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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 6

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-11


1 Corinthians 6:1-11

1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to the law before the unjust, 2and not before the saints? Do [Or1 do] ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more [to say nothing of] things that pertain to this life? 4If then ye have judgments of things 5pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak2 to your shame. Isaiah 3:0 it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one4 that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, [a loss to you5] because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not 8rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, 9[On the contrary, ἀλλά] ye do wrong, and defraud, and that6 your brethren. [Or ἢ] Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?7 Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind. 10Nor thieves, nor covetous,8 nor [not, ου 9] drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall10 inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,11 and by the Spirit of our God.


[“The connection of this paragraph with the preceding, seems to be, ‘As we have nothing to do with judging the heathen, so we ought not to go to law before them, or suffer them to judge us.’ This question was not new. It was held unlawful among the Jews for any Jew to bring a lawsuit against his countrymen before a Gentile judge, on the ground that in Exodus 21:1, it is commanded: ‘These are the judgments which thou shalt set before’—not the Gentiles, but ‘them—the Jews.’ ‘If any one brings the judgments of Israel before the Gentiles, he profanes the name of God, and honors the name of an idol. They who so do give occasion to the strangers to say, ‘See how harmonious they are who worship one God.’ This right of settling their own disputes, was conceded to them by the Romans; and hence the speech of Gallio to the Jews who attacked St. Paul. In the first beginning of Christianity, the same rule would be naturally held to apply. The existence of separate courts for the disputes of Christians among themselves, is implied [?] in this passage. The Apostolic Constitutions (II: 4, 5, 46, 47) and the Clementines, in language evidently founded upon this text, imply the existence of such courts at the time when those works were compiled, i. e. , apparently about A. D. 150. When one of the parties was a heathen, then it was thought lawful to prosecute before a heathen tribunal.

Under these circumstances, it was natural that the same controversy, which in a mixed society of Jewish and Gentile Christians ran through be many other departments of human life, should se felt here also; and that the Gentile Christians should still wish to carry on their litigations in the same courts to which they had been previously accustomed, and to indulge the same litigious spirit which had characterized the Greek nation from the time of Aristophanes downward. But in whatever way this tendency originated, the Apostle [here] treats it altogether irrespectively of any Jewish or Gentile custom, and condemns it solely on the ground of the low views which it implied of the greatness of a Christian’s privileges, and the closeness of the bond of Christian brotherhood.” Stanley.]

1 Corinthians 6:1. Here also, as in chap, 5, there is indicated a lack of true Christian spirit in the failure to maintain the honor of the Church. In the former case it arose from a want of moral earnestness, here from an earthly temper, and from stubbornness of opinion. The tone of address is sharp.—Dare any of you.—This is not ironical, as Schrader imagines; but it is the direct outburst of indignation at the unworthy conduct, manifested [and also at the risk run], “The injured majesty of Christians,” says Bengel, “is here noted by a grand word.” Τολμᾷν, sustinere, to have the heart to do that from which a just sense of the Christian dignity should have restrained them. Here the culpable party must be regarded, as consisting mainly of Gentile converts, since it was already a custom among the Jews to choose their own umpires—having a matter.—ΙΙρᾶγμα ἔχειν is a phrase denoting civil suits, especially in matters of money and possessions.—against another—of course, a fellow church-member—go to law,—κρίνεσθαι, to separate oneself, to part from, then to contend, to strive, also to debate, and that before a tribunal. “This love of litigation—a remnant of the old leaven which abounded among the traffickers of Corinth—must have derived abundant nourishment from the divisions existing in the Church.”Besser.—before—ἐπί, as in Acts 23:30the unjust—τῶν�. These are the heathen. So in Matthew 26:45, they are called ἁμαρτωλοί, sinners; while the Israelites, on the contrary, are termed δίκαιοι, just; Wis 18:20; Wis 16:17; Wis 11:15. The designation ‘unjust’ is employed to bring out more prominently the absurdity [and the peril] of seeking for justice in such a quarter. It exhibits those to whom it is applied as devoid of that true righteousness which is found alone in God’s kingdom, as withholding from God His due, and therefore as unqualified to administer justice among His people. On ἁγίων (=οἱ ἕσω 1 Corinthians 5:12) comp. 1 Corinthians 1:2.—[“Paul does not here condemn those who from necessity have a cause before unbelieving judges, as when a person is summoned to court; but those who of their own accord bring their brethren into this situation, and harass them, as it were, through means of unbelievers, while it is in their power to employ another remedy.” Calvin. “And besides the scandal of such a proceeding, as exposing their internal differences to the eyes of the heathen, there were certain formularies to be gone through in the heathen Law Courts, such as adjuration by heathen Deities, which would involve them in idolatrous practices.” Words.]

1 Corinthians 6:2. He here goes on to show still further what an entire disregard of the true dignity of the Christian state was evinced in their conduct.—Or do ye not know.—The ‘or’ presents an alternative, suggesting some other cause for their conduct, viz., that of ignorance; and the interrogative form used intimates that it was a culpable ignorance of an indubitable and plain truth. [“ This question,” says Words., “occurs no less than ten times in this Epistle, and only twice in all the rest. It was a very fit mode of remonstrance with those who vaunted themselves most on their knowledge.”]—that the saints shall judge the world?—“This is the only clear, direct enunciation we have of the truth here expressed, though it is in perfect harmony with conclusions elsewhere furnished.” Burger. The words imply more than an indirect participation in the judgment of the world, such as is brought to view in Matthew 12:41, where it is said: “The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment against this generation,” etc., viz., that in contrast with the conduct, or faith exhibited by them, the guilt of the world will be set forth in clearer light, [so Chrys. and most of the Greek fathers, Erasmus, Words.]. Nor is it meant that the saints will simply unite in assenting to the sentence pronounced by Christ as assessors on his judgment seat [Barnes, et al.]; nor that they in some general way will be glorified with Him, [Schleus., Heyden., Barnes.]. Still less do they refer to any future judicial functions, which saints are to possess in this world as its princes and rulers, [Lightfoot, Whitby]; nor to any peculiar ability to estimate the value of the world’s opinions and doings, [Mosh. Rosen.] (1 Corinthians 2:15, comp. 1 Corinthians 6:3). And least of all are they to be interpreters of the church as the perpetual judge of the world, in so far as it carries the light which ever separates the darkness of the world from itself. (Cath.). But they refer to that reigning with Christ which is elsewhere promised to the faithful, (Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12), and serve to define more exactly the import of the expression: ‘glorified with Him.’ What was said especially of the Apostles, that they should “sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28), is here extended, in general, to all the true followers of Christ—His royal people, in relation to that portion of the race which shall persist in its opposition to the Gospel, viz. , the world. In short, Paul here asserts the active participation by the saints in the judicial work of Christ, such as is ascribed to them in Daniel 7:22 : “Until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” [The same prediction reappears again in the Apocryphal Book, Wisdom III: 1 Corinthians 8:0 : “They (the righteous) shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign forever”]; also Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 20:4-6. That this is the element in their glory which the Apostle alludes to, the context clearly shows. [Such is the interpretation also of Calvin, Beza, Alf., Stanley, and others. And it is plainly the only tenable one. The others are either too far fetched, or imply a more general acquaintance with the New Testament, in its present form, than could have been possible for the Corinthians; and we cannot suppose that the Apostle would be likely to consider their ignorance of the matters suggested a fit ground for rebuke. But the prophecy of Daniel was in their hands; and the anticipations of the final triumph and glory of the righteous during the reign of the Messiah, were current among believers; and the ignoring or over-looking of these matters might well have been reproved. In fact the final and complete supremacy of Christ’s kingdom was already assured in the very character of its head, and the former could not be disavowed without offence done to the latter. As to the character of the functions which the saints were to fulfil, opinions will vary according to the views adopted in respect to the nature of the millennial glory, and of the relation which the church will sustain to the world at that time. But whatever these functions may be, the language which describes them plainly implies the exercise of an active supremacy in the affairs of the world. That which saints are expected to do then, must, in some way, be analogous to the duties which the Apostle urges upon the church-members to discharge for themselves in the present age. For this reason the view of Hodge and Barnes and others, who suppose a reference in the text “to the future and final judgment” (with a somewhat uncertain allusion to Daniel 7:22, as though the event pointed to here were the same as the other), must be set aside. On that occasion the saints appear only as the retinue of the Judge, and are nowhere represented as taking an active part in the trial. The idea of Barnes that the saints are to judge the world by simply ‘encompassing the throne,’ and ‘assenting to Christ’s judgment,’ and occupying “a post of honor As If they were associated with him in judgment,” hardly suits the style of the Apostle’s reasoning]. The natural conclusion from all this, viz., that persons destined to so lofty an office, ought also to be deemed worthy of passing judgment on the trifling matters of this life, is put in the form of a question, expressive of astonishment. This, as is often the case, is introduced with an ‘and.’ The question, however, is not thereby made dependent on the previous one, ‘Know ye not?’ but it stands by itself.—And if among you the world is to be judged.—The judges are here conceived of as constituting one vast assembly, in the midst of which the adjudication proceeds. The ἕν ὐμῖν is not precisely equivalent to: ‘through you,’ as in Acts 17:31; nor to: ὑ φ’ ὑμῶν, by you, though the sense is about the same; nor: ‘in you,’ i. e., by your example; but properly: in the midst of you, and so; before you: (coram). [Winer § XL.VIII., etc. “Hence,” says Meyer, “it is evident that the saints themselves are to be the judges sitting in judgment. And ἐν is employed in view of the following κριτηρίων, since the Christians judging therein, are conceived of as one judicial concourse, for the sake of representing the idea more vividly”]. The εἰ if, in εἰκρίνεται, as the context shows, is not meant to exhibit the judgment as at all problematical, but only states it as indubitably presupposed in what follows. The notion of futurity here retires into the background.—Are ye unworthy of the smallest judgments?—Κριτήρια is a word used to denote both places or courts of trials, and also the trials themselves which are there held. Here it means the latter, and the whole clause is to be taken in an active sense, q. d., are ye unworthy of holding trial in the smallest matters? [Many, like de Wette, Olsh., Hodge, Words., understand by κριτήρια, the matters in trial, as better suited to the context, 1 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 6:7, but Meyer says that this is contrary to all usage]. The adjective here (ἐλαχίστων) refers to the matters brought to trial, and which are here designated as of the most trifling sort, having to do simply with the earthly ‘mine and thine,’ Luke 16:10.

