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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 6

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

Judging Matters Between Brethren

Jesus instructed his followers to go to the brother who sinned against them and tell him privately in the hope he would be restored. "But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and tax collector" ( Mat_18:15-17 ). The Corinthian brethren were ignoring the Lord's instruction. They had thereby placed the church in a bad light before unbelievers ( 1Co_6:1 ).

Christians will judge the world representatively through Christ, their head. Since they were already joined together with the Lord's mind ( 1Co_2:16 ), Paul reasoned, they should have been able to handle small problems among themselves. Paul even said Christians will judge angels representatively through Christ. Through Christ's instruction, therefore, brethren ought to be able to settle differences between themselves ( 1Co_6:2-3 ).

Verses 4-8

The Shame of Brother Going To Law Against Brother

If they had been called upon as a congregation to judge a matter concerning this life, the Christians having the least sense and experience would not have been left to make the decisions. Yet, they did much worse by calling on those outside the church to judge matters that should have been handled within the church ( 1Co_6:4 ).

The Corinthians were very proud of their knowledge. When Paul asked if there was not even one wise man among them, it was a stinging rebuke. By brother going to law with brother, they showed they had no respect for those who were in the church. Paul said their actions meant they had to go outside the church to find someone wise enough to resolve their problems ( 1Co_6:5-6 ).

Even before they went to court with one another, they were in the wrong. Christians ought never to reach such a stage in their problems. It takes bigger men to say they are sorry. Instead of enduring wrong, Paul said they were actually committing wrongs against one another. They should have been more concerned about others and less concerned about themselves ( 1Co_6:7-8 ; Php_2:4 ).

Verses 9-11

Becoming A Christian Means Changing Relationships

Those in the church at Corinth needed to remember that those wronging others would not see heaven. Sin will be punished ( Gal_6:7-8 ). Paul then went on to list some of the sins he had in mind. A fornicator is one who indulges in illicit sex and is involved in one of the sins that Paul said would keep one out of heaven. Idolators worship false gods. An adulterer is one who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another. Perhaps adultery is specified because it breaks up families and hurts a third party. The word translated "homosexuals" literally means "soft to touch." Vine says, "metaphorically, in a bad sense,....persons in general, who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh." The sin of sodomy is best described in Rom_1:26-27 .

A thief takes what belongs to someone else, while those who are covetous desire "to have more...,i.e., to have what belongs to others; hence, greedy of gain," according to Vine. Those who become intoxicated are drunkards. Revilers are abusive and profane. Those who are excessively grasping or covetous could be described as extortioners.

Paul next said the Christians at Corinth had previously been involved in some of those very sins he had listed ( 1Co_6:9-11 ). Lipscomb says, "The threefold 'but' in the clause which follows emphasizes strongly the contrast between their present state and their past, and the consequent demand which their changed position makes upon them." The apostle said they had been washed, or baptized ( Act_22:16 ; Tit_3:5 ). They had also been sanctified, or set apart to do God's will. Further, Paul said they had been justified, or considered righteous because their sins had been remitted.

Verses 12-18

Christians Are A Part of Christ's Body

Christians are free to do anything that is not sinful. The Corinthians had misapplied their freedom to sinful activities. As God's inspired spokesman, Paul said even some things which were lawful were not to be done because they would not profit others. Lipscomb says, "There is a lawful use of all appetites, desires, and lusts" but none of them must obtain the mastery over us" ( 1Co_6:12 ).

Apparently some compared man's appetite for food to his appetite for sex, reasoning that if one is right, so is the other. Food and stomach serve only a temporary purpose; to maintain the body. Fornication serves to tear down the body, which is meant for the Lord's service. The Lord dwells in and cares for the body. While the stomach serves a temporary purpose, the body will be raised by God for an eternal heaven, if properly used ( 1Co_6:13-14 ).

Christians are parts of Christ's body ( 1Co_12:27 ; Eph_5:30 ). Paul could not even imagine a part of the body of Christ being joined to a harlot. After all, sexual intercourse causes a man and woman to become one flesh ( Gen_2:24 ; Mat_19:5 ; Eph_5:31 ). So, the fornicator, who is a Christian and "one spirit" with the Lord, makes Christ one with a harlot. Therefore, Paul urged the brethren to flee sexual immorality, even as Joseph literally did ( Gen_39:12 ). While other sins may attack members of the body, the body is not the instrument of sin. It is thus given over in its totality to sin, both outwardly and inwardly ( 2Co_6:15-18 ).

Verses 19-20

The Temple of the Holy Spirit

Paul said every Christian's body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit ( 1Co_6:19-20 ). These verses point to an indwelling. On page 366 of The Timeless Trinity for the Ceaseless Centuries, Roy H. Lanier, Sr. says,

The Greeks have two words for temple. One is 'hieron' which included the place where the moneychangers had their tables, where the priests had their apartments, even where doves and cattle were kept for offerings. Then they had the word 'naos' which included the holy place and most holy place, the dwelling place of God...This distinction in meaning of these words is observed scrupulously by New Testament writers....How can the human body be the temple of the Spirit unless the Spirit dwells in the body? Then Paul says which is 'in you'. Here we have that Greek preposition 'en' with the dative of a person again, which means 'in the person'. So in this verse we have two proofs of the actual indwelling of the Holy Spirit: 1). The human body is the temple (naos) of the Spirit; 2). The Spirit is 'in you'.

As sinful men ( Rom_3:23 ), the Corinthian brethren were in bondage to sin. ( Rom_7:14 ). As Christians, they had been bought, out of that bondage, by the Lord ( Act_20:28 ; Rom_6:16-23 ; Heb_9:12 ; 1Pe_1:18-19 ; Rev_5:9 ). Because God bought us, we should glorify and serve him to the best of our ability.

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-corinthians-6.html. 2014.
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