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The Apostle opens this Chapter, with giving Directions to the Church, how to manage their Disputes without the Law. He closeth the Chapter with a short, but very blessed Account, that the Bodies of Christ's People are Members of Christ's Body.
(1) Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? (2) 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? (3) Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (4) If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. (5) I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? (6) But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. (7) Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? (8) Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
If what the Apostle hath said in these verses, was duly considered, and more especially, the authority by which the Apostle delivered it, was taken into the account, it would put an end to a thousand vexatious contests in life. There is some little difficulty to apprehend what Paul meant by the saints judging the world, and judging angels. And, yet, from the manner of speaking, which the Apostle useth, in saying, know we not, it should seem to be a thing so perfectly well understood, as admitted no question or necessity of enquiry. Certain it is, that the Lord Jesus spake of this judgment, when telling his disciples, that they which had continued with him in his temptations, he had appointed to a kingdom; and that they should eat and drink at his table in his kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Luke 22:28-30 . See also Revelation 3:21; Revelation 3:21 . And, as the saints of God have passed from death to life at regeneration, and being, justified freely in Christ, there is now no condemnation to them, the judgment which is to take place on the ungodly, they will behold on the great day, Romans 8:1 . But how far those scriptures are intended to imply, that Christ's members are to be assessors with him, I leave with the Reader to consider.
(9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
What a striking passage is here? I pray the Reader to be very attentive to it. The Corinthians as a city and people were full of uncleanness, even to a proverb; so much so, that to say, a Corinthian woman; was a similar term to a woman of the town. Hence, as the Corinthians abounded in every species of luxury and uncleanness; and the Lord in his providence and grace, gathered a Church from among them; the Apostle reminds them of what they once were, that he might the more strikingly make them sensible of what they now area. Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
I hope the Reader will allow me to enlarge a little somewhat more particularly, on this most precious portion of the word of God. For, if I do not greatly err, here is enumerated the several office-acts of all the Persons of the Godhead, and which comes in most blessedly in this place, when stating the mighty change wrought upon the hearts of the Lord's people, in proof that every poor sinner, when saved and called with an holy calling, is indebted for this unspeakable mercy, to the united love and grace of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And this is, indeed, one of the fundamental articles of our most holy faith, 1 John 5:7 ; 2 Corinthians 13:14 ; Matthew 28:19 . It is true, that the mercies here enumerated, are not placed according to the usual order of God the Father's choosing, God the Son's redeeming, and God the Holy Ghost regenerating. But no objection can arise from thence. For sometimes one is spoken of first, and sometimes another. See 2 Corinthians 13:14 ; Ephesians 2:18 ; Colossians 2:2 ; 1 Peter 1:2 . But each glorious Person of the Godhead, in their office character relation to the Church, is certainly referred to in this verse; and this is abundantly satisfying in proof of their grace, and love, and favor.
The Apostle begins with the work of God the Spirit. But ye are washed. And what a sweet confirmation is this of the great work of regeneration?, The same great Apostle, in his epistle to Titus, hath introduced the subject much in the same manner as in this epistle to the Corinthians; only when writing to Titus, he included himself, as being by nature in the same original uncleanness with all. For we ourselves also (said he) were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divine lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ Our Savior, Titus 3:3-6 . Now, though this office-work of God the Holy Ghost is the last spoken of, according to order in the ancient settlements of eternity, when that Covenant which is ordered in all things; and sure, is originally mentioned, (Psalms 89:3 .) yet is it the first which gives a discovery to the precious child of God of the covenant of grace. For until we are washed by the washing of regeneration, the kindness and love of God toward man, hath never appeared to that individual soul, who then, for the first time, finds himself called with an holy calling, and is made willing in the day of God's power. 2 Timothy 1:9 ; Psalms 110:3 . Hence, therefore, though the electing love of God the Father chose that precious child of God before all worlds, (Ephesians 1:4 ) and marked his name in the book of life, (Revelation 21:27 ; Luke 10:20 ; Philippians 4:3 ) yet until God the Holy Ghost put his Almighty hand to the work, and quickened the souls, dead by nature, in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1 ), the soul was unconscious of his high birth right, and knew nothing of the Father's love in choosing, or the Son's love in redeeming, to all the purposes of race and mercy. Neither is there a single blessing that we can lay claim to, or indeed have we the smallest conception of, until this sovereign act of grace hath passed upon the soul. Reader! pause, and ask your own heart, whether those blessed words of Paul to the Corinthians can be applied to you? But ye are washed!
