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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

1 Corinthians 6

Verses 1-99


The Apostle passes on to a third matter for censure, and in discussing it he first treats of the evil and its evil occasion (1-8), and then, in preparation for what is to follow, points out that all unrighteousness is a survival from a bad past which the Corinthians ought to have left behind them (9-11).

1-8. The Evil and Its Evil Occasion

How can you dare to go to law with one another in heathen caurts? If there must be suits, let Christian judge Christian.

1 The subject of judging brings me to another matter. Is it possible that, when one of you has a dispute with a fellow-Christian, he takes upon himself to bring the dispute before a heathen tribunal, instead of bringing it before believers. Or is it that you do not know that, at the Last Day, believers will sit with Christ to judge the world? And if the world is to be judged hereafter at your bar, are you incompetent to serve in the pettiest tribunals? Do not you know that we are to sit in judgment on angels? After that, one need hardly mention things of daily life. If, then, you have questions of daily life to be decided, do you really take heathens, who are of no account to those who are in the Church, and set them to judge you? 5 It is to move you to shame that I am speaking like this. Have things come to such a pass that, among the whole of you, there is not a single person who is competent to arbitrate between one Christian and another, but that, on the contrary, Christian goes to law with Christian, and that too before unbelievers? 7 Nay, at the very outset, there is a terrible defect in your Christianity that you have lawsuits at all with one another. Why not rather accept injury? Why not rather submit to being deprived? But, so far from enduring wrong, what you do is this; you wrong and deprive other people, and those people your fellow-Christians.

The subject of going to law before heathen tribunals is linked to the subject discussed in the previous chapter by the reference to the question of judgment (5:12, 13).* The moral sense of a Christian community, which ought to make itself felt in judging offenders within its own circle, ought still more to suffice for settling disputes among its members, without recourse to heathen courts, whose judges stand presumably on a lower ethical level than Christians. But there is no real argumentative connexion with the preceding section. The Apostle has finished two points in his indictment, and he now passes on to another.

The Apostle’s principles with regard to secular and heathen magistrates are perfectly consistent. In Rom_13 he inculcates the attitude of a good citizen, which is not only obedience to law, but the recognition of the magistrate as God’s minister. This carries with it submission to the law as administered by the courts, and acceptance of the authority of the courts in criminal cases. St Paul had had experience of the protection of Roman Justice (Acts 18:12 f., Acts 25:16), and he himself appealed to Caesar. But to invoke the courts to decide disputes between Christians was quite another matter; and he lays it down here that to do so is a confession of the failure of that justice which ought to reign in the Christian Society. ‘Obey the criminal courts, but do not go out of your way to invoke the civil courts,’ is a fair, if rough, summary of his teaching.

1. Τολμᾷ τις ὑμῶν. We know nothing of the facts, but it is clear from v. 8 that the Apostle has no merely isolated case in view: τολμᾷ grandi verbo notatur laesa majestas Christianorum (Beng.); Romans 15:18. The word is an argument in itself; ‘How can you dare, endure, bring yourself to?’

πρᾶγμα. In the forensic sense; ‘a cause for trial,’ ‘a case,’ Joseph. Ant. xiv. x. 7.

τὸν ἕτερον. Not ‘another’ (AV.), but ‘his neighbour’ (RV.), ‘his fellow’ (10:24, 14:17; Romans 2:1; Galatians 6:4).

κρίνεσθαι. Middle; ‘go to law,’ ‘seek for judgment.’ Cf. κριθῆναι (Matthew 5:40; Ecclesiastes 6:10). The question comes with increased force after 5:12, 13. ‘It is no business of ours to judge the heathen: and are we to ask them to judge us?’

ἐπὶ τῶν�2 Corinthians 7:14; Mark 13:9; Acts 25:9.

καὶ οὐχὶ ἐπὶ τῶν�

2. ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε. Such conduct was incompatible with principles which ought to be familiar to them. He first asks, ‘How can you be so presumptuous?’ Then, on the supposition that this is not the cause of their error, he asks, ‘How can you be so ignorant?’ The ἤ introduces an alternative explanation. The formula οὐκ οἴδατε occurs five times in this chapter (2, 3, 9, 16, 19; cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5, etc.).

οἱ ἅγιοι τὸν κόσμον κρινοῦσιν. Here, no doubt, the verb should be accented as a future; contrast 5:13. It is in the Messianic Kingdom that the saints will share in Christ’s reign over the created universe. ‘Judge’ does not here mean ‘condemn,’ and ‘the world’ does not mean ‘the evil world.’ It is only from the context, as in Acts 13:27, that κρίνειν sometimes becomes equivalent to κατακρίνειν, and ὁ κόσμος frequently is used without any idea of moral, i.e. immoral quality; cf. 3:22. Indeed, it is not clear that κρινοῦσιν here means ‘will pronounce judgment upon’; it is perhaps used in the Hebraic sense of ‘ruling.’ So also in Matthew 19:28. This sense is frequent in Judges (3:10, 10:2, 3, 12:9, 11, 13, 14, etc.).Wisd. 3:8 is parallel; ‘They shall judge the nations and have dominion over the peoples’; also Ecclus. 4:15. St Paul may have known the Book of Wisdom. Cf. the Book of Enoch (108:12), “I will bring forth clad in shining light those who have loved My holy Name, and I will seat each on the throne of his honour.” The saints are to share in the final perfection of the Messianic reign of Christ. They themselves are to appear before the Judge (Romans 14:10; 2 Timothy 4:1) and are then to share His glory (4:8; Romans 8:17; Daniel 7:22; Revelation 2:26, Revelation 2:27, Revelation 2:3:21, Revelation 2:20:4). The Apostle’s eschatology (15:21-24) supplies him with the thought of these verses. He is certainly not thinking of the time when earthly tribunals will be filled with Christian judges.†

καὶ εἰ ἐν ὑμῖν κρίνεται ὁ κ. The καί adds a further question, and presses home the bearing of the preceding question. The ἐν ὑμῖν is less easy to explain; ‘among you,’ ‘in your court,’ ‘in your jurisdiction,’ may be the meaning. Or we may fall back on the instrumental use of ἐν. Like κρίνετε in v. 12, κρίνεται expresses what is normal. ‘The heathen are to be judged by you; they are in your jurisdiction. How incongruous that you should ask to be judged by them!’

