Sunday, May 28th, 2023
Dr. Constable's Expository Notes Constable's Expository Notes
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ dcc/ 1-corinthians-6.html. 2012.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
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II. CONDITIONS REPORTED TO PAUL 1:10-6:20
The warm introduction to the epistle (1 Corinthians 1:1-9) led Paul to give a strong exhortation to unity. In it he expressed his reaction to reports of serious problems in this church that had reached his ears.
"Because Paul primarily, and in seriatim fashion, addresses behavioral issues, it is easy to miss the intensely theological nature of 1 Corinthians. Here Paul’s understanding of the gospel and its ethical demands-his theology, if you will-is getting its full workout.
". . . the central issue in 1 Corinthians is ’salvation in Christ as that manifests itself in the behavior of those "who are being saved."’ This is what the Corinthians’ misguided spirituality is effectively destroying.
"Thus three phenomena must be reckoned with in attempting a theology of this Letter: (1) Behavioral issues ( = ethical concerns) predominate. . . . (2) Even though Paul is clearly after behavioral change, his greater concern is with the theological distortions that have allowed, or perhaps even promoted, their behavior. This alone accounts for the unusual nature of so much of the argumentation. . . . (3) In every case but two (1 Corinthians 11:2-16; chaps. 12-14), Paul’s basic theological appeal for right behavior is the work of Christ in their behalf." [Note: Idem, "Toward a Theology of 1 Corinthians," in Pauline Theology. Vol. II: 1 & 2 Corinthians, pp. 38-39.]
B. Lack of discipline in the church chs. 5-6
The second characteristic in the Corinthian church reported to Paul that he addressed concerned a lack of discipline (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). This section of the epistle has strong connections with the first major section. The lack of discipline in the church (chs. 5-6) reflected a crisis of authority in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10 to 1 Corinthians 4:21). The Corinthians were arrogant and valued a worldly concept of power. This carnal attitude had produced the three problems that Paul proceeded to deal with next: incest, litigation, and prostitution in the church.
"It is frequently said that the only Bible the world will read is the daily life of the Christian, and that what the world needs is a revised version! The next two chapters are designed by Paul to produce a Corinthian revised version, so that orthodoxy might be followed by orthopraxy . . ." [Note: Johnson, p. 1236.]
Again Paul used a rhetorical question to make a point (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 4:21). The answer was self-evident to him.
In view of the context the "neighbor" (NASB) must be a fellow Christian. The "unrighteous" or "ungodly" (NIV) contrasts with the "saints" and refers to an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 6:6). When people had disputes with each other in Corinth and wanted official arbitration, they went to the bema (judgment seat) in the center of town.
"The phrase translated ’has a dispute’ is a technical term for a lawsuit, or legal action; and the verb krino (’judge’) in the middle voice can carry the sense of ’going to law,’ or ’bringing something for judgment,’ as it does here." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p. 231.]
"He does not mean that Christian courts ought to be instituted, but that Christian disputants should submit to Christian arbitration." [Note: Robertson and Plummer, p. 111.]
The shame on the church 6:1-6
The failure of the two men who were suing each other was another evidence that the Corinthian church was not functioning properly. It indicated how lacking in true wisdom these Christians were. Paul argued with a series of rhetorical questions in this pericope.
2. Litigation in the church 6:1-11
The apostle continued to deal with the general subject of discipline in the church that he began in 1 Corinthians 5:1. He proceeded to point out some other glaring instances of inconsistency that had their roots in the Corinthians’ lax view of sin. Rather than looking to unsaved judges to solve their internal conflicts, they should have exercised discipline among themselves in these cases. Gallio had refused to get involved in Jewish controversies in Corinth and had told the Jews to deal with these matters themselves (Acts 18:14-16). Paul now counseled a similar approach for the Christians.
