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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Corinthians 6

Verse 1

Dare any of you? (τολμαι τις υμωνtolmāi tis humōṉ). Does any one of you dare? Rhetorical question with present indicative of τολμαωtolmaō old verb from τολμαtolma daring. Bengel: grandi verbo notatur laesa majestas Christianorum. “The word is an argument in itself” (Robertson and Plummer). Apparently Paul has an actual case in mind as in chapter 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 though no name is called.

Having a matter against his neighbour (πραγμα εχων προς τον ετερονpragma echōn pros ton heteron). Forensic sense of πραγμαpragma (from πρασσωprassō to do, to exact, to extort as in Luke 3:13), a case, a suit (Demosthenes 1020, 26), with the other or the neighbour as in 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 14:17; Galatians 6:4; Romans 2:1.

Go to law (κρινεσταιkrinesthai). Present middle or passive (ch. Romans 3:4) in the same forensic sense as κριτηναιkrithēnai in Matthew 5:40. ΚριτηςKritēs judge, is from this verb.

Before the unrighteous (επι των αδικωνepi tōn adikōn). This use of επιepi with the genitive for “in the presence of” is idiomatic as in 2 Corinthians 7:14, επι Τιτουepi Titou in the case of Titus. The Jews held that to bring a lawsuit before a court of idolaters was blasphemy against the law. But the Greeks were fond of disputatious lawsuits with each other. Probably the Greek Christians brought cases before pagan judges.

Verse 2

Shall judge the world (τον κοσμον κρινουσινton kosmon krinousin). Future active indicative. At the last day with the Lord Jesus (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

Are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (αναχιοι εστε κριτηριων ελαχιστωνanaxioi este kritēriōn elachistōṉ). ΑναχιοςAnaxios is an old word (ανan and αχιοςaxios), though only here in the N.T. There is dispute as to the meaning of κριτηριαkritēria here and in 1 Corinthians 6:4, old word, but nowhere else in N.T. save in James 2:6. Naturally, like other words in τηριον̇tērion (ακροατηριονakroatērion auditorium, Acts 25:23), this word means the place where judgment is rendered, or court. It is common in the papyri in the sense of tribunal. In the Apost. Const. ii. 45 we have μη ερχεστω επι κριτηριον ετνικονmē erchesthō epi kritērion ethnikon (Let him not come before a heathen tribunal). Hence here it would mean, “Are ye unworthy of the smallest tribunals?” That is, of sitting on the smallest tribunals, of forming courts yourselves to settle such things?

Verse 3

How much more, things that pertain to this life? (Μητι γε βιωτικαMēti ge biōtika̱). The question expects the answer no and γεge adds sharp point to Paul‘s surprised tone, “Need I so much as say?” It can be understood also as ellipsis, “let me not say” (μητιγε λεγωmētige legō), not to say. ιωτικαBiōtika occurs first in Aristotle, but is common afterwards. In the papyri it is used of business matters. It is from βιοςbios (manner of life in contrast to ζωηzōē life principle).

Verse 4

If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life (βιωτικα μεν ουν κριτηρια εαν εχητεbiōtika men oun kritēria ean echēte). Note emphatic position (proleptic) of βιωτικα κριτηριαbiōtika kritēria (tribunals pertaining to this life, as above). “If ye have tribunals pertaining to this life” (condition of third class, εαν εχητεean echēte). If κατιζετεkathizete (do ye set) is indicative and interrogative, then by “who are of no account in the church” (τους εχουτενημενους εν τηι εκκλησιαιtous exouthenēmenous en tēi ekklēsiāi) Paul means the heathen as in 1 Corinthians 6:1. If κατιζετεkathizete be imperative, then Paul means the least esteemed members of the church for such unwished for work. It is a harsh term for the heathen, but one of indignation toward Christians.

Verse 5

I say this to move you to shame (προς εντροπην υμιν λεγωpros entropēn humin legō). Old word εντροπηentropē from εντρεπωentrepō to turn in (1 Corinthians 4:14 which see). In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 15:34.

One wise man (σοποςsophos). From sarcasm to pathos Paul turns.

Does there not exist (ενιeni short form for ενεστιenesti)? With double negative ουκουδειςouk̇̇oudeis expecting the answer yes. Surely one such man exists in the church.

