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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
1 Corinthians 6

 

 

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Verse 1

1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 6

1 Corinthians 6:1-6 The Corinthians are reproved for bringing their

controversies before heathen judges, which they

ought to decide among themselves.

1 Corinthians 6:7-11 There would be no occasion for lawsuits, if men

acted up to the principles of the gospel, which

exclude from the kingdom of God all notorious

transgressors of the moral law.

1 Corinthians 6:12-14 All lawful things are not expedient,

1 Corinthians 6:15-20 but fornication is a gross offer we against

our bodies, which are members of Christ, temples

of the Holy Ghost, and not our own to dispose

of otherwise than to God’s glory.

The apostle having already sharply reflected upon this church for their pride, and contentions, and divisions, (which were branches from that root), and for their vilifying him who was their spiritual father, and magnifying their instructors above him, as also for their looseness in their church discipline; he cometh in this chapter to another thing, viz. their going to law before pagan judges; for such was the misery of those times, that they had no other, though some think that they might have had, the pagan persecutions being as yet not begun. The apostle speaks of this as a thing which he wondered that they durst be guilty of, that they should be no more tender of the glory of God in the reputation of the Christian religion, and should not rather choose arbitrators amongst the members of their church, to hear and determine such differences as arose amongst them, than give pagans an occasion to reproach the Christian religion for the contentions and feuds of Christians. The reputation of the gospel and the professors of it being the thing for which Paul was here concerned, and upon the account of which he thus speaketh; it becometh Christians yet to consider, whether what he saith concerneth not them, where either the judges, or the generality of the auditors in such judgments, may probably reproach religion, or that way of God which they own, for their trivial and uncharitable contentions.


Verse 2

If indeed the Corinthians had had no other competent judges, they might have been excused in making use of infidel judges; but, saith the apostle, you have other persons competent enough, whom you may (by your submission to them) make judges; for you

know that the saints shall judge the world; in the same sense (as some think) as Christ saith the Ninevites and the queen of the south should rise up in judgment against the Jews, and condemn them; but certainly there is something more than that in it; when the apostle said, the saints should judge the world, he intended to say something of them which was not common to some heathens with them. Others therefore think, that the saints in the day of judgment shall judge the world, approving the sentence of Christ pronounced against the world, and as being assessors with Christ, which indeed is what Christ said of the apostles, Matthew 19:28 Luke 22:39. Others think, that the phrase only signifieth a great honour and dignity, to which the saints shall be advanced. A late learned and very critical author hath another notion of the saints’ judging the world here spoken of, interpreting it of a time when the secular judgment of the world should be given to the saints, which was prophesied by Daniel, Daniel 7:18,27, and therefore might be known by them. If this be the sense, it is either a prophecy of God’s giving the government of the world into the hands of Christians, (which fell out after this in Constantine’s time), or else it signifies such a time towards the end of the world, as those that expect a fifth monarchy speak of, when those that are true saints, in the strictest sense, shall have the government of the world; which seemeth not probable, considering what the Scripture speaks of persecutions, and wars, and disorders, rather increasing than abating towards the end of the world. The apostle therefore here seemeth rather to speak of the saints judging the world in the last day, approving the sentence of Christ the Judge of the quick and the dead; or else to prophesy of that time, when Christianity should so far obtain in the world, that the government either of the whole world, or of a great part of it, should be in the hands of Christians. From whence the apostle strongly concludeth the competency of Christians to arbitrate and determine little matters of difference amongst Christians, in their commerce and civil dealings one with another.


Verse 3

That the saints shall judge angels, is here so plainly asserted, as a thing within their knowledge, that none can doubt it; but how, or when, or what angels, is not so easily determined. The best interpreters understand it of the evil angels, that is, the devils, whom the saints shall judge at the last day, agreeing with the Judge of the whole earth in the sentence which he shall then give against the evil angels, confining them to the bottomless pit, who, while this world lasteth, have a greater liberty as princes of the air, to rove abroad in the air, and to work mightily in the children of disobedience. Others understand the judging of angels here mentioned, of the spoiling of the devils of the kingdom that they exercise in the world, in the places where the gospel hath not prevailed, by lying oracles, and seducing men to idolatry, and the worshipping of devils: in which sense Christ said: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out, Joshua 12:31. From hence the apostle argues the competency of their brethren to judge of and to determine those little matters which were in difference between them, being but things concerning this life, and so of far less consequence than the judging of the world and the evil angels at the last day.


Verse 4

If then ye have judgment of things pertaining to this life, that is, if you have any cause of suing or impleading one another for things that pertain to this life, be they of what nature they will,

set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church; rather commit the umpirage and determination of such little differences to the meanest members of your church, than go to contend before pagans and infidels: or do not employ your teachers about them, who have higher work to be employed in; but employ those who are of a lower order in the church, and whose business and concerns lie in secular affairs.


