were "smart" enough to choose Christ. If they aren't fooled by the "ethics" of the world. If they can tell truth from error. If they aren't impressed with the popular, but false religions of our day. Then shouldn't they be able to give you some good sound advice for how to resolve a dispute between another brother?
Lenski has a good comment here: 'And now some foolish church member in Corinth presumes to think that the saints who judge the world are "unworthy" to adjudicate in some trivial affair between himself and a brother? The very idea is ridiculous. And he must rush off to some pagan judge who stoops before idol shrines to have his case tried.' (p. 237)
'to judge the smallest matters?' -'the most trivial cases.' (TCNT) Compared to other "judgements" that church members are required to give (like the one in chapter 5). If I can correct "judge" who Christ Is and What Must I Do To Be Saved? Then I should be able to properly judge lesser issues.
1Co_6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more, things that pertain to this life?
'Know ye not' -How often does Paul, present this phrase to a congregation that claimed to know it all! (6:9,16,19)
And how often do our actions betray our claim to "know the truth"? How often do our actions contradict what we profess?
'we shall judge angels?' -'In choosing Christ the saints have wisely placed themselves under authority to God whereas the angels rebelled and kept not their "places of authority" (NIV on Jud_1:9 ). The saints will be a standing condemnation of angels. If then, the saints by their choice of Christ, have placed themselves as judges of the world and angels..how can they be negligent when it comes to making decisions concerning congregational behaviour?' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 70]
Both of the above verses should remind the local congregation of it's competence to make proper judgements! 'If you have showed better judgement than the world and even some angels, then certainly you can resolve issues between brethren!'
1Co_6:4 If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church?
'If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life' -'lit., well then, if you have cases pertaining to this life.' (F.F. Bruce p. 60) 'When you have these common quarrels to decide.' (Knox)
'do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church?' -
Two views exist concerning who are referred to as "no account in the church". Some see Paul commanding the church to use it's humblest members to decide such cases. A better view is that the verse is a question. 'Seeing that Christians demonstrate better judgement than the world and even some angels in very serious matters; now when it comes to lesser matters, do you all of a sudden run to people who aren't even members of church?'
A great lesson exists here for us. We didn't consult the "world" to decide if God existed or not, if the Bible was the word of God or not, if Jesus was the Son of God or not. Why would we consult the world then for much lesser personal issues?
'no account' -1848. exoutheneo ex-oo-then-eh'-o; a variation of 1847 and meaning the same: -contemptible, despise, least esteemed, set at nought. 'No standing within the church.' (Fee p. 236)
1Co_6:5 I say this to move you to shame. What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren,
'I say this to move you to shame' -'He means to convict them! He wants them to feel their shame..They prided themselves as men of critical ability. They were a church blessed with spiritual and miraculous abilities..And now, Paul wants to know, can't there be found a wise man who can give wise counsel to differing brothers? An assembly of people who have been wise enough to choose Christ, an assembly spiritually enriched and two of its members having to appear before a pagan judge to settle their differences? What an insult to them! What an insult to Christ!' [Note: _ McGuiggan pp. 70-71]
'one wise man' -'Are you really unable to find among your number one man with enough sense .' (Phi) 'So utter a lack of men of sense amongst you Corinthians, with all your talent and pretensions? (1:5, 3:18, 4:10)' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 816)
'Paul is trying to help the Corinthians see their true condition over against their perceived one. A trial between two brothers before pagan courts is not "innocent" matter; it reveals how lacking in truly Christian wisdom they are..' [Note: _ Fee p. 237]
Paul's question here cuts to the bone. The very fact that the Corinthians were going before heathen judges to settle matters implied that they (with all their wisdom) had been unable! What an embarrassment!
When Christians, have to turn to the world for help with personal problems, was it because there wasn't even one "wise" person in the whole congregation who could of helped?