The Apostle next saith, But ye are sanctified. Jude addresseth the Church in like manner, when he saith, To them that are sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called, Jude 1:1 . I do not presume to say, that Paul had the same views concerning the being sanctified, when he told the Corinthians, ye are sanctified. Some have thought that he alluded to the sanctification of the spirit of this people. And it is possible it may be so. But I am free to think otherwise. The sanctification or setting apart in God the Father's choice of the Church from everlasting, I humbly conceive to be here meant, agreeably to the analogy of scripture. And in this sense, it comes in very sweet, after the Apostle had told them of their being washed by regeneration. For, hereby, they were now enabled to trace their mercies to their source, in beholding themselves sanctified, or set apart by the Father, being regenerated and brought forth into spiritual life by the Holy Ghost.
The Apostle proceeds in his account, and saith: but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. And here, if I err not, is intended to set forth the justification of the Church by Christ; of whom it is expressly said, that he was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, Romans 4:25 . And thus, on the presumption that I am correct, we have in this beautiful verse, an account of the several office-characters of the whole Persons of the Godhead: in God the Spirit's gracious act of washing by regeneration, of God the Father's love in sanctifying or setting apart by election; and of God the Son's justifying his redeemed, by his blood and righteousness. It may be said indeed, and it ought to be said, as a most blessed and soul-refreshing truth, that these several acts here spoken of are in different parts of Scripture ascribed to each glorious Person indifferently. But this is but a further confirmation of the whole; and an additional testimony to the divine unity, John 5:17-18 . And very blessed it is, to trace the acts of each glorious Person and the united acts of all. Reader! may it be your happiness and mine, if it be the Lord's will, to have the same sweet assurance given us, as Paul here gave to the Corinthian Church; that we are washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God!
(12) All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (13) Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. (14) And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
There is some difficulty in apprehending the Apostle's immediate design in the former part of these verses. Probably it might refer to somewhat personal, respecting the Corinthians. But there is no difficulty to understand the Apostle's beautiful allusion to Christ, and his mystical body, when he saith, the body of a believer is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Christ's mystical body, which is the whole body of the Church, was given him by the Father before all worlds. Jesus delights to speak of this body upon every occasion; highly prizing it on his Father's account, as well as his own, and to whom he promised the Holy Ghost, John 17:6-10 ; Psalms 21:2 ; Song of Solomon 7:10 ; John 14:17-18 . And it is by virtue of this union, and oneness, between Christ and his people, that the bodies of the redeemed will be raised up at the last day. They will not arise as the unredeemed will, brought forth by the naked power of God, but from an union with Christ. So Paul speaks. If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you, Romans 8:11 . Even in the grave, and dust of death, there is an union of the bodies of Christ's redeemed, to the Lord their Head, by virtue of which, at the great day they will arise; and as the Lord Jesus said because I live, ye shall live also, John 14:19 .