Verse 5

Ver. 5,6. I do not speak this, as if I would have you make choice of the meanest persons among you to arbitrate and determine all matters that may be in difference between you; but it would be a shame to you if, amongst you all, there could not be found one man whom you can judge wise enough to determine differences between you about things of this life, without bringing one another into pagan courts, to the reproach and scandal of the religion which you profess: make use of any, yea, the meanest Christians, in such judgments, rather than infidels and unbelievers, who will make use of your differences to the reproaching of the holy name of God.


Verse 6

Ver. 6,7. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another; not that it is simply unlawful for men to make use of human laws, and courts, and methods of judicature; for even the laws of men are good, if they be lawfully used: and the word here used by the apostle is htthma, which signifieth rather an impotency or weakness of mind and affections, a defect or diminution from perfection, than any scandalous sin. Going to law with brethren (though lawful in itself) may be made unlawful by circumstances:

1. When it is before judges that are unbelievers, so as men’s going to law before them tends to the reproach of religion, the credit and reputation of the gospel ought to be dearer to us than any little secular concern. This was the case in this place.

2. When it is for little matters, such as a coat or a cloak. It is against the law of charity to do another a great wrong to recover to ourselves a little that is our right.

3. When we cannot do it without wrath, anger, impatience, covetousness, or desire of revenge. It is a thing possible to go to law without sin, but what very few do, through that corruption which cleaveth to corrupt nature.

Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? It is therefore far more becoming conscientious Christians to take a little wrong, and to suffer themselves to be cheated of their right, especially under such circumstances, where the credit of the gospel and religion must lose more than they can get. And to do otherwise speaks htthma, a defect or imperfection in Christians, and is not without its guilt. If, by their contentiousness, they do not show themselves so bad as some would make them, who hold all contendings at law amongst Christians unlawful, yet they do not show themselves so good as the rule of Christianity requireth them to be, Matthew 5:39,40 Lu 6:29 Romans 12:19.


Verse 7

See Poole on "1 Corinthians 6:6"


Verse 8

The apostle riseth higher in his charge against them; he had before only charged them for want of self-denial, that they could not bear or suffer wrong; he now chargeth them for doing wrong and defrauding, and that not heathens, (which yet had been bad enough), but Christians that were their brethren, whom they had the highest obligations upon them imaginable to love, and to do good to. And indeed this charge followeth directly upon the other: for as in war, one army always are murderers, or guilty of the blood which they spill; so in suing at law, (which is a civil war between the two parties), either the one or the other party suing must do wrong, either putting his brother to trouble and expense, to recover of him what is not his right, or that he might withhold from him what is truly and indeed his right, either of which is indeed a doing of wrong or defrauding.


Verse 9

That by the kingdom of God is here meant the kingdom of glory, the happiness of another life, is plain, because he speaketh in the future tense; this kingdom, he saith,

the unrighteous, that is, those who so live and die,

shall not inherit. If we take the term unrighteous here to be a generical term, the species, or some of the principal species, of which are afterwards enumerated, it signifieth here the same with notoriously wicked men. But if we take it to signify persons guilty of acts of injustice towards themselves or others, it cannot be here understood as a general term, relating to all those species of sinners after enumerated; for so idolaters cannot properly be called unrighteous, but ungodly men.

Be not deceived, ( saith the apostle), either by any false teachers, or by the many ill examples of such sinners that you daily have, nor by magistrates’ connivance at these sins.

Neither fornicators; neither such as, being single persons, commit uncleanness with others (for here the apostle distinguisheth these sinners from adulterers, whom he mentioneth afterward).

Nor idolaters; nor such as either worship the creature instead of God, or worship the true God before images.

Nor adulterers; nor such as, being married persons, break their marriage covenant, and commit uncleanness with such as are not their yokefellows.

Nor effeminate persons; nor persons that give up themselves to lasciviousness, burning continually in lusts.

Nor abusers of themselves with mankind; nor such as are guilty of the sin of Sodom, a sin not to be named amongst Christians or men.


Verse 10

Nor thieves; nor such as take away the goods of their neighbours clandestinely, or by violence, without their consent or any just authority.

Nor covetous; nor persons who discover themselves excessively to love money, by their endeavours to get it into their hands any way, by oppression, cheating, or defrauding others.

Nor drunkards; nor persons that make drinking their business, and use it excessively, without regard to the law and rules of temperance and sobriety.

Nor revilers; nor persons that use their tongues intemperately, railing at others, and reviling them with reproachful and opprobrious names.

Nor extortioners; nor any such as by violence wring out of people’s hands what is not their due. None of these, not repenting of these sinful courses, and turning from them into a contrary course of life, shall ever come into heaven.