1Co_6:6 but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
'Not only so, but all of this happens right in the open, "in front of unbelievers" . (Fee p. 237)
'and that' -calling attention to the worst feature. 'That there should be disputes.. is bad; that Christian should to go law with Christian is worse; that Christians should do this before unbelievers is worst of all.' (Robertson pp. 118-119)
'In all of this there is an implicit call to leaders to act as leaders. See that fairness and justice are given their place. Deal with covetousness! Don't let members go on exploiting others!' (McGuiggan p. 71)
1Co_6:7 Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?
'already it is altogether a defect in you' -'Without going any further, suing one another means you have utterly failed.' (Beck); 'evidence of defeat' (Mof); 'Actually, then, it is already a defeat to you.' (NASV)
'already' -before ye even begin civil action. (McGarvey p. 75) 'Indeed then it is already an unmistakable defeat for you that you have law-suits-- you are beaten before you enter court , by the mere fact that such quarrels arise and reach this pitch.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 816)
'defect' -2275. hettema hayt'-tay-mah; from 2274; a deterioration, i.e. (objectively) failure or (subjectively) loss: -diminishing, fault.
In this instance a "moral failure"! Regardless of who actually won the case, it was a moral defeat, even for the winner.
This passage must have some application for two Christians who bring their marriage woes before a human divorce court (no fornication involved), and accuse each other, and fight over everything from the children to the 10 year-old station wagon. In cases like this even the declared winner, is a moral failure. And even the world can see that.
'Why not rather take wrong?' -'Why not rather be wronged?' (NASV)
'why not rather be defrauded?' -'Allow yourselves to be robbed.' (Robertson p. 119) 'Be cheated, tends to narrow the perspective to "robbing, cheating, defrauding" someone out of what is rightfully his/hers (cf. 7:5)' (Fee p. 241)
'Why not, indeed! For one living in the old age, where selfishness in all of its sordid as well as domesticated forms still rules, one can give a thousand reasons why not; but they all begin with the word "but" (as in, "But you don't know what he did to me") and are motivated by some form of self-protection or self-gain.' [Note: _ Fee pp. 240-241]
'Paul now turns his attention directly to the two men involved in the litigation..the actions of both men are a total defeat, shaming both the church and themselves.' (Fee p. 239)
'Verse 7 makes good reading; it's the practice of it that makes it hard. We love to see it in others. Not our family members or friends, of course..Is there never a time to turn the other cheek? Is there never a time to take mistreatment with kindness in return? Is it never right to suffer yourself to be defrauded? Is 1Pe_2:21-23 only for cranks and fanatics? Well? Sometimes when I look within and look around I think we're all dabbling in religion rather than being disciples of Christ...We read truths like verse 7 and line up about 200 reasons why we can't live that way and 400 occasions when it would be wrong to do so. How, in God's name, did the Church of God ever get launched in the world with the moderate amount of success it enjoyed if its early members were as shrewd as we are in avoiding pain and personal loss? ' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 71]
1Co_6:8 Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
'but ye yourselves do wrong' -Far from enduring wrong ( Mat_5:40 ; 1Pe_2:22 ), or forfeiting "their rights" for others, they were actually becoming the abusers. In the demand for "justice", they were being unjust to others.
Point to Note:
The verse contains a valuable truth. When Christians seek revenge, "so-called justice", or "their rights", they often end up walking all over the "rights" of others to get them. ( Rom_12:17-21 ) I am reminded of a statement one writer said, that all of us have been victims, but all of us have also been abusers!
1Co_6:9 Or 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 men,
'Or know ye not' -'Again, Paul employs the "or do you not know" phrase--a phrase which rebukes the arrogance of the Corinthians in the same way as Jesus' phrase "have ye not read..." rebuked the scribes and Pharisees of His day.' (Willis p. 187)
'the unrighteous' -the implication is that this warning applies to those involved in such lawsuits, as well as the other sins listed. 'The acts in which they were engaged in were serious enough to keep them out of--heaven. (Notice that the saint can fall from grace!)' (Willis p. 187)
'the kingdom of God' -i.e. the future heavenly kingdom, heaven itself. ( 2Pe_1:11 )
'Be not deceived' -'Stop being misled' (Wms); 'Make no mistake' (Wey) This exhortation is repeated-15:33; Gal_6:7 ; Eph_5:6 . An exhortation needed just as much today, when religious bodies are claiming that many of these sins are acceptable.