1 Corinthians 6:3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels? to say nothing of things that pertain to this life?—[A still wider contrast.] But are there here two questions, or only one or are we to take the second clause as a corollary? Since μήτιγε in the first instance means, not at all (Passow ΙΙΙ. p. 230. [Rob. Gr. Lex.]), and then: yet much less, it would seem to indicate that there is also a second question here. The sense then would be: ‘Our judicial power, as ye ought to know, extends even beyond, even unto celestial beings; should it not then be now first applied to terrestrial matters’? i. e., how much more now ought it to be applied to these?—In respect to the fact first alluded to, ‘the judging of angels’, we must at the outset put aside every explanation, which makes the phrase expressive of something inferior to the work of judging the world, instead of something which is an advance upon it—whether this be done by taking ‘angels’ to mean church officers, or priests, or teachers distinguished for devilish cunning; and by supposing the judgment spoken of to be of a spiritual kind, as relating to the errors of these parties, or to be even a mere ability to judge, (Galatians 1:8). The only point in doubt is, whether angels in general are referred to, or merely good angels, or merely bad ones. Besser says: ‘both classes; to the damnation of the bad, but on the good, to pronounce a judgment of blessing, since they will be united with us under one Head in Christ’. (Ephesians 1:10). Since, however, the idea that good angels are meant, finds support only in that relation which they sustain to believers, hinted at in Hebrews 1:14, and in the hypothetical expression found in Galatians 1:8, and inasmuch as good angels are represented as furnishing a part of Christ’s retinue in judgment, and as acting the part of organs and witnesses of His judicial work, (Matthew 13:39; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:31; Matthew 25:31, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Revelation 20:1 ff.), we are constrained to adopt the explanation, which supposes evil angels to be referred to, as the only correct one. [So Chrys. and most of the Greek fathers, and Calvin and Beza, and Bengel, Poole, and most of commentators. Whitby, with the same reference understands the judgment to denote that expulsion of the devils from their dominion over the world by the power of the Gospel, of which our Saviour speaks in John 12:31; John 16:11. On the contrary, Meyer, Alf. and Hodge, following the usage of the N. T., where the word αγγελοι, without any qualifying epithet always means good angels, interpret it so here. But they do not profess to explain how these are to be judged, or they give to the word, ‘judge’, a very comprehensive meaning, implying only superiority of a general sort. Billr., de Wette, Stanley, leave the matter undecided. See Pool and Whitby.] At the same time it must be said that the unqualified term ‘angels’ indicates the superhuman nature of the beings contemplated, and puts them in contrast with the world; [and ‘the argument will be not less conclusive in this way.” Calvin;] while the position they are in, so analogous to that of the world, marks them as standing in an abnormal relation to God, and implies that the judgment spoken of will be one of condemnation, the same as in 1 Corinthians 6:2, and not one that merely decides upon honors and rewards.—Βιωτικά=things serviceable for this life (Luke 8:43), which belong to bodily sustenance, and are therefore of an earthly, temporal sort, as is every thing which forms a ground for suits respecting property, debts or inheritance. [“The Latin translation of this word by sæcularia, is probably one of the first instances of the use of that word, in its modern sense of ‘worldly’ as opposed to spiritual, instead of its ancient sense, ‘belonging to a cycle of a hundred years’; and from this has sprung the signification of the word ‘secular’ in modern European languages”. Stanley].

1 Corinthians 6:4. Secular trials indeed then would ye have.—[Βιωτικά is repeated with emphasis, and so stands first, and] κριτήρια is to be construed as in 1 Corinthians 6:2, not as equivalent to πράγματα, matters to be judged, for this rendering is void of support. ̔Ἔχειν might denote in this connection: to have on hand; or, to have a just comprehension of; consequently: to be in a condition to manage (as in the phrases, ἔχειν επιστήμην, τέχνας, τὴν ἰατρκήν, etc.), and this would fit well with what precedes. The μέν, introducing a clause correlative to the one following, might remain untranslated, and οὖν be rendered by, then, accordingly, or by some word of transition, which would indicate that the point mentioned has been established, and that the clause where it occurs also stands in inward connection with some previous expression. Properly: ‘Have ye then indeed such trials? but ye by no means proceed in a manner suitable to this fact!’ This thought would then be expressed by a protasis and apodosis, of which the latter is to be regarded as a question of astonishment at such procedure. An interrogation similar to this we have in John 10:36 (comp. John 6:35), “how happens it that ye do this?” But such an explanation would necessitate our taking ἐάν as equivalent to εἰ, which could only be justified on the score of the laxity of the later Greek in this respect, and provided another interpretation were inadmissible. But we may interpret the ἐὰν κριτήρια ἔχητε, of the actual existence of such trials among them; in which case ἐάν would mean, if, in case that, and we should interpret the clause thus: ‘if now it should happen that trials, involving secular matters, are held among you,—those despised in the church these do ye set up?i. e. as judges. By ‘the despised,’ he means the unjust or the unbelievers, before spoken of, who, as such, pass for nothing in the Church, and enjoy no confidence or authority there. [“This translation,” Hodge says, “is generally preferred as best in keeping with the context,” and Wordsworth adopts it also. See, however, the note below]. But if any do not choose to construe it as a question of astonishment, it may be taken as a simple affirmation, stating once more what was actually occurring among them. [“So in the main, Luther, Calvin, Rückert, Olsh., de Wette, Neander, and otters]. The οὖν would then be an ecbatic particle. Yet the form of the question would in any case, be the more emphatic. The use of καθιζετε is also a remarkable way of expressing an appeal to heathen judges on the part of Christians, for it implies that such judges were formally set up in office by the Christians themselves, when they could have had no hand in their appointment, and only seemed to do so by appealing to them for decision in cases over which they ought to have no adjudication.—Τούτους, these, an emphatic repetition of the persons alluded to [involving also contempt]. Others, objecting partly to the use of καθίζειν in relation to heathen authorities, who are supposed to be already existing, and partly to the application of τοὺς εξουθενη μένους to the heathen as unsuitable [and inconsistent with the respect which Paul inculcates toward heathen magistrates], understand the latter to denote church members, and construe the whole in the Imp. as an injunction [of rather an ironical sort]: ‘If you must have trials, those least esteemed in the Church, these set up rather as judges.’ But in such a case the text ought to read: τοὺς ἐν τη ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐξοθεν, and the word ‘rather,’ would be an arbitrary insertion. This insertion would, however, be necessary, if we understood the Apostle to mean such persons as might be suitable for the office in question, but who, for some reason, were of little repute. But, however this may be, still our first interpretation is favored by what follows.12

1 Corinthians 6:5-6.—To your shame I speak.—Comp. on 1 Corinthians 4:14. The expression applies, as in 1 Corinthians 15:34, to what precedes; and what follows, in part, explains more fully how far that spoken of in 1 Corinthians 6:4 is disgraceful to them, and, in part, repeats emphatically the case as it stood.—So is there not among you not even one wise man.—The οὔτως is either climacteric, meaning: ‘so completely are ye wanting in wise men,’ which rendering does not well suit a strong negation [but is adopted by Chrys., Luther, Billr., Calvin, Alf., Olsh., Rückert]; or it is: ‘in this way,’ ‘under these circumstances,’ referring back to 1 Corinthians 6:4 : ‘seeing that ye set up those persons despised in the Church for judges.’ [So Meyer. The rendering here must be determined by the view taken of the import of 1 Corinthians 6:4. If that last advocated be the correct one, it would be more natural to understand οὔτως in the former sense. King James’ translation places the stress of the interrogation here, deviating in this respect from the previous versions which translate it, “utterly,” “at all,” and supposes an ellipsis: “Is it so that there is not?”]. ̔́Ενι is for ἕνεστι, an adverbial use of the ἔν without the copula=‘is there,’ ‘does there exist.’.—Ον̓ δὲ—εἷς, a strong expression, like non ullus, nemo unus, ‘not even one.’ Considering how wise they were in their own conceit, the question here is a very cutting one. At the same time it suggests a strong reason for their altering their conduct. By it he would urge them to the practical exercise of their vaunted wisdom—a matter in which they sadly failed. Σοφός, skilful, expert in resources, experienced, discreet.—who shall be ablei. e., when a cause comes up—to decide. διακρῖναι—to arbitrate in a formal manner—between his brother, ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ�,—a wise expression, where a person understanding himself to be meant, supplies in thought: ‘and a brother.’ Meyer regards the party distinctly mentioned as the complainant (the defendant he understood as a matter of course, who is specified by way of distinction, as the party in fault). Had the plural been used, the two litigants would then have been equally brought to view. In the use of the term ‘brother,’ a rebuke is intended which is still further enlarged upon—but brother goeth to law with brother.—This is not a question, whether considered independently, or as continuing the previous one; but it is an affirmation full of severe reproof. [“’Αλλά, after a question, passes rapidly on to the other alternative, the particle, which negatives the question being supressed, q. d., ‘nay; but.’ ” Alf.]. Κρίνεται, goeth to law, stands opposed to διακρίνειν, to arbitrate. Then, by way of contrast with the “wise man among you,” before whom they ought to have settled their difficulties, we have the sad opposite:—and that before unbelievers.—[“and that,” a form of expression used when particular stress is to be laid on the circumstance indicated.” Hodge].

1 Corinthians 6:7-8. Looking away now from the point last mentioned, i. e., going to law before unbelievers, he here passes to rebuke the entire practice of litigation among Christians as in itself wrong.—indeed therefore—ἥ δημὲνο ὖν. The μέν gives a peculiar prominence to the point to be mentioned as being the worst of all; οὗν is simply transitional and conjunctive; but ἥδη (see Passow ΙΙ.1326ff.) is a determinative particle, which serves, in part, to strengthen the whole clause, and, in part, to call particular attention to certain thoughts about to be presented.—it is in any case a loss for you.—̔́Ολωςpresents the aspect of the case generally, without reference to any peculiar, aggravating circumstances, such as going to law “before unbelievers.” [Stanley renders it: “certainly”] ̔́Ηττημα. lit.: a falling short; it is used, partly, of failings and imperfections (hence the var. ἐνὑμῖν), and, partly, of injuries, or damage, whether it be in an ethical sense, as caused by the outbreak of sin and the violence of passion (comp: ἡττασθαι, 2 Peter 2:20; νικᾶσθαι, Romans 12:21), or as some evil consequence upon these outbreaks, such as hinderance to our salvation, and to our participation in God’s kingdom. It is here undoubtedly the latter, and points to what is more fully stated in 1 Corinthians 6:9. This is undoubtedly the more correct interpretation, and it forms an implied contrast to any supposed temporal advantage they might gain by any legal process. [So Meyer, de Wette, Words., Alf., Hodge. But Calvin, Beng., Billr., Stanley, Rückert, Olsh., all prefer the meaning: ‘fault,’ ‘imperfection,’ ‘weakness.’ And there is strong ground for their interpretation]. Neander: “A backsliding of the Church, and sinking down from the high standard of pure Christian feeling.” ὑμῖν, Dative of interest—that ye have lawsuits with yourselves.—Κρίμα elsewhere means, judicial decision, sentence, also judgment. With this rendering the sense would be: ‘that it comes to this, that ye have legal decisions,’ etc. The same sense substantially is obtained if we adopt the meaning which attaches to κρίνεσθαι, and which does not elsewhere appear, viz.: lawsuits. [So Rob. Lex. sub. voce; but Alf. says: ‘matters of dispute’]. Μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν: ‘with yourselves;’ more expressive than ἀλλήλων: one another. [It suggests the unity of the Christian body, so in contrast with the segregated condition of the world].—How Christians ought to conduct themselves in cases affecting the ‘mine and thine,’ he states in the more striking form of a question.—Why do ye not rather take injustice? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?—The verbs ἀδικεῖσθε—ἀποστερεῖσθε are both middle and to be rendered as above. They imply the suffering of a ‘loss.’ It is one, however, only in appearance, being a victory in fact (Osi.). Comp. Matthew 5:39 ff. What follows may be taken as a strong assertion, or as a question, which either stands independently, or is depending still on ‘why,’ since the question ‘or do you not know,’ of 1 Corinthians 6:9, has also its logical relations in the ‘why’ (so Meyer, Exodus 2:0). But the former construction, which makes the sentence direct and independent, would be more expressive, and it is supported by καὶ τοῦ το�. The ἀλλά a then will have its proper force.—But ye (ὕμεῖς. emphatic, ye Christians) do injustice and defraud—[the same verbs as in the previous clause, but active transitive] and that brethren.—[“This passage is remarkable as being founded on the spirit of Matthew 5:40.” Stanley]. [On the nature of ecclesiastical jurisdiction maintained by the early Church in secular affairs, its relation to that of the State, and the evils resulting from it, see Neander’s Church History, Vol. II. p. 139ff., Torrey’s Translation].

