November 13, 2012
Commentary on First Corinthians
By: Tom Lowe
Topic #4: The Problem of Lawsuits, 1 Corinthians 6.1-6.11



Lesson 4.0: The Problem of Lawsuits
 Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6.1-6.11

1 Cor 6.1-11 (KJV)

Section 4-AChristians 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 litigations 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.
2. This might have been a prevailing vice in the church of Corinth, and demanded correction. The word dare implies that it was inconsistent with religion, and improper.

Paul uses the phrase “having a matter” to mean the subject of litigation; or a suit. There may be differences between men in regard to property and what is right, in which there is no blame due on either side. They may both want to have it settled equitably and amicably. It is not a disagreement between men that is wrong, but it is the spirit with which the difference is embraced, and the unwillingness to have justice done, that is so often wrong.

Against another means another member of the church, a Christian brother, or a Christian neighbor, because it would be impossible to force a pagan into a Christian tribunal which is not recognized by the law of the land.

The apostle directs his accusation against the plaintiff, since he is the one who chooses the tribunal before which he would bring his case. When they appeared before the civil court, Brother went to law with brother (1 Corinthians 6:6), one member of the church against another. This close relationship could not preserve peace and good understanding. The bonds of brotherly love were broken and a brother was offended. As Solomon says; “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov 18:19; KJV). How difficult is it to regain a brother that has been offended—Solomon says it is more difficult than capturing a city that is well fortified. Note, Christians should not challenge each other, because they are brethren. If we would only practice this concept it would prevent law-suits, and put an end to quarrels and lawsuits.

go to law before the unjust,
“The unjust” is used here to represent the unrighteous, in the sense of "not being justified before God, not saved." Why are the Corinthian Christians trying to find justice from those who aren't justified before God? Paul is using the term unrighteous in a religious sense, not a moral sense. It isn't that Corinthian judges were necessarily bad judges, but they were not Christians.
The apostle is NOT saying that all the pagan judges were unrighteous, but he distinguishes between those within the church (The saints according to the next clause.) and those without, all of the latter being unrighteous in the sense of them not being Christians. He does not mean that they were always unjust or unfair in their decisions, but that they were classified in that faction of the world which was different from the saints, and is synonymous with unbelievers, as opposed to believers. It is as if he said, "Have you become so disrespectful, that you are not ashamed to make the Gospel a laughing stock to profane men?" It is very likely that at Corinth, where corruption reigned, there was a great perversion of public justice; and we should not suppose that matters relative to the Christians were fairly decided.

The Corinthian believers who brought matters before the heathen magistrates went to law before the unjust, not before the saints, and the result was that it caused controversy before unbelievers: “But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers” (1 Cor 6:6; KJV) which could have been avoided if they would have settled it among themselves. This tended to bring criticism and reproach upon Christianity. It presented a vivid picture of foolishness and disharmony; while they pretended to be the children of wisdom, and the followers of the Lamb, the meek and lowly Jesus, the prince of peace. And therefore, the apostle says, "How dare you, when you have a controversy with another, go to court, and bring the matter to a hearing before the unjust?" Note, Christians should not dare to do anything that tends to bring criticism of their Christian name and profession.

and not before the saints?
Christ himself had laid down the rules, in Matthew 18.15-17, for any follower of the Lord having a disagreement with his brother; and this rule involved:
1. a personal confrontation between wronged and wrongdoer,
2. another attempt at reconciliation if the first failed, with witnesses present, and
3. a general examination before the whole church.

McGarvey stated that "By going to law before the pagan tribunals, they were not only disobeying the Lord but committing treason against their own brotherhood." As DeHoff noted, however, "It is sometimes necessary for Christians to appear in courts for justice; Paul himself appealed to Caesar." "The Rabbis taught the Jews never to take a case before the Gentiles"; and there were enough excellent reasons why the Christians should have likewise stayed out of pagan courts, except through the utmost necessity. Not only were the Christians more competent in an ethical sense, but the use of pagan courts would involve oath-taking in the names of pagan deities and other practices abhorrent to Christians. You can settle your differences among yourselves as Christians, by putting the matter in the hands of your brethren, as arbitrators, instead of going before heathen magistrates? The Jews would not allow any of their causes to be brought before the Gentile courts. Their rule was this: "He that tries a cause before the judges of the Gentiles, and before their tribunals, although their judgments are as the judgments of the Israelites, so this is an ungodly man.” They even looked on such an action as bad as profaning the name of God.