'Paul writes because regarding this very point people constantly deceive themselves ..thousands who are living today are "unrighteous", and yet expect to reach heaven at last.' [Note: _ Lenski p. 247]
'Then he gives a sample list of the kinds of unrighteousness which he has in mind .' (McGuiggan p. 72) ( Gal_5:21 ' and things like these .)
Point to Note:
The following are "unrighteous" behaviors. They can never be made right! They can't be legitimized. And these sins, will be considered "sins" at the judgement, for unrepented of participation in them will exclude one from heaven, which means, those who practice such things and don't repent will end up in hell.
We have already considered some of these sins in Chapter 5. Hence, we will just examine those which weren't mentioned there.
'adulterers' -'means precisely that (married persons having sexual relations--of any kind--outside marriage)'. (Fee p. 243) It also includes a single person who marries someone who has been unscripturally divorced. ( Mat_5:32 ) And also is used of a man or woman who unscripturally divorces and remarries. ( Mat_19:9 ; Mar_10:12 )
'effeminate' -3120. malakos mal-ak-os'; of uncertain affinity; soft, i.e. fine (clothing); figuratively, a catamite: -effeminate, soft.
'Has the basic meaning of "soft"; but it also became a pejorative epithet for men who were "soft" or "effeminate", most likely referring to the younger, "passive" partner in a pederastic relationship. In many instances young men sold themselves as "mistresses" for the sexual pleasure of men older than themselves.' [Note: _ Fee pp. 243-244]
Words that need defined: "Catamite"-a boy used in pederasty. "Pederasty"-sodomy among males, esp., as practiced by a man with a boy.
And if such was wrong, and called "unrighteous" in Corinth, then it is just as wrong in downtown Portland Oregon, and if not repented of, it will send you to hell, regardless of what the Oregonian says to the contrary! 'BE NOT DECEIVED!'
'nor abusers of themselves with men' -'homosexuals' (NASV). The word is a compound of "male" and "intercourse". (Fee p. 244) The previous words fornicators and adulterers would apply to "a male who has intercourse", this must specifically refer to males who have intercourse with other males.
Points to Note:
In recent years many have tried to soften these verses and claim that Paul was only condemning a certain kind of "homosexuality". Some would say a "lustful kind" or "harmful kind". And yet if this is true, then the same argument must be used for all the other sins mentioned here. Is there a "non-lustful" kind of fornication? Adultery? Is there a non-harmful kind of idolatry? Theft? Greed? Extortion? Can I engage in all of these behaviors just as long as my heart is right? If homosexual relations are "right" in a committed and monogamous relationship, then can I have an affair (have adulterous relations), as long as I am committed to the woman I am having an affair with? We need to remember than any argument offered in the attempt to "justify" homosexuality, must be applied to all the other sins mentioned in this list and every other list in the Bible.
We should also note, that more than more "kind" of homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. Male prostitution is condemned ("effeminate"), but so are lesbian relationships ( Rom_1:26 ); and so are "CONSENTING HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS"- Rom_1:27 "men with men".
In view of this list, it is interesting to watch the hypocrisy of the world. Homosexuality and fornication (living together) are defended as 'rights'. Pornography and most forms of obscenity are defended, even some forms are supported by tax dollars (NEA FUNDING) . And yet, "sexual harassment" is a big taboo.