"In this section Paul is dealing with a problem which specially affected the Greeks. The Jews did not ordinarily go to law in the public law-courts at all; they settled things before the elders of the village or the elders of the Synagogue; to them justice was far more a thing to be settled in a family spirit than in a legal spirit. . . . The Greeks were in fact famous, or notorious, for their love of going to law." [Note: Barclay, The Letters . . ., pp. 55, 56.]
"Roman society was notoriously litigious, and Corinth, with its rising class of nouveau riche, was even more so." [Note: Keener, p. 52.]
". . . the congregation’s root problem lies in its lack of theological depth. It shames itself by not understanding itself as an eschatological community (’Do you not know that we are to judge angels?’) and as a community redeemed by Christ." [Note: Cousar, "The Theological . . .," pp. 98-99.]
"Paul has not finished with the theme of church discipline in regard to sexual life; see vi. 12 and chapter vii; but in 1 Corinthians 6:12 f. he had spoken of judgement [sic], and this brings to his mind another feature of Corinthian life of which he had heard . . ." [Note: Barrett, p. 134.]
"Do you not know?" appears six times in this chapter (1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:15-16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). In each case it introduces a subject that the Corinthian Christians should have known, probably because Paul or others had previously instructed them.
The earlier revelation that the saints will have a part in judging unbelievers in the future may be Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27. This judgment will evidently take place just after the Lord returns to earth at His second coming to set up His millennial kingdom. We will be with Him then (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Since the Lord will delegate the authority to judge unbelievers to Christians in the future, Paul concluded that we are competent to settle disputes among ourselves now. In the light of future eschatological judgment, any decisions that believers must make in church courts now are relatively trifling. The marginal reading in the NASB "try the trivial cases" probably gives the better sense than "constitute the smallest courts." [Note: See Fee, The First . . ., pp. 233-34.] Obviously some cases involving Christians arguing with one another are more difficult to sort out than some of those involving unbelievers. Paul’s point was that Christians are generally competent to settle disputes between people. After all, we have the help and wisdom of the indwelling Holy Spirit available to us, as well as the Scriptures.
Earlier Paul wrote that the Corinthians were judging him (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5; 1 Corinthians 4:7), which was inappropriate in view of God’s final judgment. Now they were judging in the courts, which was inappropriate since the saints will participate in eschatological judging.
Evidently God had not revealed the fact that believers will play a role in judging angels earlier in Scripture. He apparently revealed that for the first time here through Paul (cf. Judges 1:6).
The first part of this verse seems to refer to the disputes and judicial procedures the Christians should have used with one another rather than to the heathen law courts. The context seems to argue for this interpretation. Paul was speaking here of Christians resolving their differences in the church rather than in the civil law courts.
The second part of the verse is capable of two interpretations. Paul may have been speaking ironically, as the next verse may imply (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:8). If so, he may have meant that the Corinthians should select the least qualified people in the church to settle these disputes. His meaning in this case was that any Christian was capable of settling disputes among his brethren. He did not mean that the Corinthians should really choose as judges the most feebleminded Christians in the church. The statement is ironical. This is the interpretation of the NIV. [Note: See also Robertson and Plummer, p. 113.]
On the other hand he may have been asking a question rather than making an ironical statement. This is how the NASB translators took Paul’s words. In this case he was asking if the Corinthians chose as judges in their church disputes the members who had the fewest qualifications to arbitrate. The obvious answer would be no. They would choose the brethren with the best qualifications. This interpretation understands Paul as advocating the choice of the best qualified in the church forthrightly rather than ironically. This seems to me to be a better interpretation. [Note: See also Barrett, p. 137.]
A third possibility is that Paul really advocated the selection of the least qualified in the church for these judicial functions. He was not speaking ironically. The main argument against this view is its improbability. Why choose less qualified people for any job when better qualified people are available?
What was to the Corinthians’ shame? It was that by going into secular courts to settle their church problems they seemed to be saying that there was no one in their church wise enough to settle these matters. Certainly they could count on the Holy Spirit to give them the wisdom and the proper spirit they needed to do this (cf. John 14:26; John 16:13).
