Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 6

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Dare any of you? (τολμα τις υμων;). Does any one of you dare? Rhetorical question with present indicative of τολμαω, old verb from τολμα, daring. Bengel: grandi verbo notatur laesa majestas Christianorum. "The word is an argument in itself" (Robertson and Plummer). Apparently Paul has an actual case in mind as in chapter 1 Corinthians 6:1 though no name is called.

Having a matter against his neighbour (πραγμα εχων προς τον ετερον). Forensic sense of πραγμα (from πρασσω, to do, to exact, to extort as in Luke 3:13), a case, a suit (Demosthenes 1020, 26), with the other or the neighbour as in 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 14:17; Galatians 6:4; Romans 2:1.

Go to law (κρινεσθα). Present middle or passive (ch. Romans 3:4) in the same forensic sense as κριθηνα in Matthew 5:40. Κριτης, judge, is from this verb.

Before the unrighteous (επ των αδικων). This use of επ with the genitive for "in the presence of" is idiomatic as in 2 Corinthians 7:14, επ Τιτου, in the case of Titus. The Jews held that to bring a lawsuit before a court of idolaters was blasphemy against the law. But the Greeks were fond of disputatious lawsuits with each other. Probably the Greek Christians brought cases before pagan judges.

Verse 2

Shall judge the world (τον κοσμον κρινουσιν). Future active indicative. At the last day with the Lord Jesus (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

Are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (αναξιο εστε κριτηριων ελαχιστων;). Αναξιος is an old word (αν and αξιος), though only here in the N.T. There is dispute as to the meaning of κριτηρια here and in verse 1 Corinthians 6:4, old word, but nowhere else in N.T. save in James 2:6. Naturally, like other words in -τηριον (ακροατηριον, auditorium, Acts 25:23), this word means the place where judgment is rendered, or court. It is common in the papyri in the sense of tribunal. In the Apost. Const. ii. 45 we have μη ερχεσθω επ κριτηριον εθνικον (Let him not come before a heathen tribunal). Hence here it would mean, "Are ye unworthy of the smallest tribunals?" That is, of sitting on the smallest tribunals, of forming courts yourselves to settle such things?

Verse 3

How much more, things that pertain to this life? (Μητ γε βιωτικα;). The question expects the answer no and γε adds sharp point to Paul's surprised tone, "Need I so much as say?" It can be understood also as ellipsis, "let me not say" (μητιγε λεγω), not to say. Βιωτικα occurs first in Aristotle, but is common afterwards. In the papyri it is used of business matters. It is from βιος (manner of life in contrast to ζωη, life principle).

Verse 4

If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life (βιωτικα μεν ουν κριτηρια εαν εχητε). Note emphatic position (proleptic) of βιωτικα κριτηρια (tribunals pertaining to this life, as above). "If ye have tribunals pertaining to this life" (condition of third class, εαν εχητε). If καθιζετε (do ye set) is indicative and interrogative, then by "who are of no account in the church" (τους εξουθενημενους εν τη εκκλησια) Paul means the heathen as in verse 1 Corinthians 6:1. If καθιζετε be imperative, then Paul means the least esteemed members of the church for such unwished for work. It is a harsh term for the heathen, but one of indignation toward Christians.

Verse 5

I say this to move you to shame (προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω). Old word εντροπη from εντρεπω, to turn in (1 Corinthians 4:14 which see). In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 15:34.

One wise man (σοφος). From sarcasm to pathos Paul turns.

Does there not exist (εν, short form for ενεστ)? With double negative ουκ--ουδεις, expecting the answer yes. Surely

one such man exists in the church.

Who (ος). Almost consecutive in idea, of such wisdom that he will be able.

To decide between his brethren (διακρινα ανα μεσον του αδελφου αυτου). Κρινα is to judge or decide (first aorist active infinitive of κρινω and δια (two) carries on the idea of between. Then ανα μεσον makes it still plainer, in the midst as

arbitrator between brother and brother like ανα μεσον εμου κα σου (Genesis 23:15). It is even so a condensed expression with part of it unexpressed (ανα μεσον κα του αδελφου αυτου) between brother and his brother. The use of αδελφος has a sharp reflection on them for their going to heathen judges to settle disputes between brothers in Christ.

Verse 6

And that before unbelievers (κα τουτο επ απιστων). Climactic force of κα. The accusative of general reference with τουτο. "That there should be disputes about βιωτικα is bad; that Christian should go to law with Christian is worse; that Christians should do this before unbelievers is worst of all" (Robertson and Plummer).

Verse 7

Nay, already it is altogether a defect among you (ηδη μεν ουν ολως ηττημα υμιν εστιν). "Indeed therefore there is to you already (to begin with, ηδη, before any question of courts) wholly defeat." Hηττημα (from ητταομα) is only here, Romans 11:12; Isaiah 31:8 and ecclesiastical writers. See ητταομα (from ηττων, less) in 2 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Peter 2:19 Νικη was victory and ηττα defeat with the Greeks. It is defeat for Christians to have lawsuits (κριματα, usually decrees or judgments) with one another. This was proof of the failure of love and forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).