1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Or know ye not.—The question presupposes a self-evident answer respecting the conduct spoken of. ‘Such proceedings should not hate been allowed by you, a people whose hope takes hold on God’s kingdom, and who profess to be the children, and so the heirs of the Most High. “Or,” etc., i. e, your conduct can only be explained on the supposition of such ignorance.’—that the unjust God’s kingdom shall not inherit?—Here (ἄδικοι) the idea I involved in ἀδικεῖν, to do injustice, must be kept in view, yet looking away from the point wherein they as members of the Church were especially guilty. The ‘unjust’ (“a term used of the heathen in 1 Corinthians 6:1, and here designedly brought in for the purpose of putting all who were unjust on a par with the heathen” Neander) are properly those among whom the practice of injustice has become habitual, who persist in wrong without repenting.—But here the word denotes the immoral generally, those who offend God and man by iniquities of every kind, such as are specified in the following context.—In reference to ‘God’s kingdom,’ see on 1 Corinthians 4:20. Considered in its perfection, as the object of Christian hope, the kingdom of God is the blessed state, wherein the will of a holy, loving, all-restoring, beatific God is fully realized; or, in other words, a condition wherein men and angels are unitedly and perfectly controlled by the Divine will, lead a life of righteousness and peace, and together with this, possess the highest good which it is desirable for men to participate in. And this participation is expressed by the word ‘inherit’ (κληρονομειν). It is something that properly belongs to the believer as a child of God (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7), and involves a gracious right and an enduring possession. The expression, meaning literally, to obtain by lot, and then, to receive as an inheritance, belongs to the language of the Theocracy, and is used in the Old Testament to denote the entrance into the promised land, and into the society of those who are governed by the will of God. And this was but the type or shadow (σκία) of the kingdom, of God that was to be set up on a renovated earth (2 Peter 3:13; Matthew 5:5). (That the verb takes after it the Accusative instead of the Genitive, belongs to the later Hellenic usage). The ‘not inheriting,’ implying an exclusion from the possession of the highest good, explains what is meant by κατακρίνεσθαι. and ἀπόλλυσθαι.—That all conduct, which contravenes the justice of God, or the ordering of holy love, should cause a forfeiture of this inheritance, lies in the very nature of the case. In the Corinthian Church, however, there appear to have been some light-minded people who sought to persuade themselves and others that God did not mean exactly what he said, that this inheritance could never be withheld from any who had joined the Church. [“Such a divorce of morality from religion has been manifested in all ages, and under all forms of religion. The pagan, the Jew, the Mohammedan, the nominal Christian, have all been exact in the performance of religious services, while unrestrained in the indulgence, of every evil passion. This arises from looking on religion as an outward service, and God as a being to be feared and propitiated, not loved and served.” Hodge]. Against all such false conceptions and vain words (Ephesians 5:6), Paul here warns the Church with his oft-recurring—Be not deceived (1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 6:7, etc.)—To this he appends a full catalogue of such immoralities as exclude from God’s kingdom:—neither fornicators.—This indicates the vice prevalent in Corinth, and points back to chap. 5. To this he annexes, that wherewith fornication was closely connected in Heathendom, and which I when practised by God’s people, was termed both ‘fornication’ and ‘adultery:’—nor idolaters.—Then comes that inordinate indulgence of the sexual passion which violated alike the Divine ordinance of marriage, and the rights of the married parties:—nor adulterers.—The series of this class ends with the mention of that unnatural gratification of lust indicated in the words:—nor effeminate, nor Sodomites.—These express correlative ideas. The former denotes those who allowed themselves to be used as women (qui muliebria patiuntur); the latter, such as used the former in this unnatural way—a wide-spread vice in that period (comp. Wetstein on this passage, and on Romans 1:27). Next follow classes of the ‘unjust,’ in the more restricted sense, such as violently seized upon others’ possessions, or more indirectly sought for them:—nor thieves, nor covetous,—(comp. on 1 Corinthians 5:10 ff.).—In like manner in regard to the following—nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners.—The enumeration is not strictly logical, since those last mentioned would naturally come in after the ‘covetous.’ But drunkards and revilers naturally go together, since the vice of the latter commonly results from that of the former. After asserting solemnly that such—shall not inherit the kingdom of God,—he goes on to remind the Corinthians that for them these trials belonged to the past, and that indulgence in such vices was for them a backsliding into their old heathenish state, which utterly contradicted their high Christian experience.

1 Corinthians 6:11. And these things some (of you) were.—The neuter ταῦτα carries a contemptuous implication, q. d., ‘such a set,’ ‘such stuff’ (Meyer). Τινὲς: ‘some, not all. What otherwise would be a too sweeping and severe imputation is thus limited in its application and softened in tone. [Calvin and Hodge regard the τινὲς as redundant or as distributive, q. d., some were one thing and some another]. The simple ἧτε, or ὑμεῖς ἧτε, would imply too much, since all the Corinthian converts, without exception, had not been addicted to either one or all the immoralities specified; yet, on the other hand, τινὲς ὑμῶν ἧτε would have implied too little. “It would bring the whole body prominently to notice, and intimate that only a part would agree with the description.” Osiander. The change which, however, had passed over them, is indicated by three expressions introduced with the emphatic repetition of ‘but,’ designed to set forth the contrast more strongly.—But ye were washed clean.—απελούσασθε—[ἀπό; off, all off, clean, intensive. This refers to their joining the Church in baptism. Comp. Titus 3:5. In like manner Acts 22:16, where the verb is aor. mid., and signifies, baptize thyself, or, cause thyself to be baptized, not, ‘be baptized,’ as ‘though it were passive. And so the verb here is middle, and must be taken in a reflexive sense, though it is difficult to translate it thus in English]. The term ‘wash,’ points to the defilement incurred by the sins before spoken of, and to the purification effected through the forgiveness obtained in baptism, or the removal of guilt then pledged (Acts 22:16). It is analogous to καθαρίσας (Ephesians 5:26). The moral purification, by the doing away of all that is sinful (Rückert), we cannot therefore take to be here meant: although repentance and faith are presupposed in baptism. In this washing of baptism, however, the cleansing through the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5; 1 John 1:7) must be considered as included.—Ye sanctified yourselves, ἡ λιάσθητε—This, too, is middle. It cannot therefore be supposed to denote the inward, progressive sanctification accomplished by the Spirit; but, as in 1 Corinthians 1:2, the act of personal consecration to God, of separation from the world and translation into fellowship with God; yet this, not putatively, nor externally merely, but as involving also some operation of the Divine Spirit on the heart (comp. Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2).—Ye were justified, ἐδι και ώθητε.—This, in accordance with the usage of Paul and of the Bible generally, is to be construed, not after Augustine and the Council of Trent, as if it meant: ‘made righteous’ inwardly. This is contradicted by the aorist tense of the verb. But it implies an introduction into the state of the ‘just,’ admission to a participation in the salvation of God—to a place in His kingdom and a share in His blessings. This exhibits the positive side of God’s salvation (the removal of guilt being the negative side), and is the result of consecration to God. Hence it fitly concludes the series. All three taken together denote an entrance into the state of grace [“ and refer to the first conversion.” Stanley. The view given by Kling is substantially that of Calvin, Hodge, Alf., Words. But the words also carry a further implication in the way of contrast. ‘Having become thus, ye are not to defile and pollute yourselves afresh and incur, renewed condemnation’].—in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God.—These qualifying phrases are by some referred to all three of the foregoing verbs, and by others to the last alone. Others still make a division, referring the words, ‘in the name’ to ‘justified,’ or to this and ‘washed;’ but the words, ‘in the Spirit’ to ‘sanctified.’ These attempts are a failure; although it is indeed true that the ‘washing’ and the ‘justification’ are grounded upon the name of Christ. ‘Even as, on the other hand, sanctification comes through the Spirit. Again the reference of these phrases to all three of the verbs appears to be opposed by the separation of the verbs effected by ‘but,’ as well as by the unsuitableness of connecting the fact of the washing with the Spirit, since according to the rule (to which Acts 4:7 is no exception) the reception of the Spirit is consequent on baptism (Meyer). But the first reason given cannot be decisive; and so far as the second goes, we find that in Titus 3:5, the ‘renewal of the spirit’ is connected directly with baptism, as epexegetical of παλιγγενεσίας. And as the phrase ‘in the name of Christ,’ indicates the objective ground on which the washing rests, so does the phrase, ‘in the Spirit,’ indicate the subjective ground of the same, that is, the principle which inwardly imparts and applies the absolution implied in the washing. On the name of Christ comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:2. The entire personality of Jesus, so far as it is made known to us in the work of redemption and indicated in the name, is the objective ground both of the pardon granted in baptism and of our justification and sanctification, according to the sense of the terms above given. But the Spirit of God applies to each individual what is offered to us in that name. He brings it directly to our consciousness, insures and imparts it to us, and enables us to realize it all within our own hearts. [“By the ἡμῶν: our, added to ‘God,’ he binds the Corinthians and himself together in the glorious blessings of the Gospel state, and mingles the oil of joy with the mourning which by his reproof he is reluctantly creating.” Alford],

[Obs. This whole passage 1 Corinthians 6:1-9, is memorable as laying the foundation for that ecclesiastical jurisdiction in civil affairs which in the lapse of centuries grew to such mighty proportions as to overshadow for a time the temporal sovereignty, and even threaten to subjugate it altogether. There are traces of the existence of church-courts for civil causes among Christians as early as the middle of the second century, and in the Apost. Const. , II. 47, the rule for the regulation of their proceedings is laid down. Ordinarily, however, the bishop became the referee in such disputes, and his office as umpire contributed largely to the increase of his importance and authority, and also greatly endangered his spirituality. When the State became Christian, this jurisdiction was conferred by law, and made binding on all parties that appealed to it. The custom once established, gradually extended itself with the increase of ecclesiastical pretensions, and the decay of secular power, until the Church assumed the form of a political association, with a well defined system of ecclesiastical polity that divided the control with the State both over the laity and the clergy, even in temporal matters, and aimed steadily at exempting the latter in particular from all amenability to the State. The history of this wonderful and yet perverse development of authority from the positions laid down in the text, furnishes a most instructive commentary on its meaning, and shows us the necessity of correctly interpreting it.

The limitations by which the precept is beset are as follows: 1. The litigants must be both church-members. Redress from wrongs inflicted from without may be sought at civil tribunals when public justice seems to require it—Paul, e. g., appealed to Cæsar. 2. The causes, comparatively trivial, the minor matters of property, for example, in relation to which it were better that covetousness be mortified by quietly enduring the wrong, than indulged by the enforcement of rights. 3. The tribunals, heathen, or of a heathenish kind. The case may be altered when the judges are Christians. Yet even under such circumstances litigation between “brethren” ought, if possible, to be avoided. 4. The nature of the adjudication, informal—that of umpires chosen for the purpose by the contestants, and not of regular church courts. Paul’s aim was to preserve the peace and spirituality of the Church by the avoidance of litigation, not to convert the Church into an arena for conflicts, and thus to secularize it. The Church was never constituted to be “a ruler and a divider” among men. 5. The evil condemned is not the practice of going to law, as though this were wrong in itself, for the magistrate, too, is a “member of God for good,” but the litigious spirit so contrary to the Christian temper. There are instances when it would be a manifest sin not to seek justice. But in doing so, a Christian should take care to show that he was actuated, not by feelings of revenge, but by a supreme regard to law and order, and by a desire that even the wrong-doer may be reconciled to Him.]