"A church has come to a pretty pass when its members believe that they are more likely to get justice from unbelievers than from their own brothers." [Note: Ibid., p. 138.]
Clearly this church did not understand its identity as an eschatological community nor did it demonstrate much concern about its witness to the world.
"Every Jewish community throughout the Roman Empire and beyond its frontiers had its own bet-din, its own competent machinery for the administration of civil justice within its own membership; the least that could be expected of a Christian church was that it should make similar arrangements if necessary, and not wash its dirty linen in public." [Note: Bruce, 1 and 2 Corinthians, p. 59.]
By hauling one another into court the Corinthians were intent on winning damages for themselves. Evidently a business or property dispute was the root of this case (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10). Paul reminded them that they had already lost before the judge gave his verdict. The shame of people who professed to love one another and put the welfare of others before their own suing each other was a defeat in itself. This defeat was far more serious than any damages they may have had to pay. It would be better to suffer the wrong or the cheating than to fight back in such an unchristian way (Matthew 5:39-40; 1 Peter 2:19-24).
"It is possible that this use of meth heauton ["with your own selves"] for met allelon ["with one another"] is deliberate, in order to show that in bringing a suit against a fellow-Christian they were bringing a suit against themselves, so close was the relationship." [Note: Robertson and Plummer, p. 116.]
Christians should be willing to give to one another rather than trying to get from one another. In other words, there should be no going to court with one another at all. Nevertheless if the Corinthians insisted on going to court, it should be a court of believers in the church, not unbelievers outside the church.
Paul’s judgment in the matter 6:7-11
The apostle now addressed the two men involved in the lawsuit but wrote with the whole church in view.
An even more shocking condition was that some of the Christians in Corinth were more than the victims of wrong and fraud. They were the perpetrators of these things (cf. Matthew 5:39-41).
Who are the "unrighteous" (NASB) or "wicked" (NIV) in view? Paul previously used this word (Gr. adikos) of the unsaved in 1 Corinthians 6:1 (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:6 where he called them unbelievers). However he also used it of the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 6:8: "you yourselves wrong [adikeo]." Christians as well as unbelievers have been guilty of unrighteous conduct, even all the offenses listed in these verses. Therefore what Paul said about the unrighteous in this verse seems to apply to anyone who is unrighteous in his or her behavior whether saved or unsaved. It does not apply just to the unrighteous in their standing before God, namely, unbelievers. Some interpreters, however, have concluded that the unrighteous refer only to unbelievers. [Note: E.g., MacArthur, pp. 127-29; and J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, p. 283.]
What will be true of the unrighteous? They will "not inherit the kingdom of God." Jesus explained who will inherit the kingdom (Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:10; Mark 10:14), whereas Paul explained who will not. Elsewhere Paul used this expression to describe the consequences of the behavior of unbelievers when he compared it to the behavior of believers (cf. Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5). That appears to be its meaning here too. [Note: See René A. López, "Views on Paul’s Vice Lists and Inheriting the Kingdom," Bibliotheca Sacra 168:669 (January-March 2011)81-97.] Inheriting the kingdom and entering the kingdom are synonyms in the Gospels (cf. Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18). Paul was apparently contrasting what the Corinthians did before their conversion with their conduct after conversion (1 Corinthians 6:11). He did not mean that Christians are incapable of practicing these sins but that they typically characterize unbelievers. Paul was exhorting the Corinthian believers to live like saints. [Note: See idem, "Does the Vice List in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Describe Believers or Unbelievers?" Bibliotheca Sacra 164:653 (January-March 2007):59-73.]
Paul warned his readers about being deceived on this subject (1 Corinthians 6:9). Probably many of them failed to see that how Christians choose to live here and now will affect our eternal reward. Many Christians today fail to see this too. The fact that we are eternally secure should not lead us to conclude that it does not matter how we live now even though we will all end up in heaven.
