1 Corinthians 6:1-20
This is a continuation of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. He is writing because he has heard that there is division among them, they are giving glory to their teachers instead of to God, and they are not addressing an incestuous relationship within their church. In chapter 5 Paul reminded them how they are to handle such behavior.
In chapter 6 we’ll learn how to best address conflict between believers and we’ll again be reminded to allow our spiritual body to rule over our flesh. I hope you’ll pull out your Bible and join me in a verse-by-verse study.
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
When you have an issue with another Christian it’s far better to work it out within the church instead of taking it to court. If the problem is between two Christians who love the Lord and want to abide by His Word then why not consult other Christians to help bring about a resolution? Let’s seek help from someone who knows the laws of God.
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?
Let’s start with who the saints are by taking the word saint back to the original Greek. I use The Companions Bible and The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible to do this. The word is hagios meaning sacred (phys. pure, mor. blameless or religious, cer. consecrated):- (most) holy (one, thing). So that’s a good start. The saints are blameless and holy. It sounds like they have been granted forgiveness. How do we obtain forgiveness? Through repentance.
The saints are addressed in many places but let’s examine Ephesians. In verse 1 we learn that Paul is addressing the saints which are at Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:4 According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:
Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
So the saints are people chosen by God before the foundation of this world. These are the Christians who will follow Christ in this age and in the age beyond this one.
We know from Ezekiel 44:23-24 that these saints will be teachers in the Millennium (the Lord’s Day) which occurs after Jesus Christ returns but before Satan is destroyed in the lake of fire. When there are disagreements they will judge according to God’s laws. Paul is saying here in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that if you know all this then how can you not trust your brothers and sisters in Christ to handle a dispute now? Don’t we also have God’s law to guide us in our decision making?
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
If you know that your Christian brothers and sisters will be given the responsibility to judge angels in the Millennium then how can you think them unfit to judge trivial matters now? How much more important are the judgments they will have to make in the Millennium than any dispute over property, money, etc now? There is no comparison.
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
The person you believe to be the least wise in the church will still do a better job than someone outside of the church. It’s always better to make decisions using the instructions given by God through His Word.
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?
Paul is asking if they really have no one in their church who is familiar with God’s law.
God’s law is fair and relevant even today. It has not changed and will not fail. This is documented throughout the New Testament by Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Matthew 5:18 For verily I saw unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
A jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet (iota). A tittle is the mark that changes the sound of a vowel in the Hebrew tongue. Jesus is saying that He did not come to destroy the law and the words of the prophets but to fulfill that law. Not even a jot or tittle shall be changed in the law until heaven and earth pass away (meaning this earth age ends) and all is fulfilled.
Side note: When people say that the laws are void it is because they do not understand the differences between laws, statutes, and ordinances. The blood ordinances (sacrificial offerings) were ended through the crucifixion of Christ as He became the final blood offering (Hebrews 10:5-18). That is completely separate from the laws.
Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
The John mentioned here is John the Baptist. When Jesus was upon this earth the Word was made flesh. He walked and talked and taught. The law is going to come to pass exactly as it is written. Not even a single tittle will fail.
6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Christians take each other to court and allow unbelievers to give rulings. Are there Christians working in the court system? Of course there are. But are they allowed to use God’s law to make decisions? No. They have to rule based on precedence, meaning rulings are based on what some other judge already ruled. Judges are bound by decisions made in other courts of superior or equal status. Well what did that judge believe? Did that judge use God’s law?
This is not to say that we shouldn’t use the court system when we must. Remember that Paul is speaking specifically here regarding disputes between two believers. These would need to be honest people who love the Lord and desire to do His will. We know from scripture that we are to follow the laws of our government as well. Romans 13 tells us this and also that every government set up is established by God for the fulfillment of His plan. Paul isn’t being anti-government. Rather he’s encouraging Christians to seek resolutions in disputes with other believers by using God’s Word.
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?
Let’s examine the word ‘fault’ in the Greek. It means deterioration (i.e. failure or loss). Paul is saying they’d be better off taking a small loss than letting an unbelieving court make decisions for them. For example, if you’re disputing with a fellow Christian over $500, how much money are you going to spend in legal fees to argue your case in court? And what assurances do you have that the ruling will be fair? Why not just let it go completely (take a loss) or have another Christian arbitrate the dispute?