And recently I read a very interesting report: "The gay community has long allowed other sexual outcasts to ride its coattails, from transvestites and transsexuals to bisexuals and leather fetishists. But it is now trying to distance itself from pedophiles. 'Last month, a New York group called Stonewall 25 voted to bar the controversial North American Man-Boy Lover Association from its international march on the United Nations June 26.' Has the homosexual community all of a sudden discovered an absolute standard of morality that condemns man-boy sexual contact? If so, will they please tell us what that absolute standard is so that we can all examine it? Or, has it become politically expedient to divorce themselves from pedophiles so that they can promote their own political agenda more successfully?" [Note: _ GOT April 7, 1994 pp. 26-27]
1Co_6:10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
'thieves' -'The ancient world was cursed with them...The state of the law shows how serious this problem was. There were three kinds of theft which were punishable by death.' (Barclay pp. 58-59) 'And it doesn't matter how the robbery takes place , with or without legal sanction.' (McGuiggan p. 72)
'revilers' -'someone with a "smart mouth", who enjoys, whatever his excuse is, abusing people with his tongue.' (McGuiggan p. 72)
'shall inherit the kingdom of God' -repeated (6:9). NOW OR EVER!
1Co_6:11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
'And such were some of you' -'And these are just the characters some of you used to be.' (Wms)
Proof positive, that even very addictive sinful lifestyles , can be quit for God. A clean break from sin can be made.
'washed..sanctified..justified' -All three happened in the action of submitting to baptism. Washed- Act_22:16 , Eph_5:26 ; Tit_3:5 ; Heb_10:22 ; Sanctified-by coming into contact with the blood of Christ ( Rom_6:3 = Heb_10:29 ); Justified, by being forgiven- Rom_4:6-8 = Act_2:38 .
'in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ' -by His authority ( Matthew 28:19-20; 10:48 )
'in the Spirit of our God' -in harmony with or due to the revelation given by the Spirit.
'You'll note that Paul speaks of men in this section (and not women) as committing fornication. And with harlots (not simply women in general-6:15). It isn't hard at all to see that these harlots are connected with the heathen temples and the meats are those with the same connection...While Paul has made it explicitly clear that fornication is in violent opposition to the will of God (5:10-11; 6:9..)he is not in this present section dealing with fornication in general. He is clearly dealing with fornication as it relates to idolatry..' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 73]
I think McGuiggan is on the right track, especially considering the context. Apparently some at Corinth, were arguing that since meat sacrificed to idols was a matter of indifferent, why not sex with religious prostitutes? After all, aren't both merely body functions? (6:13) In addition, such "religious fornication" was a "civic duty" in Corinth, and it wasn't as if they were having sex with an "ordinary" woman, rather they were having sex with a woman whose "business" was sex.
1Co_6:12 All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any.
'All things are lawful for me' -obviously, not everything (6:9-10) And yet a realm of "lawful" things does exist, a realm in which the Christian has the liberty to participate or not. This same realm, Paul discusses in Rom_14:1-23 , see verses 14:3,5,6,14. And yet, Paul points out that Christian liberty isn't licence. ( 1Co_10:23 )
'but not all things' -i.e. in that realm of "lawful things".
'are expedient' -4851. sumphero soom-fer'-o; from 4862 and 5342 (including its alternate); to bear together (contribute), i.e. (literally) to collect, or (figuratively) to conduce; especially (neuter participle as a noun) advantage: -be better for, bring together, be expedient (for), be good, (be) profit(-able for).
-signifies contributing to someone's benefit (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 818) 'Bears together for good and so worthwhile.' (Robertson p. 120) 'Be advantageous, useful, or profitable.' (Willis p. 195)
'The real question is not whether an action is "lawful" or "right" or even "all right", but whether it is good, whether it benefits. In light of the full context of this section that may mean "to one's own benefit". Elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, however, this word denotes benefiting someone else (10:23=33). Truly Christian conduct is not predicated on whether I have the right to do something, but whether my conduct is helpful to those about me.' [Note: _ Fee p. 252]
Point to Note:
Sadly this principle laid down by Paul has often been ignored. Many divisions in the church could of been avoided, if this principle were carried out. Various issues have a very difficult time passing the first test, 'Is it lawful', i.e. instrumental music, using church funds for social activities and recreation, the sponsoring church arrangement. And considering the division that they caused when introduced, they certainly weren't "expedient" for the body of Christ.