The meanings of most of these sins are clear, but a few require some comment. "Effeminate" (NASB) or "male prostitutes" (NIV; Gr. malakoi) refers to the passive role in a homosexual union whereas "homosexuals" refers to the active role. [Note: See P. Michael Ukleja, "Homosexuality in the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 140:560 (October-December 1983):350-58; and Sherwood A. Cole, "Biology, Homosexuality, and Moral Culpability," Bibliotheca Sacra 154:615 (July-September 1997):355-66.] David Malick showed that Paul was condemning all homosexual relationships, not just "abuses" in homosexual behavior. [Note: David E. Malick, "The Condemnation of Homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9," Bibliotheca Sacra 150:600 (October-December 1993):479-92.]
"Bisexuality was extremely common among Greeks, especially because of the shortage of available wives, which apparently occasioned the late age of marriage for most Greek men." [Note: Keener, p. 55.]
"We can scarcely realize how riddled the ancient world was with it [homosexuality]. Even so great a man as Socrates practised [sic] it; Plato’s dialogue The Symposium is always said to be one of the greatest works on love in the world, but its subject is not natural but unnatural love. Fourteen out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors practised unnatural vice." [Note: Barclay, The Letters . . ., p. 60.]
Note the seriousness of the sin of covetousness or greed (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:10-11; 1 Corinthians 6:8). Greed may manifest itself in a desire for what one should not have (Exodus 20:17; Romans 7:7) or in an excessive desire for what one may legitimately have (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5).
"The universality of wine drinking was of course due to the inadequate water-supplies. But normally the Greeks were sober people, for their drink was three parts of wine mixed with two of water." [Note: Ibid., p. 59.]
"The order of the ten kinds of offenders is unstudied. He enumerates sins which were prevalent at Corinth just as they occur to him." [Note: Robertson and Plummer, p. 119.]
Some of the Corinthian Christians had been fornicators and had practiced the other sins Paul cited before they trusted in Christ. However the blood of Christ had cleansed them, and God had set them apart to a life of holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2). The Lord had declared them righteous through union with Christ by faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30) and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit who indwelt them. He had made them saints. Consequently they needed to live like saints.
"The quite unconscious Trinitarianism of the concluding words should be noted: the Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit, our God. Trinitarian theology, at least in its New Testament form, did not arise out of speculation, but out of the fact that when Christians spoke of what God had done for them and in them they often found themselves obliged to use threefold language of this kind." [Note: Barrett, p. 143.]
This verse does not support the idea that once a person has experienced eternal salvation he will live a life free of gross sin. Normally this is the consequence of conversion thanks to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. However believers can grieve and quench the Holy Spirit’s ministry in their lives. In this letter we have seen that not only were some of the Corinthian saints fornicators before their conversion, but one of them had continued in or returned to that sin (1 Corinthians 5:1).
Paul’s point in this whole section (1 Corinthians 6:1-11) was that genuine Christians should not continue in or return to the sinful practices that mark unbelievers. We should become what we are because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. This appeal runs throughout the New Testament and is latent in every exhortation to pursue godliness. It is especially strong in this epistle. Rather than assuming that believers will not continually practice sin, the inspired writers constantly warned us of that possibility.
This passage does not deal with how Christians should respond when pagans defraud or sue us. But if we apply the principles Paul advocated in dealing with fellow believers, we should participate in public litigation only as a last resort.
Paul was and is famous as the apostle of Christian liberty. He saw early in his Christian life and clearly that the Christian is not under the Mosaic Law. His Epistle to the Galatians is an exposition of this theme. He preached this freedom wherever he went. Unfortunately he was always subject to misinterpretation. Some of his hearers concluded that he advocated no restraints whatsoever in Christian living.