1. [The judicial function of the Saints in the age to come]. Those are mighty words, “the saints shall judge the world,” “we shall judge angels.” Through them we catch a glimpse into the mysteries of the Heavenly kingdom, especially into the fundamental mystery of the creating and judging Word, and into the vital fellowship which believers have with their Lord, likewise also into the mystery of the future, when the inward life of the saints, which is now hid with Christ in glory, will be made manifest as a life of Divine power and holiness. Those of whom Christ said, “I in them and they in me,” of whom it is grandly sung,

“ Devoid of strength they are guardians for all;
Poor, yet they win, let the worst befall,”—
who here on earth have shared with their Redeemer in His sufferings and shame, these very ones will share with Him hereafter in the manifestations of His glory. “When Christ, who is their life, shall appear, exhibiting Himself as He really is, then will they also appear with Him as gods of earth, to the astonishment of the world. They will reign and flourish eternally, shining as stars in the firmament of God.”
But by virtue of this union with Christ in glory, they become partners also in His judicial authority. Having been exempted from judgment through faith in their Lord, they will join with Him in executing judgment over all, whether men or angels, who amid the exhibitions of Divine love and wisdom and power and righteousness have continued hostile to God’s truth, disregardful of His grace, contemptuous toward His salvation, and opposed to all the ways of His kingdom—hardening themselves evermore in their enmity, until past hope. And this judgment will be an act both of deepest insight,—piercing through to the very centre of the heart, and detecting there the inexcusableness of sin, and of highest moral power—exhibiting a righteousness full of decision and vigor—allowing of no further protests—exposing the fallacy of excuses, and annihilating them all as false and untenable through the might of an all-enlightening truth.

And this power to discern and judge at that period, is a living principle imparted to Christians now, through the indwelling life of Christ, and it unfolds itself onward unto perfection with the growth of their spiritual life, until it reaches its highest state of exercise in the future kingdom of glory. There is always implied in it a demonstration of the mind of Christ, as well in that pitying love which goes out after the lost, tracks them in their wanderings, and wisely and patiently applies the means of their restoration, as in that holiness which should keep them from all fellowship with sin, consecrate them entirely to God, and maintain them in the obedience of faith amid manifold temptations from within and from without, in joy and sorrow, in honor and dishonor, in abundance and want, in health and sickness, even unto death; so that, as the instruments of Christ’s truth and love, they shall have done what they could towards awakening, convincing and converting those who still walk in darkness—thus proving themselves fit and warranted to act the part of judges with their Lord at the last.
But as their authority is also to be exercised over the world of spirits, these too must in some way be regarded as coming under this saving influence. For is not the blood of Christ’s cross said to be God’s means for reconciling all things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven? (Colossians 1:20). And is not the manifold wisdom of God to be proclaimed by means of the Church, even unto principalities and powers in heavenly places? (Ephesians 3:10). Shall we then mistake if we imagine that even in the extra mundane sphere there are also fallen beings, yet capable of salvation; and that into this sphere, whence came temptation and ruin unto our race, there shall in return go forth blessed agencies of deliverance from this very race, according to the wonderful council of God, and by virtue of the advent of His Son, through whom every thing above and beneath has been created? This is indeed an operation which, like that of the operation of this spirit-world upon us, comes not within the direct consciousness of believers; yet this fact does not militate against its reality, and like much that is now concealed, it will be made known to believers, as they enter upon their heavenly state. And if it be true, this circumstance will the more qualify believers for sitting in judgment over those bad spirits who obstinately close themselves against all such gracious influences, and scorn the salvation offered in Christ. These are conjectures indeed, and they might be carried out still further into the consideration of the particular duties in which the departed saints might engage in the other world. But it will not do to reject them as idle dreams, since they are in accordance with the analogy of Scripture, and are supported by the essential connection which exists between the judgment, and prevenient efforts directed to the recovery of the fallen.

Since the judicial work of the saints is not simply a corroboration of the sentence pronounced by Christ, but also an active participation in the judgment carried on by Him, as the organs of His office, a training preparatory to this high function will naturally be required of them. To this there belongs—1, a learning to speak what is true and right, not only in public, but also in private stations, so that a readiness may be acquired in distinguishing between right and wrong, and there shall be no danger of being misled, either through the purblindness of the foolish, or by the corrupt sophistries and wretched infatuation of the self-opinionated and dogmatic (analogous with Luke 16:10 ff; Luke 19:17 ff.); 2, a calm, self-denying willingness to accept justice as set forth in the sentence rendered, whether it come from a judge or an umpire; for here the rule holds good, that obedience to authority is the best qualification for exercising authority; 3, the still loftier self-denial shown in a readiness to suffer wrong rather than to gain aught by going to law at the expense of love and unity. On the other hand, the habit of over-reaching and defrauding, originating in a spirit of selfish greed, as it disqualifies for admission into God’s kingdom, so does it in an especial manner unfit a person to exercise judgment. And this is true also of every act which violates the rights either of God or man; for all such acts virtually disown and entirely neutralize that state of grace into which a person has been brought through the name of Christ and by the Spirit of God. The persons who practise them have washed and consecrated themselves, and been justified (in baptism) to no purpose.

[2. The natural condition of man, depraved and lost (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). When unchecked, the original sin of our constitution breaks out into the most flagrant vices and crimes, which reveal the inherent corruption. The most refined Pagan civilization has no power to restrain and cure it. Rather it serves to intensify the evil. The most demoralized society in the old world was to be found in the most refined of its cities. And the character, thus vitiated, forever excludes from a state of glory. It shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The strong negation here precludes all hope for such as possess it, and together with this puts the stamp of falsehood upon the figment of a universal salvation. No statement could be more explicit and conclusive]

[3. The change which fits the sinner for heaven is a radical one, wrought in Christ and through the Spirit, yet not independently of human volition. “Ye have washed yourselves clean, ye have sanctified yourselves, ye are justified.” The filth of sin is voluntarily removed. From being his own, the person consecrates himself to God, and becomes forgiven and reconciled to God through faith in the work of Christ, and by the influence of the Spirit. Thus old things pass away, and all things become new, under the operation of Divine grace, and through the consent of the individual. There is, therefore, in renewal a voluntary assumption of the weightiest obligation to keep one’s self unspotted from the world].


[Litigation on the part of Christians—1, involves great risk, and betokens a corresponding ‘daring,’ for it is a seeking for justice before the avowedly unjust, 1 Corinthians 6:1 a; 1 Corinthians 2:0 is a repudiation of their proper society, and of the advantages its saintly character holds out, 1 Corinthians 6:1 b; 1 Corinthians 3:0, is derogatory to the dignity of the litigants themselves, who are, by their profession, destined to be hereafter judges of the world and of angels, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Corinthians 4:0, is an imputation upon the ability of their brethren to decide in the matters of lesser moment here, 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 5:0, should be superseded by the selection of umpires in the Church, and the small matters it involves treated as they deserve, 1 Corinthians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 6:0, is a disgrace to the Church and a cause of scandal, as it opens the faults of Christians to the observation and sneers of the world; 7, iscontrary to the spirit of Christ, “who, when He was reviled, reviled not again, and when He suffered, threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously,” 1 Corinthians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 8:0, implies wrong doing on the part of Christians, provoking litigation by their conduct towards each other, 1 Corinthians 6:8; 1 Corinthians 9:0, those who by their offences provoke litigation are in danger of losing their inheritance in God’s kingdom and becoming outcasts with the vicious of every class, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 10:0, the offences which cause it, and the spirit in which it is often done, are contrary to the change which believers profess to have passed through, 1 Corinthians 6:11].


1 Corinthians 6:1. It is not in itself wrong to seek justice before earthly tribunals, since government, too, is a Divine ordinance, designed for protection and order; and Paul himself appealed to unbelieving magistrates against the persecution of the Jews (Acts 22:25; Acts 25:10). But in all law-suits let every one take care wherefore, and before whom, and how he litigates. Otherwise his action may prove both a disgrace and a sin.

1 Corinthians 6:2. In the coming judgment of the saints there is great comfort for those who have lost a righteous cause. Let corrupt judges mark well. Against whatsoever righteous ones they have declared unrighteous judgment, by these will they be righteously judged at the last day.

1 Corinthians 6:3. To be associated with Christ in judgment is one of the loftiest honors promised to believers, 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 3:21. The dignity thus conferred should be displayed even in this life by the control which they maintain not only over themselves and the world, but also over the Devil, and so in their conquest over all their spiritual enemies. It should be shown also in the way they judge and condemn the world in and through their life and doctrine.

1 Corinthians 6:4. Those who know and enjoy God ought to be held in higher esteem, and deemed more worthy of confidence, than those in whom such knowledge is wanting.

1 Corinthians 6:6. Earthly goods are the means of separating the most united, heavenly goods can unite the most hostile.

1 Corinthians 6:7. Christians ought to hold temporal possessions of such small account that the prime question with them should not be whether they have, or have not; and they should be so affectionate toward each other, that in case of dissension about “the mine and thine” the temporal good should seem so small and the brother so important, that ere they would disquiet their spirits by litigation, and unfit themselves for religious duties, and cause offence to their neighbors, they would let the whole thing go and suffer the loss.

1 Corinthians 6:8. (Hed.). If an intelligent person is guilty of the wrong, then he commits the greater sin in putting the innocent person to so much cost and trouble with his lies; if the wrong-doer is ignorant, then it is not right, 1, to pursue the most stringent course with him and practise no forbearance; 2, to go to law in envious, avaricious, or ugly temper; 3, besides, the thing does not pay.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Those who needlessly go to law are classed with thieves and licentious persons, etc., and incur a like condemnation. The world evidently judges very different from the Holy Spirit. Nothing is more common than to excuse sin because of its commonness. If all on this catalogue are lost, you can count the saved, almost all. Ye unrighteous litigants, fornicators, small and great thieves, sly and open thieves, be alarmed!

1 Corinthians 6:11. (Hed.): “Such were some,” etc., sweet word ‘were.’ To be and to be willing to remain such—that were the pity. Those who have escaped from the snares of the Devil should bear the past in mind continually, as a motive to avoid sin and foster gratitude.

Berlen. Bib.:

1 Corinthians 6:1. The reason why the righteous are often passed by, and the unrighteous are chosen as judges, is because people hope to make something out of the latter.

1 Corinthians 6:2. Judicial honors hereafter await those only who have acted justly here, and allowed themselves to be judged.

1 Corinthians 6:7. So completely does the Holy Spirit drive nature from her supposed rights, and subject it to patient suffering, yea, to death, that we are not at liberty to maintain our rights arbitrarily, but are bound, everywhere and at all times, to have regard to the jewel of our peace, and see that it be neither injured nor destroyed.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11. The unrighteous are all the unregenerate, 1 John 3:7; John 3:3. There are many kinds of sins. Hence, if thou seest another sin, point not thy finger at him. Perhaps thou art implicated in another sin more deeply than he is in this. Remembrance of the past ought to cause perpetual humiliation. To this end we ought to think of our old sins, but for other reasons we ought to forget them. “But,”—“but,”—“but.” O the importance and the preciousness of the change. Gracious acts all go together, though they are distinguishable. If we pray, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner,’ that implies, ‘create within me a clean heart.’ What God hath joined let no man put asunder. Salvation comprises forgiveness, sanctification, redemption, and we can get it in no other way than through the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Ghost.


1 Corinthians 6:2-3.—We must improve the glimpses here allowed into the grander future, in such a way, that even here, amid our small engagements, we may as far as possible be lifted into higher moods. Through selfishness, impatience, anger, greed, the complainant often incurs as much guilt afterwards as the man has who injured him.


1 Corinthians 6:1. Every true Christian ought to be a sort of a justice of the peace.

1 Corinthians 6:3. It is very natural that the betrayed should judge the betrayer. From a presentiment of this springs the hatred of evil angels against Christians.