The apostle does not say that Christians are not to go to law. If Christians did not use the benefit of the law, they would suffer great loss at the hands of the unsaved. He is saying that Christians should not go to law against each other—Christian against Christian. The differences between believers are not to be taken to a secular court. They should be settled by believers. This is something which churches and believers in general ignore today.

My favorite preacher is J. Vernon McGee, and he made this comment. “After I had come to Southern California as a pastor, I was rather amazed one day when a man came in quite excitedly and wanted to bring a charge against an officer of the church. He claimed this man had beaten him out of a sum of money in a business deal. He said, “Now I want you to bring him up before the board and to make him settle with me.” I told him, “I think you are approaching this the right way. When can you appear before the board and make your charges?” “Oh,” he said, “I’ve told you about it. That is all that is necessary.” I pointed out to him that I had no way to verify the charge. It would be necessary for both men to appear before the board. Then I asked him, “Would you be willing to accept the verdict of the board?” “Well,” he said, “it all depends on how they decided it. If they decided in my favor, I would accept it.” So then I asked him if he would accept the verdict if it were against him, and he assured me that he would not. Of course, I told him that we might as well forget the whole matter. I said, “You are not really willing to turn this issue over to other believers for a verdict.”

Church fights should not be aired in state courts before unbelievers. Individual differences among Christians should be adjudicated by believers. Why should two believers bring their differences to be settled by other believers? Paul gives a threefold reason (in the next three verses) regarding the capabilities of believers to judge.

It is believed that Julius Caesar was the first notable person to decide an issue by flipping a coin. His methodology prevailed once again as recently as 1998. In a runoff election for the Chambers County commissioner’s position in Southeast Texas, a coin toss was used to determine the winner. Judge Mark Davidson evaluated the evidence surrounding the tabulations of votes garnered on April 21, 1998, and saw no signs of fraud. David Abernathy and Judy Edmonds tied the race with 669 votes. So on May 21, 1998, Judge Davidson tossed a coin into the air and Edmonds became the new Precinct 2 commissioner. Aren’t you glad our eternal destiny isn’t decided like that? Thirty silver coins were tossed two millennia ago to secure the certainty of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.—San Antonio Express-News, Feb. 18, 1997, p. 9E; Houston Chronicle, May 22, 1998, p. 40A

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?

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?
In this verse the apostle pleads with them, and to us also, to consider the high calling of believers with regard to this issue of “judging the world,” which the Corinthians had failed to recognize. It was a concept that was well known to them, because it was a traditional notion among the Jews, many of whom were in this church, that good men would judge the world. If they had known it previously, they had become so carnal and so careless that they had forgotten that they were sons of God, possessors of the Holy Spirit, members of the body of Christ, and that they possessed the mind of Christ. “That the saints shall judge the world” is the thought behind Daniel 7.17, 27, which says: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth… And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” These verses refer to the eternal Kingdom which appears first at the beginning of the Millennium (see Rev. 20) and then opens up into eternity. Those who find fault with the premillennial position say that the Millennium is not an accurate interpretation but that the Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom. However, the Millennium is simply a thousand-year period of testing such as we are in today, and it leads into the eternal Kingdom.

The apostle makes a clear, understandable statement, “the saints shall judge the world;” they will set on thrones and rein with Him during the time when the church will rein with Christ in the Millennium—“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt 19:28; KJV). The saints will judge, that is, "rule," including judgment: as assistants of Christ; "judging," that is, "ruling over"—“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Rev 2:26; KJV). There is a distinction drawn by able Bible students between the saints who judge or rule, and the world which is ruled by them: as there is between the elected twelve apostles who sit on thrones judging—“And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father” (Matt 20:23; KJV)—and the twelve tribes of Israel that are judged by them. To reign, and to be saved, are not necessarily synonymous. Just as Jehovah employed angels to put the law into effect when He descended on Sinai to establish His throne in Israel, so at His coming the saints will administer the kingdom for, and under, Him. The nations of the earth will be the subjects of the rule of the Lord and His saints. The "world" seems to be the unbelieving world that is to be "condemned," rather than the whole world, including the subject nations which are to be brought under Christ's control; however, it may include both those to be condemned, with the bad angels, and those about to be brought into obedience to the influence of Christ with His saints—“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32; KJV). But the saints will NOT judge anyone, since all judgment is committed exclusively to Him. But in our capacity of reining with Christ, Christian men and women will have important work to do, because they will be governors and have dominion over the world, and as saints of the most HIGH they shall be given all the great kingdoms under heaven. My friend, if you are a believer in Christ, you will participate along with the Lord Jesus in ruling the earth someday. This is not talking about the judgment at the Great White Throne, which will be the judgment when the lost appear before Christ. No, this has to do with the governing of the affairs of the universe down through eternity. Such glorious promises should stimulate and inspire us, and cause us to rejoice even in the face of temptation and persecution, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”