Who (οςhos). Almost consecutive in idea, of such wisdom that he will be able.

To decide between his brethren (διακριναι ανα μεσον του αδελπου αυτουdiakrinai ana meson tou adelphou autou). ΚριναιKrinai is to judge or decide (first aorist active infinitive of κρινωkrinō and διαdia (two) carries on the idea of between. Then ανα μεσονana meson makes it still plainer, in the midst as arbitrator between brother and brother like ανα μεσον εμου και σουana meson emou kai sou (Genesis 23:15). It is even so a condensed expression with part of it unexpressed (ανα μεσον και του αδελπου αυτουana meson kai tou adelphou autou) between brother and his brother. The use of αδελποςadelphos has a sharp reflection on them for their going to heathen judges to settle disputes between brothers in Christ.

Verse 6

And that before unbelievers (και τουτο επι απιστωνkai touto epi apistōn). Climactic force of καιkai The accusative of general reference with τουτοtouto “That there should be disputes about βιωτικαbiōtika is bad; that Christian should go to law with Christian is worse; that Christians should do this before unbelievers is worst of all” (Robertson and Plummer).

Verse 7

Nay, already it is altogether a defect among you (ηδη μεν ουν ολως ηττημα υμιν εστινēdē men oun holōs hēttēma humin estin). “Indeed therefore there is to you already (to begin with, ηδηēdē before any question of courts) wholly defeat.” ηττημαHēttēma (from ητταομαιhēttaomai) is only here, Romans 11:12; Isaiah 31:8 and ecclesiastical writers. See ητταομαιhēttaomai (from ηττωνhēttōn less) in 2 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Peter 2:19. ΝικηNikē was victory and ητταhētta defeat with the Greeks. It is defeat for Christians to have lawsuits (κριματαkrimata usually decrees or judgments) with one another. This was proof of the failure of love and forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).

Take wrong (αδικειστεadikeisthe). Present middle indicative, of old verb αδικεωadikeō (from αδικοςadikos not right). Better undergo wrong yourself than suffer defeat in the matter of love and forgiveness of a brother.

Be defrauded (αποστερειστεapostereisthe). Permissive middle again like αδικειστεadikeisthe Allow yourselves to be robbed (old verb to deprive, to rob) rather than have a lawsuit.

Verse 8

Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong and defraud (αλλα υμεις αδικειτε και αποστερειτεalla humeis adikeite kai apostereite). “But (adversative αλλαalla on the contrary) you (emphatic) do the wronging and the robbing” (active voices) “and that your brethren” (και τουτο αδελπουςkai touto adelphous). Same idiom as at close of 1 Corinthians 6:6. The very climax of wrong-doings, to stoop to do this with one‘s brethren in Christ.

Verse 9

The unrighteous (αδικοιadikoi). To remind them of the verb αδικεωadikeō just used.

The Kingdom of God (τεου βασιλειανtheou basileian). Precisely, God‘s kingdom.

Be not deceived (μη πλαναστεmē planāsthe). Present passive imperative with negative μηmē Do not be led astray by plausible talk to cover up sin as mere animal behaviourism. Paul has two lists in 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:10, one with repetition of ουτεoute neither (fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, or μαλακοιmalakoi abusers of themselves with men or αρσενοκοιταιarsenokoitai or sodomites as in 1 Timothy 1:10 a late word for this horrid vice, thieves, covetous), the other with ουou not (drunkards, revilers, extortioners). All these will fall short of the kingdom of God. This was plain talk to a city like Corinth. It is needed today. It is a solemn roll call of the damned even if some of their names are on the church roll in Corinth whether officers or ordinary members.

Verse 11

And such were some of you (και ταυτα τινες ητεkai tauta tines ēte). A sharp homethrust. Literally, “And these things (ταυταtauta neuter plural) were ye (some of you).” The horror is shown by ταυταtauta but by τινεςtines Paul narrows the picture to some, not all. But that was in the past (ητεēte imperfect indicative) like Romans 6:17. Thank God the blood of Jesus does cleanse from such sins as these. But do not go back to them.

