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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 6

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4063. A.D. 59.


(l,) The apostle reproves the Corinthians for prosecuting their brethren in heathen courts, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 .

(2,) He solemnly warns them of the sad consequences which would attend the indulgence of those criminal dispositions and practices to which they had been formerly addicted, but from which they were now reformed and cleansed, through the merits of Christ and the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 .

(3,) After cautioning them against the abuse of their Christian liberty, in meats and other things indifferent, 1 Corinthians 6:12 , 1 Corinthians 6:13 , he vehemently exhorts them to shun all uncleanness, as a defilement and abuse of their bodies, which were the members of Christ, inhabited by his Spirit, and purchased by his blood, to be instruments of glorifying God, 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 .

Verses 1-6

1 Corinthians 6:1-6. The apostle, having mentioned one very great irregularity among the professors of Christianity at Corinth, proceeds now to animadvert upon another, namely, their entering into suits of law with each other in heathen courts: Dare any of you Have you so little regard for the glory of God, and the credit of Christianity, that, having a matter against another Any controversy about civil affairs; you go to law before the unjust Heathen judges, who generally were very corrupt, and from whom a Christian could expect no justice: and not before the saints Who might easily decide these smaller differences in a private and friendly manner. Do ye not know This expression occurs six times in this single chapter, and that with a peculiar force: for the Corinthians knew, and gloried in their knowledge, but their conduct was not consistent therewith. That the saints After having been judged themselves; shall judge the world Shall be assessors with Christ in the judgment wherein he shall condemn all the wicked, as well angels as men, Matthew 19:28; Revelation 20:4. And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy Unfit, unable for such a work; to judge the smallest matters Differences about worldly affairs, which are of small moment, in comparison of spiritual and heavenly matters. Know ye not that we shall judge angels? Namely, evil angels: as Christ is their judge, we shall be honoured to join with him in that judgment also, when all his enemies shall be put under his feet and ours. How much more are ye fit to decide in these low and transitory secular affairs? If then ye have judgments Differences to be decided; of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church Even the weakest among you might be adequate to that work, and certainly fitter for it than unjust heathen. I speak to your shame To make you ashamed of your proceedings. The apostle certainly did not seriously design that they should set persons to judge in these matters, (though of little importance, in comparison of spiritual things,) who were the weakest and of least esteem among them, as appears from the next clause; but he spoke ironically. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you Among you who are such admirers of wisdom, who is wise enough to decide in such causes? Not one able to judge between his brethren In those disputes which they have about earthly things? But brother goeth to law with brother One Christian with another; and that before the unbelievers To the great discredit of the Christian name; yea, to the scandal of the whole Christian institution; for they cannot but take occasion, from your mutual quarrels and accusations, to brand the whole body of you as injurious and avaricious; who, while you pretend to be so far superior to secular views, are yet so strongly attached to them, that, with all your professions of universal benevolence and brotherly love, you cannot forbear wronging one another.

Verses 7-8

1 Corinthians 6:7-8. Now therefore But, indeed, there is plainly a fault in you, whoever may have the right on his side; that ye go to law with one another Or that ye quarrel with one another at all, whether ye go to law or not. Why do ye not rather take, or suffer, wrong Endure it patiently, and sit down with the loss? Why do ye not suffer yourselves to be defrauded Rather than seek a remedy in such a way as this? All men cannot, or will not, receive this saying. Many aim only at this, “I will neither do wrong nor suffer it.” These are honest heathen, but no Christians. Nay Αλλα , but, ye are so far from bearing injuries and frauds, that ye do wrong to, or injure openly, and defraud Privately, and that even your Christian brethren.

Verses 9-11

1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Know ye not With all your boasted knowledge; that the unrighteous That is, not only the unjust, but those destitute of true righteousness and holiness, comprehending the various classes of sinners afterward mentioned, the term unrighteous here including them all: shall not inherit the kingdom of God Namely, the kingdom of eternal glory. And can you contentedly sacrifice this great and glorious hope which the gospel gives you, for the sake of those pleasures of sin which are but for a short season? Be not deceived By a vain imagination that the Christian name and privileges will save you, while you continue in the practice of your vices. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, &c. Idolatry is here placed between fornication and adultery, because these things generally accompanied it. Indeed, among the heathen idolatry was not only a great crime in itself, but was the parent of many other crimes. For the heathen were encouraged in the commission of fornication, adultery, sodomy, drunkenness, theft, &c., by the example of their gods. Nor effeminate Who live in an easy, indolent way, taking up no cross, enduring no hardship. But how is this, that these good-natured, harmless people are ranked with idolaters and sodomites, those infamous degraders of human nature? We may learn hence, that we are never secure from the greatest sins, till we guard against those which are thought to be the least; nor indeed till we think no sin is little, since every one is a step toward hell. And such were some of you Namely, in some kind or other; but ye are washed Delivered from the guilt and power of those gross abominations. Ye are sanctified Renewed in the spirit of your minds, dedicated to, and employed in the service of God; conformed, at least in a measure, to his image, and possessed of his divine nature, and this not before, but in consequence of your being justified. Or, Ye are regenerated and purified, as well as discharged, from the condemnation to which ye were justly obnoxious. See the nature of justification explained in the notes on Romans 3:21-22; and its fruits, on Romans 5:1-5. In the name of the Lord Jesus Through his merits, or his sacrifice and intercession; and by the Spirit of our God Creating you anew, and inspiring you with all those blessed graces which are the genuine fruits of his divine influences, Galatians 5:22-23. You ought therefore, as if he had said, to maintain the most grateful sense of these important blessings which God hath conferred upon you, to stand at the utmost distance from sin, and to be tender of the peace and honour of a society which God hath founded by his extraordinary interposition, and into which he hath been pleased in so wonderful a manner to bring even you, who were in a most infamous and deplorable state.