Similarly the Protestant reformers fell under the same criticism by their Roman Catholic opponents. The Catholics said that the reformers were teaching that since Christians are saved by grace they could live sinful lives. Unfortunately John Calvin’s successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza (1519-1605), overreacted and argued that a true Christian cannot commit gross sin. This assertion led to the conclusion that the basis of assurance of salvation is the presence of fruit in the life rather than the promise of God (e.g., John 6:47; et al.). This view, that a true Christian will not commit gross sin, has become popular in reformed theology, but it goes further than Scripture does. Scripture never makes this claim but constantly warns Christians against abusing their liberty in Christ and turning it into a license to sin. [Note: See Dillow, pp. 245-69.]
Perhaps those in Corinth who were practicing sexual immorality and suing their brethren in pagan courts appealed to Paul to support their actions, though they took liberty farther than Paul did. [Note: See Robert N. Wilkin, "Are All Things Lawful for Believers?" Grace Evangelical Society Newsletter 4:7 (July 1989):2.]
"’Everything is permissible for me’ is almost certainly a Corinthian theological slogan." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p. 251. Cf. 10:23.]
"It could have been argued in Corinth . . . that the right course was for a husband to keep his wife ’pure’, and, if necessary, find occasional sexual satisfaction in a harlot." [Note: Barrett, p. 145.]
In this verse the apostle restated his general maxim but qualified it (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:23). Legality is not the only test the Christian should apply to his or her behavior. Is the practice also profitable (helpful, admirable, beneficial, expedient, good)? Furthermore even though I have authority over some practice, might it gain control over me? The Christian should always be able to submit to the Lord’s control. We should give the Lord, not anyone or anything else, primary control of our bodies.
"Freedom is not to be for self but for others. The real question is not whether an action is ’lawful’ or ’right’ or even ’all right,’ but whether it is good, whether it benefits. . . . Truly Christian conduct is not predicated on whether I have the right to do something, but whether my conduct is helpful to those about me." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p. 252.]
"We have no longer any right to do what in itself is innocent, when our doing it will have a bad effect on others. . . . We have no longer any right to do what in itself is innocent, when experience has proved that our doing it has a bad effect on ourselves." [Note: Robertson and Plummer, p. 122.]
Refutation of the Corinthians’ false premises 6:12-14
Paul began by arguing against his recipients’ distortion of Christian freedom and their misunderstanding of the nature of the body. The influence of Greek dualism on the Corinthians continues to be obvious. He presented his teaching in the form of a dialogue with his readers, the diatribe style, which was familiar to them.
3. Prostitution in the church 6:12-20
The apostle proceeded to point out the sanctity of the believer’s body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. He wanted to help his readers realize the seriousness of the sins that marked them to some extent as a church.
"The Greeks always looked down on the body. There was a proverbial saying, ’The body is a tomb.’ Epictetus said, ’I am a poor soul shackled to a corpse.’" [Note: Barclay, The Letters . . ., p. 62.]
"The question is: If there are no restrictions in food, one appetite of the body, why must there be in sexual things, another physical desire?" [Note: Johnson, p. 1238.]
"Apparently some men within the Christian community are going to prostitutes and are arguing for the right to do so. Being people of the Spirit, they imply, has moved them to a higher plane, the realm of the spirit, where they are unaffected by behavior that has merely to do with the body. So Paul proceeds from the affirmation of 1 Corinthians 6:11 to an attack on this theological justification.
"As before, the gospel itself is at stake, not simply the resolution of an ethical question. The Corinthian pneumatics’ understanding of spirituality has allowed them both a false view of freedom (’everything is permissible’) and of the body (’God will destroy it’), from which basis they have argued that going to prostitutes is permissible because the body doesn’t matter." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., pp. 250-51.]
This is one of the more important passages in the New Testament on the human body.
