Summary: The main purpose of this chapter is to administer what amounts to a slap on the wrist to the Corinthians for their practice of taking other believers to court (vv. 1-7), instead of settling their differences among themselves.
November 13, 2012
Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Lesson 4.0: The Problem of Lawsuits
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6.1-6.11
1 Cor 6.1-11 (KJV)
Section 4-A : Christians must not go to law against each other
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
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?
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
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?
6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
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?
Section 4-B: The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God
8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
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.
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.
The main purpose of this chapter is to administer what amounts to a slap on the wrist to the Corinthians for their practice of taking other believers to court (vv. 1-7), instead of settling their differences among themselves. It seems that after their conversion they were still in the habit of taking their causes before heathen courts, and the apostle considered this practice contrary to the spirit of the Christian religion, and that it tended to expose the Christian religion to disrespect in the eyes of worldly men. Therefore, he chastises them for the practice, and explains why their differences should be settled among themselves. It also seems that the character of lawsuits and the spirit of covetousness had led them in some instances to defraud and oppress each other; and therefore he takes this occasion (vv. 8-11) to show that this was entirely inconsistent with the nature of Christianity.
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Or “How dare you, when you have a disagreement with another Christian, take him to a heathen court, and not before the saints?”
Dare any of you, having a matter against another,
After the apostle had settled the issues surrounding the young man who committed fornication with his father’s wife, he complains to them of another evil he has discovered; which was, that anytime differences arose between them over worldly concerns they would quickly elect to settle their differences before the common courts of that day. The question is whether it is lawful for one of the faithful to drag another of the faithful before the judgment seat of an infidel? He answers that it is NOT lawful because it is an offence for the faithful to do this, because it is not evil in itself to bring a matter before the judgment seat, even of an infidel.
“Dare any of you” is strong wording; Paul simply can't believe what these Corinthian Christians are doing. There were some very prominent families among the members; but there was no one person who possessed any public authority to settle differences within the assembly. Problems surfaced anytime one party would not submit to the decisions of another, and they were obliged to take their disputes before heathen magistrates. The local judges sat in what was known as the bema seat of the civil magistrate, which was located in the heart of the marketplace. Because Greek culture found a good legal battle entertaining, anyone's lawsuit soon became public knowledge. Some of the subjects of litigation arose out of their ecclesiastical divisions; which was the first issue Paul addressed in this epistle.
The reasons why the apostle introduced this subject at this point may have been:
1. That he had mentioned the subject of judging—“But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor 5:13; KJV)--and that naturally suggested this topic.