1 Corinthians 6:5. The lack of wise men in a church is great disgrace.

1 Corinthians 6:6. That justice should be enforced by the secular power between those who profess to be governed by law is also a disgrace.

Besser:—If we kept in mind what glory awaits us in the Church, it would prove a sad thing for us to strive with our brethren about mine and thine, and if we were drawn into strife then would the judges find in us peaceable people who respected the decision of the saints.

1 Corinthians 6:7-8. Paul says “ye.” Mark then, a little leaven leavens the whole lump! The flagrant immoralities of some did not constrain the Church to mourning, did not move them to the exercise of discipline. A Christian Church, however, is not a mere aggregate of names, but it is the body of one Spirit, composed of many members. Hence the declaration of the Apostle, “ye do wrong,” struck at the whole Church, and stuck in it like an arrow until it acknowledged its own disgrace in bitter repentance.

1 Corinthians 6:11. Whatever has been done for us and is to be found in the name of Jesus, that is appropriated to us through the Spirit of our God—that God, who is our God and highest Good in Jesus Christ our Lord.

[F. W. Robertson:—Let us guard against a natural misconception of the Apostle’s meaning. You might think that he meant to say, that the Corinthians should have ecclesiastical instead of civil courts; and for this reason, that churchmen and clergy will decide rightly by a special promise of guidance, and heathen and laymer wrongly. But this has not to do with the case. It is not a question here between ecclesiastical and civil courts, but between law and equity, between litigation and arbitration. The remedy [for offences] is, not more elaborate law, nor cheaper law, nor greater facility for law, but more Christianity, less loud cries about “Rights,” more earnest anxiety on both and all sides to do no wrong].


1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 6:2.—The omission of ἤ in the Rec. is feebly sustained. [A. B. C. D. F. Cod. Sin. and several versions insert it.]

1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 6:5.—Lachmann reads λαλῶ instead of λέγω after B.

1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 6:5.—̓́ Ενι [according to B. C. L. Cod. Sin.]. The Rec. has ἔστιν which is less authorized [being found only in D. F. though more commonly substituted].

1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 6:5.—Οὐδὲ εἶς probably genuine. [It is found in D.3 L. Syr. Vulg. and maintained by Wordsworth. The omission of it [in B. C. Cod. Sin.] is to be attributed to oversight, the transcriber passing directly from σοφός to ὅς. The ον̓δείς or ος̓δὲ εἶς before σοφός are critical attempts to restore the text.] [The former is found in B. C. L. Cod. Sin. and the latter in F.]

1 Corinthians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 6:7.—The Rec. has ἐν ὐμἱν. The ἐν was probably inserted to accord with the meaning: fault, given to ἥττημα [A. B. C. D. L. Cod. Sin. all omit it and it is rejected by Meyer, Alf; Words. Stanley, however, retains it.]

1 Corinthians 6:8; 1 Corinthians 6:8.—The Rec. has ταν͂τα, which is not by any means so well authorized as τον͂το [which is found in A. B. C. D. Cod. Sin.] It was changed for the plural probably to conform to the two verbs preceding.

1 Corinthians 6:8; 1 Corinthians 6:8.—The Rec. has the more common order βασιλεὶαν before θεοῦ. as in 1 Corinthians 6:10. [The reverse order is found in A. B. C. D. Cod. Sin.]

1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 6:10.—[The order of these two is reversed in D. L., a large number of the cursive MSS. and in the Greek fathers. πλεονέκται οὔτε κλεπται].

1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 6:10.—The Rec. with Lach. has οὐτε [according to B. D.3 L. But οὔ is found in A. C. Cod. Sin.] But the authorities for οὔτε have the same also before the following words. A. C. Cod. Sin. and the best critical edition, however, read οὐ there likewise.]

1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 6:10.—The Rec. has οὐ before κληρον which was, perhaps, inserted in accordance with the same in 1 Corinthians 6:9.

1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Corinthians 6:11.—The variations of ἡμῶν after κνρ and of χριστοῦ after Ἰησοῦ are undoubtedly insertions.

[12][Yet the interpretation which Kling sets aside appears in all the six earlier English versions. Wicklif: “Ordeyne ye the contemptible men that ben in the chirche to deme.” Tyndale: “Take them which are despised in the congregacion, and make them judges.” Cranmer, the same. Geneva: “Them which are least esteemed in the Churche, them I say set in judgment.” Rheims: “The contemptible in the Church set them to judge.” In like manner the Ree version. Conant adopts it also. So, too, Syr. Vulg., most of the Greek Fathers, Calvin, Beza, Bengel, Hammond, Stanley, Alford. And certainly this interpretation is one which most readily suggests itself, being most in accordance with the tone of the Apostle’s expostulation, full of lofty irony, and with the order of the words with the designations used, and with the use of ἐὰν with the subj. (see Kühner, § 339, 2 ii. b.), and with the natural sense of καθίζετε: set up. What Paul means to say is: that if they would have trials over such trivial matters (a thing which he supposes they would have, even though they ought not), they ought to set up judges accordingly, not those of highest character, whose destiny was hereafter to judge angels, but persons who were comparatively of no account. This would be dealing with their litigious spirit as it deserved. And if we consider the complaints of Augustine, which Calvin alludes to, in consequence of the necessity he was under of devoting so large a portion of his precious time to secular affairs, we should see what reason the Apostle had for advising that the Corinthians should choose those “least esteemed” for this business].

Verses 12-20


12All things are lawful unto me, [are in my power], but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me [are in my power], but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now [But] the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise13 up us14by his own power. 15Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take [away (ἄιρας)] the members of Christ, and make them the members 16of a harlot? God forbid. What! [omit what, and read, Or15] know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? for, two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19What! [omit what, and read, Or] know ye not that your body16 is the temple of theHoly Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, [omit all that follows17], and in your spirit, which are God’s.


1 Corinthians 6:12. [‘After speaking of the sin of covetousness, which had produced litigiousness,—and having reminded the Corinthians of what privileges they had received, and what sins renounced,—he now proceeds to examine and confute an argument raised by some of the Gentile Christians at Corinth, who in the presumptuous spirit of Greek Philosophy, pleaded, in behalf of fornication and of eating meats offered in sacrifice to idols, that man is the measure of all things (πάντων μέτρον ἄνθρωπος),—a principle in which both the greatest schools of Greek Philosophy, with which St. Paul had disputed at Athens, agreed, though they applied it in different ways; and that all the creatures were his, and that all things were lawful to him—a tenet which they imagined had received some countenance from the Gospel itself, which promised to them universal liberty, and even universal dominion in Christ, a doctrine which, when properly stated, and understood, with due conditions, is productive of that genuine independence which is the best security for self-control, and had therefore been placed in its proper light by St. Paul in the earlier part of his Epistle (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). This principle he here adopts with true oratorical skill, and proceeds to examine it, showing at once its truth and the falseness of its application by them.’ After Words.].

All things are in my power.—Paul here has in view that easy, tolerant view of fornication which was so common among the heathen, and to which he has already repeatedly alluded (1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9). This view was still further vindicated on the grounds of that Christian liberty which was supposed to countenance this gratification of a natural appetite as no less proper in itself than the eating of food was to satiate hunger. But the words with which the discussion begins are not to be regarded as the objection of an opposer, here cited for the purpose of refutation [Calvin and Barnes]. Had this been so, the fact would have been indicated by some formula like ἀλλ̓ ἐρεῖς: but you say. They are rather the statement of a fundamental principle of Christianity, resting upon its own grounds, yet with a suitable limitation of its application to the actual life of a Christian (μοι, i.e., for me, as a Christian).18 Accordingly we are not to interpret these, 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, as giving us a sort of dialogue maintained between some imaginary opponent and the Apostle (Pott). The context indeed shows that the fundamental principle here laid down was actually adduced in support of fornication; but there is no ground for supposing that the Corinthian converts generally advocated this practice on such a basis, or that they so argued in their letter to him. It were better to assume this only of a few individuals, and that the Apostle had been privily informed of the fact, as intimated in the case mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:1. Some suppose the maxim here to have a close reference to what just precedes in 1 Corinthians 6:11, q. d., ‘I being now in a state of grace, and free from all Jewish restrictions, and all outward ordinances, and being no longer in bondage to an accusing conscience and to fear of sin, have right to the largest liberty.’ But such a connection is by no means probable, since the verbs introduced by ‘but’ are chiefly designed to warn his readers against relapsing into their earlier immoralities. It were better to connect with 1 Corinthians 6:9, and to suppose that out of the catalogue of sins there mentioned, he selected the first, and referred to the efforts made for justifying it. Besser regards the phrase as one of Paul’s proverbs, [and Bengel says: “Paul often uses the first person to express those thoughts which have the force of maxims, especially in this Epistle, 1Co 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Corinthians 10:23; 1 Corinthians 10:29-30; 1 Corinthians 14:11”]. The term “all things” must of course be limited to such as were indifferent (ἀδιάφορα), i.e., to such acts as were not in themselves wrong, but only under certain circumstances and connections seemed to conflict with Chiristian morality. “All things are lawful for me which may be lawful” Bengel. [So also Hodge; but Words., well styles this explanation weak and tautological, and hardly justified by the original, and prefers Theodoret’s view: “all things are in my power, by reason of my free will; but it is not expedient in all things to use this freedom, for in doing that which is sinful thou losest thy freedom.” But is it not plain, after all, that Paul here has in view not actions, but external objects, the things in the world which were all given for man’s use, and over which he held dominion, and which, under the Christian dispensation, were all restored to him unrestricted by carnal ordinances? (The Syriac version evidently so takes it; Tyndale, on the contrary, renders “I maye do all thinges: but I will be brought under no man’s power.” So Cranmer and the Geneva Bible). In this sense it may be said with the broadest scope “all things are in my power” (Psalms 8:6; Hebrews 2:6-11). And to this the antinomian would add ‘and I have the right to use them as I please, according to the cravings of my nature, and according as they contribute to my enjoyment.’ And it is upon this lawless inference that the Apostle proceeds to put limitations]. “The abrupt commencement of 1 Corinthians 6:12 is perhaps to be accounted for on the supposition that it alludes to a passage in their Epistle to him, and the words before us might have been used there even in reference to things indifferent; but without the proper limitations which the Apostle here supplies.” Neander.

The first of these is—but all things are not expedient.—By this he means as in 1 Corinthians 10:23, not materially advantageous, but morally fitting and useful, especially, perhaps, in its bearing upon others. [It were better, however, to take the verb συμφέρει in its broadest acceptation and bearings—conduce to profit, whether to the person who uses them, or to others with whom he is connected, and whose welfare he is bound to consult. Every finite good has a special end, and must be wisely used with reference to that end, and not being absolute, is dependent on times and circumstances for the benefit it is to confer]. The second limitation is—but not will I be brought under bondage by any thing.—’Εξουσιασθήσομαι and ἔξεστι are kindred words (the former being formed from εξουσία, which is derived from ἔξεστι), and they involve a paranomasia, which serves to bring out the contradiction, caused by the misuse of liberty, in a more forcible light. [We give the play on the words in English thus: ‘All things are in my power, but I will not come under power to any thing’]. “Not I” is emphatic. It exhibits the moral self of the individual (not simply that of Paul, but of Christians generally), in sharp contrast with everything, which, if yielded to passionately, or enjoyed with an accusing conscience, or fondly clung to as indispensable, acquires a despotic control over us. [The lord must preserve his lordship, and take heed that he become not the slave of any thing which is properly subject to him. Freedom must not commit suicide. The body was designed to be the organ of the Spirit for ruling over nature, not the organ of nature for ruling over the Spirit] ’Εξουσιάζειν to be master of and it is here put in the future to express the firm inward resolve not to be mastered by any thing. Τινός is neuter corresponding to πάντα.

