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6. Lawsuits Among Believers

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2Do 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? 3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5I 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? 6But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7Now 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? 8Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. 9Know 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, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And 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.

12All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not 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 destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. 15Know 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. 16What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be 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. 19What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

12. All things are lawful for me. Interpreters labor hard to make out the connection of these things, 345345     “A le conioindre avec ce qui a este dit auparauant;” — “To connect it with what has been said before.” as they appear to be somewhat foreign to the Apostle’s design. For my own part, without mentioning the different interpretations, I shall state what, in my opinion, is the most satisfactory. It is probable, that the Corinthians even up to that time retained much of their former licentiousness, and had still a savor of the morals of their city. Now when vices stalk abroad with impunity, 346346     “Or ou on peche a bride auallee, et la ou les vices ne sont point corrigez;” — “Where persons sin with a loose bridle, and where vices are not punished.” custom is regarded as law, and then afterwards vain pretexts are sought for by way of excuse; an instance of which we have in their resorting to the pretext of Christian liberty, so as to make almost everything allowable for themselves to do. They reveled in excess of luxury. With this there was, as usual, much pride mixed up. As it was an outward thing, they did not think that there was any sin involved in it: nay more, it appears from Paul’s words that they abused liberty so much as to extend it even to fornication. Now therefore, most appropriately, after having spoken of their vices, he discusses those base pretexts by which they flattered themselves in outward sins.

It is, indeed, certain, that he treats here of outward things, which God has left to the free choice of believers, but by making use of a term expressive of universality, he either indirectly reproves their unbridled licentiousness, or extols God’s boundless liberality, which is the best directress to us of moderation. For it is a token of excessive licentiousness, when persons do not, of their own accord, restrict themselves, and set bounds to themselves, amidst such manifold abundance. And in the first place, he limits liberty 347347     “La liberte Chrestienne;” — “Christian liberty.” by two exceptions; and secondly, he warns them, that it does not by any means extend to fornication. These words, All things are lawful for me, must be understood as spoken in name of the Corinthians, κατ ᾿ ἀνθυποφορὰν, (by anticipation,) as though he had said, I am aware of the reply which you are accustomed to make, when desirous to avoid reproof for outward vices. You pretend that all things are lawful for you, without any reserve or limitation.

But all things are not expedient Here we have the first exception, by which he restricts the use of liberty — that they must not abandon themselves to licentiousness, because respect must be had to edification. 348348     “L’edification du prochain;” — “The edification of their neighbor.” The meaning is, “It is not enough that this or that is allowed us, to be made use of indiscriminately; for we must consider what is profitable to our brethren, whose edification it becomes us to study. For as he will afterwards point out at greater length, (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24,) and as he has already shown in Romans 14:13, etc., every one has liberty inwardly 349349     “En sa conscience;” — “In his conscience.” in the sight of God on this condition, that all must restrict the use of their liberty with a view to mutual edification.

I will not be brought under the power of anything Here we have a second restriction — that we are constituted lords of all things, in such a way, that we ought not to bring ourselves under bondage to anything; as those do who cannot control their appetites. For I understand the word τινος (any) to be in the neuter gender, and I take it as referring, not to persons, but to things, so that the meaning is this: “We are lords of all things; only we must not abuse that lordship in such a way as to drag out a most miserable bondage, being, through intemperance and inordinate lusts, under subjection to outward things, which ought to be under subjection to us.” And certainly, the excessive moroseness of those who grudge to yield up anything for the sake of their brethren, has this effect, that they unadvisedly put halters of necessity around their own necks.

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