LAWSUITS—FORBIDDEN SEX

In celebration of having—at last—finished looking at 1 Corinthians, and uploading it here under “a truer word,” here is an extract: Chapter 6, looking at the questions of taking brethren to law, and of dishonouring God with your body. Both subjects are quite meaty in themselves but, as usual, untangling the Greek simplifies things in places. See if you agree with all the clarifications I located.

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1   Corinthians 6

1 Does any one of you, having a case against another, dare to be judged by the unjust and not by the saints?

While considering judging those within or outside the assembly, Paul brings up the subject of brethren who are actually taking each other to the civil court.

Translation notes: The word for ‘unjust’ also means ‘unrighteous’ or ‘sinful,’ so he is talking about a court run by unbelievers, but it also implies that their judgment will not be in accordance with true justice; and that the main characteristic of unbelievers is their unrighteousness—their lack of justice. The word for ‘saints’ means ‘most holy ones,’ not only implying that their judgment will be in line with deep holiness, but also pointing out that a prime characteristic of a saint is true justice.

Whether the man taking the other to court in this way is hoping for a ruling in his favour rather than a just ruling (see note on verse 8), or if he simply doesn’t trust his brethren to be fair, we don’t know. Either way, his thinking needs to be challenged.

As believers, all we should seek in any dispute between us and anyone else, believer or not, is peace and God’s ruling, however painful that might be to our flesh. A demand for ‘justice’ from a secular court (or in any kind of meeting) is an attempt to hide from God’s dealings in our lives, and a fleshly attempt to defend or justify ourselves, even though defending and justifying us is God’s role.

2 Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? If you are to judge the world, are you unworthy to judge matters of such insignificance?

Paul’s argument here is that we really should be able to sort out our differences the way saints are supposed to do everything: by hearing from the Holy Spirit and doing as we are led—which will normally be self-sacrificially. The reason he describes these matters as insignificant, is because they pertain to the world and the flesh and are therefore insignificant to a believer: all that actually matters to us personally—our provision, defence, security, hope and future are all in Christ, not in anything a worldly court could rule on.

3 Don’t you know we will judge angels, and not at all the things of this life?

All the other translations seem to think that because judging angels is such an exalted task, then we will have no difficulty judging worldly matters. While this is true, it’s not what Paul is saying: we are called to the kingdom of God, where our concerns are not even on the same plane as those of unbelievers—all we are interested in is the will of God, whether it applies to angels or men. We are already not part of ‘this life’ in any real sense, so it’s not ‘…how much more the things of this life,’ it’s “…and not at all the things of this life.”

4 Indeed, if you have everyday disputes to be judged, you appoint those despised by the assembly.

These ‘despised by the assembly’ are the secular judges whose authority in the assembly is zero.

5 I say this to embarrass you. Is there nobody wise among you, not even one, competent to reconcile his brethren?

As believers we each have the wisdom of Christ, so a small matter of worldly property or rights shouldn’t be a problem for anyone in the assembly. Paul is not recommending setting up some kind of arbitration service within the assembly, he’s expressing his amazement that it’s even come up as a problem. His position is, “what are you thinking?”—see verse seven.

6 No—brother goes to law with brother, and this before unbelievers!

The outcome of these disputes, managed so badly, is not the justice they claim to seek, but a breakdown in relationships within the assembly and a completely compromised witness, ie, utter failure.

7 Truly, you have already suffered loss since you have litigation among you. Why not prefer to be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

They are trying to avoid material loss by litigation, but the loss they have actually experienced is the serious spiritual loss sustained by the entire assembly because they take each other to secular courts, displaying their worldly ways. It signifies utter defeat in their efforts to live as disciples of Christ. Paul is amazed that they have so misunderstood the nature of a disciple that they would even consider going to law.

If we are wronged, we need to see that God has allowed it, so we can take it as an opportunity for the indwelling Christ to respond in the Spirit with grace, blessing and forgiveness. This He will do as we turn to Him in faith, committing the brother and the situation to Him, refusing to do anything which might harm our brother.

8 No, you yourselves wrong and cheat others, even your brethren!

Here’s the bottom line: they insist on litigation because they plan to win, at any cost, to their brother’s loss. Their motive is not to reach a just verdict, but to cheat their brother. This should never be even considered by a disciple of Christ—everything we do is to be an expression of love or we dishonour God.

Forbidden sex

9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived: neither the promiscuous, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals,

10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunks, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul changes the subject here, to return to their sexual misconduct. Basically, in whatever way you behave unrighteously, you disinherit yourself. This is not intended to be some kind of exhaustive list, just a scattering of the types of people who cannot be heir to the kingdom of God.