Take wrong (αδικεισθε). Present middle indicative, of old verb αδικεω (from αδικος, not right). Better undergo wrong yourself than suffer

defeat in the matter of love and forgiveness of a brother.

Be defrauded (αποστερεισθε). Permissive middle again like αδικεισθε. Allow yourselves to be robbed (old verb to deprive, to rob) rather than have a lawsuit.

Verse 8

Nay, but ye yourselves do wrong and defraud (αλλα υμεις αδικειτε κα αποστερειτε). "But (adversative αλλα, on the contrary) you (emphatic) do the wronging and the robbing" (active voices) "and that your brethren" (κα τουτο αδελφους). Same idiom as at close of verse 1 Corinthians 6:6. The very climax of wrong-doings, to stoop to do this with one's brethren in Christ.

Verse 9

The unrighteous (αδικο). To remind them of the verb αδικεω just used.

The Kingdom of God (θεου βασιλειαν). Precisely, God's kingdom.

Be not deceived (μη πλανασθε). Present passive imperative with negative μη. Do not be led astray by plausible talk to cover up sin as mere animal behaviourism. Paul has two lists in verses 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:10, one with repetition of ουτε, neither (fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, or μαλακο, abusers of themselves with men or αρσενοκοιτα or sodomites as in 1 Timothy 1:10 a late word for this horrid vice, thieves, covetous), the other with ου not (drunkards, revilers, extortioners). All these will fall short of the kingdom of God. This was plain talk to a city like Corinth. It is needed today. It is a solemn roll call of the damned even if some of their names are on the church roll in Corinth whether officers or ordinary members.

Verse 11

And such were some of you (κα ταυτα τινες ητε). A sharp homethrust. Literally, "And these things (ταυτα, neuter plural) were ye (some of you)." The horror is shown by ταυτα, but by τινες Paul narrows the picture to some, not all. But that was in the past (ητε, imperfect indicative) like Romans 6:17. Thank God the blood of Jesus does cleanse from such sins as these. But do not go back to them.

But ye were washed (απελουσασθε). First aorist middle indicative, not passive, of απολουω. Either direct middle, ye washed yourselves, or indirect middle, as in Acts 22:16, ye washed your sins away (force of απο). This was their own voluntary act in baptism which was the outward expression of the previous act of God in cleansing (ηγιασθητε, ye were sanctified or cleansed before the baptism) and justified (εδικαιωθητε, ye were put right with God before the act of baptism). "These twin conceptions of the Christian state in its beginning appear commonly in the reverse order" (Findlay). The outward expression is usually mentioned before the inward change which precedes it. In this passage the Trinity appear as in the baptismal command in Matthew 28:19.

Verse 12

Lawful (εξεστιν). Apparently this proverb may have been used by Paul in Corinth (repeated in 1 Corinthians 10:23), but not in the sense now used by Paul's opponents. The "all things" do not include such matters as those condemned in chapter 1 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. Paul limits the proverb to things not immoral, things not wrong per se. But even here liberty is not license.

But not all things are expedient (αλλ' ου παντα συμφερε). Old word συμφερε, bears together for good and so worthwhile. Many things, harmless in themselves in the abstract, do harm to others in the concrete. We live in a world of social relations that circumscribe personal rights and liberties.

But I will not be brought under the power of any (αλλ ουκ εγω εξουσιασθησομα υπο τινος). Perhaps a conscious play on the verb εξεστιν for εξουσιαζω is from εξουσια and that from εξεστιν. Verb from Aristotle on, though not common (Dion. of Hal., LXX and inscriptions). In N.T. only here, 1 Corinthians 7:4; Luke 22:25. Paul is determined not to be a slave to anything harmless in itself. He will maintain his self-control. He gives a wholesome hint to those who talk so much about personal liberty.

Verse 13

But God shall bring to nought both it and them (ο δε θεος κα ταυτην κα ταυτα καταργησε). Another proverb about the adaptation of the belly (κοιλια) and food (βρωματα, not just flesh), which had apparently been used by some in Corinth to justify sexual license (fornication and adultery). These Gentiles mixed up matters not alike at all (questions of food and sensuality). " We have traces of this gross moral confusion in the circumstances which dictated the Apostolic Letter (Acts 15:23-29), where things wholly diverse are combined, as directions about meats to be avoided and a prohibition of fornication" (Lightfoot). Both the belly (ταυτην) and the foods (ταυτα) God will bring to an end by death and change.

But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body (το δε σωμα ου τη πορνεια αλλα τω κυριωι, κα ο κυριος τω σωματ). Paul here boldly shows the fallacy in the parallel about appetite of the belly for food. The human body has a higher mission than the mere gratification of sensual appetite. Sex is of God for the propagation of the race, not for prostitution. Paul had already stated that God dwells in us as the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). This higher function of the body he here puts forward against the debased Greek philosophy of the time which ignored completely Paul's idea, "the body for the Lord and the Lord for the body" (dative of personal interest in both cases). "The Lord Jesus and πορνεια contested for the bodies of Christian men; loyal to him they must renounce that, yielding to that they renounce him" (Findlay).

