SUMMARY.--Going to Law Before Heathen. The Saints as Judges. Suffer Wrong Rather than Do Wrong. The Impure Cannot Be God's Children. What is Lawful not Always Expedient. The Christian's Body a Temple.
1-4. Dare any of you . . . go to law before the unjust? The third indictment against the Corinthian church is now presented. Some had sought judgments against their brethren in heathen courts. This Paul indignantly rebukes. The Jews themselves made it a rule never to carry cases before heathen tribunals. Much worse was it in Christians. 2. Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? Shall sit sit with Christ, after they have been judged, while the world is judged (Matt. 25:41; Matt 19:29). If so high a trust is to be given, it is a little thing that saints should judge differences between church members. These ought all to be submitted to arbitrators, or to the officers. 3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels? Evidently the bad angels, who shall be judged when the world is judged. 4. If then ye have judgments, etc. If the saints shall have the high prerogative of judging the world and bad angels with Christ, then it is a condescension to judge of trivial earthly matters. Set them to judge who are least esteemed. An ironical way of hinting that their differences were so petty as to be worthy only of the poorest witted.
5-8. I speak to your shame. The last sentence was spoken to shame them, not as a serious rule. He now speaks seriously. Is there not a wise man among you? A man of prudent judgment, capable of settling differences among them. 6. That before unbelievers. It was lamentable that brethren should go to law. How much more of a scandal when they carried their cases into the heathen courts. 7. There is utterly a fault among you. It was a fault (loss or defeat in the Greek) to go to law at all. It was better rather to take wrong . . . to be defrauded, than to work so great an injury to the church by the ill-feeling aroused, and by the scandal in the eyes of the heathen. The rule is, then, (1) To suffer wrong rather than to go to law. (2) If an adjudication is required, to refer to the case, not to unbelieving judges, but to a "wise man" within the church. For other Scriptures bearing on the subject, see 1 Peter 2:23; Matt. 5:40; 1 Peter 2:19; Prov. 20:22.
9-11. Shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The glorious kingdom of which the church is the earthly type. The church is God's kingdom on earth, and its faithful members "inherit" the heavenly kingdom (Matt. 25:34). Be not deceived. Let no one make the mistake of thinking that any unrighteous man shall be an heir. Effeminate. This and the next clause refer to a shameful crime quite prevalent among the heathen, the first submitting themselves to the foul sensuality, and the second actively "abusing themselves with men," contrary to nature. Both are Sodomites. None guilty of any one of the list of vices given can be an heir of heaven. 11. And such were some of you. Some of the worst classes had been converted. Ye are washed. The rite of baptism is probably referred to. Ye are sanctified. Were sanctified. These verbs are all past tense. See the Revision. To be sanctified is to be set apart to God. Ye were justified. That is, their sins were blotted out and they were counted righteous. Sinners as they were before, the gospel had washed, hallowed, and justified them. By the Spirit. The work was consummated by the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
12-17. All things are lawful for me, . . . but not expedient. Paul had taught that a Christian could use liberty in regard to things indifferent. Some seem to have held that this justified indulgence, as was taught by the Epicureans. Paul says in substance, "Be it so; but all things are not expedient," for the Christian, Christ's freeman, must not be brought under the power of any appetite. Whoever is thus subjected is not a freeman, but a servant, the servant of sin. Though all things are in our power, we must not be brought under their power. 13. Meats for the belly, etc. Self-indulgence was also excused, because food and the stomach were made for each other. But these are both perishable. Moreover, if "the belly was made for meats," the body is not for fornication. It was not made for this, but for a nobler purpose--for the Lord. Hence, sensuality cannot be thus justified. 14. And God . . . will also raise us up. As the Lord was raised, so shall we be. Hence, we are for a nobler purpose than engaging in sensuality. 15. Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? This is a doctrine emphasized by Paul. Our bodies are a part of Christ's mystical body, the Lord's holy temple, designed for the indwelling of the Spirit. How sacrilegious to take a member of Christ's body and degrade it to fornication, or to any act of licentiousness! It is a duty which a Christian owes to Christ to keep his body pure. As the arm or finger has the life of the body until cut off, so we have the life of Christ until we sever ourselves from him by sinful acts. 17. He that is joined to the Lord, etc. There is one life and one spirit until severed from Christ.
18-20. Flee fornication. The sin must be fled. The way to avoid it is to avoid temptation. We must conquer by running away. Thus it was that Joseph prevailed. Every sin . . . is without the body. The temptations come from without and assail the man through the senses. This is the rule in the case of sin. It is not said of fornication that it is not stimulated without, or that it, alone of sins, assails the body, but that it is peculiarly a sin against the body. It defiles a body which is designed to be a member of Christ, and a temple of the Holy Spirit; separates it from the union with Christ, and unites it with a harlot. The grievousness of the sin is in the desecration to such an unholy purpose of a body which has become a member of Christ, a part of the temple of God. 19. What? know ye not that your body, etc. This makes clear how terrible is the sin of defiling the body by licentiousness. It is desecrating God's temple. As the Shekinah dwelt in the temple of Israel, so the Holy Spirit in Christ's temple, which we are. Ye are not your own. But members of Christ, and hence have not the right to use our bodies to our own pleasure. 20. Ye are bought with a price. Christ paid the price, even his blood. Hence, since both body and spirit are God's, both should be used to glorify him. The fact that we are his, purchased, parts of his spiritual temple, makes the obligation imperative to consecrate the body and spirit to his service.