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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.

9. Know ye not, etc. By unrighteousness here you may understand what is opposed to strict integrity. The unrighteous, then, that is, those who inflict injury on their brethren, who defraud or circumvent others, who, in short, are intent upon their own advantage at the expense of injuring others, will not inherit the kingdom of God That by the unrighteous here, as for example adulterers, and thieves and covetous, and revilers, he means those who do not repent of their sins, but obstinately persist in them, is too manifest to require that it should be stated. The Apostle himself, too, afterwards expresses this in the words employed by him, when he says that the Corinthians formerly were such The wicked, then, do inherit the kingdom of God, but it is only in the event of their having been first converted to the Lord in true repentance, and having in this way ceased to be wicked. For although conversion is not the ground of pardon, yet we know that none are reconciled to God but those who repent. The interrogation, however, is emphatic, for it intimates that he states nothing but what they themselves know, and is matter of common remark among all pious persons.

Be not deceived He takes occasion from one vice to speak of many. I am of opinion, however, that he has pointed out those vices chiefly which prevailed among the Corinthians. He makes use of three terms for reproving those lascivious passions which, as all historical accounts testify, reigned, nay raged, to an extraordinary height in that city. For it was a city that abounded in wealth, (as has been stated elsewhere.) It was a celebrated mart, which was frequented by merchants from many nations. Wealth has luxury as its attendant — the mother of unchastity and all kinds of lasciviousness. In addition to this, a nation which was of itself prone to wantonness, was prompted to it by many other corruptions.

The difference between fornicators and adulterers is sufficiently well known. By effeminate persons I understand those who, although they do not openly abandon themselves to impurity, discover, nevertheless, their unchastity by blandishments of speech, by lightness of gesture and apparel, and other allurements. The fourth description of crime is the most abominable of all — that monstrous pollution which was but too prevalent in Greece.

He employs three terms in reproving injustice and injuries. He gives the name of thieves to those who take the advantage of their brethren by any kind of fraud or secret artifice. By extortioners, he means those that violently seize on another’s wealth, or like harpies 340340     “Comme bestes rauissantes;” — “Like ravenous beasts.” The harpies, it is well known, were fabulous monsters, proverbial for rapacity. It deserves to be noticed that their name ἅρπυίαι, and the term made use of by Paul to denote extortioners, (ἅρπαγες) are both of them derived from ἅρπάζω, to seize upon, or take by violence. — Ed drew to themselves from every quarter, and devour. With the view of giving his discourse a wider range, he afterwards adds all covetous persons too. Under the term drunkards you are to understand him as including those who go to excess in eating. He more particularly reproves revilers, because, in all probability, that city was full of gossip and slanders. In short, he makes mention chiefly of those vices to which, he saw, that city was addicted.

Farther, that his threatening may have more weight, he says, be not deceived; by which expression he admonishes them not to flatter themselves with a vain hope, as persons are accustomed, by extenuating their offenses, to inure themselves to contempt of God. No poison, therefore, is more dangerous than those allurements which encourage us in our sins. Let us, therefore, shun, not as the songs of the Sirens, 341341     The Sirens were a kind of marine monsters, which were supposed to inhabit certain rocky islands on the south-west coast of Italy, and decoyed, it was alleged, by their enchanting music, mariners to their destruction. Homer in his Odyssey (8. 45) speaks of their melodious song (λιγυρὢ ἀοιδὢ.) Our Author, it will be observed, in the connection in which he alludes to “the songs of the Sirens,” strongly expresses his belief of the reality of Satanic influence, as contrasted with what is merely fabulous. — Ed but as the deadly bites of Satan, the talk of profane persons, when turning the judgment of God and reproofs of sins into matter of jest. Lastly, we must also notice here the propriety of the word κληρονομειν to inherit; which shows that the kingdom of heaven is the inheritance of sons, and therefore comes to us through the privilege of adoption.


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