ἀνάξιοί ἐστε κριτηρίων ἐλαχίστων. ‘Are ye unworthy of the smallest tribunals?’ So in RV. marg. Cf. James 2:6; Judges 5:10; Daniel 7:10, Daniel 7:26; Susann. 49: also μὴ ἐρχέσθω ἐπὶ κριτήριον ἐθνικόν (Apost. Const. ii:45). In papyri, οἱ ἐπὶ τῶν κριτηρίων means those who preside in tribunals. The meaning ‘case’ or ‘cause’ is insufficiently supported. Ἀνάξιος is found nowhere else in N.T.

D3 E L, AV. omit ἤ before οὐκ οἴδατε.

3. The thought of v. 2 is repeated and expanded. To say that Christians will judge angels restates ‘will judge the world’ in an extreme form, for the sake of sharpening the contrast. Ἄγγελοι are the highest order of beings under God, yet they are creatures and are part of the κόσμος. But the members of Christ are to be crowned with glory and honour (Psalms 8:6), and are to share in His regal exaltation, which exceeds any angelic dignity. He ‘judges,’ i.e. rules over, angels, and the saints share to that rule. The words may mean that the saints are to be His assessors in the Day of Judgment, that angels will then be judged, and that the saints will take part in sentencing them. If so, this must refer to fallen angels, for it is difficult to believe that St Paul held that all angels, good and bad, will be judged hereafter. But he gives no epithet to angels here, because it is not needed for his argument; indeed, to have said ‘fallen angels,’ or ‘evil angels,’ would rather have marred his argument. As Evans rightly insists, it is the exalted nature of angels that is the Apostle’s point. ‘You are to judge the world. Nay, you are to judge, not only men, but angels. Are you unable to settle petty disputes among yourselves?’ St Paul’s purpose is to emphasize the augustness of the ‘judging’ to which members of Christ are called.* To press the statement in such a way as to raise the question of the exact nature, scope, or details, of the judgment of angels, is to go altogether beyond the Apostle’s purpose. Thackeray (St Paul and Contemporary Jewish Thought, pp. 152 f.) has shown from Jude 1:6, Wisd. 3:8, and Enoch 13-16 that there is nothing in this unique statement to which a Jew of that day would not have subscribed. See Abbott, The Son of Man, p. 213.

μήτιγε βιωτικά. The γε strengthens the force of the μήτι, which is that of a condensed question; ‘need I so much as mention?’ Nedum quae ad hujus vitae usum pertinent (Beza): quanto magis saecularia. The clause may be regarded as part of the preceding question (WH.), or as a separate question (AV., RV.), or as an appended remark, ‘to say nothing at all of things of this life’ (Ellicott). The adjective occurs Luke 21:34, but is not found in LXX, nor earlier than Aristotle. Following the well-known difference in N.T. between βίος and ζωή (see on Luke 8:43), βιωτικά means questions relating to our life on earth on its merely human side, or to the resources of life, such as food, clothing, property, etc. Philo (Vit. Mos. iii.18), πρὸς τὰὶς βιωτικὰς χρείας ὑπηρετεῖν. See Trench, Syn. § xxvii.; Cremer, Lex. p. 272; Lightfoot on Ign. Romans 7:3.

Μήτιγε is written by different editors as one word, or as two (μήτε γε), or as three. Tregelles is perhaps alone in writing μή τι γε.

4. βιωτικὰ κριτήρια. ‘Tribunals dealing with worldly matters.’ The adj. is repeated with emphasis, which is increased by its being placed first. That is the surprising thing, that Christians should have βιωτικά that require litigation.

μὲν οὐν. ‘Nay but,’ or ‘Nay rather.’ The force of the words is either to emphasize the cumulative scandal of having such cases at all and of bringing them ἐπὶ τῶν�

5. οὑτως οὐκ ἔνι κ.τ.λ. ‘Is there such a total lack among you of any wise person’ that you are thus obliged to go outside? Or, ‘So is there not found among you one wise person?’ The οὕτως refers to the condition of things in the Corinthian Church: Chrys., τοσαύτη σπάνις�Galatians 3:28; J. B. Mayor on James 1:17): translate, therefore, ‘is not found.’

διακρῖναι�Genesis 23:15). J. H. Moulton (Gr. p. 99) suspects a corruption in the text, but dictation may account for the abbreviation: τῶν�Matthew 18:17), the aggrieved brother ought to ‘tell it to the Church.’*

Both here and in 15:34 there is difference of reading between λέγω and λαλῶ. Here λέγω (א D E F G L P) is to be preferred to λαλῶ (B, with C doubtful). ἔνι (א B C L P) rather than ἐστιν (D E F G). οὐδεὶς σοφός (א B C 17, Copt.) rather than οὐδὲ εῖς σοφός (F G P) or (F G P) or σοφὸς οὐδὲ εῖς (D 3 L) or σοφός without οὐδὲ εῖς or οὐδείς (D* E, Aeth.). For τοῦ�

καὶ τοῦτο. This is the climax. That there should be disputes about βιωτικά is bad; that Christian should go to law with Christian is worse; that Christians should do this before unbelievers is worst of all. It is a scandal before the heathen world. Cf. καὶ τοῦτο (Romans 13:11; 3 John 1:5) and the more classical καὶ ταῦτα (Hebrews 11:12), of which Wetstein gives numerous examples.

