About Jesus      Steve Sweetman

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Chapters 6 

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ch. 6:1-11    6:12-20     


Lawsuits Among Brothers (ch. 6:1-11)



Paul continues in chapter 6 with the issues at hand that need to be addressed.  He says, “how dare you take a brother to the ungodly for judgment”.  You can see the intensity in his words.  Taking a Christian brother to a secular court is unquestionable.  In Paul’s thinking a secular judge cannot be a judge over Christians, as we have seen earlier. (see ch. 2:15)  We should be mature enough in the Lord that we can solve our own relational problems, but apparently that's not the case now, and it wasn't back then.


In verse 2 Paul claims that the “saints will judge the world”.  If this is indeed the case, we should be able to judge one another in our disputes.  This judging, or ruling the world will be at a future time in history when Jesus’ Kingdom is completely set up on earth and we will be rulers along with Him.  One might ask who we will be ruling.  Well, the book of Revelation and the prophets of old speak of the thousand year rule of Christ on earth.  He, along with us, will rule the nations on the earth at that time.  There will be nations on the earth, and people, who aren't necessarily Christian, but will have to live by the rule of Christ.   It also appears that on the new earth, after the thousand years, there will still be nations that will need ruling, yet at this point in time, ruling is different than we presently think of because there will not be any evil to deal with.    


Paul does not stop at us judging the world at some point. He also says that “we will judge angels”.  I certainly don’t know just how all these things will work out, how we will rule and judge not only the world, but angels, but Paul says we will.  We just accept the truth of this matter and look forward to that day. 


In verse 4 Paul says to “appoint those of little stature” among you to be judges.  Even the simplest person among us, should do better than the worldly sinner, Paul thinks. He is saying these things to shame them.  He asks, “is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute”.  Of course there is.  That’s Paul’s point.  Why go to the world.  You are more than competent to judge between yourselves. 


Instead of judging themselves the Corinthians are taking each other to court “in front of the unbeliever”.  This is wrong because we who claim brotherly love are in opposition with one another to the extent that we are taking each other to court.  This is worldly.  This is not the witness that we should be.  It is a disgrace to the church and to the Lord.  In fact we are misrepresenting the character of Christ to the world.  Our job as Christians is to show forth the character of Jesus, and for the most part we aren't. 


In verse 7 Paul says that the very fact that there is lawsuits among these people means that “they are defeated already”.  This means that both parties will lose. Even though a secular judge will judge one side to win and one side to lose, Paul says that in the long run, both lose.  Even more so, the church and the Lord loses.  This defeats both parties involved.  This defeats the church.  The church in the eyes of the world is no different than the world, therefore the church has lost her witness, and is “completely defeated”.  How sad!


Paul says that it is better to be wronged or cheated than to take your brother to court.  If you are not willing to settle the matter within the church, just be willing to be wronged.  It is not right to prove yourself right in a secular court and lose the good witness of the church in the long run.  Human tendency is to not admit when we are wrong. 


Paul is noting a couple of problems here.  One is the problem of taking your brother to court and another is that these people “cheat and wrong one another” in the first place.  If they did not do the latter, the former would not have to exist. 


In verse 9 Paul asks, “do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God ”?  He proceeds to present a long list of wicked sins.  Anyone participating in these sins will not enter the Kingdom of God.  We need to ask at this point, “what is the Kingdom of God”? There are two possible answers.  The Kingdom of  God could refer toGod’s future heavenly Kingdom, or it could refer to the present Kingdom of God on earth.  Both Kingdoms can be seen in Scripture. 


If Paul is referring to a future kingdom, then he is saying that wicked men will not enter that kingdom.  Yet will they not enter because of their wickedness?  No, the number one reason why they won’t enter in is because they have rejected Jesus.  Our pass into heaven does not depend on what we do, whether good or bad, it depends on what Jesus has done for us and what we have done with Him.  Besides, these people are wicked because they have neglected the truth found in Jesus.


Now if Paul is speaking of a present kingdom reality, he is saying that the wicked won’t enter into it.  In this case wicked people could be one of two types. It could refer to the wicked sinner.  It is obvious that those who reject Jesus can’t enter into God's present kingdom on earth.  Yet the wicked could also refer to someone like the man sleeping with his father’s wife, as we saw earlier in this letter.  This man may be a Christian, but his overt sin makes it impossible to enter into the Kingdom of God and participate therein.  You might say, to the degree in which holiness is a part of our lives is the degree in which we can participate in the things of the Kingdom of God.


Whatever the case, sin hinders us from being in the centre of God's will and His Kingdom.  It should also be noted that we enter Heaven when we die for one reason only, and that is what we have done with Jesus. Wicked men miss Heaven first and foremost because of their unbelief in Jesus, not because of their wicked acts. 


Some of these Corinthians were heavily involved in the above mentioned sins.  But Paul reminds them that this was a thing of the past.  Since then they have been washed, sanctified and justified.  This should result in a changed life.  Even if they are not now participating in these sins, they should not let others effect the church in a negative way who want to go back to their old life.  These sins are a thing of the past, and have no present place in the church.  


Sexual Immorality (ch. 6:12-20)


In verse 12 Paul says that “everything is permissible to me”.  We must be careful with what we do with this verse.  If you take this verse at face value, then there is not anything we could not do.  Anything and everything is okay for us to do as Christians.  But is Paul really saying that?