Verse 14

Will raise up us (ημας εξεγερε). Future active indicative of εξεγειρω though the MSS. vary greatly, some having the present and some even the aorist. But the resurrection of the body gives added weight to Paul's argument about the dignity and destiny of the body (quanta dignitas, Bengel) which should not be prostituted to sensuality.

Verse 15

Members of Christ (μελη Χριστου). Old word for limbs, members. Even the Stoics held the body to be common with the animals (Epictetus, Diss. l. iii. 1) and only the reason like the gods. Without doubt some forms of modern evolution have contributed to the licentious views of animalistic sex indulgence, though the best teachers of biology show that in the higher animals monogamy is the rule. The body is not only adapted for Christ (verse 1 Corinthians 6:13), but it is a part of Christ, in vital union with him. Paul will make much use of this figure further on (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:30).

Shall I then take away? (αρας ουν;). First aorist active participle of αιρω, old verb to snatch, carry off like Latin rapio (our rape).

Make (ποιησω). Can be either future active indicative or first aorist active subjunctive (deliberative). Either makes good sense. The horror of deliberately taking "members of Christ" and making them "members of a harlot" in an actual union staggers Paul and should stagger us.

God forbid (μη γενοιτο). Optative second aorist in a negative wish for the future.

May it not happen! The word "God" is not here. The idiom is common in Epictetus though rare in the LXX. Paul has it thirteen times and Luke once (Luke 20:16).

Verse 16

One body (εν σωμα). With the harlot. That union is for the harlot the same as with the wife. The words quoted from Genesis 2:24 describing the sexual union of husband and wife, are also quoted and explained by Jesus in Matthew 19:5 which see for discussion of the translation Hebraism with use of εις.

Saith he (φησιν). Supply either ο θεος (God) or η γραφη (the Scripture).

Verse 17

One spirit (εν πνευμα). With the Lord, the inner vital spiritual union with the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 4:4; Ephesians 5:30).

Verse 18

Flee (φευγετε). Present imperative. Have the habit of fleeing without delay or parley. Note abruptness of the asyndeton with no connectives. Fornication violates Christ's rights in our bodies (verses 1 Corinthians 6:13-17) and also ruins the body itself.

Without the body (εκτος του σωματος). Even gluttony and drunkenness and the use of dope are sins wrought on the body, not "within the body" (εντος του σωματος) in the same sense as fornication. Perhaps the dominant idea of Paul is that fornication, as already shown, breaks the mystic bond between the body and Christ and hence the fornicator (ο πορνευων)

sins against his own body (εις το ιδιον σωμα αμαρτανε) in a sense not true of other dreadful sins. The fornicator takes his body which belongs to Christ and unites it with a harlot. In fornication the body is the instrument of sin and becomes the subject of the damage wrought. In another sense fornication brings on one's own body the two most terrible bodily diseases that are still incurable (gonorrhea and syphilis) that curse one's own body and transmit the curse to the third and fourth generation. Apart from the high view given here by Paul of the relation of the body to the Lord no possible father or mother has the right to lay the hand of such terrible diseases and disaster on their children and children's children. The moral and physical rottenness wrought by immorality defy one's imagination.

Verse 19

Your body is a temple (το σωμα υμων ναος εστιν). A sanctuary as in 1 Corinthians 3:16 which see. Our spirits dwell in our bodies and the Holy Spirit dwells in our spirits. Some of the Gnostics split hairs between the sins of the body and fellowship with God in the spirit. Paul will have none of this subterfuge. One's body is the very shrine for the Holy Spirit. In Corinth was the temple to Aphrodite in which fornication was regarded as consecration instead of desecration. Prostitutes were there as priestesses of Aphrodite, to help men worship the goddess by fornication.

Ye are not your own (ουκ εστε εαυτων). Predicate genitive. Ye do not belong to yourselves, even if you could commit fornication without personal contamination or self-violation. Christianity makes unchastity dishonour in both sexes. There is no double standard of morality. Paul's plea here is primarily to men to be clean as members of Christ's body.

Verse 20

For ye were bought with a price (ηγορασθητε γαρ τιμης). First aorist passive indicative of αγοραζω, old verb to buy in the marketplace (αγορα). With genitive of price. Paul does not here state the price as Peter does in 1 Peter 1:19 (the blood of Christ) and as Jesus does in Matthew 20:28 (his life a ransom). The Corinthians understood his meaning.

Glorify God therefore in your body (δοξασατε δη τον θεον εν τω σωματ υμων). Passionate conclusion to his powerful argument against sexual uncleanness. Δη is a shortened form of ηδη and is an urgent inferential particle. See on Luke 2:15. Paul holds to his high ideal of the destiny of the body and urges glorifying God in it. Some of the later Christians felt that Paul's words could be lightened a bit by adding "and in your spirits which are his," but these words are found only in late MSS. and are clearly not genuine. Paul's argument stands four-square for the dignity of the body as the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit united to the Lord Jesus.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.