1 Corinthians 6:13-14. Meats for the belly and the belly for meats, etc.—Here we have a contrast drawn between what is in itself indifferent, and the view which cannot be brought under this category.19 From the fact that a mutual relation has been established between meats and the belly by an ordinance of the Creator, the former being made to be received and digested by the latter, and the latter being formed to receive the former, and from the fact that both are alike transient, being designed only for this present life, it followed, as a matter of course, that eating was a thing morally indifferent, and was allowable, in so far as it neither proved inconvenient, or brought a person under bondage. Very different, however, was it with the act of fornication, since the body, standing as it did in direct relations with the Lord, and having been received by Him into the fellowship of an immortal life, does not in such practices fulfil any Divine destination, [but is rather alienated from its proper functions, and degraded by them]. After the nominatives, ἐστίν is to be supplied. It is altogether needless to suppose that the meats here spoken of had any special connection with the altar-feasts that were so closely associated with licentious practices.20 By such a supposition the force of the argument is rather hindered than helped.—And God shall destroy both it and them.—Paul refers here to that great change which is to take place in the condition of mankind at the coming of Christ—a transformation which will preclude alt need of physical nourishment, and dispense with the organs for its reception. Comp. 1Co 15:44; 1 Corinthians 15:51; and Matthew 22:30. In the words, “and them,” we have the hint of a time that reaches far beyond the death of the individual—a time when the world and all things therein shall be burned up. [Comp. 2 Peter 3:11.]

In contrast with the foregoing, there is presented to us, first, that truth in a negative form, the analogy of which to the eating of food it is the aim of the Apostle to dispute.—But the body is not for fornication.—That is, fornication is not the natural function of a perishable organ, but it is the perversion to illegitimate uses of the entire body—that body which belongs to the Lord, and is with him, destined to an imperishable life. And in this also there are two elements involved; 1, a connection with the Lord;—but for the Lord.—And this relation is a mutual one, since the body is destined for the Lord, to be one of His members, and His exclusive possession; and on the other hand—the Lord is for the body,—to rule it, and to use it; yea, to appropriate and assimilate it to Himself; and, as others add, to nourish it with his life. (Comp. John 6:33; John 6:53, and also 1 Corinthians 6:15, μέλη). 2. The destination of the body to an immortal life, grounded on its connection with the Lord—a destination that stands in striking contrast with the destruction above alluded to, which awaits the purely material world.—And God both raised up the Lord, and will raise up us also by His strength.—This resurrection is an introduction into a life that is no more subject to death. Comp. Romans 6:9 ff. The καί—καί, both—and, binds the two clauses together. In the second clause, however, the reading is contested, and Meyer (ed. 2d) considers ἐξήγειρε has raised, as the only right reading, although not so well attested. Paul, he says, never asserts the ἐγείρειν and ἐξεγεριν that is, a restoration to life after death, of himself and of his cotemporaries (2 Corinthians 4:14 is to be understood spiritually); rather, in anticipation of the speedy advent of Christ, he was looking to be changed without dying (1 Corinthians 15:51 f.; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 f.); so that if he had been speaking of the future, he would have been more likely to have used the word ζωοποιήσει shall make alive, than ἐξεγειρεῖ, shall raise up. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 8:11). He interprets the word, however, not of the spiritual resurrection, that is, the new birth, but as in Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12 f., where Christ’s resurrection is spoken of as the fact in which that of the believer is already involved, although the connection first becomes realized at the second advent, through the actual resurrection of the dead, and the transformation of the living. But if, according to this interpretation, both these ideas can be considered as included in the verb in its past tense (ἐξήγειρε), why not assume the same in its future form? In so doing, we should abide by the reading best attested—a reading which puts the verb in the same tense with καταργήσει shall destroy—and would construe the verb ἐξεγειρεῖ in its more comprehensive signification, as denoting the change which is to take place in the living, as well as in the dead. 2 Corinthians 4:14 might also be interpreted in the same manner. The distinctive changes awaiting the quick and the dead, although elsewhere made prominent, did not require to be alluded to here. (With this Meyer in his 3d ed. also agrees). It is hardly allowable to distinguish here between ἐγείρειν and ἐξεγείρειν (Bengel and Osiander), as though the former referred to the first fruits of the resurrection in Christ, and the latter to the work consummated at the end. The reason why he uses the word “us,” instead of ‘our bodies,’ is that he had used the personal form just before, ‘in the Lord.’ The context, in this case, allows of no misapprehension. “The body,” says Osiander, “is the vessel of our personality.” The clause, ‘by his power,’ it were better to connect with the latter verb, if by ‘his’ we understand, not Christ’s, but God’s, which is to be preferred, as God is the subject of ‘shall raise.’ Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:38; Matthew 22:29; Ephesians 1:19. Διά here expresses the internal instrumentality.

1 Corinthians 6:15-17. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?—Here he amplifies what is said in 1 Corinthians 6:13, and “upon the ground there adduced of the immorality of fornication, he brings to their distinct consciousness the abominable character of the vice in question.” So Meyer rebuts Baur’s assertion, that Paul here makes a petitio principii. Elsewhere Christians themselves are called members of Christ’s body—the Church in its totality, the head of which is Christ. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30). But here their bodies are spoken of as essential parts (the vehicles) of his personality. And this, not so much on account of his incarnation, and of His so sharing with us our nature, as on account of the indwelling of His Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Whether the Apostle had in mind the figure of the marital relationship (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:26 f.; Romans 7:4) is less certain. The incongruity of making Christ the antithesis to a harlot (Meyer), would not stand in the way of our supposing this, since it makes no difference whether the other party be male or female, for Paul is here speaking of the essential contradiction which exists between a person’s belonging to Christ, and so holding vital fellowship with the Holy and Pure One, and his having intercourse with an individual who was addicted to impurity, such as a common prostitute—an intercourse which involved the surrender of the entire person to her. It was only the impure conscience of a heathen that could be blind to the immorality of such fornication. But to the Christian’s conscience this should be evident at once, and we should denounce it as a crime perpetrated against Christ—as an abominable violation of his sacred rights. Hence the Apostle directly proceeds to ask—Shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot?—Αἵρειν means not simply, to take, but, to take away, to alienate from the proper owner. Οὖν then, or, therefore, introduces the inference: “since this is so, I will not so far forget myself, as to,’ etc. ΙΙοιήσω may be either, Aorist subj., as in 1 Corinthians 11:22, meaning, should I; or, have I any right to make; or it may be future, shall I make? The sense will be about the same. [Jelf says that “the second and third persons of the Future often express necessity or propriety, shall, must.” Gr. Gram. § 406 3]. This query he answers with an emphatic negative—μὴ γένοιτο, let it never be,—an expression by which in Romans 6:2, and elsewhere, he repels all unhallowed inferences and suggestions and declarations.

In order to prove that fornication involves all he has stated, he next goes on to show the nature of the connection it effects between the parties concerned, and sets over against this, the nature of the union believers have with Christ, so that the utter incompatibility of the two may be the more clearly felt—Or know ye not;q. d., ‘or if this at least, appear doubtful to you, then it must be because of your ignorance’ (Meyer). that he who is joined to the harlot is one body?—Κολλᾶθαι, to be most intimately joined with. In this connection it denotes the sexual union, which involves the most intimate conjunction of the physical powers of life. The consequence of such a union is stated in a citation from Genesis 2:24, found also in Matthew 19:51, and this he introduces as a Divine declaration.—For he saith—‘He,’ i. e. God, since Scripture is the oracle of God, even though communicated through human organs (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 5:8; Hebrews 8:5). To suppose God to be the subject is better than to supply either the words ‘Scripture’ or ‘Spirit,’ though the meaning would still be the same. But most unsuitable of all would it be to construe it as impersonal: it is said.—they two shall be into one flesh.—This, which was originally affirmed of the marriage union, is here applied to illicit intercourse, it being the same thing, physically considered. Secundum speciem naturæ non differunt (Thom. a. q.). And by this application of the statement he shows that the act in question is not a mere momentary enjoyment with which the whole affair is concluded, but that it involves a real union of the natural powers of life in one complex personality. The term “flesh” here denotes simply man’s physical nature, without the accessory idea of corruption. The words “they two” are not found in the Hebrew text. They occur in the LXX., and in all the quotations of this passage, even in those of the Rabbis. (Is this in the interest of monogamy?). “Into,” εἰς Hebr.

, even in classic Greek, implies a transition
into a particular state [Jelf, Gr. Gram., § 625, Obs. 4].—But he who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.—Here we have the contrast: κολλᾶθαι τῷ κυρίῳ, a phrase which occurs also in Deuteronomy 10:20; 2 Kings 18:6. As the result we have, not ‘one body,’ but ‘one spirit,’ denoting the element wherein this union takes place. But this unity is not a merely idea one. It is one in essential reality, the indwelling of Christ in the believer, so that His Spirit and our spirit become one. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:23. This clause stands independently.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20. The warning implied in what precedes is now expressly given, and, although clearly an inference, is introduced abruptly without any connecting particle—Flee fornication.—Φεύγετε, flee—a striking expression. Anselm says, Alia vitia pugnando libido fugiendo-vincitur. “Other vices are conquered by fighting, lust by flying.” What follows substantiates this warning, by showing the characteristic peculiarity of that sin, which distinguishes it from every other. And this is exhibited antithetically. —Every sin which a man might commit—[ὅ ἐὰν ποιήση ἂνθρωπος. The ἄν here belongs to the relative and not to the verb, and gives an indefiniteness to it, annexing the notion, ‘whatsoever it may be.’ Jelf, Gr. Gram. § 829, 1].—is without the body.—But how can he say this, when drunkenness and such like vices also involve an injury to the body, and indeed cannot be practised at all outside of the bodily sphere? There have been several modes of answering this question. We may either suppose that the word “every” (πᾶν) is to be taken in a popular sense for ‘nearly all,’ which is arbitrary; or we may consider the whole clause hypothetical, q. d., ‘Although all other sins were without the body, yet this,’ etc. (Flatt)—which is inadmissible; others [Jerome, Origen, Aug., Bengel, Words.] take it to mean that fornication pollutes the whole body as no other vice does,—but this is not stated in the words; and others still, that no vices sever the body of the Christian from that of Christ as this does (Fritzsche), a thought neither expressed in the text, nor consistent with the view of Paul in chap. 9 f.; Romans 8:9); others again take the idea to be, that no sin imparts to the flesh such tyranny over the spirit as fornication, an idea plainly foisted into the language of Paul; others suppose that drunkenness and gluttony are here included in with fornication [Macknight]—a supposition not sufficiently established by the fact that these vices are frequently associated together. We would rather say, that all other sins affect and injure only the transient, perishable organs of the body, or that they require for their commission some means that are derived from without, and are foreign to the body.[“Drunkenness and gluttony, e. g., are sins done in and by the body, and are sins by abuse of the body; but they are still introduced from without, sinful not in their act, but in their effect, which effect it is each man’s duty to foresee and avoid. But fornication is alienating that body which is the Lord’s, and making it a harlot’s body—it is a sin against a man’s own body from its very nature, against the verity and nature of his body; not an effect on the body from participation of things without, out a contradiction of the truth of the body wrought within itself.” Alford].—but he that committeth fornication sins against his own body.—The scope of the argument is this: On the one hand the Apostle brings to view the fact that the fornicator by his sin surrenders his body to the harlot, and commingles his life with hers in such a manner that he loses the power to dispose of his body as he will, as it were yielding to another’s nature the right he has to himself, and so coming in bondage to that (analogously to 1 Corinthians 7:4); and on the other hand, he considers how the body of the Christian (who is the only one here contemplated) is desecrated by fornication as it can be desecrated by no other sin. In both these respects this vice is a sin against one’s own body in a prëminent sense. The truth, that the sin of πορνεύων εἰς τὸ ἲδιον σῶμα fornicating against one’s own body, is chargeable upon Christians, the only persons with whom he has to do, he exhibits still more clearly by referring them to the well-known dignity which the body of the believer, as such, possessed.—Or know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?—As in 1 Corinthians 6:15 he ascribed to the bodies of believers what he elsewhere has predicated of believers themselves, so he does the same thing here in respect of their character as “the temple of God.” This designation, before applied to the Church as a whole (1 Corinthians 3:16; also 2 Corinthians 6:16), he here applies to the bodies of Christians. Primarily, the Holy Spirit dwells in the “inward man,” in the πνεῦμα, or spirit; but the body is its vehicle, or tabernacle, and inseparable organ. If we adopt the reading to τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν, then it would mean: the body of each one of you. The same sense is yielded by the other reading, σώματα, bodies. To this thought, but especially to the clause—which ye have from God.—(ἀπό, the same as in John 15:26), showing how dependent they were on him, he adds this further truth—and ye are not your own.—From this it followed that they had no power over themselves, or over their own bodies, and therefore could not properly dispose of them to another, or use them for the gratification of unhallowed lusts, but were bound to employ them only in executing the holy will of God. And how they came not to be their own, he proves by referring to their redemption—for ye were bought.viz: for God, to be His peculiar possession (comp. Acts 5:9, and περιποιεῖσθαι Acts 20:28). The figure involved is that of a slave or body servant, over whom his master holds exclusive control. The purchase was from the servitude of sin, and from the curse of the law, and from the power of Satan (comp. Romans 6:17 ff.; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18). And this purchase was—with a price—and this price was nothing less than Christ Himself, His “soul,” His “blood” (see Matthew 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18). Passing beyond the mere significance of the word, yet observing its import, we come to the important thought that it was a high price, and the purchase, dear. [To this Winer objects, LXIV. 5]. This expression occurs in 8:23, but where, as in Acts 20:28; Titus 2:14, Christ is represented as the possessor. The practical inference from all this is—Now then, glorify God in your body.—Δοξάζειν here denotes the exhibition of the Divine holiness (or of God’s sacred presence, as in a temple) through a chaste, modest deportment. The praise is to be celebrated through deeds, as: ‘do all to the glory of God,’ 1 Corinthians 10:31; comp. also John 21:19; John 12:28; John 13:31. ‘Ev, in, to suit the figure of the temple, or, on, specifying that whereon the conduct which is to glorify God should exhibit itself. Δὴ serves to make the exhortation more pressing. ‘Act rightly, so that it shall be apparent to all that ye do it.’ See Passow 1. p. 612. [Obs.: “It is very remarkable how these verses contain the germ of three weighty sections of the Epistle about to follow, and doubtless in the Apostle’s mind when he wrote them: 1, the relation between the sexes; 2, the question of meats offered to idols; 3, the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.” Alford].