'but I will not be brought under the power of any' -i.e. of any "lawful" thing. Paul is saying that he won't allow his "liberty" to become his master.
'There is a kind of self-deception that inflated spirituality promotes, which suggests to oneself that he/she is acting with freedom and authority, but which in fact is an enslavement of the worst kind--to the very freedom one thinks one has.' (Fee p. 253)
'he insists that freedom in these areas (of things lawful) will not become his Lord. Yes, he has the right to eat meats offered to idols but meats are not that important to him. Freedom in the matter of food laws is not the big issue with him. Meats don't control him, he controls meat-eating.....Paul claimed he too kept lawful things under control..He could always say no to them.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 75]
Point to Note:
Even if one could get such subjects as smoking, social drinking, gambling (playing the lottery), and dancing into the category of lawful things ( a big "if"), it would be a very tough sell to argue that such things are "useful". In fact, right here smoking runs into a big problem. For it does make a slave of it's user.
In a time when so many people are arguing about "their rights", Paul gives us a fresh view of "personal freedom". He reminds us-"liberty" isn't something to be worshipped!
1Co_6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to nought both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body:
'Meats for the belly' -'Food is for the stomach' (NASV)
This may have been a slogan that some in Corinth were using. Apparently Paul is answering one of their arguments. The argument may have went something like. Since 'eating meats' and 'sex' are both "natural functions or natural possesses of the body", and eating meats sacrificed to idols is a morally neutral practice, then so is having sex with the temple prostitutes.
"Obviously there were those who were defending their right to commit fornication because it was "as natural" as meat eating." [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 75]
'but God shall bring to nought both it and them' -i.e. the stomach and food. 'Neither meats nor the digestive system is destined to live beyond the grave..We will have no use for a digestive system in heaven.' (Willis p. 197)
'But the body is not for fornication' -'Paul emphatically denies the parallel between meats and fornication.' (McGuiggan p. 76)
Point to Note:
Many try to make a similar argument today. We hear people saying that 'sex is just as natural as eating or breathing'. Paul didn't buy into such a shallow view.
'but for the Lord' -The Lord didn't create the body for fornication, He created it for Himself! 'The human body has a higher mission than the mere gratification of sensual appetite.' (Robertson p. 121)
Point to Note:
Apparently the Corinthians were also under another misconception that was prevalent in the Greek culture, i.e. that the body would be destroyed and therefore it was inconsequential what one did with his body in this life.
'The Greeks always looked down on the body..the important thing was the soul, the spirit of man; the body was a thing that did not matter.' (Barclay p. 62)
Fee makes a good point when he says, 'The net result is one of the more important theological passages in the NT about the human body. It should forever lay to rest the implicit dualism of so much that has been passed off as Christian, where the body is rejected, subdued, or indulged because it is of no significance..' (p. 251)
A modern form of the "body isn't important argument", is "my personal life doesn't have anything to do with my religion."
Paul immediately points out that the "body" isn't like the stomach=food relationship that will perish. In the end the body will be resurrected.
1Co_6:14 and God both raised the Lord, and will raise up as through his power.
Demonstrating the dignity and destiny of the human body. 'The body is not for fornication but for the Lord; and it is not destined for destruction but for resurrection, the proof of which is Christ's resurrection.' (Fee p. 255)
Sometimes we forget that our salvation includes the redemption of our physical bodies also. ( Rom_8:23 ; Php_3:21 )
1Co_6:15 Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid.
