1Corinthians 6 - Outline of 1Corinthians (MENU page)
This chapter continues and concludes this section regarding disorders in the church.
III. Disorders within the local church. 5:1- 6:20
  1. Corruption tolerated: flagrant incest. 5:1-13
  2. Litigation conducted: between brethren. 6:1-11
  3. Fornication repudiated: my body belongs to the Lord. 6:12-20
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?
Dare any of you... go to law before the unjust {ie., the unrighteous, the unsaved}...?
Inevitably, conflicts will arise between believers regarding property and business matters. Even church disputes sometimes get dragged into secular courts. But is it wise or safe to pursue legal issues before an unsaved judge and jury? Paul asks: Do you dare {are you courageous enough to do so}?
     An unbeliever may sue a believer in the governmental legal system. But that is not the place for believers to air grievances between one another. Why?
     Paul gives three reasons (in v.2,3,9) each prefaced by "Know ye not?" {lit., "Do you not see?"}
1. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?
The saints are believers, who being "in Christ" are 'set apart' to serve God (1Cor 1:2). When Christ returns to rule the world, the saints will rule and reign with Him (eg., 2Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26,27; 3:21).
     "...are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" See this word for 'smallest matters' {GK=elachistos, least}, in Luk 16:10; 19:17. In Christ's future Kingdom, individual saints will be given increased authority proportionate to their faithfulness in handling relatively insignificant and passing matters today. We dare not shirk our responsibilities here and now.
2. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?
How can this be, since men were made "a little lower than the angels" (Psa 8:4,5)? But that verse also says men will be crowned "with glory and honor." This is true of believers who have been raised out of our fallen state to be seated with Christ, above all other spiritual entities (Eph 1:19-23; 2:4-7). While we cannot fully understand our future role in the heavenly realm, we ought to faithfully execute our present responsibilities, in the earthly realm.
     [NOTE: The saints will have no part in the final judgment of unsaved men and fallen angels. The Lord Himself will be the Judge of all at the Great White Throne (Rev 20:10-15).]
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,
[why do you] 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.
[why do you] set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
The term 'least esteemed' {GK=exoutheneo, contemptible, despised, of no account} occurs in 1Cor 1:28, in describing the conflict between the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of the world (1Cor 1:18-31). In the world's view, the things 'despised' are the things which God has chosen. In contrast, the church rests entirely on Christ, who "of God is made unto us wisdom, even righteousness and sanctification and redemption." Because men of the world reject the wisdom of God as foolishness, their reasonings are contrary to and incompatible with the mind of Christ whose Spirit indwells believers. Why would we select a judge who is opposed to our Lord, His ways and His people?
Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one... able to judge his brethren?
New or carnal believers are not naturally prepared to discern the issues and decide difficult matters. But the indwelling Spirit of God grants His wisdom to mature believers, as they seek and know the mind of Christ (1Cor 2:14-16).
...to your shame... brother goeth to law with brother... before unbelievers.
It is a shame when no mature believer can be found to resolve disputes between brothers.
It is also shameful when believers, whose purpose should be to lead the lost to the Savior, damage the cause by public prosecution of their bitter conflicts (cp. Joh 13:34,35).
     There is 'utterly a fault' {ie., a total failure} when brother sues brother before unbelievers.
Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather [allow yourselves to] be defrauded?
The wrong, which you may suffer today, is temporary. The Lord will settle everything in His time. Prov 20:22; Rom 12:17-19; Eph 4:29-32; 1Pet 3:8-12
Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that [your] brethren.
Brazen shamelessness is displayed, when rather than "forbearing one another in love" (cp. Eph 4:1-3), a brother selfishly and unjustly harms and cheats another brother (Jam 4:1-4).
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.
3. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
This can be applied in multiple ways:
  1. as a warning for the professed believer who is defrauding his brother (as in v.8):
    Such action is not consistent with life in Christ. If your life remains characterized by things from which Christ has delivered His own, there is reason to examine the reality of your professed faith. 1Cor 11:27-29; 2Cor 13:5
  2. as a reason for avoiding litigation before unbelievers (as in v.6,7):
    Secular judges do not understand God's power to transform the sinner. As they consider a brotherly disagreement, the uncovering of a brother's former crimes may prejudice the case, though God has forgiven and cleansed that brother of the earlier matter.
  3. as reasons that Christians are equipped to judge their brothers (as in v.5):
    1. ye are {lit., were} washed -
      Having been cleansed from our own filth, through God's mercy, we are prepared to extend mercy to others. Titus 3:5,6
    2. ye are {lit., were} sanctified -
      Having been set apart for Christ, we belong to the body which includes all whom He has called out of the world (1Cor 1:2,3). Therefore, our greatest desire is that the case be decided in a way that glorifies our Lord. 1Cor 10:31; Col 3:17
    3. ye are {lit., were} justified -
      Having been redeemed and declared righteous, at Christ's expense, we are prepared to forgive and assist a stumbling brother. Rom 8:33,34
12. All things are lawful unto me,
but all things are not expedient
{ie., profitable, cp. 1Cor 10:23}:
all things are lawful for me,
but I will not be brought under the power
{ie., authority} of any. {Rom 6:11-13}
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.
All things are lawful for me, but...
As described in v.9-11, Christ has delivered believers from the sin which formerly excluded us from God's kingdom. He accomplished for us what we could not, and has set us free from bondage to sin and the condemnation of the law (Rom 8:2-4). Here, Paul begins to discuss what it means to have freedom or liberty in Christ (Joh 8:36; Gal 5:1,13). Later (in 1Corinthians ch.8-10), Paul will consider the limitations of Christian liberty: Having been made free from the Law, all things are lawful for me. Yet, my liberty may be limited by a brother's conscience. The discussion will be centered around the question of whether it is right to eat meat offered to idols.
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.
The body needs food. But when your body dies, your food preferences will have no significance.
     In Christ, believers have been lifted into holiness in the spiritual realm. Yet, in the physical realm, we are still living in fleshly bodies, which have strong appetites and drives. Some argued that just as the hunger for food must be satisfied, so likewise, the sexual desires. To their minds, the body and the spirit were separate. The flesh would perish, the spirit would dwell with God forever. Therefore, the flesh could safely be indulged. Paul corrects their misunderstanding. Your body is much more than a stomach.
Now the body [is] not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
The body is not for sexual immorality, but rather for the Lord's service. The Lord saves and sanctifies the whole man: spirit, soul and body (1The 5:23). The future resurrection is not merely spiritual, but also bodily. 1Cor 15:42-44,51-57.
     Therefore, we are to keep our bodies pure for the Lord (1The 4:3-7). Paul drives this point home with three points, each beginning with: "Know ye not...?"
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 an harlot? God forbid.
Your bodies are members of Christ: 1Cor 12:12-14,27; Rom 12:4,5; Eph 1:22,23.
16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body?
for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
{Gen 2:23,24}
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
{Joh 3:6; 1Cor 12:13; Eph 5:30-33}
18 Flee fornication. {eg., Gen 39:11-15; Prov 5:3-15}
Every sin that a man doeth is without the body;
but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
{cp. Rom 1:24,27}
See Rom 6:12,13; 2Tim 2:22; Heb 13:4; 1Pet 2:11.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the {lit., a} 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:
{2Cor 5:14,15; Titus 2:14}
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
{cp. v.13}
Here, Paul identifies the individual body of each believer as "a temple" of the Holy Spirit, purchased and purified by the blood of Christ. Each of us is to keep God's temple pure, for His glory.
[In 1Cor 3:16,17, Paul spoke of the whole body of believers, the church, as God's temple, which church leaders dare not defile.]
Both the believer's body and spirit belong to the Lord, and are to be used for His glory.

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