7. ἤδη μὲν οὖν. ‘Nay, verily there is at once,’ ‘there is to begin with, without going any further’: μὲν οὖν, separate, as in v. 4, and with no δέ to answer to the μέν.

ὅλως. ‘Altogether,’ i.e. no matter what the tribunal may be: or ‘generally,’ ‘under any circumstances,’ i.e. no matter what the result may be.

ἥττημα. ‘A falling short’ of spiritual attainment, or of Christian blessings, ‘a defect’ (RV.), or possibly ‘a defeat.’ They have been worsted in the spiritual fight. Origen here contrasts ἡττᾶσθαι with νικᾶν. Cf. Isaiah 31:8, οἱ δὲ νεανίσκοι ἔσονται εἰς ἡττημα*. In Romans 11:12 the meaning seems to be ‘defeat’ (see note there), and these are the only passages in the Bible in which the word occurs. See Field, Otium Norvic. 3:97.

κρίματα. Elsewhere in N.T. the word means ‘decrees’ or ‘judgments,’ but here it is almost equivalent to κριτήρια (v. 4) ‘matters for judgment,’ ‘lawsuits.’

μεθʼ ἑαυτῶν. Literally, ‘with your own selves.’ It is possible that this use of μεθʼ ἑαυτῶν for μετʼ�Mark 16:3).

There are passages in M. Aurelius which are very much in harmony with these verses. He argues that men are kinsmen, and that all wrong-doing is the result of ignorance. Those who know better must be patient with those who know not what they do in being insolent and malicious. “But I, who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is base (αἰσχρόν), and the nature of him that does the wrong, that it is akin to me, not so much by community of blood and seed as by community of intelligence and divine endowment,—I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is base; nor can I be angry with one who is my kinsman, nor feel hatred against him” (2:1). “On every occasion a man should say, This comes from God: this is from one of the same tribe and family and society, but from one who does not know what befits his nature. But I know; therefore I treat him according to the natural law of fellowship with kindness and justice” (3:11). “With what are you so displeased? with the badness of men? Consider the decision, that rational beings exist for one another, and that to be patient is a part of righteousness, and that men do wrong against their will” (4:3).


8.�Matthew 5:39-41 teaches far otherwise; and the substance of the Sermon on the Mount would be known to them. The sentence is not part of the preceding question.*

D transposes�

Θεοῦ βασιλείαν. When St Paul uses the shorter form, ‘God’s Kingdom’ (v. 10, 15:50; Galatians 5:21), instead of the more usual ἡ βας. τοῦ Θ. (4:20; Romans 14:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; cf. Ephesians 5:5), he elsewhere writes βας. Θεοῦ. Here Θεοῦ is placed first, in order to bring ἄδικοι and Θεοῦ into emphatic contrast by juxtaposition: ‘wrong-doers’ are manifestly out of place in ‘God’s Kingdom, Cf. πρόσωπον Θεὸς�Galatians 2:6). ‘To inherit the Kingdom of God’s is a Jewish thought, in allusion to the promise given to Abraham; but St Paul, in accordance with his doctrine of grace, enlarges and spiritualizes the idea of inheritance. He reminds the Corinthians that, although all Christians are heirs, yet heirs may be disinherited. They may disqualify themselves. In 4:20, the Kingdom is regarded as present. Here and 15:50 it is regarded as future. It is both: see J. Kaftan, Jesus u. Paulus, p. 24; Dalman, Words, p. 125; Abbott, The Son of Man, p. 576.

Μὴ πλανᾶσθε. See on Luke 21:8. The verb is passive, ‘Do not be led astray’, and implies fundamental error.* The revisers sometimes correct the ‘deceived’ of AV. to ‘led astray,’ but here and 15:33 they retain ‘deceived.’ The charge is a sharper repetition of ἤ οὐκ οἴδατε. Some Jews held that the belief in one God sufficed without holiness of life. Judaizers may have been teaching in Corinth that faith sufficed.†

The order of the ten kinds of offenders is unstudied. He enumerates sins which were prevalent at Corinth just as they occur to him. Of the first five, three (and perhaps four) deal with sinners against purity, while the fifth, ‘idolaters,’ were frequently sinners of the same kind. Of the last five, three are sinners against personal property or rights, such as are censured in v. 8. All of them are in apposition to ἄδικοι, an apposition which would seem quite natural to Greeks, who were accustomed to regard δικαιοσύνη as the sum-total of virtues (Arist. Eth. Nic. v. i:15), and therefore�Luke 13:27). Several of these forms of evil are dealt with in this Epistle (vv. 13-18, v. 1, 11, 8:10, 10:14, etc.): cf. Romans 1:27 and 3:13; Galatians 5:19, Galatians 5:20; 1 Timothy 1:10*

For Θεοῦ βασιλείαν, L d e f Vulg. have the more usual βας. Θεοῦ. D* has οὐδέ throughout vv. 9, 10. οὐ μέθυσοι (א A C P 17) rather than οὐτὲ μέθ. (B D3 E L). L P insert οὐ before κληρονομἡσονσιν at the end of v. 10.

11. καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε. ‘And such dreadful things as these some of you were.’ While the neuter indicates a horror of what has been mentioned, the τινες and the tense lighten the sad statement. Not all of them, not even many, but only some, are said to have been guilty; and it is all a thing of the past. Cf. ἦτε in Romans 6:17.

ἀλλά. The threefold ‘But’ emphasizes strongly the contrast between their present state and their past, and the consequent demand which their changed moral condition makes upon them.

ἀπελούσασθε. Neither ‘ye are washed’ (AV.), nor ‘ye were washed’ (RV.), nor ‘ye washed yourselves’ (RV. marg.), but ‘ye washed them away from you,’ ‘ye washed away your sins’; exactly as in Acts 22:16, the only other place in N.T. in which the compound verb occurs;�2 Timothy 2:21.

