Litigation of Christians in Heathen Courts
Censured: Its Very Existence Betrays a
Wrong Spirit: Better to Bear Wrong Now,
and Hereafter the Doers of Wrong Shall Be Shut Out of
1. Dare—This word implies treason
against Christian brotherhood [Bengel].
before the unjust—The Gentile judges
are here so termed by an epithet appropriate to the subject in
question, namely, one concerning justice. Though all Gentiles
were not altogether unjust, yet in the highest view of justice
which has regard to God as the Supreme Judge, they are so: Christians,
on the other hand, as regarding God as the only Fountain of justice,
should not expect justice from them.
before … saints—The Jews abroad
were permitted to refer their disputes to Jewish arbitrators
14.10,17]. So the Christians were allowed to have Christian
2. Do ye not know—as a truth universally
recognized by Christians. Notwithstanding all your glorying in your
"knowledge," ye are acting contrary to it (1Co 1:4, 5;
8:1). The oldest manuscripts
have "Or" before "know ye not"; that is, "What! (expressing surprise)
know ye not," &c.
saints … judge—that is, "rule,"
including judgment: as assessors of Christ. Mt 19:28, "judging," that is, "ruling over."
(Compare Ps 49:14; Da 7:22, 27; Re 2:26; 3:21;
20:4). There is a distinction
drawn by able expositors between the saints who judge or
rule, and the world which is ruled by them: as there is between
the elected (Mt 20:23)
twelve apostles who sit on thrones judging, and the twelve tribes of
Israel that are judged by them. To reign, and to be
saved, are not necessarily synonymous. As Jehovah employed
angels to carry the law into effect when He descended on Sinai to
establish His throne in Israel, so at His coming the saints shall
administer the kingdom for, and under, Him. The nations of the earth,
and Israel the foremost, in the flesh, shall, in this view, be the
subjects of the rule of the Lord and His saints in glorified
bodies. The mistake of the Chiliasts was that they took the merely
carnal view, restricting the kingdom to the terrestrial part. This part
shall have place with the accession of spiritual and temporal blessings
such as Christ's presence must produce. Besides this earthly glory,
there shall be the heavenly glory of the saints reigning in
transfigured bodies, and holding such blessed intercourse with mortal
men, as angels had with men of old, and as Christ, Moses, and Elias, in
glory had with Peter, James, and John, in the flesh at the
transfiguration (2Ti 2:12; 2Pe 1:16-18). But here the "world" seems to be the
unbelieving world that is to be "condemned" (1Co 11:22), rather than the whole world, including
the subject nations which are to be brought under Christ's sway;
however, it may include both those to be condemned, with the bad
angels, and those about to be brought into obedience to the sway of
Christ with His saints. Compare Mt 25:32, 40, "all nations," "these my brethren" on
the thrones with Him. The event will decide the truth of this view.
judged by you—or, before you
(compare 1Co 3:22).
smallest matters—The weightiest of
earthly questions at issue are infinitely small compared with
those to be decided on the judgment-day.
3. judge angels—namely, bad
angels. We who are now "a spectacle to angels" shall then "judge
angels." The saints shall join in approving the final sentence of the
Judge on them (Jude 6).
Believers shall, as administrators of the kingdom under Jesus, put down
all rule that is hostile to God. Perhaps, too, good angels shall
then receive from the Judge, with the approval of the saints, higher
4. judgments—that is, cases for
least esteemed—literally, "those of no
esteem." Any, however low in the Church, rather than the heathen (1Co 1:28). Questions of earthly property
are of secondary consequence in the eyes of true Christians, and are
therefore delegated to those in a secondary position in the Church.
5. your shame—Thus he checks their
puffed-up spirit (1Co 5:2;
compare 1Co 15:34).
To shame you out of your present unworthy course of litigation before
the heathen, I have said (1Co 6:4), "Set
the least esteemed in the Church to judge." Better even this, than your
Is it so?—Are you in such a helpless
state that, &c.?
not a wise man—though ye admire
"wisdom" so much on other occasions (1Co 1:5, 22). Paul alludes probably to the title,
"cachain," or wise man, applied to each Rabbi in Jewish
no, not one—not even one, amidst so
many reputed among you for wisdom (1Co 3:18; 4:6).
shall be able—when applied to.
brethren—literally, "brother"; that
is, judge between brother and brother. As each case should arise, the
arbitrator was to be chosen from the body of the church, such a wise
person as had the charism, or gift, of church government.
6. But—emphatically answering the
question in the end of 1Co 6:5 in the
negative. Translate, "Nay," &c.
7. utterly a fault—literally, "a
shortcoming" (not so strong as sin). Your going to law at all is
a falling short of your high privileges, not to say your doing so
before unbelievers, which aggravates it.
rather take wrong—(Pr 20:22; Mt
5:39, 40); that is, "suffer
yourselves to be wronged."