Verse 11

In the two last verses the apostle had pronounced a terrible sentence, especially to the Corinthians, who, having been heathens lately, had wallowed in a great deal of this guilt; he therefore here, that they might be humbled, and have low thoughts of themselves, and not be puffed up, (as he had before charged them), mindeth them, that some of them had been guilty of some of these enormous sins, some of them of one or some of them, and others of other of them. But, that they might not despair in their reflections upon that guilt, he tells them, they were washed, not only with the baptism of water, but with the baptism of the blood of Christ, and with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, born again of water and of the Spirit, John 3:5; yea, and not only washed, but sanctified, filled with new, spiritual habits, through the renewing of the Holy Ghost: having obtained a true righteousness, in which they might stand and appear before God, even the righteousness of Christ, reckoned unto them for righteousness; justified through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, and sanctified through the Spirit of holiness. So that the washing, first mentioned in this verse, seemeth to be a generical term, comprehending both justification, remission of sin, and deliverance from the guilt of it; and also regeneration and sanctification, which is the proper effect of the Spirit of grace, creating in the soul new habits and dispositions, by which it is enabled and inclined, as to die unto sin, so to live unto God. This the apostle doth not say of them all, (for it is very probable there were in this church some hypocrites), but of some of them.


Verse 12

The words of this text are not so difficult in themselves, as it is to make out the connection they have with, and the dependence they have upon, what went before and what followeth after. Some, thinking that they refer unto what the apostle had said before about their going to law before infidels in the first seven verses, lest any should say: Is it not then lawful for men to sue at law for their just dues and rights? The apostle answers: Admit it be, yet Christians ought not only to consider what is strictly lawful and just, but they ought to consider circumstances; for: Quicquid non expedit, in quantum non expedit non licet, is an old and good rule; An action that is in itself lawful, may be by circumstances made sinful and unlawful; and that was the case as to the Christians going to law before infidels. But others, and those the most, think that the apostle here begins a new head of discourse to dissuade from the sin of fornication, and from an intemperate use of meat and drink, as being provocative of lust, and disposing them to that sin. Now, lest they should say, Is it not lawful then to eat and drink liberally, must we eat and drink for bare necessity? He answereth:

All things are lawful for me; that is, all things which are not forbidden by the law of God may be used, may be done, under fair circumstances; but circumstances may alter the case,

all things may not be expedient to be used or done by all persons, or at all times. The Corinthians might possibly conclude too much from what he had told them, that they were washed, justified, and sanctified, viz. that now all things were lawful to them, at least all things not simply and absolutely condemned in the word of God: the apostle correcteth their mistake, by telling them they were to have a regard to expedience, and the profit of others, the neglect of which might make things that were in themselves lawful to become unlawful. Besides that, they must take heed that they did not make such a use, even of lawful things, as to

be brought under the power of them; which men are, when they become potent temptations to them to sin against God any way.


Verse 13

The beginning of this verse seemeth to give a great light to our true understanding of the former verse, and maketh it very probable that the apostle spake with reference to the free use of meats and drinks, when he said: All things are lawful for me. Though God hath ordained

meats for the filling of the belly, and hath made the belly for the receptacle of meats, for the nourishment of the body, so as the use of meats and drinks is lawful; yet when we see that the free use of them proveth inexpedient, as too much pampering the body, and disposing it to wantonness, so far as they do so they are to be avoided. Others make the connection thus: All your contests are but for things which concern the belly, for meats and drinks, for perishing things; now, in things of this nature, all things that are lawful are not expedient. Others say, that the apostle here answereth or obviateth what the Nicolaitanes or the Epicureans held, that all sorts of meats and drinks were lawful, yea, fornication itself. The apostle grants the first, but denieth the second, there being not a parity of reason for the lawfulness of meats and drinks, and of fornication. He tells them, God had ordained meats for the belly of man, and had created the stomach and belly for the reception of meats for the nourishment of man’s body, and the preservation of his life; yet they ought to use them lawfully, and to consider expedience in the use of them, and not too eagerly to contend for them, for

God shall destroy both the belly, and the use of meats as to the belly. In the resurrection, as men shall not marry, nor give in marriage, so they shall hunger and thirst no more. But God had not created

the body of a man for fornication, but for himself, that men by and with it might glorify his name, by doing his will. And

the Lord is for the body, as the Head of it, to guide and direct the use of the several members of it; and as the Saviour of it, to raise it up at the last day, as he further declareth in the next words. {see 1 Corinthians 6:14}


Verse 14

And God hath both raised up the Lord; the Lord Jesus Christ, as the first-fruits of those that sleep, from whose resurrection the apostle largely proveth our resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58.

And will also raise up us by his own power: God will raise up his saints by his own Almighty power.