ἡγιἀσθητε, ἐδικαιώθητε. The repetitions of the aorist show that these verbs refer to the same event as�Romans 6:7.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τ. κ. Ἰ. Χρ. As in Acts 2:38, Acts 2:10:48; cf. εἰς τὸ ὀν., Acts 8:16, Acts 19:5.Matthew 28:19 is the only passage in which the Trinitarian form is found. See Hastings, DB. 1. p. 241 f. This passage is remarkable as being an approach to the Trinitarian form, for ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι is coupled with ‘in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ,’ and τοῦ Θεοῦ is added; so that God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit are all mentioned. But it is doubtful whether this verse can be taken as evidence of a baptismal formula. Godet certainly goes too far in claiming it as implying the use of the threefold Name (see on Matthew 28:19). But it is right to take ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κ.τ.λ. with all three verbs. Cf. “saved in His Name” (Enoch, 48:7).

B C P 17, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Aeth. insert ἡμῶν after τοῦ Κυρίου: א A D E L omit. It is not easy to decide. א B C D* E P, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Aeth. insert Χριστοῦ after Ἰησοῦ: A D3 L omit. The word is probably genuine. In both cases the evidence of C is not clear: there is space for the word, but it is not legible.


Christian freedom is not licentiousness. Our bodies were not made for unchastity. The body is a temple of the Spirit.

12 Perhaps I may have said to you at some time; In all things I can do as I like. Very possibly. But not all things that I may do do me good. In all things I can do as I like, but I shall never allow anything to do as it likes with me. 13 I am not going to let myself be the slave of appetite. It is true that the stomach and food were made for one another. Yet they were not made to last for ever: the God who made them will put an end to both. But it is not true that the body was made for fornication. The body is there to serve the Lord, and the Lord is there to have the body for His service: 14 and as God raised Him from the dead, so will He also raise us up by His own power. 15 Is it that you do not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away from Christ members which are His and make them members of a harlot? Away with so dreadful a thought! 16 Or is it that you do not know that the union of a man with his harlot makes the two to be one body? I am not exaggerating; for the Scripture says, The two shall become one flesh. 17 But the union of a man with the Lord makes the two to be one spirit. 18 Do not stop to parley with fornication: turn and fly. In the case of no other sin is such grievous injury done to the body as in this case: the fornicator sins against his own body. 19 Does that statement surprise you? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who makes His home in you, being sent for that very purpose from God? And, what is more, you are not your own property, but God’s. He paid a high price for you. Surely you are bound to use to His glory the body which He has bought.

12-20. St Paul now passes to a fourth matter for censure. He has already taken occasion, in connexion with a specially flagrant case of πορνεία, to blame the lack of moral discipline in the community. He now takes up the subject of πορνεία generally, dealing with it in the light of first principles. The sin was prevalent at Corinth (v. 9, 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:21), and was virtually condoned by public opinion in Greece and in Rome. Moreover, the Apostle’s own teaching as to Christian liberty (Romans 5:20, Romans 6:14) had been perverted and caricatured, not only by opponents (Romans 3:8), but also by some ‘emancipated’ Christians at Corinth itself. The latter had made it an excuse for licence. He proceeds now to show the real meaning and scope of Christian liberty, and in so doing sets forth the Christian doctrine of the body as destined for eternal union with Christ.

12. πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν. These are St Paul’s own words (see on 10:23). They may have been current among the Corinthians as a trite maxim. If so, the Apostle here adopts them as his own, adding the considerations which limit their scope. More probably they were words he had used, which were well known as his, and which had been misused by persons whom he now proceeds to warn. Of course, πάντα is not absolute in extent: no sane person would maintain that it was meant to cover such things as πορνεία and justify πανουργία. It covers, however, a very great deal, viz. the whole of that wide range of things which are not wrong per se. But within this wide range of things which are indifferent, and therefore permissible, there are many things which become wrong, and therefore not permissible, in view of principles which are now to be explained.

μοι ἔξεστιν. Saepe Paulus prima persona singulari eloquitur, quae vim habent gnomes; in hac praesertim epistola, v. 15, 7:7, 8:13, 10:23, 29, 30, 14:11 (Beng.). The saying applies to all Christians. On its import see J. Kaftan, Jesus u. Paulus, PP. 51, 52.

ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει. Liberty is limited by the law of the higher expediency, i.e. by reference to the moral or religious life of all those who are concerned, viz. the agent and those whom his conduct may influence. In this first point the Apostle is possibly thinking chiefly of the people influenced.* We have no longer any right to do what in itself is innocent, when our doing it will have a bad effect on others. Our liberty is abused when our use of it causes grave scandal.

οὐκ ἐγὼ ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπό τινος. This is the second point; really included in the higher law of expediency, but requiring to be stated separately, in order to show that the agent, quite apart from those whom his conduct may influence, has to be considered. What effect will his action have upon himself? We have no longer any right to do what in itself is innocent, when experience has proved that our doing it has a bad effect on ourselves. Our liberty is abused when our use of it weakens our character and lessens our power of self-control. St Paul says that, for his part, he ‘will not be brought under the power of anything.’ The οὐκ is emphatic, and the ἐγώ slightly so, but very slightly: the ἐγώ is rendered almost necessary by the preceding μοι. We must beware of using liberty in such a way as to lose it, e.g. in becoming slaves to a habit respecting things which in themselves are lawful. The τινος is neuter, being one of the πάντα.

The verb ἐξουσιάζειν is chosen because of its close connexion with ἔξεστι through ἐξουσία: it is frequent in LXX, especially in Ecclesiastes; in N.T., 7:4 and Luke 22:25.† This play on words cannot be reproduced exactly in English; perhaps ‘I can make free with all things, but I shall not let anything make free with me’ may serve to show the kind of thought: mihi res non me rebus submittere conor.