8. ye—emphatic. Ye, whom your
Lord commanded to return good for evil, on the contrary, "do
wrong (by taking away) and defraud" (by retaining what is entrusted to
you; or "defraud" marks the effect of the "wrong" done, namely,
the loss inflicted). Not only do ye not bear, but ye inflict
9. unrighteous—Translate, "Doers of
wrong": referring to 1Co 6:8
kingdom of God—which is a kingdom of
righteousness (Ro 14:17).
fornicators—alluding to 1Co 5:1-13; also below, 1Co 6:12-18.
effeminate—self-polluters, who submit
to unnatural lusts.
11. ye are washed—The Greek
middle voice expresses, "Ye have had yourselves washed." This washing
implies the admission to the benefits of Christ's salvation
generally; of which the parts are; (1) Sanctification, or the
setting apart from the world, and adoption into the Church: so
"sanctified" is used 1Co 7:14; Joh 17:19. Compare 1Pe 1:2, where it rather seems to mean the
setting apart of one as consecrated by the Spirit in the
eternal purpose God. (2) Justification from condemnation
through the righteousness of God in Christ by faith (Ro 1:17). So Paræus. The order of sanctification
before justification shows that it must be so taken, and not in
the sense of progressive sanctification. "Washed" precedes both,
and so must refer to the Christian's outward new birth of water, the
sign of the inward setting apart to the Lord by the inspiration of the
Spirit as the seed of new life (Joh 3:5; Eph
5:26; Tit 3:5; Heb 10:22).
Paul (compare the Church of England Baptismal Service), in charity, and
faith in the ideal of the Church, presumes that baptism realizes its
original design, and that those outwardly baptized inwardly enter into
vital communion with Christ (Ga 3:27). He
presents the grand ideal which those alone realized in whom the inward
and the outward baptism coalesced. At the same time he recognizes the
fact that this in many cases does not hold good (1Co 6:8-10), leaving it to God to decide who
are the really "washed," while he only decides on broad general
in the name of … Jesus, and by the
Spirit—rather, "in the Spirit," that is, by His
in-dwelling. Both clauses belong to the three—"washed,
our God—The "our" reminds the that
amidst all his reproofs God is still the common God of himself and
1Co 6:12-20. Refutation of
the Antinomian Defense of Fornication as if It Was Lawful Because Meats
12. All things are lawful unto me—These,
which were Paul's own words on a former occasion (to the Corinthians,
compare 1Co 10:23, and Ga 5:23), were made a pretext for excusing the
eating of meats offered to idols, and so of what was generally
connected with idolatry (Ac 15:29),
"fornication" (perhaps in the letter of the Corinthians to Paul, 1Co 7:1). Paul's remark had referred only
to things indifferent: but they wished to treat fornication as
such, on the ground that the existence of bodily appetites proved the
lawfulness of their gratification.
me—Paul giving himself as a sample of
Christians in general.
but I—whatever others do, I will
lawful … brought under the
power—The Greek words are from the same root, whence
there is a play on the words: All things are in my power,
but I will not be brought under the power of any of them (the
"all things"). He who commits "fornication," steps aside from his own
legitimate power or liberty, and is "brought under the power" of an
6:15; compare 1Co 7:4). The "power" ought to be in the hands
of the believer, not in the things which he uses [Bengel]; else his liberty is forfeited; he
ceases to be his own master (Joh 8:34-36;
Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 2:19).
Unlawful things ruin thousands; "lawful" things (unlawfully used), ten
13. The argument drawn from the indifference
of meats (1Co 8:8; Ro 14:14, 17; compare Mr 7:18; Col 2:20-22) to that of fornication does not
hold good. Meats doubtless are indifferent, since both they and the
"belly" for which they are created are to be "destroyed" in the future
state. But "the body is not (created) for fornication, but for the
Lord; and the Lord for the body" (as its Redeemer, who hath Himself
assumed the body): "And God hath raised up the Lord, and will also
raise up us" (that is our bodies): therefore the "body" is not, like
the "belly," after having served a temporary use, to be destroyed: Now
"he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body" (1Co 6:18). Therefore fornication is not
indifferent, since it is a sin against one's own body, which, like the
Lord for whom it is created, is not to be destroyed, but to be raised
to eternal existence. Thus Paul gives here the germ of the three
subjects handled in subsequent sections: (1) The relation between the
sexes. (2) The question of meats offered to idols. (3) The resurrection
of the body.
shall destroy—at the Lord's coming to
change the natural bodies of believers into spiritual bodies (1Co 15:44,
52). There is a real essence
underlying the superficial phenomena of the present temporary
organization of the body, and this essential germ, when all the
particles are scattered, involves the future resurrection of the body
14. (Ro 8:11).
raised up—rather, "raised," to
distinguish it from "will raise up us"; the Greek of the
latter being a compound, the former a simple verb. Believers shall be
raised up out of the rest of the dead (see on Php 3:11); the first resurrection (Re 20:5).
us—Here he speaks of the possibility
of his being found in the grave when Christ comes; elsewhere, of his
being possibly found alive (1Th 4:17). In
either event, the Lord's coming rather than death is the great object
of the Christian's expectation (Ro 8:19).