8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
Paul tells them that instead they act unjustly and defraud their fellow Christians.
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.
You cannot enter the kingdom of God while participating in these behaviors. Paul told us this in chapter 5 and we’re reminded of this throughout God’s Word.
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.
And here is the good news. You can repent. You can be washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of our Lord and by the Holy Spirit. This is what God wants of us. He doesn’t want any to perish. He wants all to come to Him. He loves us and wants our love.
We do our job by planting seeds. We first learn the Word (milk first and then strong meat as discussed in chapter 2 and chapter 3) so we can please God and are equipped to be planters. And how do we plant seeds? By living the Word. By demonstrating His teachings in how we live. By answering questions if someone asks. By raising our family to know and love Him. By teaching others to appreciate the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. By caring for God’s people and animals. There are many ways to plant seeds. They’re all important. God will use you how He sees fit. When we plant seeds we do it with love. (Sometimes tough love is required as discussed in chapter 5. More on the importance of love in our seed planting will be covered in chapter 13.)
12 All 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.
Let’s look at the word ‘expedient’ in the Greek. It means to bear together (contribute) or to be good for. Just because something is lawful to do doesn’t mean you should let it control you and it doesn’t mean you should do it. The question is whether doing that lawful thing is expedient. Romans 14:13-15 illustrates this for us.
Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Let’s not cause another Christian to stumble. We don’t want to be (or our actions to be) a stumblingblock in their relationship with Christ. Does this mean we don’t share God’s Word if some part of it might offend them? Does this mean we shouldn’t set a good example by demonstrating God’s Word in our own lives? No. Our job is to plant seeds. We are to do our part to help them see Truth and to do it with love. We cannot make anyone see Truth. We cannot open their eyes and we cannot bring forth the increase as that job belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:7).
Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Romans 14:15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
We shouldn’t do something just because we know it’s allowed if doing that thing will only cause someone to stumble. For example, if someone has prepared an offering of some type of food for an idol we shouldn’t take and eat that food. We know that the idol is only made of wood or gold. We know that the idol isn’t the Father. We know that the food is fit for consumption and it is lawful to eat it but if we take that food and eat it we’ve become a stumblingblock to that person. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak Truth. We are called to share God’s Word. It doesn’t mean we should join them in worshiping that idol. That’s just another way for us to be a stumblingblock. N. We should stand in the Truth, live that Truth, and teach that Truth with love. But eating that food, though lawful, would offend and confuse that babe in Christ.
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.
1 Corinthians 15:35-49 tells us that we have two bodies – a flesh body and a spiritual body. When the flesh body dies the spiritual body instantly returns to the Father (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7). To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Our flesh body is corruptible which means it’s liable to die. It’s just meat. Our flesh body is not eternal. It will be destroyed. Only the spiritual body is eternal. Paul is saying we shouldn’t make a big deal over something (the flesh body) that’s just going to be destroyed anyway. We should be focusing on the body that can have eternal life and not the one that’s just going to end up in the dirt. Why mess around with behavior that’s of this world and will keep us focused on this world? It’s not going to last. We should be investing in behaviors that keep us focused on the age beyond this one. Don’t get caught up in this world. Don’t let the desires of your flesh body rule your life.
14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power.
God has the power to grant eternal life. He resurrected Jesus Christ and He can do the same for us. Again, knowing this why put all our energy into behaviors that are of this world and keep us all caught up in this world?
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.
Paul tells us in chapter 12 that we are the many membered body of Christ. We all have different spiritual gifts that work together for the fulfillment of His plan. They each serve a purpose.
16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
This refers to the flesh body. Two shall be one flesh through their children.
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
This refers to the spiritual body. The word ‘joined’ here and in the above verse is kollao which means to glue (i.e. to stick or cleave).
Where is your focus? On your flesh body? Or on your spiritual body? Which body do you allow to rule your decision-making?
18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
19 What? 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?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Ezekiel 18:4 further documents that all souls belong to God. Whether you choose to love Him or not your soul belongs to Him.
We are bought with a price and that price is Christ’s blood on the cross. Hebrews 2:14 tells us that He was crucified to destroy death (defined in this verse as Satan). It was His purpose for being here in the flesh. He came to pay that price so that we may have salvation.
Whose teachings do you follow? Those of man or those of our Lord Jesus Christ? Which body rules your actions – the flesh or the spiritual?