These two verses (12, 13) are a kind of preface to the subject of πορνεία, to show that it is not one of those things which may or may not be lawful according to circumstances. It is in all circumstances wholly outside the scope of Christian liberty, however that liberty may be defined. ‘While many things are lawful, and become wrong only if indulged (like the appetite for food) to an extent that is harmful to ourselves or to others, fornication is not a legitimate use of the body, but a gross abuse of it, being destructive of the purpose for which the body really exists.’

13. τὰ βρώματα … τοῖς βρώμασιν. It is quite possible that some of the Corinthians confused what the Apostle here so clearly distinguishes, the appetite for food and the craving for sensual indulgence. “We have traces of this gross moral confusion in the Apostolic Letter (Acts 15:23-29), where things wholly diverse are combined, as directions about meats to be avoided and a prohibition of fornication” (Lightfoot). The Apostles, who framed these regulations, did not regard them as on the same plane, but the heathen, for whom they were framed, did. St Paul makes the distinction luminously clear. Not only are meats made for the belly, but the belly, which is essential to physical existence, is made for meats, and cannot exist without them. There is absolute correlation between the two, as long as earthly life lasts: but no longer, for both of them will eventually be done away. When the σῶμα ceases to be ψυχικόν and becomes πνευματικόν (15:44), neither the βρώματα nor the κοιλία will have any further function, and therefore ‘God will bring to nought’ both of them.

τὸ δὲ σῶμα οὐ τῇ πορνείᾳ. No such relation exists between the σῶμα and πορνεία as between the κοιλία and Βρώματα̈. The supposed parallel breaks down in two essential particulars. (1) The σῶμα was not made for πορνεία, but for the Lord, in order to be a member of Christ, who lived and died to redeem it. (2) The σῶμα is not, like the κοιλία, to be brought to nought, but to be transformed and glorified (Philippians 3:21). ‘The ‘body’ is contrasted with ‘flesh and blood’ (15:37, 50), and the κοιλία belongs to the latter, and has only a temporal purpose, whereas the ‘body’ has an eternal purpose. So far, therefore, from πορνεία standing to the body in the same relation as meats to the belly, it fatally conflicts with the body’s essential destiny, which is membership with Christ.

It is possible that in selecting the relation between appetite and food as a contrast to πορνεία St Paul is indirectly discouraging Judaistic distinctions of meats, or ascetic prohibitions of flesh and wine. No kind of food is forbidden to the Christian. But even if there had been no Judaizers at work in Corinth, and no tendency towards asceticism, he would probably have selected the relation between βρώματα and κοιλία for his purpose. The argument is still used, “If I may gratify one bodily appetite, why may I not gratify another? Naturalia non sunt turpia. Omnia munda mundis.”

καὶ ὁ Κύριος τῷ σώματι. A startling assertion of perfect correction: quanta dignatio / (Beng.). The Son of God, ‘sent in the likeness of sinful flesh,’ has His purpose and destiny, viz. to dwell in and glorify the body (Romans 8:23) which is united with Him through the Spirit (v. 17); and it is lawful to say that He is for it as well as it for Him.

14. ὁ δὲ Θεός. This is parallel to ὁ δὲ Θεός in v. 13, and puts the contrast between the two cases in a very marked way. In the case of the κοιλία, and the βρώματα to which it is related, God will reduce both of them to nothingness. In the case of the κοιλία, and the Βρώματα to which it is related, God will reduce both of them to nothingness. In the case of the σῶμα, and the Κύριος to which it is related, God has raised the Κύριος, and will raise up the σῶμα of every one who is a member of Him. The contrast between the two cases in complete. On the other hand, the close relationship between the Lord and all true Christians is shown by the doubled conjunction; καὶ τὸν Κύριον … καὶ ἡμᾶς. See Sanday (The Life of Christ in Recent Research, p. 132) on the view that it was St Paul who deified Christ.

The change from the simple (ἤγειρεν) to the compound verb (ἐξεγερεῖ) has perhaps little meaning. In late Greek, compounds do not always have any additional force, and the difference is not greater than that between ‘raise’ and ‘raise up.’ The compound may be used to mark the future raising as not less sure than the one which is past, and it is well to mark the difference, as RV. does. AV., with ‘raise up’ for both, ignores the change, as does Vulg., suscitavit … suscitabit, and Iren. int. (5:6:2). The compound occurs only here and Romans 9:17 in N.T.; in LXX it is very frequent. See on ἐξαπατάτω, 3:18.

διὰ τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ. This may qualify both verbs, but is more appropriate to ἐξεγερεῖ. There was need to remind the Corinthians of God’s power, in order to confirm their belief in their own future resurrection (15:12); but no one who believed that Christ had been raised needed to be reminded of that: cf. Matthew 22:29. It is worth observing that St Paul does not take any account of the quick’ who will not need to be raised. Contrast 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:15 f.; Romans 8:11.

ἐξεγερεῖ (א C D3 E,KL Vulg. Syrr. Copt. Aeth.) is probably to be preferred to ἐξεγείρει (A Dא Q, d e suscitat), or to ἐξήγειρεν (B, Am. suscitavit). ἐξεγειρεῖ(P) may be regarded as supporting either of the first two, of which ἐξεγείρει may be safely set aside. It is possible that B has preserved the original reading, for no intelligent copyist would alter ἐξεγερεῖ into ἐξήγειρεν, but an unintelligent one might assimilate the second verb to the first. If ἐξήγειρεν is regarded as original it may be explained as referring to spiritual resurrection to newness of life, or possibly as referring to our resurrection as comprised potentially in that of Christ: ‘God both raised the Lord and (by so doing) raised up us.’ But it is unlikely that the Apostle would have obscured the cetainty of the future resurrection of the body by using language which would have encouraged Hymenæsus and Philetus (2 Timothy 2:17, 2 Timothy 2:18). Qui dominum suscitavit, et nos suscitabit (Tert. Marc. v. 7).