Verse 15

Christ is united to the person of the believer, and he is the Head of the church, which is his mystical body; so that the bodies of believers are in a sense the members of Christ, and should be used by us as the members of Christ, which we should not rend from him: but he that doth commit fornication, rends his body from Christ, and maketh it

the member of an harlot; for as the man and wife are one flesh by Divine ordination, Genesis 2:24, so the fornicater and the harlot are one flesh by an impure conjunction.


Verse 16

The conjunction of the husband and wife, mentioned Genesis 2:24, and the conjunction of the fornicator and the harlot, differ not as to the species of the act, only as to the morality of it; the former is an honest and lawful act, the other a dishonest and filthy act. So that he that is wickedly joined to a harlot, maketh himself one flesh with her with whom he committeth that folly and lewdness, and he must needs by it separate his body from its membership with Christ, whose holiness will admit no such union.


Verse 17

This phrase joined unto the Lord, is thought to be taken out of Deuteronomy 10:20: To him shalt thou cleave. He that hath attained to that mystical union which is between Christ and every one that is a true believer, is not essentially, but spiritually and mystically, one spirit with Christ; his spirit is united to the Spirit of Christ, and he is one by him in faith and love, and by obedience, Christ and he have one will, and he is ruled and governed by Christ: therefore you must take heed what you do in making your bodies the members of harlots, which they cannot be, and the members of Christ also.


Verse 18

The apostle cometh to a new argument, by which he presseth them to flee the sin of uncleanness. It is observed by some, that this sin is peculiarly to be resisted, not so much by resisting it, and pondering arguments against it, as by flying from it, avoiding all occasions of it, and not suffering our thoughts to feed upon it; but the apostle’s argument is, because other sins are

without the body, that is, the body hath not such a blemish and note or mark of infamy laid upon it by any other sin as by this: in drunkenness the liquor, in gluttony the meat, in other sins something without a man’s self is that which is abused, but the body itself is the thing which is abused in this filthy sin. So he that is guilty of it,

sinneth not only against his wife, with whom he is one flesh, but against his body, which he abuseth in this vile and sinful act, and upon which he imprints a mark of infamy and disgrace, a blot not to be washed out but with the blood of Christ. So as though by other sins men may sin against their own bodies, yet by no sin so eminently as by this sin. Other sins have their seat in the mind and soul; the body, and commonly some particular member of the body, is but the servant of the soul in the execution and committing of them; but lust, though indeed it ariseth from the heart, yet it is committed more in the body than any other sin is.


Verse 19

The apostle, 1 Corinthians 3:16, had called the church of Corinth,

the temple of God, and there made use of it to dissuade them from dissensions and divisions, because by them they defiled and destroyed the temple of God; here he calls the members of that church,

the temple of the Holy Ghost, which strongly proveth the Holy Ghost to be God: he mekes use of it here as an argument to dissuade them from the sin of fornication. God’s temple was built for his habitation upon earth, the place which he chose most to manifest himself in to his people, and for a place wherein his people were to pay him that external homage and worship, which he required of them under the law. So as the apostle’s calling them the temple of the Holy Ghost, both minded them of the favour God had bestowed on them, and also of that homage and duty which they with their bodies were to pay unto God; the latter they could not perform, nor hope for the former, while they lived in the practice of a sin so contrary to the will of God. Besides, he mindeth them, that their bodies were not their own, they had them of God: they had them from God by creation, and they were upheld by the daily workings of his providence in their upholding and preservation; God had not given them their bodies for this use, the body was not for fornication, as he had told them, 1 Corinthians 6:13. So as in abusing their bodies, they abused what was not their own, nor in their own power to use, as they listed to use them; but to be used only for those ends, and in that manner, that he who had given them had prescribed and directed: and in these abuses there was a kind of sacrilege; as God of old charged the Jews, Ezekiel 16:17-19, that they had taken the jewels of his gold and his silver, to make images, and commit spiritual whoredom with them; and they had taken his meat, his fine flour, his oil, and incense to set before them, & c.


Verse 20

For ye are bought with a price; what price this is that is here mentioned Peter tells us, both negatively and positively, 1 Peter 1:18,19: Forasmuh as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. So he argueth with them against this sin from their redemption, it being suitable to reason, that those who are redeemed out of any slavery or captivity, should be the servants of him who redeemed them, not of those tyrants from whom they are redeemed; such are our lusts and corruptions, from which we are redeemed, as well as from that curse and wrath, which is the consequent of them.

Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s; therefore, (saith the apostle), you who are redeemed with a price, and with such a price, are bound to glorify God, as by speaking well of his name, so by obeying his will, Matthew 5:16. And this you are bound to do, not with your bodies or your spirits only, but in or with your bodies and spirits also, that is, with your whole man; for both of them are God’s, by a manifold right, not that of creation and providence only, but that of redemption also: with which exhortation the apostle finisheth this discourse, and cometh to give them an answer to some questions about which they had wrote unto him.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-6.html. 1685.

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