The phrase “Do ye not know” is the key to understanding this passage, because this question is repeated six times in this chapter;  in 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3, 9, 15, 16 and 19. Locke thinks it was intended as a rebuke to the Corinthians, who boasted of the knowledge they received from the false teacher, but were extremely ignorant in religious matters. This student believes that the words are a sarcastic reference by Paul to the conceited arrogance of the Corinthians who professed to "know" so much.

The object of this verse is evidently to show that Christians were qualified to determine controversies which might arise among themselves. The apostle shows this by reminding them that they shall be engaged in determining matters of much more importance than those which could arise among the members of a church on earth; and that if qualified for that, they must be regarded as qualified to express a judgment on the questions which might arise among their brethren in the churches. However, a great variety of interpretations has been given to this passage.
1. Grotius thinks it means that they will be judged first by Christ, and then act as assistants to him in the judgment, or join with him in condemning the wicked; and he points to Matthew 19:28, where Christ says that they which have followed him would "sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."—“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”
2. Whitby reasons that it means that Christians are to judge or condemn the world by their example, or that there will be Christian magistrates, according to the prophecy of Daniel 7.18—“But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”
3. Rosenmuller presumes that it means that Christians are to judge the mistakes and sins of men pertaining to religion, as in 1 Corinthians 2:13, 16—“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual…For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ”; and that they ought to be able, therefore, to judge the smaller matters pertaining to this life.
4. Bloomfield, and the Greek Fathers, and commentators, conclude that this means, that the saints will furnish ground to condemn the world; that is, by their lives and example they will be the cause for the greater condemnation of the world. But to this there are obvious objections.
5. Greene states that during the Millennium the actual authority to judge will be given to those faithful believers who have taken the cross and followed Jesus, confessing Him and suffering with Him, and they will receive this grand and glorious privilege—“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (2 Tim 2:12; KJV); “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev 20:4; KJV).

The saints themselves are to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall be judged by him, after which they will reign with him; but it is never clearly and unmistakably said in Scripture that they will judge with him. However, as we reign with Jesus Christ, we will (in some sense or another) judge the world, and even judge angels. Saints are said to sit in judgment on that great day for two reasons;
First, because Christ, who is to be the judge, is the head and representative of his people, and they will reign and judge with him by virtue of them being “in Christ.” The exaltation and dominion of Christ are their exaltation and dominion. This is what Scripture constantly says—“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6; KJV). In Hebrews 2:5–9, the declaration that all things are subject to man is said to be fulfilled in all things being made subject to Christ—“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak…But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?...Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands…Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him…But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Secondly, because his people are to be associated with Christ in his dominion. They are joint heirs with him—“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17; KJV). “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (2 Tim 2:12;KJV). In Daniel 7:22 it was predicted that judgment (the right and power to judge) would be given to the saints of the Most High—“Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (Dan 7:22; KJV).

and if the world shall be judged by you,
What Paul is saying is that men just like you, the saints of God, will be influential in the world, fill up all the civil offices in it, even the highest ones; will sit upon the benches of judges, and on the thrones of kings, and govern the whole world; and be abundantly capable when they do it. 