15. οὐκ οἴδατε κ.τ.λ. He presses home the principle that ‘the body is for the Lord.’ By virtue of that principle every Christian, and every one of his members, is a member of Christ. The higher heathen view was that man’s body is in common with the brutes, τὸ σῶμα κοινὸν πρὸς τὰ ζῶα, and only his reason and intelligence in common with the gods (Epict. Dissert. 1. iii. 1); but the Christian view is τὸ σῶμα μέλος τοῦ Χριστοῦ.*. Epictetus speaks of both God and gods, and in popular language calls God ‘Zeus.’ In this chapter he speaks of God as the father of men and gods; but, at the best, he falls far short of Christian Theism. The Christian view, which first appears here, is developed in another connexion in 12 and in Rom_12. See also Ephesians 4:15, Ephesians 4:16, Ephesians 4:5:30.

ἄρας οὖν. The AV. misses a point in translating, ‘Shall I then take the members of Christ?’ The RV. has, ‘Shall I then take away the members of Christ?’ Αἴρειν is not simply, ‘to take,’ which is λαμβάνειν, but either ‘to take up,’ ‘raise’ (Acts 27:17), or ‘to take away’ (v. 2; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 2:14; and nowhere else in Paul). The. verb is very common in Gospels and Acts; elsewhere rare in N.T. The Apostle assumes that union with a harlot, unlike union with a lawful wife, robs Christ of members which belong to Him. Union with Christ attaches to our body through the spirit (v. 17), and sin is apostasy from the spiritual union with Christ. This is true of all sin, but πορνεία is a peculiarly direct blow at the principle τὸ σῶμα τῷ Κυρίῳ. Quantum flagitium est, corpus nostrum a sacra illa conjunctione abreptum ad res Christo indignas transferri (Calv.). As Augustine remarks (De Civ. Dei xxi. 25), “they cannot be at once the members of Christ and the members of a harlot.”

ποιήσω. It is impossible and unimportant to decide whether ποιήσω is deliberative subjunctive (‘Am I to take away … and make?’) or future indicative (‘Shall I take away?’ etc.). The two aorists would mark two aspects, simultaneous in effect, of one and the same act. But the future harmonizes better with μὴ γένοιτο AV., RV., Alford, Edwards, Ellicott, B. Weiss prefer the future.

μὴ γένοιτο. Like οὐκ οἴδατε, this expression of strong dissent is frequent in this group of the Pauline Epistles (Romans, ten times; Galatians, twice; and here). Elsewhere in N.T., Luke 20:16. It is rare in LXX, and never stands as an independent sentence: Genesis 44:7, Genesis 44:17; Joshua 22:29, Joshua 22:24:16; 1Ki_20:[21] 3. It is one of several translations of the same Hebrew, another of which is ἵλεως (1 Chronicles 11:19; 2 Samuel 20:20; Matthew 16:22). Neither μὴ γένοιτο nor ἕλεως is confined to Jewish and Christian writings: the former is frequent in Arrian, the latter is found in inscriptions. In Hom. Od. vii. 316 we have μὴ τοῦτο φίλον Διὶ πατρὶ γένοιτο, of detaining Ulysses against his wish. Cf. Di meliora. Here it expresses horror.

After τὰ σώματα there is the common confusion between ὑμῶν (א3 B C D E F G K L P, Latt.) and ἡμῶν (א* A). ἆρα (P and a few cursives) or ἢ ἆρα (F G) cannot be regarded as more probable than ἄρας (א A B C D E, etc.); yet Baljon adopts it: ἄρας has much force, not only in marking the grievous wrong done to Christ, but also in showing the voluntary, and even deliberate, character of the act.

16. ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε. Again (v. 2 we have this reproachful question. The Apostle proceeds to corroborate the ποιήσω πόρνης μέλη of v. 15.

ὁ κολλώμενος. The word may come from προσκολλᾶσθαι in Genesis 2:24, as in Ephesians 5:31, or possibly from Ecclus. 19:2, ὁ κολλώμενος πόπναις τολμηρότερος ἔσται. Both the simple and the compound verb are frequent in LXX; in N.T. the compound is very rare. In both, only the passive, with reflective sense, is found. In N.T. the usual construction is the simple dat., as here. In LXX the constr. varies greatly, and there (2 Kings 18:6; cf. Ecclus. 2:3) we have κολλᾶσθαι τῷ Κυρίῳ, as here, to express loyal and permanent adherence, resulting in complete spiritual union. This is placed in marked contrast to the temporary physical union which is so monstrous. The verb is frequent in Ep. Barnabas (ix. 9, x. 11, xix. 2, 6, xx. 2).

ἔσονται γάρ, φησίν, οἱ δύο εἰς ς. υ. The subject to be understood with φησίν must always depend upon the context. The word may introduce the objection of an opponent (2 Corinthians 10:10). In Hebrews 8:5 we must understand ‘God.’ Here we may do the same, or (what amounts to the same) supply ἡ γραφή. The εἴπῃ in 15:27, and the λέγει in 2 Corinthians 6:2, and Galatians 3:16, and Ephesians 4:8, are similar. In each case there is divine authority for the statement. The quotation is direct from the LXX, which has οἱ δύο, as in Matthew 9:5; Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31, although it is not in the original. For εἶναι εἰς = γίνεσθαι there is perhaps no exact parallel in N.T., although the expression is frequent; 14:22; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 1:12; Hebrews 1:5, Hebrews 1:8:10; etc. In most of these cases εἰς may mean ‘to serve as.’ It is manifest that here no distinction is to be drawn between σῶμα and σάρξ.

18. φεύγετε τὴν πορνείαν. ‘Do not stop to dispute about it: make a practice (pres. imperat.) of flying at once.’ So also of idolatry, which was so closely allied with impurity, 10:14. The asyndeton marks the urgency. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:3.