There is a Biblical interpretation rule, and really a rule of ordinary communication.  The rule is that we cannot take one individual phrase out of the context in which it is said or written.  The context is more than the immediate context.  When it comes to writing, the context is more than the paragraph or two around the phrase, though that is a good starting place to understand the phrase.  We need to understand any phrase, whether spoken or written, within the context of what that person has said or written both in the present and the past.  With an understanding of what the person thinks on all aspects of the issue at hand, we then can interpret any individual phrase he says, but not until then.


One of the main problems with communication between people is that we take isolated words and phrases and twist them to mean something they don’t.  This happens frequently in an argument between people.  We should not do this in this instance.


Paul says that “everything is permissible” for him.  Yet from what we know of Paul, we know that killing someone is not permissible.  We know that sin is not permissible.  On the other hand we know that certain Jewish traditions are no longer a must to do.  For example, Paul can eat meat, and drink wine as seen in Rom. 14.  These things are now lawful for Paul to do.  So when we consider all of what Paul has written we can begin to understand what he means by this one isolated, and somewhat hard to understand statement.


Paul qualifies to a degree what he means by saying, “but not everything is beneficial”, and “I will not be mastered by anything”.  This means that Paul is permitted to drink wine, but he is not going to let wine master him.  He will not become a drunkard.  He will drink wine within the borders in which he has set for wine drinking.  You can read Rom. 14 and get a clear picture of what Paul is thinking about on this issue.


Concerning contextual interpretation that I have just talked about. Let me give you a common example from daily life.   Dick and Jane are having many marriage problems.  At he same time they are building a new house in the country.  Maybe a change of scenery will help their marriage.  While nailing some two by fours a friend drops by to see how things are going with the new house.  He looks around and tells Dick that things are looking great.  Dick replies by saying, "yes, everything is going good".  So Dick makes the statement, "yes, everything is going good".  What is he really saying?  If you take that statement at face value then you would have to say that everything in Dick's life is going good, but we know that is not the case.  Only things pertaining to the new house is going good.  He still has problems in his marriage.   

The point to be made here is that you need to understand individual statements made by people in light of the context in which they are spoken, (or written) and also in light of the whole of their life, beyond the immediate context of the particular statement. This is why we understand that Dick's house building venture is doing well, yet his marriage is not doing well.  So everything is not good, even though Dick has made that statement. The same with Scripture and the things people say in Scripture.  We need to understand statements in light of their immediate context and also in light of what the Bible has to say in general.


There was a common phrase in Corinth in those days that said, “food for the stomach and the stomach for food”.  Both were created for each other.  So when it comes to food and the body, in Paul’s mind he appears to be indifferent because God will someday destroy both. 


Concerning the phrase “food for the stomach and the stomach for food”, some in Corinth wanted to add another thought to this phrase and that is, “sex for the body and the body for sex”.  This meant that sexual immorality was made for the body and the body was made for sexual immorality.   Just as food and the body go together, so does immorality and the body go together.  But Paul says no to this idea.  In verse 13 Paul says that “the body was made for the Lord and the Lord for the body”, thus ruling out any immoral activity being used by the body.


In verse 14 Paul tells his readers that Christ’s body was raised from the dead and so will ours.  This may imply that even though both food and body will be destroyed someday, we will rise up in a new and transformed body.  So our body for this reason is sacred. 


In verse 15 Paul asks, “do you not know that your bodies are  members of Christ”.  The church is the physical expression of Jesus to the world.  So in one real sense of the word, we are the body of Christ and therefore both individually and collectively, we are sacred and holy.  Therefore we should act accordingly. 


He goes on to ask another question.  “Shell I then take the members of and unite them to a prostitute”?  His answer, “never”.  You can see by what Paul says here that such activity is not permissible for him.  He will never do such a thing.  So the above “permissible statement” does have definite  boundaries. 


Paul quotes from Gen. 2:24 when he says that “the two shall  become one flesh”.  He is speaking about when a man and a woman come together in sexual relations, as they unite themselves physically, they become one flesh.  In creation God had meant this to be between a husband and a wife.  Yet when a man or a woman commit adultery with someone other than his or her spouse, they become one with that person as well.  This should not be.


In verse 17 Paul takes this one step farther and says that when we become Christians, or “when we are united with the Lord”, as he puts it, “we become one with him in spirit”.  We become one flesh with our spouse, and one spirit with the Lord. When we receive the Spirit of God we indeed become one with Him, so how and why should we be using our bodies in a sinful way?


Paul commands these Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality”.  Run from such activity.  Sexual sin is different than any other sin Paul says.  “All other sins a man commits are outside the body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body”. (ch. 6:18)  We are not only sinning against the Lord, but we are sinning against ourselves, Paul says.  We are the object of our own sin.  If we kill someone, we sin against the person we kill.  If we commit adultery, we are sinning against ourselves. 


Paul asks yet another question; his final defense on this point.  He asks, “do you not know  that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit that is in you”?  Earlier Paul said that the church collectively was the temple of God .  Now he is saying that we as individual Christians are also the temple of God , because God’s Spirit lives within us.  Beside this, we “have been bought with a price”.  The price that God had to pay was great, beyond our best comprehension. Therefore Paul closes this chapter by telling these people to “honour God with there bodies”.  


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