The first part of this verse is similar to the two parts of the previous verse. It contains a statement that is true, and it may have been a Corinthian slogan, but a qualifier follows. Food is not a matter of spiritual significance for the Christian, except that gluttony is a sin. As far as what we eat goes, we may eat anything and be pleasing to God (Mark 7:19). He has not forbidden any foods for spiritual reasons, though there may be physical reasons we may choose not to eat certain things. Both food and the stomach are physical and temporal. Paul may have referred to food here, not because it was an issue, but to set up the issue of the body and sexual immorality. However, gluttony and immorality often went together in Greek and Roman feasts. So gluttony may have been an issue. [Note: Keener, p. 57.] As food is for the stomach, so the body is for the Lord.
"Not only are meats made for the belly, but the belly, which is essential to physical existence, is made for meats, and cannot exist without them." [Note: Robertson and Plummer, p. 123.]
The same is not true of the body and fornication. Paul constructed his argument like this.
Part 1: Food is for the stomach [A, B], and the stomach is for food [B, A].
Part 2: God will destroy the stomach [B] and the food [A].
Part 1: The body is for the Lord [A, B] (not for sexual immorality), and the Lord is for the body [B, A].
Part 2: God has raised the Lord [B], and He will raise us [A] (by His power).
One might conclude, and some in Corinth were evidently doing so, that since sex was also physical and temporal it was also irrelevant spiritually. [Note: Barrett, p. 147.] However this is a false conclusion. The body is part of what the Lord saved and sanctified. Therefore it is for Him, and we should use it for His glory, not for fornication. Furthermore the Lord has a noble purpose and destiny for our bodies. He is for them in that sense.
The Lord will resurrect the bodies of most Christians in the future, all but those that He catches away at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The resurrection of our bodies shows that God has plans for them. Some in Corinth did not believe in the resurrection, but Paul dealt with that later (ch. 15). Here he simply stated the facts without defending them.
"The body of the believer is for the Lord because through Christ’s resurrection God has set in motion the reality of our own resurrection. This means that the believer’s physical body is to be understood as ’joined’ to Christ’s own ’body’ that was raised from the dead." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p. 258.]
Another rhetorical question affirmed the truth. As we are members of Christ’s body, so our bodies are members of Him. This is not just clever wordplay. Our physical bodies are just as much a part of Christ-united with Him in a genuine spiritual union-as we are part of the mystical body of Christ, the church. However, Paul was not speaking here of the believer’s union with Christ by becoming a member of His mystical body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). He was metaphorically speaking of our individual union with Christ’s physical body.
When a Christian has sexual relations with a prostitute, he or she takes what belongs to God and gives it to someone else. This is stealing from God. When a Christian marries, this does not happen because God has ordained and approves of marriage (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:14). He permits us to share our bodies with our lawful mates. Taking a member of Christ and uniting it to a harlot also involves the Lord in that immoral act. Paul’s revulsion at the thought of this comes through graphically in his characteristic me genoito (lit. "May it not happen!").
"Sex outside of marriage is like a man robbing a bank: he gets something, but it is not his and he will one day pay for it. Sex within marriage can be like a person putting money into a bank: there is safety, security, and he will collect dividends. Sex within marriage can build a relationship that brings joys in the future; but sex apart from marriage has a way of weakening future relationships, as every Christian marriage counselor will tell you." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:589.]
Arguments against participating in prostitution 6:15-17
Building on the preceding theological base, Paul argued against participating in fornication with prostitutes. The Corinthians had not correctly understood the nature of sexual intercourse or the nature of Christian conversion.
Paul urged his readers not to think of sexual intercourse as simply a physical linking of two people for the duration of their act. God views intercourse as involving the whole person, not just the body. It is the most intimate sharing that human beings experience. A spiritual union takes place. Sexual relations affect the inner unseen conditions of the individuals involved very deeply. This is what is in view in the reference to two people becoming "one flesh" in Genesis 2:24. Consequently it is improper to put sexual relations on the same level of significance as eating food.
Compared to the union that takes place when two people have sex, the person who trusts Christ unites with Him in an even stronger and more pervasive oneness. This is an even stronger spiritual union. Consequently it is a very serious thing to give to a prostitute what God has so strongly united to Christ.