πᾶν ἁμάτημα κ.τ.λ. The difficulty of this passage lies in the distinction drawn between ἐκτὸς τ. σώματος, the predicate of ‘every sin that a man doeth,’ and εἰς τ. ἴδιον σῶμα, as marking the distinctive sin of the fornicator. Commentators differ greatly as to the explanation of ἐκτὸς τ. σώματος, which is the specially difficult expression. But the general meaning of vv. 13b-18 is plain. The body has an eternal destiny, τὸ σῶμα τῷ Κυρίῳ. Fornication takes the body away from the Lord and robs it of its glorious future, of which the presence of the Spirit is the present guarantee (cf. Romans 8:9-11). In v. 18 we have the sharply cut practical issue, ‘Flee fornication.’ Clearly the words that follow are meant to strengthen the severitas cum fastidio of the abrupt imperative: they are not an anti-climax. Any exegesis which fails to satisfy this elementary requirement may be set aside; and for this reason the explanations of Evans, Meyer, and Heinrici may be passed over.

It is obvious that ἐκτός and εἰς are related as opposites. The meaning of either will help to determine the meaning of the other; and the meaning of εἰς τ. ἴδιον σῶμα ἁμαρτάνει is fairly certain. For ἁμαρτάνειν εἰς, by the common usage of secular and Biblical Greek, means ‘to sin against.’ It cannot mean ‘sin in,’ or ‘sin by means of,’ or ‘involve in sin.’ What then does ‘to sin against one’s own body’ mean? The axiom, τὸ σῶμα τῷ Κυρίῳ, καὶ ὁ Κύριος τῷ σώματι, answers this question. To sin against one’s own body is to defraud it of its part in Christ, to cut it off from its eternal destiny. This is what fornication does in a unique degree.* While fornication is εἰς τὸ ἴδον ς., other sins are ἐκτὸς τοῦ ς. The one phrase is the opposite of the other. What St Paul asserts of fornication he denies of every other sin.

In what sense does he deny of all other sins that they are sins against a man’s own body? If pressed and made absolute, the denial becomes a paradox. He has just told us (vv. 9, 10) thatthere are many sins which exclude their doer from the Kingdom, and which therefore deprive the body of its future life in Christ. Obviously, he is here speaking relatively, and by way of comparison. All other sins are ἐκτὸς τοῦ ς., in the sense that they do not, as directly as fornication does, alienate the body from Christ, its Life and its Goal.

This explanation gains in clearness if we compare the words of our Lord (Matthew 12:31), πᾶσα ἁμαρτία καὶ βλασφημία�Mark 3:29). Neither clause is to be pressed beyond its purpose to an absolute sense. But sin against the Spirit is so incomparably less pardonable than any other, that, by comparison with it, they may be regarded as venial. He who sins against the Spirit is erecting a barrier, insuperable to a unique degree, against his own forgiveness. In like manner, the words ἐκτὸς τοῦ ς. ἐστι are not absolutely nor unconditionally predicated of ‘every sin which a man doeth’:* they merely assert that other sins “stop short of the baleful import of sensual sin” with its direct onslaught on the dominant principle, τὸ σῶμα τῷ Κυρίῳ Cf. Hosea 6:6, ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice,’ which does not mean that sacrifice is forbidden, but that mercy is greatly superior. Luke 10:20, Luke 10:14:12, Luke 10:13, Luke 10:23:28 are similar. Cf. 9:10, 10:24, 33.

19. ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε. ‘Or, if you cannot see that unchastity is a sin against your own body, are you ignorant that the body of each of you is a sanctuary (John 2:21) of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:14)?’ What in 3:16 he stated of the Christian community as a whole, he here states of every member of it. In each case he appeals to facts which ought to be well known, as in vv. 2, 3, 9, 15, 16, 5:6, 9:13, 24; Romans 6:19, Romans 11:2. Excepting James 4:4, the expression is peculiar to these Epistles. Note the emphatic position of ἁγίου·: it is a Spirit that is holy that is in you.’ In the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth, πορνεία was regarded as consecration: the Corinthians are here told that it is a monstrous desecration (Findlay). Epictetus (Dis. ii. 8) says, “Wretch, you are carrying God with you, and you know it not. Do you think I mean some god of silver or gold? You carry Him within yourself, and perceive not that you are polluting Him by impure thoughts and dirty deeds.”

οὗ ἔχετε�

καὶ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἑαυτῶν. ‘I spoke of your body; but in truth the body is not your own to do as you please with it, any more than the Spirit is your own. You have no right of property in either case. Indeed, your whole personality is not your own property, for God bought you with the life-blood of His Son.’ Acts 20:28; Romans 14:8. Epictetus again has a remarkable parallel; “If you were a statue of Phidias, you would think both of yourself and of the artist, and you would try to do nothing unworthy of him who made you, or of yourself. But now, because Zeus has made you, for this reason you do not care how you shall appear. And yet, is the artist in the one case like the artist in the other? or the work in the one case like the other?” See Long’s translation and notes, 1. pp. 156, 157, 288.

20. ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς. This ‘buying with a price,’ which causes a change of ownership, is a different metaphor from ‘paying a ransom’ (λύτρον,�1 Peter 1:19, where see Hort). The Vulgate has pretio only in 7:23, but here has pretio magno, and the epithet weakens the effect. And there is no person from whom we are ‘bought’ (Abbott, The Son of Man, p. 702).