'Know ye not' -'Again it is implied that they had learned this already.' (F.F. Bruce p. 64)
'your bodies are members of Christ?' -individual Christians compose the body of Christ. ( 1Co_12:12 ff) And we have been part of Christ's body ever since baptism. (12:13) And hence are physical bodies are lit., "limbs" for Christ. ( Rom_6:16 )
'and make them members of a harlot?' -
We should note that Paul here is arguing against a certain kind of fornication, that some in Corinth were attempting to justify, i.e. fornication with the temple prostitutes. Paul points out, 'When a man engages with her in her vile prostitution, she uses his body for her idolatrous worship. In the sexual act she is worshiping! And he is surrendering his body to her. His body is her tool..not only is he committing fornication, he supports and promotes the false religion this woman represents.' (McGuiggan p. 77)
1Co_6:16 Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh.
'is one body' -'the fornicative act makes one single body of the two' (Lenski p. 263)
And the proof of this?
'for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh' - Gen_2:24
Points to Note:
1. Some may have tried to argue that sex was a temple prostitute was simply a business arrangement. After all, that was her job, and it wasn't like you were having sex with an "ordinary woman". 'In lying with a harlot they weren't taking another man's wife; this was her job and (as they now knew) it was an empty act.' (McGuiggan p. 76)
2. Sex outside of marriage "unites" something more than "just" two bodies.
Now I don't believe that Paul is saying that one who lies with a harlot is married to her. 'What if the man who joins himself to the harlot is already married? And how many people (men) would the harlot be married to?' (McGuiggan p. 78) Rather I believe that Paul is showing the Corinthians that fornication with a harlot, just isn't a business arrangement either. 'that sexual act expresses unity between two persons ..and so Paul reminds the Corinthians of how intimate an act they are carrying out when they sexually combine with a harlot. It isn't like eating a piece of meat . It is such an intimate act it is "as if" you were one flesh in marriage.' (McGuiggan p. 79)
3. There is a great lesson here for those that might to tempted to shallow the lie of "no strings attached sexual relationships."
'Fornication unites the personalities of the participants.. there is not such thing as living together without commitment ...Psychologists are recognizing that attachments are formed regardless of whether one intends to form them or not.' (Willis p. 199)
McGuiggan has some good comments for the meaning of "one flesh" in marriage. ' Gen_2:24 is saying: "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife and the two will no longer regard themselves as independent of one another but that together they are one entity. And because they are not independent one of another, they have power over one another sexually . And this sexual act is specifically ordained by God to express, as nothing else does, the closeness of their relationship.' (p. 79)
1Co_6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
When "joined" the Lord in the act of faith expressed in baptism, I took upon myself the obligation to become "one spirit" with Him. Because that's true, consistency would require that I conduct myself in a way that accords with the "will" of Christ. ( Gal_2:20 ; Php_2:3-5 ; Col_3:1-2 )
1Co_6:18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
'Flee fornication' -'Don't debate with it. Don't rationalize about it. Run!' (McGuiggan p. 80) 'An echo, perhaps, of Joseph's literal fleeing from a temptation of this kind ( Gen_39:12 )' (F.F. Bruce p. 65) 'Present imperative. Have the habit of fleeing without delay or parley.' (Robertson p. 122) 'Avoid sexual looseness like the plague!' (Phi)
'Every sin that a man doeth is without the body' -'Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body.' (NASV) As McGuiggan comments, 'Now, what on earth does that mean?' (p. 80) This is a verse that has kept may commentators up at night. So first of all lets place the verse in a proper context with other verses:
1. All sin starts from within the body ( Mar_7:20-23 ; Jam_1:14 ). There are no mindless sins!
2. The verse doesn't say that fornication is the most serious of all sins.
3. Other sins end up abusing the body. So fornication isn't the only sin that results in physical consequences to the body, i.e. gluttony and drunkenness/drug abuse.
4. All sins do effect a person's personality.
Therefore, this verse must be telling us "how God regards fornication" in relation to the physical body that He created.