11 And that’s what some of you were, but you’ve been cleansed, sanctified and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

It was clear to them that such behaviour is not appropriate for believers, so they repented and came to faith. But here they were returning to their old sins.

12 Everything is allowed but not everything is helpful; everything is allowed but I will not be mastered by anything:

The Corinthians had been told, (by Paul) in respect of eating food sacrificed to idols, that “everything is lawful” but they had extended the application of this liberty to include the illicit sexual practices which are also related to idolatry.

Clearly this is not acceptable as sexual sin cannot be equated to eating or abstaining from food offered to idols, so Paul points out that some things are not helpful. He then repeats the phrase, so that he can, through a wordplay, make a further point about freedom. The wordplay is something like, “everything is lawful, but I won’t let anything become a law to me,” in other words, if we are enslaved by anything—any habit we can’t, or won’t break—then we have given up the freedom so dearly bought by Christ.

13 foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will bring them both to nothing.

Here he confirms his instruction regarding their possible liberties in food, pointing out that it’s really unimportant because, in the Day of the Lord, both foods and stomachs will be no more.

The body is not for promiscuity but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body;

Misusing the body however, in this way, is not appropriate since Jesus died to purchase us complete: body, soul and spirit, we belong to Him—so our bodies should be consecrated to Him to live a pure and holy life.

When it says “the Lord for the body” it is talking about how God feeds, shelters and clothes the body; how He is preparing an eternal dwelling for it; and He gives strength, healing and life to it daily, here on earth, by means of the Holy Spirit, so that we are fully equipped to serve Him.

14 and God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

Finally we read that we will be raised up into resurrection bodies because we are in Christ who has risen. How magnificent is the Lord God who has prepared all this for us!

15 Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I then take away the members of Christ, by making them members of a prostitute? Of course not!

This is clear enough, but note the word ‘away’ because it tells us that if I unite my body with a prostitute, I am, at least temporarily, no longer a member of Christ, because I have cancelled my own membership. Many translations simply drop the word and thereby miss the implication.

16 Have you not seen that the one who is joined to the prostitute is one body, for it says, “the two will become one flesh”?

Sexual contact forms a permanent flesh-bond between those involved, simply because God declared that it would be so. This was so that marriage would be everything that God intended at creation, honouring Him and His word. This bond may be undone through repentance and renunciation when we come to faith, but it is very much better never to have made the join in the first place—and particularly if we are already part of the body of believers. The point is that we would be forming that bond, in sin, on behalf of all our brethren in Christ, against their will and that of Jesus.

17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.

When we come to faith through repentance the Lord joins our spirit to His. This is supposed to be a permanent arrangement, ie, eternal, but since we can break that join with our sin, we need to trust Him to keep us. Being one spirit with the Lord, and therefore with all true brethren in Christ, is a magnificent privilege and honour—one we would be wise to cherish and guard.

18 Run from illicit sexual activity! Every sin a person commits is expressed by the body, but the promiscuous draws sin into his own body.

All the translations struggle with this. The problems (in the Greek) are: 1 The first part talks about ‘every sin,’ while the second part singles out sexual sin as different to ‘every sin.’ There is no ‘other’ in any form, but many feel they have to insert it to make sense of this line. 2 Every sin (in the Greek) is ‘out of the body,’ while sexual sin is ‘into his body,’ but they put ‘outside the body,’ which is clearly not true of ‘every sin’ and, not grasping the ‘into,’ put ‘against’ which really doesn’t mean the same thing. However, ‘out of the body,’ means ‘expressed by the body,’ which easily includes sexual sin, covering ‘every sin,’ and ‘into his body’ means brings, or ‘draws sin into his own body.’

Not only is the sinner directly hurting himself by bringing corruption into his own body—and thereby also risking demonic attention—he is drawing corruption into the body of Christ, which he shares with all the believers, bringing weakness and compromise.

19 Don’t you realise that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you received from God, and you are not your own?

Translation note: the ‘your’ here is plural, so Paul is not talking about individual believers at all, he is saying that the bodies of all believers form the temple of the Holy Spirit because He indwells each of us. He also clarifies our new ownership now we are disciples of Christ.

20 You are bought in honour, so now honour God in your body.

All the translations translate tē-mā’ as ‘a price’ where its far more common meaning is ‘honour.’ Clearly ‘a price’ tells us that a value is put on us, but it doesn’t indicate high or low. ‘Honour,’ however, in itself implies ‘high honour.’ It also ties far better to the ‘so honour God’ in the second phrase.

‘In your body’ includes the plural form of ‘you’ and the singular of ‘body,’ so Paul is saying, ‘Being purchased by Christ is the ultimate act of His highest honour, so (everyone) honour God in the body (the assembly) by individually fleeing from sexual sin.’

Bless you folks, Geoff  >ᴥ<

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