But ye were washed (απελουσαστεapelousasthe). First aorist middle indicative, not passive, of απολουωapolouō Either direct middle, ye washed yourselves, or indirect middle, as in Acts 22:16, ye washed your sins away (force of αποapo). This was their own voluntary act in baptism which was the outward expression of the previous act of God in cleansing (ηγιαστητεhēgiasthēte ye were sanctified or cleansed before the baptism) and justified (εδικαιωτητεedikaiōthēte ye were put right with God before the act of baptism). “These twin conceptions of the Christian state in its beginning appear commonly in the reverse order” (Findlay). The outward expression is usually mentioned before the inward change which precedes it. In this passage the Trinity appear as in the baptismal command in Matthew 28:19.

Verse 12

Lawful (εχεστινexestin). Apparently this proverb may have been used by Paul in Corinth (repeated in 1 Corinthians 10:23), but not in the sense now used by Paul‘s opponents. The “all things” do not include such matters as those condemned in chapter 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Paul limits the proverb to things not immoral, things not wrong per se. But even here liberty is not license.

But not all things are expedient (αλλ ου παντα συμπερειall' ou panta sumpherei). Old word συμπερειsumpherei bears together for good and so worthwhile. Many things, harmless in themselves in the abstract, do harm to others in the concrete. We live in a world of social relations that circumscribe personal rights and liberties.

But I will not be brought under the power of any (αλλ ουκ εγω εχουσιαστησομαι υπο τινοςall ouk egō exousiasthēsomai hupo tinos). Perhaps a conscious play on the verb εχεστινexestin for εχουσιαζωexousiazō is from εχουσιαexousia and that from εχεστινexestin Verb from Aristotle on, though not common (Dion. of Hal., lxx and inscriptions). In N.T. only here, 1 Corinthians 7:4; Luke 22:25. Paul is determined not to be a slave to anything harmless in itself. He will maintain his self-control. He gives a wholesome hint to those who talk so much about personal liberty.

Verse 13

But God shall bring to nought both it and them (ο δε τεος και ταυτην και ταυτα καταργησειho de theos kai tautēn kai tauta katargēsei). Another proverb about the adaptation of the belly (κοιλιαkoilia) and food (βρωματαbrōmata not just flesh), which had apparently been used by some in Corinth to justify sexual license (fornication and adultery). These Gentiles mixed up matters not alike at all (questions of food and sensuality). “We have traces of this gross moral confusion in the circumstances which dictated the Apostolic Letter (Acts 15:23-29), where things wholly diverse are combined, as directions about meats to be avoided and a prohibition of fornication” (Lightfoot). Both the belly (ταυτηνtautēn) and the foods (ταυταtauta) God will bring to an end by death and change.

But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body (το δε σωμα ου τηι πορνειαι αλλα τωι κυριωι και ο κυριος τωι σωματιto de sōma ou tēi porneiāi alla tōi kuriōi kai ho kurios tōi sōmati). Paul here boldly shows the fallacy in the parallel about appetite of the belly for food. The human body has a higher mission than the mere gratification of sensual appetite. Sex is of God for the propagation of the race, not for prostitution. Paul had already stated that God dwells in us as the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16.). This higher function of the body he here puts forward against the debased Greek philosophy of the time which ignored completely Paul‘s idea, “the body for the Lord and the Lord for the body” (dative of personal interest in both cases). “The Lord Jesus and πορνειαporneia contested for the bodies of Christian men; loyal to him they must renounce that, yielding to that they renounce him” (Findlay).

Verse 14

Will raise up us (ημας εχεγερειhēmas exegerei). Future active indicative of εχεγειρωexegeirō though the MSS. vary greatly, some having the present and some even the aorist. But the resurrection of the body gives added weight to Paul‘s argument about the dignity and destiny of the body (quanta dignitas, Bengel) which should not be prostituted to sensuality.

Verse 15

Members of Christ (μελη Χριστουmelē Christou). Old word for limbs, members. Even the Stoics held the body to be common with the animals (Epictetus, Diss. l. iii. 1) and only the reason like the gods. Without doubt some forms of modern evolution have contributed to the licentious views of animalistic sex indulgence, though the best teachers of biology show that in the higher animals monogamy is the rule. The body is not only adapted for Christ (1 Corinthians 6:13), but it is a part of Christ, in vital union with him. Paul will make much use of this figure further on (12:12-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:30).

Shall I then take away? (αρας ουνaras ouṉ). First aorist active participle of αιρωairō old verb to snatch, carry off like Latin rapio (our rape).