1. [Christian liberty, its nature and limitations. 1. Its nature. Through the redemption effected by Christ, the believer is restored to that supremacy over the world, which Adam had forfeited, and has a free right and title to use it and all things in it according to his ability and pleasure. No longer is he fettered by the restrictions which the elder economy imposed. To him now “every creature of God is good,” and he is at liberty to make all things in their way tributary to his interests. In the person of his Lord they are all “put under his feet,” and with his emancipation from the bondage of sin, and the restoration of his inward freedom, his lordship over himself, he is at the same time restored to his proper sovereignty over the external world, and qualified to maintain it. But 2.] This liberty has its limitations, [first, by the law of expediency; secondly, by the law of self-preservation; and thirdly, by the law of duty. All things, e. g., though in our power, do not prove in their use alike, and at all times equally, beneficial, either to ourselves or to others. Again, the use of some things in certain ways and degrees, may destroy the liberty which claims the right to use them. And, finally, we must yield to God and man what properly belongs to each, robbing neither of their rights. The liberty of the Christian is therefore not an absolute, but a restricted liberty.] Fundamentally, however, this restriction is a self-imposed restraint, an act of perfect freedom, nothing but the fulfilling of our appointed course in love. Though the Christian is made free through faith, free from all which the law imposed from without, and enforced by penalties, yet it does not follow from this that he is at liberty to assert his own sinful self-will in opposition to the revealed will of God. Rather this very freedom becomes the means of entirely cutting off all arbitrariness of conduct. For that faith, through which the believer has been liberated, is in fact an entrance into the very life of Christ. It implies such an apprehension of Christ, that the believer can say: ‘It is no more I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.’ But in taking Christ he takes into himself all that holy love of God which embraces both him and all his fellow-believers in one blessed union. Possessing this love, then, he comes to hate and shun everything which conflicts with the Divine will, everything which either tends to interrupt his fellowship with his Lord, or acts prejudicially upon his neighbors and associates in the churches; everything, also, which is calculated to weaken his power over the world, the flesh, and the devil, and bring him again under bondage. That alone he allows himself to use, in suitable modes and measures, which operates beneficially on himself and others, and advances the Gospel of Christ and promotes spiritual life, that alone which leaves his liberty perfect, and his mastery over self and the world undamaged. Thus does the truth and reality of our freedom rest in Christ, and prove to be nothing less than love freely and intelligently seeking its own proper ends.

[See this whole subject of man’s freedom and dominion discussed in Wuttke’s Handbuch der Christlichen Sittenlehre, I , p. 349, 403 f., 431 f.: “Man may and can perfect his rule over nature only when he has fully subjected himself to be ruled by the holy author and Lord of nature.”]

2. The power to purify the soul and keep one’s self from all manner of fornication and uncleanness, is to be found in Christ alone. The simple sense of shame or of self-respect, or the mere dread of weakening or deranging our physical nature, is not sufficient of itself to counteract the strong temptation to this sin, and quell the might of this the strongest of our carnal passions. The enjoyment is instant and sensitive, the injury is remote, and perchance may never be felt; and so the weak will give way.—But in our fellowship with Christ, in the clear living consciousness of His presence, we have the power to overcome the very strongest of our carnal impulses, and to resist the most seductive enticements. While He dwells in us with His holy love, He becomes the quickening power which animates and controls our whole constitution. Through this love, which consented to suffer the bitterest of deaths for our sins, sinful lust is essentially slain, and the Christian resolves that he, with his body and its members, shall belong to none other than his Lord. His body he henceforth regards as a member of Christ, an organ of His holy life. No more can he prostitute it to the control of another, or become bound in vital union to a harlot. The remembrance of Christ’s presence within him causes him to shrink with horror from everything which might defile that which has become a sanctuary consecrated to His glory. Mindful of his being purchased to God at the cost of the precious blood of His Son, he feels the weight of the mighty obligation, and is neither able nor willing to use that body, which is now God’s property, for any other purpose than for his service and glory. Being now joined to Christ in one spirit, he resolves never more to hold carnal intercourse with any, apart from the Divine ordinance of marriage (which is to be consummated in the Lord, and for the Lord), or to be guilty of aught whereby the body, which is destined to partake of the imperishable life of Christ, shall be unfitted for the heavenly communion.
[3. The true position and dignity of the body. In its doctrine concerning the body, Christianity avoids two opposite extremes. It neither disparages it as worthless and contemptible, after the fashion of some ancient philosophers, and the Manicheans; nor does idolize it into an object of supreme regard and care, as the Epicureans, ancient and modern, do. Regarding it as essential to the perfection of our humanity, and as a needful organ of the Spirit, Christianity gives, the body likewise a share in Christ’s redemption, and unites it to Him for sanctification here and for glorification hereafter. It thus makes it a member of Christ’s mystical body, to be controlled and regulated by His Spirit. At the same time it imparts to it the character of a Divine temple, and requires that we keep it from all defilement, and preserve it in a condition suited for the service and worship of God. So far, therefore, from being at liberty to despise or abuse the body, or to set up its welfare and claims in antagonism with those of the Spirit, or to make our care for it a distinct, though even a subordinate interest, our obligations to Christ demand that we unite it with the soul in one general system of spiritual edification and culture, yield its members as instruments of righteousness, and glorify God in it no less than in the spirit].

[4. The Church is God’s purchased possession. He has redeemed it unto Himself by giving His own Son as a ransom for it, thereby delivering it from the tyranny of Satan and from the merited penalties of the law, to be His in love and devotion for evermore. Not that His hold upon the persons thus ransomed had ever been lost by their sin. God’s property in man is absolute and inalienable, and His title to dispose of him according to His own pleasure and unto His glory remains unaffected, let man do what he may. But, if we may so speak, His right to love and favor them, and to treat them as His children, had been destroyed by the forfeit of sin, and instead thereof there rested on God the obligation to wrath and punishment. And this was the right which had been recovered by the purchase effected by the blood of Christ. Thus a new ground of dominion and rule has been laid, superadded to the former one, and with this a new mode of government devised, and new obligations imposed on the parties redeemed. God as Father holds the Church not only by the right of creation, but also by the right of redemption. He enforces His claims to obedience by pointing to the blood of His Son, which was shed for us: and the strongest incentive to devotion and praise on the part of the believer, both here and in eternity, is—“For Thou hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood”].


[1. In the exercise of his power and liberty a Christian is bound to consult not simply the scope of his own rights and privileges, but also, 1, the bearing of his conduct upon, a. his own best interests, and b. the interests of others, 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 2:0, its effect upon his own spiritual freedom, 1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 3:0, the intrinsic fitness of things for their special ends, 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 4:0, the worth of objects as determined by their durability, 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 5:0, the rights and claims of others, both God and man, 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 5:0, the particular honor which God hath put upon the objects under our control, being careful not to desecrate what he hath taken into fellowship with Himself, 1 Corinthians 6:14-17].

[2. The sin of fornication consists, 1, in its being a violation of the Divine interest of the body, 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 2:0, in that it is an alienation from Christ of what belongs to Him, and an appropriation of it to another, 1 Corinthians 6:15-17; 1 Corinthians 3:0, in that it is an abridgement of our own liberty, 1 Corinthians 6:17; 1 Corinthians 4:0, in that it brings a person into intimate connection and union with the vilest of characters; 6, in that it is preëminently a sin against the body, being committed in and through it, in the perverted use of the highest functions of physical life, which were designed for the purpose of raising up a holy seed that should serve God; 6, in that it is sacrilege, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20].


1 Corinthians 6:19. A Christian may be compared with the tripartite temple of Solomon. His spirit is the Holy of holies, God’s dwelling amid the darkness of faith (he believes what he neither sees, nor feels, nor grasps); his soul is the Holy place, where are the seven lights of the golden candlesticks; his body is the forecourt, exposed to the general view, where every one can observe how he lives, and what he does. Deep within the heart is the consecration made which unites him to the Church; in the secret recesses within does the Holy Ghost affiance itself to the believing soul; but the nuptial song rings throughout the entire man, and he becomes a spiritual temple of the Lord; and in the forecourt stands the altar of burnt offerings, whereon we are to lay our bodies as living sacrifices unto God (Romans 12:1).