(15) Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. (16) What? know ye not that he which is joined to a harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. (17) But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (18) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (19) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Numberless very blessed things, are contained within the compass of these verses. I beg the Reader's attention to them in order. First. The Apostle reminds the Church of a precious truth; which is so plainly taught in the Gospel, and supposed to be so perfectly known and understood by every regenerated child of God, that he takes it for granted, they all knew it, and were daily living in the enjoyment of it; namely, their union, and oneness, with Christ. Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ. The sacred holy body of Christ which the Son of God took into union with him is Personal. But Christ's mystical body is the whole Church. Now, it is highly important, that this should be thoroughly understood, and, apprehended, by every member of Christ's mystical body. The whole person of a child of God, he whom the Father hath given to his dear Son, and whom God the Son hath betrothed to himself, and redeemed by his blood and righteousness from this time-state of sin and corruption; is truly, and virtually united to Christ, in body, soul, and spirit. For though the body is not renewed at regeneration, and it is the spirit only that is quickened, which before this gracious act of God the Spirit was dead, by reason of the Adam-fall, in trespasses and sins; yet the whole man is united to Christ, and as a member of Christ's body of his flesh, and of his bones, is part of Christ. And in proof of it, whenever a child of God's, his spirit joins the society of the spirits of just men made perfect; and though the body returns to the dust, yet, in consequence of an union with Christ, as his glorious Head; he will arise from the dust of the earth at the last day. This proves that the whole person of a child of God is united to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly. The Apostle takes it equally granted, the Church knew, that, by virtue of this union with Christ, one and the same Spirit lived, and acted, in both. He that is joined unto the Lord is One Spirit. This glorious and momentous truth became too important, in Paul's view, to be lost sight of by the Church. For what could be equally interesting? The same Almighty God the Spirit which anointed, filled, and made blessed the human nature of Christ; anointed, filled, and made blessed all his members. In Christ indeed, as in a fountain. In them as in a vessel. But still One, and the same. The Lord giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Christ. In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, John 3:34 ; Colossians 2:9 . But unto everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Ephesians 4:7 .
Thirdly. When God the Holy Ghost quickens the soul of a child of God by regeneration, he becomes a life-giving, soul-renewing source, in the spiritual part of the person; and makes the body his temple, according to his original and eternal promise, Ezekiel 36:25-28 ; Leviticus 26:11-12 . So that, by virtue of this, the Holy Ghost becomes a quickening Spirit, to give a vital union between Christ and his members, and to keep alive the principles of grace he hath planted, and maintain that life in the soul, as a branch in the vine. And, while influencing the spirit of the believer, in opening Continual communications from Christ, as the Head to his members; the redeemed are enabled to mortify the deeds of the body, by His indwelling presence, Romans 8:13 .
And, lastly, to mention no more: what endears the whole to every child of God is, that this personal union, by which the believer is united to Christ, as God-Man, in body, soul, and spirit; is an everlasting, indissoluble union, which nothing can separate or destroy. Because I live, saith Jesus, ye shall live also, John 14:19 . Hence, the Apostle was taught by the Holy Ghost to comfort the Church, both with the secrecy, and the safety, of all the people of God. Your life, said he, is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then ye shall also appear with him in glory, Colossians 3:3-4 .
From all these considerations, and more than these, which are included in the Apostle's observations; he argues, both the shame, and sin, of joining, the members of Christ's body, with the members of an harlot. And he shews, as plain as words can make it, that as the whole Church, and every individual of the Church, is chosen by God, bought with the price of Christ's blood, and renewed by the Holy Ghost; they are no longer their own property, but Christ's, by every tie which can make them so, both by creation, and redemption; and therefore are called upon, to glorify Him, whose right they are, in body, and in spirit, which are God's. I beg the Redder to observe, that it is Christ, who is here spoken of as God, whose right the Church is, by having bought it with a price. And this by the way becomes a very plain, full, and decisive testimony to the Godhead of Christ. And very blessed it is, when a child of God, gives the glory to Christ as such, both in body, and in spirit, which are his.
READER! let you and I learn, from this interesting Chapter, how utterly unsuitable, and unbecoming it is, in a child of God, called out of the Adam-fall of nature, and redeemed from the law of works, to be entangled in courts of earthly judicature, when we are professedly looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Oh! what a reproach it is, as the Apostle saith, to see brother going to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers!
Let us pause again, and again, over that precious Scripture, of sinners washed, sanctified, and justified, when brought out of nature's darkness, and the shadow of death. And, oh! what delightful view are we called to contemplate, in being told, and with such an assurance of undoubted testimony, that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Solomon was struck with astonishment, in contemplating the infinite condescension of Jehovah to regard the house; which he had made. Behold, (said he,) the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee! But here we are called upon to behold God, the Holy Ghost making the bodies of his people his temple. Lord! give me grace to honor those members of Christ's mystical body, which are made the indwelling residence of the Holy Ghost; and never by any act of sin and infirmity; desecrate what the Lord calls his temple. Precious Lord Jesus! let me never lose sight of this blessed truth: that I am thine, and bought with a price. Oh! that every thought, and word, and action, could give glory to thy Holy Name!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29