Make (ποιησωpoiēsō). Can be either future active indicative or first aorist active subjunctive (deliberative). Either makes good sense. The horror of deliberately taking “members of Christ” and making them “members of a harlot” in an actual union staggers Paul and should stagger us.

God forbid (μη γενοιτοmē genoito). Optative second aorist in a negative wish for the future.

May it not happen! The word “God” is not here. The idiom is common in Epictetus though rare in the lxx. Paul has it thirteen times and Luke once (Luke 20:16).

Verse 16

One body (εν σωμαhen sōma). With the harlot. That union is for the harlot the same as with the wife. The words quoted from Genesis 2:24 describing the sexual union of husband and wife, are also quoted and explained by Jesus in Matthew 19:5. which see for discussion of the translation Hebraism with use of ειςeis

Saith he (πησινphēsin). Supply either ο τεοςho theos (God) or η γραπηhē graphē (the Scripture).

Verse 17

One spirit (εν πνευμαhen pneuma). With the Lord, the inner vital spiritual union with the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 5:30).

Verse 18

Flee (πευγετεpheugete). Present imperative. Have the habit of fleeing without delay or parley. Note abruptness of the asyndeton with no connectives. Fornication violates Christ‘s rights in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:13-17) and also ruins the body itself.

Without the body (εκτος του σωματοςektos tou sōmatos). Even gluttony and drunkenness and the use of dope are sins wrought on the body, not “within the body” (εντος του σωματοςentos tou sōmatos) in the same sense as fornication. Perhaps the dominant idea of Paul is that fornication, as already shown, breaks the mystic bond between the body and Christ and hence the fornicator (ο πορνευωνho porneuōn) sins against his own body (εις το ιδιον σωμα αμαρτανειeis to idion sōma hamartanei) in a sense not true of other dreadful sins. The fornicator takes his body which belongs to Christ and unites it with a harlot. In fornication the body is the instrument of sin and becomes the subject of the damage wrought. In another sense fornication brings on one‘s own body the two most terrible bodily diseases that are still incurable (gonorrhea and syphilis) that curse one‘s own body and transmit the curse to the third and fourth generation. Apart from the high view given here by Paul of the relation of the body to the Lord no possible father or mother has the right to lay the hand of such terrible diseases and disaster on their children and children‘s children. The moral and physical rottenness wrought by immorality defy one‘s imagination.

Verse 19

Your body is a temple (το σωμα υμων ναος εστινto sōma humōn naos estin). A sanctuary as in 1 Corinthians 3:16 which see. Our spirits dwell in our bodies and the Holy Spirit dwells in our spirits. Some of the Gnostics split hairs between the sins of the body and fellowship with God in the spirit. Paul will have none of this subterfuge. One‘s body is the very shrine for the Holy Spirit. In Corinth was the temple to Aphrodite in which fornication was regarded as consecration instead of desecration. Prostitutes were there as priestesses of Aphrodite, to help men worship the goddess by fornication.

Ye are not your own (ουκ εστε εαυτωνouk este heautōn). Predicate genitive. Ye do not belong to yourselves, even if you could commit fornication without personal contamination or self-violation. Christianity makes unchastity dishonour in both sexes. There is no double standard of morality. Paul‘s plea here is primarily to men to be clean as members of Christ‘s body.

Verse 20

For ye were bought with a price (ηγοραστητε γαρ τιμηςēgorasthēte gar timēs). First aorist passive indicative of αγοραζωagorazō old verb to buy in the marketplace (αγοραagora). With genitive of price. Paul does not here state the price as Peter does in 1 Peter 1:19 (the blood of Christ) and as Jesus does in Matthew 20:28 (his life a ransom). The Corinthians understood his meaning.

Glorify God therefore in your body (δοχασατε δη τον τεον εν τωι σωματι υμωνdoxasate dē ton theon en tōi sōmati humōn). Passionate conclusion to his powerful argument against sexual uncleanness. ΔηDē is a shortened form of ηδηēdē and is an urgent inferential particle. See note on Luke 2:15. Paul holds to his high ideal of the destiny of the body and urges glorifying God in it. Some of the later Christians felt that Paul‘s words could be lightened a bit by adding “and in your spirits which are his,” but these words are found only in late MSS. and are clearly not genuine. Paul‘s argument stands four-square for the dignity of the body as the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit united to the Lord Jesus.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.