Verses 12-14

1 Corinthians 6:12-14. All things That are indifferent in their own nature, and neither commanded nor forbidden; are lawful unto me Or, as some paraphrase the clause, All things which are lawful for you are lawful for me. Since the apostle could not say, in any sense, that absolutely all things were lawful for him, the sentence must be considered as elliptical, and what is wanting to complete it must be supplied, according to the apostle’s manner, from the subsequent verse. But all things are not expedient Proper to be used, in regard of circumstances; as when they would offend our weak brethren, or when they would enslave our own souls. Although all things Of the above description; are lawful for me, yet I will not be brought under the power of any So enslaved to any thing, as to be uneasy when I abstain from it, for in that case I should be under the power of it. Meats for the belly, &c. As if he had said, I speak this chiefly with regard to meats; particularly with regard to those offered to idols, and those forbidden in the Mosaic law. These, I grant, are all indifferent, and have their use, but it is only for a time, for soon, meats, and the organs which receive them, will together moulder into dust. For God will destroy both it and them Namely, when the earth, and the things which it contains, are burned. From this it is evident, that at the resurrection, the parts of the body which minister to its nutrition are not to be restored; or, if they are to be restored, that their use will be abolished. Now Or rather but; the body is not for fornication As if he had said, The case is quite otherwise with fornication; this is not a thing indifferent, but at all times evil; for the body is for the Lord Designed only for his service: and the Lord In an important sense; is for the body Being the Saviour of this as well as of the soul, and consequently must rule and employ it. And as a further proof that the body was made for glorifying the Lord, God hath both raised up the body of the Lord, and will also raise up our bodies, and render them immortal like his.

Verses 15-18

1 Corinthians 6:15-18. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ Mystically united to him, as well as your souls, if you are his true disciples, as you profess to be. Shall I then take the members of Christ My body, which is united to him, with its members; and make them the members of a harlot United to her, and used to gratify her sinful inclinations? Know ye not Need I inform you; that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? But he that is joined unto the Lord By faith and love; is one spirit with him. And shall he make himself one flesh with a harlot? Flee fornication All unlawful commerce with women, with speed, with abhorrence, with all your might. Every sin that a man doeth Every other sin, except gluttony and drunkenness, or every other sin that a man commits against his neighbour; is without the body Terminates in an object out of himself, and does not so immediately pollute his body, though it does his soul. But he that committeth fornication Or any kind of lewdness; sinneth against his own body Pollutes, dishonours, and degrades it to a level with brute beasts; and perhaps infects and enfeebles, wastes and consumes it, which these vices have a manifest tendency to do. Inasmuch as the person who is addicted to gluttony and drunkenness sins against his own body, as well as a fornicator, and debilitates it by introducing into it many painful and deadly diseases: in this prohibition of fornication, those vices likewise are comprehended, being indeed the ordinary concomitants of it. And the way to flee whoredom, is to banish out of the mind all lascivious imaginations, and to avoid carefully the objects and occasions of committing that vice, and to maintain habitual temperance in the use of meat and drink.

Verses 19-20

1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Know ye not, &c. As if he had said, There is another view in which the baseness of this crime must appear to you, Christians, in consequence of your relation to that blessed agent, the Spirit of God. For your body is the temple of God Dedicated to him, and inhabited by him; even by that Spirit which is in you As true believers in Jesus, John 7:37-38; Ephesians 1:13. Which ye have Which you receive; of God As a most important, most necessary gift, without which you could not be Christ’s, Romans 8:9. What the apostle calls elsewhere, the temple of God, (chap. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17,) and the temple of the living God, (2 Corinthians 6:16,) he here styles the temple of the Holy Ghost; plainly showing that the Holy Ghost is the living God. The two things, as Whitby observes, necessary to constitute a temple of God, belong to the bodies of believers: they are consecrated to God, and he resides in them. “Excellent, therefore,” says he, “is the inference of Tertullian; that since all Christians are become the temple of God, by virtue of his Holy Spirit sent into their hearts, and consecrating their bodies to his service, we should make chastity the keeper of this sacred house, and suffer nothing unclean or profane to enter into it, lest the God who dwells in it, being displeased, should desert his habitation thus defiled.” And ye are not your own Even as to your bodies, any more than your souls. Both are God’s, not only by creation and preservation, but by redemption, being bought with a price; and that infinitely beyond what you can pretend to be worth, even the precious blood of Christ, by which you have been redeemed out of the hands of divine justice, and through which, being put in possession of the Holy Spirit, you are rescued from the bondage of sin and Satan, and have become subjects and servants of Christ, who has thus obtained an eternal dominion over you: whose you are too by a voluntary donation of yourselves to him, and a mystical union with him as his temples. Therefore glorify God in your body By temperance, chastity, purity; and in your spirit By faith, hope, and love; humility, resignation, patience; by meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, and universal benevolence. Or, as the words may with equal propriety be rendered, Glorify him with your body and your spirit; that is, yield your bodies and all your members, as well as your souls and all their faculties, as instruments of righteousness to God: or devote and employ all you have, and all you are, entirely, unreservedly, and for ever, to his glory.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/1-corinthians-6.html. 1857.
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