1 Corinthians 6:14. Our resurrection is founded upon the resurrection of Christ; and the thought of it should restrain us from all impurity; for although the impure also will rise again at the resurrection, yet it will not be to the glorification of their bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:17. Christ and believers are united together in one mystical person; but from such union lawful marriage does not hinder believers, [for if he marries aright, he marries “in the Lord”]. Marriage is, in fact, a type of the heavenly wedlock (Hosea 2:19; Ecclesiastes 4:9; Ephesians 5:30). 1 Corinthians 6:18. Hedinger:—Fornication is the only sin which involves the whole body in disgrace, and so defiles it more than all other sins. Drunkenness and gluttony do not affect all the members of the body; neither are the meats and drinks, wherewith a person offends, members of the body. Other sins are committed against a neighbor’s body (murder), his goods (stealing), his honor (bearing false witness), but fornication is a sin against ourselves, with our own bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19. The inward glory of believers consists in this, that God Himself dwells in them and walks in them (Psalms 132:14). 1 Corinthians 6:20 The precious and imperishable ransom paid by Christ for the human race, deserves entire consecration of body and soul to His holy service.

Berlinburger Bible:

1 Corinthians 6:12. People are apt to inquire only whether a thing is allowable, but not whether it is fitting or obligatory. Christians are allowed greater privileges than many think, but they always take themselves into consideration. Christians are not blind; they see, indeed, that in Christ they are exalted above all things, but they bear in mind also how they are to use all things, and in their dove-like simplicity are as cunning as serpents. Freedom is a Divine endowment, but it cannot be preserved without Divine art. We have power over creatures only in God, and Christians are the only kings. If thou art in bondage to nothing, then hast thou all power. Freedom is a Divine jewel, but it must remain freedom, and keep clear of all snares and entanglements. Man boasts, saying: “I am lord of the creation.” Yes, but let it only be so in fact, and become not a slave over it. We may, indeed, assert of any thing that it is good; but how art thou? May it not be holding thee in bondage?

1 Corinthians 6:13. In this statement, ‘The Lord is for the body,’ we have a noble proof that Christ has verily given Himself to us. He, therefore, who now rightly honors his own body, is joined by the Lord unto Himself. He who sunders the bonds of the Divine order, abuses his own body. Originally the body was not intended for impurity, but now, and as it is now, it beguiles. It does not, however, follow that I, like an ox, must yield to that which impels me.

1 Corinthians 6:14. Can he who expects in faith this glorification of his body at the resurrection, endanger his hope by impure lusts?

1 Corinthians 6:15. Believers themselves are Christ’s members; therefore every thing which is theirs also belongs to Him. Universally is it true that if a Christian surrenders himself to the world and to the creature, he withdraws himself from his Lord Jesus. He who sins takes that power which God has given him and offers it up to another.

1 Corinthians 6:17. One Spirit. To will what God wills, this is to be a partaker of the Divine Nature. With God, being and willing are one and the same thing (St. Bernard). This union to Christ is learned and attained in the inmost depths of the soul alone. If we delight to be with Christ, let us then cleave to the Lord and not to a harlot. Let us walk with God and follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Let us abide in God, so that heart, disposition, sense, and all our powers, shall enter into God and come out of their selfish isolation and false freedom, and be God’s possession. In this way doth God recover the man who has forsaken Him, and dwells in him as in His own temple

1 Corinthians 6:18. This passage instructs us also how we may deliver ourselves. It is by avoiding opportunities; by not running into danger, and thinking ourselves strong; tearing ourselves loose and fleeing as Joseph did.

1 Corinthians 6:19. A believer is not his own, but is the servant of God, who looks at and executes his Lord’s behests. Where can a greater happiness be enjoyed in this life, than in the feeling that we are entirely and altogether God’s? God, as it were, is under obligation to care for, and to protect those who belong to Him and are no more their own. Be then in no respect your own, in order that God may be entirely yours.

1 Corinthians 6:20. Christ has purchased the whole man. Through His spotless offering we are enabled to sanctify the body. Originally man was the dwelling-place and peculiar possession of the Godhead, and after his fall he was purchased anew for the same purpose by the redemption of Christ so precious; therefore ought men to consecrate themselves to God; and to this end should we purify ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit. 2 Corinthians 7:1.


1 Corinthians 6:12 : By our misuse of freedom we are, for the most part, brought into bondage. Freedom is a condition wherein I am able both to use and also to misuse objects with ease.

1 Corinthians 6:13. He who with every morsel he eats takes into himself something of that condemnation of death under which all things lie, will deem the pleasure to be enjoyed in eating as the least possible, and will be as little inclined to boast therein as a criminal would boast over his parting meal. Through the sense of shame imprinted by the finger of God upon the human heart, and by our longing after our primeval innocence, we are powerfully admonished to employ the power furnished by Christ’s grace, for the proper preservation of the body and its members, and to bring them by means of it to the service of righteousness and fruits of sanctification; and for this reason also to rejoice that the Lord also belongs to the body, that the protection, love, and grace of God in Jesus Christ extends also over this, and works out its sanctification through His Spirit; yea, also its glorification at the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 6:14. The liberty of giving one’s body to fornication, and the hope of resurrection to life eternal, cannot co-exist in the heart. Those thorns choke this seed, and by the gross abuse of the body do we forfeit the enjoyment of the hidden manna, which is intended also for the nourishment of the bodies of the saints in eternal life.

1 Corinthians 6:15-16. Our bodies are Christ’s members, since from Christ, the Head, there flows down upon them also both life and pleasure, and power to serve God and His righteousness, and also the control of His Spirit, together with the hope and desire of making manifest the mind of Christ also in our daily walk and conversation. But when a person withdraws his members from their proper Lord and Head, and in this way interrupts that enjoyment which flows from such communion, and destroys his peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; and besides this becomes joined to a harlot or a debauchee; then does such conduct bring with it such servitude of the whole man as compels a participation of all the other members likewise, or at least infects them with its own impurities, as if these were their own. What ought to happen according to God’s ordinance only in lawful marriage, this happens also through commerce with a harlot; but it happens in such a way as to leave traces in the body and its members, which shall follow the guilty one even unto the resurrection of damnation.

1 Corinthians 6:17. By idolizing the creature and by the pleasure sought therein, man becomes carnal; by cleaving to the Creator he becomes spiritual.

1 Corinthians 6:18. The deeper the fire of lust lies in any individual, and the more the example of others and the hope that it will remain concealed and unpunished and the excuses furnished for it by man’s wit, blow upon it to inflame it, the more need have we of the faithful watchman’s alarm: “Flee fornication.”

Ver.19. A temple is consecrated to God and to His service; it is also decorated by God with many tokens of His grace. What a comfort then is it believingly to regard our body as built and furnished by God’s hand, bought by Christ’s blood, and consecrated in baptism to be a possession of God in Christ! Assaulted, indeed, and alas! too often overcome through the jealousy of the Devil, by all manner of alien powers, yet rescued again by the might of grace, and made meet to be the dwelling-place of God’s Spirit! Ah, what a glorious thing it will be to carry a celestial body in which evil lusts no more dwell!


1 Corinthians 6:12. The doctrine of Christian freedom cannot be more basely perverted than when employed to the gratification of fleshly lusts. The rule of its use is a consistent regard for self and for neighbor. The Christian should allow himself to be fettered by nothing. True freedom is to be bound by no lusts.

1 Corinthians 6:13. God has given us the body for holy purposes, its members and powers are, as it were, an image of the Divine Creative Power. Everything in us should be consecrated to the service of God. The Lord has become also the Saviour of the body, in that He has freed it from eternal death, and has earned for it its resurrection.

1 Corinthians 6:14. The resurrection of the body should awaken in us a certain respect for our body, constraining us to use it in a worthy manner.

1 Corinthians 6:15. Every Christian is a member of Christ. This holy union strengthens the sense of shame at all impurity.

1 Corinthians 6:16. Fornication is union with a harlot, with something impure, therefore separation from Christ. The man becomes that wherewith he unites, by assimilation.

1 Corinthians 6:18. Fornication is a direct sin against ourselves, for we desecrate our personality by it.

1 Corinthians 6:19. The body inhabited by the Spirit of God should be used in a holy manner. Christianity sanctifies even our physical life.

1 Corinthians 6:20. God has given His own Son as a ransom for us. Meditation upon the greatness of His sufferings should fill us with gratitude. Earnestness in the work of sanctification flows from a living faith in the work of redemption, alike in its precious foundation and in its importance to us.


1 Corinthians 6:12. There is something great in the power of a Christian freeman, which Paul has so celebrated in word and deed; but no where does the devil build his little chapels more cunningly than right by the side of the temple of Christian liberty.

Because Christians are in some respects yet carnal, and are in danger of being biased by the flesh (1 Corinthians 3:3), they always need the rule of the Holy Spirit to enable them to distinguish between what is spiritual and what is carnal.

Paul himself is an illustrious example of a noble independence of all external things. He knows how to abound and to suffer need, being careful for nothing and in everything giving thanks.

1 Corinthians 6:20. He who depends on the Lord knows the meaning of that declaration (Psalms 84:2), My flesh and my heart crieth out for the living God.


[13][1 Corinthians 6:14.—The verb ἐξεγεὶρειν appears in different codices under three forms—present, future and aorist. Tischendorf prefers the future, after C. D.3 L. Cod. Sin. Syr. Copt. Meyer prefers the aorist, which is the most feebly supported, found in B. 672. (See Exegetical and Critical). Lachmann reads ἐξεγείρει from A. D1. It is best to take it as future.]

1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 6:14.—The Rec. has ὑμᾶς, which is feebly attested, and Meyer thinks an error from Romans 8:11.

1 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 6:16.—The Rec. and Lachmann [with all the critical editions] read ἢ οὐκ according to A. B. C. F. Cod. Sin.]

1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 6:19.—The Rec. and Lach. following good authorities [nearly all: A. B. C. D. F. K. Cod. Sin.] read τὸ σῶμα [and go also Alt, Stanley, Hodge.] But this is perhaps a correction occasioned by the singular predicate ναός.

[17]The clause καὶ ἐν τῷ, etc., is an addition apparently with a view to make the exhortation complete. The most important MSS. and other old and good authorities omit it [and so do Alf., Stanley, Words.]

[18][It can hardly be supposed that Paul meant to lay any such stress on the word ‘me,’ as though he meant to assert a distinction between believers and unbelievers in this respect, claiming a liberty for the former which did not belong to the latter. This would lead to some pretty dangerous inferences.]

[19][But have we not here the evidence that in the “all things” Paul had reference not to actions, but, to external objects? Out of these he selects one class, and shows what they were designed for, and how far they are good or expedient. But the like adaptation and utility and propriety he denies to exist in the indiscriminate use of woman, since the body of both was destined for higher uses, in the sexual relation, than mere enjoyment; and the purposes of God in reference to it, were violated by that use. The logic of the Apostle is obscured, if we consider him as having the action primarily in view. It proceeds wholly upon the rule of adaptation of things to ends].

[20][This is Neander’s view. He supposes that Paul “at first meant to speak only of partaking of meats offered to idols,” and “then was prompted to leave the topic and speak against those excesses at Corinth of which he had not thought at first.” The topic thus left, he supposes to be resumed again at the beginning of chap 8, but approached from a different point; and after several digressions and expositions of it, to be taken up in the same form as here in 1 Corinthians 10:23. This view, though at first seeming to involve the course of thought in needless intricacy, grows more plausible the more we meditate upon the logic of the whole section; and it is not surprising that Neander says that neither Billroth’s arguments, nor de Wette’s have sufficed to convince him of its erroneousness. The case had better he left without arguing to each person’s reflection—taking into account all the while the fact that here among the Corinthians there was probably the same connection between the eating of things offered to idols, and the sin of fornication that we find afterwards spoken of in the heresy of the Nicolaitans, Revelation 2:14-15, and that consequently the two stood very closely associated in the Apostle’s mind.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-corinthians-6.html. 1857-84.
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