δοξάσατε δὴ τ. Θ. ἐν τ. σώματι ὑμ. As in v. 18, we have a sharp practical injunction which carries us a great deal further, and this same injunction is given in still more comprehensive terms to close the question about partaking of idol-meats (10:31). Habitually to keep the body free from unchastity is imperative; but we must do more than that. Seeing that we belong, not to ourselves, but to God, we must use the body, in which He has placed His Spirit, to His glory. This verse goes far beyond the negative injunction in v. 18, and hence the δή enforcing the imperative, as in Acts 13:2; Luke 2:15; Judith 13:11, ‘Ἀνοίξατε,�

א*, d e Copt. omit δή. Vulg., Tert. Cypr. Lucif. Ambrst. have glorificate (or clarificate) et portate (or tollite) deum (or dominum) in corpore vestro. Lightfoot suggests that portate (or tollite) may have arisen from a reading ἄραγε (Matthew 7:20, Matthew 7:17:26; Acts 17:27?) which was confused with ἄρατε. Marcion read δοξάσατε ἄρατε τὸν Θεόν, which may be mere dittography, or from ἄρα δέ = ἄρα δή (Nestle, p. 307). Methodius read ἆρά γε δοξάσατε, omitting δή. Chrys, seems to have read δοξάσατε δὴ ἄρα τὸν Θεόν.

The addition καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ὐμῶν ἄτινά ἐστιν τοῦ Θεοῦ (C 3 D 2 D 3 K L P, Syrr. A V.) is rejected by all editors. The words are wanfing in all the best witnesses and are not required for the argument. The Apostle is concerned with the sanctity of the body: the spirit is beside the mark. Lightfoot thinks that this may possibly be a liturgical insertion, like that of the doxology to the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13) and the baptismal formula. (Acts 8:37). But the words do not occur in any liturgy that is known to us, and the addition may be due to a wish to make the conclusion less abrupt and more complete.

* There may be another link. In 5:10, 11 St Paul twice brackets the πόρνος with the πλεονέκτης, and he now passes from the one to the other. It was desire to have more than one had a right to (πλεονεξία) which led to this litigation in heathen courts. See on Ephesians 4:19.

* Augustine (De doct. Christ. iv. 18) seems to have read ὑπὸ τ.�

* Godet remarks that Paul ne veut pas désigner tels ou tels anges; il veut réveiller dans Péglise le sentiment de sa compétence et de sa dignité, en lui rappelasit que des êtres dune nature aussi élevée serout un jour soumis à sa jurisdiction. See also Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 3:13, and Findlay here.

* It is evident that καθίζετε is a word which is more suitable for constituting simple Christians as arbitrators than for adopting heathen magistrates, already appointed, as judges of Christians.


There is yet another way, suggested by J. C. K. Hofmann and accepted by Findlay; ‘Well then, as for secular tribunals—if you have men that are made of no account in the Church, set these on the bench!’ The punctuation does not seem to be very probable.

With the use of τούτους here we may compare τοὐτους in 16:3 and τόστον in 2 Thessalonians 3:4.

* Cicero (Ad Fam, ix:25) writes to Papirius Paetus, Noli pati litigare fratres, et judiciis turpibus conflictari.

אԠא (Fourth century.) The Sinaitic MS., now at St Petersburg, the only MS. containing the whole N.T.

F F (Late ninth century). Codex Augiensis (from Reichenau); now at Trin. Coll. Cambr. Probably a copy of G in any case, secondary to G, from which it very rarely varies (see Gregory, p. 429).

G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). Lacks 1 Corinthians 3:8-16, 1 Corinthians 6:7-14 (F).

P P (Ninth century). Porfirianus Chiovensis. A palimpsest acquired in the East by Porphyrius Bishop of Kiew. Lacks 7:15 ὑμᾶς ὁ θεός-17 περιπάτει: 12:23 τοῦ σώματος-13:5 οὐ λογί-: 14:23 τὸ λαλεῖν μή. A good type of text in St Paul’s Epistles.

B B (Fourth century.) The Vatican MS.

C C (Fifth century). The Codex Ephraem, a Palimpsest; now at Paris. Lacks 7:18 ἐν�Act_13. Ninth century.) At Paris (Nat. Gr. 14). See Westcott and Hort., Introd. §§ 211, 212.


He says that the man who accepts injury without retaliating νενίκηκεν, while the man who brings an action against a fellow-Christian ἡττᾶται. He is worsted, has lost his cause, by the very fact of entering a law-court. Similarly, Clem. Alex. Strom. 7:14, which is a commentary on this section;

“To say then that the wronged man goes to law before the wrong-doers is nothing else than to say that he desires to retaliate and wishes to do wrong to the second in return, which is likewise to do wrong also himself.”

A A (Fifth century.) The Codex Alexandrinus; now at the British Museum.

* It is remarkable that in six verses we have four cases in which there is doubt whether the sentence is interrogative or not; vv. 3, 4, 6, 8. In this last case the interrogative is very improbable. See also on v. 13.

* Origen illustrates thus; “Let no one lead you astray with persuasive words, saying that God is merciful, kind, and loving, and ready to forgive sins”.

† Duchesne thinks that there is nothing in 1 or 2 Corinthians “to lead to the conclusion that the Apostle’s rivals had introduced Judaizing tendencies in Corinth” (Early Hist. of the Chr. Church, p. 23). That can hardly be maintained respecting 2 Corinthians, and is very disputable about this Epistle.


There is a manifest reproduction of vv. 9, 10 in Ign. Eph. 16; also in Ep. of Polycarp, 5. On the general sense of the two verses see Sanday on St Paul’s Equivalent for the Kingdom of Heaven, JTS. July 1900, pp. 481 f.

Aristot. (Eth. Nic. 7. 4. 4) says that people are called μαλακοί in reference to the same things as they are called�

† Nowhere else does the possive occur. But in late Greek the rule that only verbs which have an accusative can be used in the passive is not observed. See Lightfoot on δογματίζεσθε (Colossians 2:20).

K K (Ninth century). Codex S. Synod. xcviii. Lacks 1:1-6:13 ταύτην καί: 8:7 τινὲς δὲ—8:11�

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Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.