Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 CORINTHIANS - Chapter 6

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1 Corinthians 6

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  MORAL DISORDERS  5, 1 -- 6, 20 (continued)

2.  Lawsuits before Pagans  6, 1-11

6, 1-11:  Public Litigation.  The Jews had courts of their own, tolerated and sometimes recognized by the Romans.  Early Christians may have shared this privilege with them.  In any case if the litigants accepted the authority of a Christian court, most cases could be looked upon by the Romans as settlements out of court.    1.  Unjust: i.e., "unbelievers" (6), not having the faith that brings supernatural justice; as a group in comparison to the Christians they were unjust.  Saints: Christians (cf. 1, 2).    2.  The saints will judge the world in union with Christ their Head, the supreme Judge of men and angels.  The judgment will be that of Christ, but also of His body, the Church, which judges with Him just as it rises with Him and reigns with Him.    4.  The order here given is clearly ironical, to shame them.    V.5 shows that they should select a "wise man" to judge.  But even the least Christian has an advantage over the wisest pagan (cf. 2, 15).

7 f.  A lawsuit implies at least a defect of judgment in one of the parties.  Since each is apt to be prejudiced in his own case, it would be better to expose oneself to suffer wrong rather than run the risk of doing injustice.    11.  Most of the early Christians were adult converts; some had led a life of sin in paganism.  Washed . . . sanctified . . . justified are equivalent terms for Baptism which cleanses us from sin, restores justice, and gives us the life of sanctifying grace.

3.  The Evil of Immorality  6, 12-20

6, 12-20:  Sacredness of the Body.    12.  All things are lawful for me: more commonly these words, twice repeated in the verse, are taken as a quoted principle of the Corinthians, and the words following "but" in each case, as Paul's comment on it.  In any case it is clear that Paul agrees with the principle, but not with all applications of it.  Christian liberty was open to abuse.  (1) Things lawful in themselves may not be expedient in certain circumstances, as in the case of eating food sacrificed to idols (10, 23 ff).  (2) The exercise of freedom may lead to slavery if a good thing, as drink, is abused.  (3) God's law in nature, in revelation and in His representatives must be obeyed.  St. Augustine expresses Christian freedom: "Love God and do what you will."  Paul here discusses only the keeping of freedom of use within the bounds of nature.    13.  The belly was made to receive food, and man may always satisfy with moderation his natural appetite for food for the preservation of his individual life.  The belly and food will disappear, in contrast to the body which remains in the resurrection.

But the body is not for immorality: literally, "fornication."  Paul does not deny that the organs have their proper function and that the appetite is good.  The appetite is ultimately for the preservation and propagation of the race.  (1) For the preservation of the race it is not necessary for each individual to satisfy his appetite (cf. 7); (2) the propagation of the race calls for education of the children, therefore, the appetite may be satisfied only in marriage.  Paul implies this by referring to the abuse by the name of a crime, "fornication."  That name is sufficient to indicate the natural malice.  Paul develops the malice particular to Christians in this act.  Our bodies which will rise and remain after the resurrection are one with Christ because it is only by union with Him that we have the power to rise (cf. 15).  With Him we are one spirit (contrast to flesh), 15, 45-49.  Husband and wife are, in the words of Adam, "in one flesh."  This is a permanent moral union, not dependent merely on the use of marriage (Matt. 19, 6).  By the union with a harlot, the Christian, who is one with the body of Christ, is one with a professional sinner.  The Greek text has "is one body" not "becomes one body."    18.  Every sin . . . is outside the body, etc.: no sin is entirely outside the body; the brain is used in a sin of pride.  Some sins are directly against the body, as drunkenness and suicide.  (1) Some say that Paul means that every sin tends to something outside the body, to drink, wealth, honor, etc.  But fornication just uses and abuses the body.  If it is objected that the fornicator tends to the body of another, they answer that the two are one body.  Suicide is ruled out of consideration since it is an unusual sin.  (2) St. Thomas holds that in other sins the body is only an instrument, but in fornication it is the object and end.  (3) Taken in the context where Paul deals with the special malice of sin in a Christian, the sense seems to be that no sin goes so directly against the dignity of the Christian body, which is one with Christ, as fornication by which man is one with a professional sinner.    19 f.  The Greek reads "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit."  Any sin against the body is a profanation of a sacred temple.  To this is added injustice since we have been bought by Christ to become His slaves, bought at a great price, the price of His blood (Acts 20, 28; 1 Pet. 1, 18-19).

Confraternity Bible:

Public Litigation  1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, bring your case to be judged before the unjust and not before the saints?  2* Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matter?  3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels?  How much more worldly things!  4* If, therefore, you have cases about worldly matters to be judged, appoint those who are rated as nothing in the Church to judge.  5 To shame you I say it.  Can it be that there is not one wise man among you competent to settle a case in his brother's matter?  6 But brother goes to law with brother and that before unbelievers.

7 Nay, to begin with, it is altogether a defect in you that you have lawsuits one with another.  Why not rather suffer wrong?  Why not rather be defrauded?  8 But you yourselves do wrong and defraud, and that to your brethren.  9 Or do you not know that the unjust will not possess the kingdom of God?  Do not err; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, 10 nor the effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor the evil-tongued, nor the greedy will possess the kingdom of God.  11 And such were some of you, but you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you  have been justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

Sacredness of the Body  12* All things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of anyone.  13 Food for the belly and the belly for food, but God will destroy both the one and the other.  Now the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  14 Now God has raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.  15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot?  By no means!  16 Or do you not know that he who cleaves to a harlot, becomes one body with her?  "For the two," it says, "shall be one flesh."  17 But he who cleaves to the Lord is one spirit with him.  18 Flee immorality.  Every sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  19 Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  20 For you have been bought at a great price.  Glorify God and bear him in your body.


2: The elect will adopt the sentence of Christ their head and pronounce sentence with Him.

4: Cf. Matt. 11, 11 for the advantage of even the least in the kingdom of heaven.  This verse is spoken sarcastically; Paul's real advice, to pick those especially fitted, is implied in v. 5.

12: A proverbial way of saying that not all lawful things are expedient.  It was applied by the Christians especially to the new freedom from the ritual of the Mosaic Law, and erroneously by some even to the natural law formulated in the Mosaic code.