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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
1 Corinthians 6

 

 

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Verses 1-8

Brother against brother before unbelievers

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

In these eight verses the apostle exposes another fault in the Corinthian church – taking one another to court before unbelievers to settle their differences. The rebuke consists of two parts:

1. Our differences ought to be settled among ourselves on the basis of love and grace, not before the wicked, who know nothing of either. Not to be able to do this makes the gospel we believe to be held in contempt by wicked men.

2. True believers ought to endure injuries and misunder-standings with patience, love and forgiveness, rather than seeking revenge and compensation.

1 Corinthians 6:1. Paul expressed surprise that one believer, with a complaint against another believer, would dare to take the matter to a court of law to be decided by unbelievers. He is not condemning courts of law or magistrates (who must administer justice to all) nor those who are summoned to court and must appear to maintain their cause. He is rather condemning those who bring their brethren into such situations when it is in their power to employ other remedies.

1 Corinthians 6:2. When we seek the judgment and advice of unbelieving lawyers and magistrates, we are insinuating that there is no one in the society of the godly who is qualified to settle our disputes. True believers are endowed with spiritual wisdom and will one day judge the world, for they shall reign with Christ! Are they then not capable or worthy to deal with minor, personal matters? Noah, by his faith and obedience, in a sense judged and condemned the world (Hebrews 11:7). The judges of this world are not qualified to judge spiritual matters. The basis of their judgment is ‘an eye for an eye,’ while the foundation of our judgment is mercy and grace (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).

1 Corinthians 6:3. Even the angels are subject to the word of God which we preach (Galatians 1:8). But the reference here is probably to the fallen angels who are already under judgment (Jude 1:6). When we believe the word, bow to the will of God and look to Christ for redemption (while they do not), it is clear that we act in wisdom and righteousness (and they act foolishly). This is to judge them and their action. If, by the grace of God, a believer can discern heavenly things, can he not much more deal with the things which pertain to the earth?

1 Corinthians 6:4. The Authorized Version is not as clear on this verse as some others. All agree that Paul continues his rebuke and is saying, ‘When you have cases of everyday life to decide, why do you set these matters before such men as lawyers, judges and outsiders, who have no standing in the church, have no esteem and are of no account to the church?’

1 Corinthians 6:5. ‘I say this to move you to shame. You certainly ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Can it be that there is not in your fellowship one wise man who is competent enough to decide grievances, disputes and quarrels between brothers? You boast of your wisdom and gifts, yet you deny it all by your actions.’

1 Corinthians 6:6. The brother relationship here is spiritual, for we are all sons of God, born again and one family in Christ. ‘Brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers.’ This is a serious and shameful thing, for it brings reproach on the name of Christ and on the church.

1 Corinthians 6:7-8. ‘This is not only shameful, but it indicates a serious defect in you. It admits to defeat and is another evidence of carnality (1 Corinthians 3:3). Instead of seeking revenge or legal settlement, why not rather take the wrong? Why not let the brother have his way? Rather than go to court, cause division or upset the fellowship, bear injustices patiently and thereby glorify Christ’ (Luke 6:27-36). It is more advisable for a believer to suffer wrong, and even to be cheated, than for him to go to court with his brother.

Instead of this, it is you who do wrong and defraud your own brethren by treating them in this manner.


Verses 9-20

Ye are not your own

1 Corinthians 6:9-20

In the preceding chapters and verses Paul dealt with a matter of incest – open sin in the assembly. Then he warned them about keeping company with those who profess Christ, yet are fornicators, covetous, idolaters, drunkards and extortioners. In this chapter he expresses shock over the fact that some of them were taking fellow-believers to court before unbelievers. In the verses before us he contends that such behavior, if not repented of, shows that such persons are destitute of the grace of God and unfit for the kingdom of God, regardless of their profession!

1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Without the righteousness of Christ, there will be no entrance into the presence and kingdom of God (Matthew 5:20; Hebrews 12:14). Christ is our righteousness and sanctification (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30). But he is also speaking of an imparted righteousness and a new life which every believer has experienced in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:12-15). Do not be deceived nor imagine that you shall be saved while you continue to live in sin and wickedness. Those who practice these evil deeds shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:11. ‘Some of you who are now children of God, saved by his free grace, were guilty of these very sins, but you have been washed, cleansed and forgiven in and by the blood of Christ. You have been sanctified.’ He is not speaking here of the fact that they were set apart by the Father in divine election (though they were), or of the fact that in Christ they have a perfect righteousness and sanctification imputed to them (though they did); but the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (which lies in a principle of new life, new nature, new heart and new desires) has been created in the believer. He does not just claim to be a new person; he is a new person. He loves holiness and hates sin! (Romans 7:22-25.) ‘You are also justified before God. All sin is put away and you are accepted in the Beloved, not by works, but you also delight to do his will and glorify his name.’

v. l2. ‘All things are permissible for me’ (certainly no fornication, idolatry, drunkenness, adultery, or such), that is, the things which are not explicitly forbidden in the word of God (such as foods, drinks and material pleasures). ‘But all these things are not necessarily helpful to me nor good for me. When these indifferent things destroy my fellowship, peace and comfort, or cause a weak brother to stumble, they become wrong. Therefore, I will not become a slave to my appetite, desires or fleshly wants. I regard even the indifferent things of the world in the light of my relationship with Christ and his church and can set them aside for his glory.’

1 Corinthians 6:13-14. Though food is intended for the body and the body for food, yet this cannot be said of sexual immorality, which some of the Corinthians and the Gentiles took to be as indifferent as food and drink. We must satisfy the craving of the body for food and drink, whatever food is available, but sexual desires are to be met in a state of marriage, not promiscuously (1 Corinthians 7:2). Our bodies are intended to serve and glorify him in righteousness and holiness and at the last to be raised by him and made like to his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).

1 Corinthians 6:15-17. We were chosen in Christ, given to him and made one with him, our bodies as well as our souls. We are redeemed by him and in union with him. ‘Shall I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?’ This would be an absurd and sinful thing. One who engages in union with a prostitute becomes one with her, even as the Lord spoke of husband and wife (legally and spiritually) becoming one flesh. But he who is united with Christ by grace and faith is one spirit with him. This union is a spiritual one, complete and perfect.

1 Corinthians 6:18. ‘Shun immorality and all sexual looseness; flee from impurity in word, thought or deed.’ Most sins that a man commits are committed by the abuse of other things and do not bring hurt and reproach on the body as sexual immorality does. The body is defiled, dishonored and disgraced by immoral conduct.

1 Corinthians 6:19. What is said in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 of saints in general is said here of our bodies in particular. The Spirit of God dwells in us, and we are not our own; we belong to him. We are not our own masters to live to satisfy our lusts, nor to abuse these temples. We are his by creation, by choice and by covenant.

1 Corinthians 6:20. We were redeemed by Christ; therefore, we are to glorify him in all things! (Colossians 3:17.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/1-corinthians-6.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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