'but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body'
Since many sins prevent the body was being used effectively in God's service (drunkenness for example), this verse must be telling us that in some way "fornication" is a unique violation against God's purpose (6:13) for the human body. McGuiggan may be on the right track when he says,
'God ordained that the sex act...symbolize and express the unity of man as male and female. And because that is/was God's choice, fornication is uniquely (it isn't a question of degree) against all that the body, in God's view, stands for...But it's relation to the body is unique...it is sexual activity with one's partner which God has chosen as the bodily expression of human completeness . "Man" is not just male. "Man" is male and female. ( Gen_5:2 ; Gen_1:27 )...' (p. 80)
1Co_6:19 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;
'Or know ye not' -it appears that each "know ye not" introduces another point in Paul's argumentation. As if Paul were saying, "And if that didn't convince you..or..and if that wasn't enough."
'your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you' -what was said about the congregation as a whole in 3:16, is not said in particular reference to the individual bodies of Christians.
At this point, I think Fee has a good point, i.e. that Paul is turning their own spiritual arrogance against them. 'What Paul seems to be doing is taking over their own theological starting point, namely that they are "spiritual" because they have the Spirit, and redirecting it to include the sanctity of the body. The reality of the indwelling Spirit is now turned against them. They thought the presence of the Spirit meant a negation of the body; Paul argues the exact opposite.' (p. 264)
Some religious groups, like the Corinthians have a false view of "being spiritual". Some think that being "spiritual" means that you don't care what is done with your body. Paul disagrees. Being "spiritual" means that you regard your body as a temple, and THAT IT DOESN'T BELONG TO YOU for the satisfying of sinful desires or selfish whims.
Point to Note:
Paul here doesn't tell us specifically "how" the Spirit dwells in Christians. Many of the Corinthians did have a miraculous gift of the Spirit. We know that the Spirit is said to dwell in Christians when Christians allow themselves to be influenced by His revelation. ( Eph_5:18 = Col_3:16 )
'and ye are not your own' -'so that you are no longer your own masters.' (Knox); 'you do not belong to yourselves.' (Ber) 'They have been bought and decisions have already been made for them. Harlots are out! .' (McGuiggan p. 81)
Point to Note:
In discussions with those in the denominational world, who claim guidance from the Spirit, we need to remind them, "If the Spirit really does dwell in them"..then that demands something of them-i.e. that they submit to God, that they renounce views that contradict the Bible. "Having the Spirit" doesn't mean that one is "free to serve God anyway one wants". Rather, it means, "being a slave of Christ."
1Co_6:20 for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.
'for' -proof and justification for the statement, 'ye are not your own.'
'bought with a price' -the price being, the blood of Christ. ( 1Pe_1:18-19 ; Mat_20:28 'ransom'). Incidently, since the Church at Corinth was composed of purchased people (1:2; Act_20:28 ); and the purchased people are said to constitute God's kingdom ( Rev_1:5-6 ; Rev_5:9 ); the Church and the Kingdom was refer to the same relationship.
'glorify God therefore in your body' -'so use every part of your body to give glory back to God' (Tay) ( Rom_12:1-2 ).
A verse needs to be referred to more often. Practical applications are demanded from such a conclusion:
1. I am glorifying God or am I dishonoring God with my body? Does my speech, dress, and bodily activity bring honor to God? When people observe what my body says, and what it wears, and how it acts and where it is found to hang out, is it clear to all that my body serves God? Or, would people never guess that I professed to be a Christian?
2. Right now, "who" is in charge of my body. Me or Christ? Who calls the shots, for what my body will do this week and where it will be found? Do I really demonstrate the truth, that I have been bought with a price? That I am not longer my own?
Fee offers some good concluding remarks,
'Sexual immorality is still sin, even though it has been justified under every conceivable rationalization. Those who take Scripture seriously are not prudes or legalists at this point; rather, they recognize that God has purchased us for higher things.' [Note: _ p. 266]
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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18