15. Resuming the thought in 1Co 6:13, "the body is for the Lord" (1Co 12:27; Eph 4:12, 15, 16; 5:30).
shall I then—such being the case.
take—spontaneously alienating them
from Christ. For they cannot be at the same time "the members of an
harlot," and "of Christ" [Bengel]. It is
a fact no less certain than mysterious, that moral and spiritual ruin
is caused by such sins; which human wisdom (when untaught by
revelation) held to be actions as blameless as eating and drinking
[Conybeare and Howson].
16. Justification of his having called
fornicators "members of an harlot" (1Co 6:15).
joined—by carnal intercourse;
literally, "cemented to": cleaving to.
one body—with her.
saith he—God speaking by Adam (Ge 2:24;
Mt 19:5). "He which made them
at the beginning said," &c. (Eph 5:31).
17. one spirit—with Him. In the case of
union with a harlot, the fornicator becomes one "body" with her (not
one "spirit," for the spirit which is normally the organ of the Holy
Spirit in man, is in the carnal so overlaid with what is sensual that
it is ignored altogether). But the believer not only has his body
sanctified by union with Christ's body, but also becomes "one spirit"
with Him (Joh 15:1-7; 17:21; 2Pe 1:4; compare Eph 5:23-32; Joh 3:6).
18. Flee—The only safety in such
temptations is flight (Ge 39:12; Job 31:1).
Every sin—The Greek is
forcible. "Every sin whatsoever that a man doeth." Every
other sin; even gluttony, drunkenness, and self-murder are
"without," that is, comparatively external to the body (Mr 7:18; compare Pr 6:30-32). He certainly injures, but he does not
alienate the body itself; the sin is not terminated in the body; he
rather sins against the perishing accidents of the body (as the
"belly," and the body's present temporary organization), and against
the soul than against the body in its permanent essence, designed "for
the Lord." "But" the fornicator alienates that body which is the
Lord's, and makes it one with a harlot's body, and so "sinneth against
his own body," that is, against the verity and nature of
his body; not a mere effect on the body from without, but a
contradiction of the truth of the body, wrought within
19. What? know ye not? &c.—Proof
that "he that fornicates sinneth against his own body" (1Co 6:18).
your body—not "bodies." As in 1Co 3:17, he represented the whole company
of believers (souls and bodies), that is, the Church, as "the temple of
God," the Spirit; so here, the body of each individual of the
Church is viewed as the ideal "temple of the Holy Ghost." So Joh 17:23, which proves that not only the
Church, but also each member of it, is "the temple of the Holy Ghost."
Still though many the several members form one temple, the whole
collectively being that which each is in miniature individually. Just
as the Jews had one temple only, so in the fullest sense all Christian
churches and individual believers form one temple only. Thus "YOUR [plural] body" is distinguished
here from "HIS OWN [particular or
individual] body" (1Co 6:18). In
sinning against the latter, the fornicator sins against "your (ideal)
body," that of "Christ," whose "members your bodies" are (1Co 6:15). In this consists the sin of
fornication, that it is a sacrilegious desecration of God's temple to
profane uses. The unseen, but much more efficient, Spirit of God in the
spiritual temple now takes the place of the visible Shekinah in the old
material temple. The whole man is the temple; the soul is the inmost
shrine; the understanding and heart, the holy place; and the body, the
porch and exterior of the edifice. Chastity is the guardian of the
temple to prevent anything unclean entering which might provoke the
indwelling God to abandon it as defiled [Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women]. None
but God can claim a temple; here the Holy Ghost is assigned one;
therefore the Holy Ghost is God.
not your own—The fornicator treats his
body as if it were "his own," to give to a harlot if he pleases (1Co 6:18; compare 1Co 6:20). But we have no right to alienate our
body which is the Lord's. In ancient servitude the person of the
servant was wholly the property of the master, not his own.
Purchase was one of the ways of acquiring a slave. Man has
sold himself to sin (1Ki 21:20; Ro 7:14). Christ buys him to Himself, to serve
20. bought with a price—Therefore
Christ's blood is strictly a ransom paid to God's justice by the love
of God in Christ for our redemption (Mt 20:28; Ac 20:28; Ga 3:13; Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:18, 19; 2Pe
2:1; Re 5:9). While He thus
took off our obligation to punishment, He laid upon us a new obligation
to obedience (1Co 7:22, 23). If we accept Him as our Prophet to
reveal God to us, and our Priest to atone for us, we must also accept
Him as our King to rule over us as wholly His, presenting every token
of our fealty (Isa 26:13).
in your body—as "in" a temple (compare
Joh 13:32; Ro 12:1; Php 1:20).
and in your spirit, which are
God's—not in the oldest manuscripts and versions, and not
needed for the sense, as the context refers mainly to the "body"
6:16, 18, 19). The "spirit"
is incidentally mentioned in 1Co 6:17, which perhaps gave rise to the
interpolation, at first written in the Margin, afterwards
inserted in the text.