Paul expressed his argument in a chiasm.
A Your bodies are members of Christ’s body.
B So they must not be members of a prostitute’s body.
B’ Joined to a prostitute your members become one body with her.
A’ Joined to Christ your members become one spirit with Him.
In conclusion, believers should flee from fornication (porneian). Joseph is a good example to follow (Genesis 39:12). Fornication is more destructive to the sinner than other sins because the people who engage in it cannot undo their act. Gluttony and drunkenness hurt the body as well, but they involve excess in things morally neutral, and abstinence may correct their effects.
Fornication is also an especially serious sin because it involves placing the body, which is the Lord’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), under the control of another illegitimate partner (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:4). [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p. 262.] No other sin has this result. All other sins are outside or apart from the body in this sense. "Every sin that a man commits is outside the body," could be another incorrect Corinthian slogan that Paul proceeded to correct (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13).
"Does God then forbid the restoration of fallen leaders? No. Does He leave open the possibility? Yes. Does that possibility look promising? Yes and no. If both the life and reputation of the fallen elder can be rehabilitated, his prospects for restoration are promising. However, rehabilitating his reputation, not to mention his life, will be particularly difficult, for squandering one’s reputation is ’a snare of the devil’ (1 Timothy 3:7), and he does not yield up his prey easily." [Note: Jay E. Smith, "Can Fallen Leaders Be Restored to Leadership? Bibliotheca Sacra 151:604 (October-December 1994):480.]
The reason participating in prostitution is wrong 6:18-20
Sexual immorality is wrong, Paul concluded, because it involves sinning against one’s body, which in the case of believers belongs to the Lord through divine purchase.
Another rhetorical question makes a strong, important statement. Previously Paul taught his readers that the Corinthian church was a temple (naos; 1 Corinthians 3:16). The believer’s body is also one. The Holy Spirit is really indwelling each of these temples (Romans 8:9; cf. Matthew 12:6; Matthew 18:15-20; Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 13:11; John 14:17; John 14:23). [Note: See Sweeney, p. 629.] He is a gift to us from God (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:8). He is the best gift God has given us thus far. Consequently we have a moral obligation to the Giver. Moreover because He indwells us we belong to Him.
Furthermore, God has purchased (Gr. agorazo) every Christian with a great price, the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7; et al.). So we belong to Him for a second reason. In view of this we should glorify God in our bodies rather than degrading Him through fornication (cf. Romans 12:1-2). Usually the New Testament emphasis is on redemption leading to freedom from sin (e.g., Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3), but here it is on redemption leading to faithfulness to God. Even our physical bodies are to be faithful to the Lord with whom we are joined.
"The reason to glorify God in the body and not engage in sexual immorality is rooted in a new way of understanding the self." [Note: Cousar, "The Theological . . .," p. 99.]
"What Paul seems to be doing is taking over their own theological starting point, namely, that they are ’spiritual’ because they have the Spirit, and redirecting it to include the sanctity of the body. The reality of the indwelling Spirit is now turned against them. They thought the presence of the Spirit meant a negation of the body; Paul argues the exact opposite: The presence of the Spirit in their present bodily existence is God’s affirmation of the body." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p. 264.]
Paul’s solution to the problem of the lack of discipline (chs. 5-6) was the same as his solution to the problem of divisions in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10 to 1 Corinthians 4:21). He led his readers back to the Cross (1 Corinthians 6:20; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23-25).
Incest was one manifestation of carnality in the church (ch. 5), suing fellow believers in the public courts was another (1 Corinthians 5:1-11), and going to prostitutes was a third (1 Corinthians 5:12). Nevertheless the underlying problem was a loose view of sin, a view the unbelievers among whom the Corinthian Christians lived took. In this attitude, as in their attitude toward wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:10 to 1 Corinthians 4:21), their viewpoint was different from that of the Apostle Paul and God. God inspired these sections of the epistle to transform their outlook and ours on these subjects.