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6. Lawsuits Among Believers

1Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more, things that pertain to this life? 4If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church? 5I say this to move you to shame. What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren, 6but brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded? 8Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 9Or 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 men, 10nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. 12All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to nought both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: 14and God both raised the Lord, and will raise up as through his power. 15Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid. 16Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, saith he, shall become one flesh. 17But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; 20for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.

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1Co 6:1-11. 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 Heaven.

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 [Josephus, Antiquities, 14.10,17]. So the Christians were allowed to have Christian arbitrators.

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 honors.

4. judgments—that is, cases for judgment.

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 present course.

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 councils.

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.




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