It would be absurd to theorize that thrones would be erected for the purpose of saints sitting on them to give their consent to the condemnation of the wicked; of what use can such an endorsement be? Would it add anything to the validity of Christ's decision? I agree with the thinking of Dr. Lightfoot, that these words of the apostle refer to the prediction of Daniel—“But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever… And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan 7:18, 27; KJV; and similar prophecies, where the kingdoms of the earth are promised to the saints of the Most High; that is, that a time is coming when Christianity will become so prevalent and dominant that all the civil governments of the world will be administered by Christians, which, at that time was administered by heathens. And this is the state of affairs today in all those parts of the earth which may be considered of the greatest political significance, and where there is freedom and prosperity, happiness and safety. They profess Christianity, and the kings and other governors are Christians in the general sense of the term.

are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Now, if this is the case, that you and other Christians will comprise the Supreme Court of the world, don’t you feel qualified to sit on some tiny local court? Don’t you think you are able to judge trivial things, issues of little or no importance, things relating to the common affairs of life? It was a dishonor to their Christian character and their dignity, as saints, for them to take little matters, about the things of life, before heathen magistrates.

3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

Know ye not that we shall judge angels?
Paul is using a series of “know ye nots.” When Paul said, “Know ye not,” you can be sure that the brethren did not know. This was a polite way of saying they were ignorant of these things.

This certainly opens up a whole new vista of truth. I do not completely understand what this means; it is beyond my comprehension. All I know for certain is that man was made a little lower than the angels, and through redemption man was lifted into a place of fellowship with God, a position above the angels. Also, God permitted man to fall. He never would have permitted that if it would not work out for good. It will result in bringing man into a higher position. The old saying is not true that says that the bird with the broken wing never flies so high again. Man flies higher. We are going to be above the angels. We are going to judge them and have charge of them. May I say again, this is beyond my comprehension, but I believe it.

The apostle is not referring to the ministers of the Gospel, and pastors of churches, called "angels" in Revelation 1:20—“The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches;” whose doctrines are examined, tried, and judged by the saints, according to the word of God; or the good angels, who, even if it was possible that they could publish a Gospel contrary to what has been preached by the apostle, would be contradicted, condemned, and accursed by him—“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9; KJV). But his subject matter is the evil angels, the devil and his angels. And he is not talking about the future final judgment and condemnation on the last day, when saints will lend their approve to the sentence pronounced upon them; but it is their judgment and ejection out of the Gentile world, out of their Prophets, idols, and shrines, to which Christ refers in John 12:31—“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Our Lord called it “the judgment of this world,” and the casting out of the “prince” of it by the ministry of his apostles; and which was now already begun by HIM, and would be fully accomplished by the preaching of the Gospel, through the power of Christ, which would drive them out of their seats of power, and strip them of their dominion. God will subdue the whole world under Christian power, so that Christian magistrates will judge men, and Christian ministers judge devils."

The meaning here may be this: The saints will set with the Lord Jesus and will be associated with him in the judgment pronounced upon angels (probably the fallen angels—Jude 6) in that day of final judgment. Exactly what part believers will play in that judgment is not revealed in the word of God. The point made here by the Holy Spirit is that members of the body of Christ are the highest form of created beings and therefore are superior to angels, and that we will set with Jesus to judge angels. We should realize our eternal dignity, not only with respect to life beyond this earth, but in relation to correctly regulating the circumstances of this present life. Believers shall, as administrators of the kingdom under Jesus, put down all rule that is hostile to God. The idea of Christians judging angels is fascinating. It does not mean we will sit in judgment of faithful angels (as if we could penalize them for letting us down or not being there!), but we will have a part in judging evil angels.

Angels Unaware

As a little first grader Jenny loved to sing. One day while driving in the car, she sang along with a tape by Michael W. Smith. The song was “Angels Unaware.” When it got to the line, “Maybe we are entertaining angels unaware,” she sang a different version. Little Jenny belted out, “Maybe we are irritating angels unaware.” Her rendition may be more truthful than Mr. Smith’s.--Christian Reader, March/April 1997, p. 80

how much more things that pertain to this life?
A child of God ought to be able to make judgments concerning things that pertain to this life; things such as business and professional matters, financial matters, the home and worldly possessions, about which differences may arise between one saint and another.

The apostle has shown that in the afterlife the saints will have the very important work of judging and governing the world, including angels. All the angels will be judged, both good and bad. Probably the reference in this verse is to fallen angels, since there is no evidence that holy angels will undergo a trial. The sense here is that "Christians will be qualified to pronounce a just sentence on fallen angels. They will be able to embrace and comprehend the nature of law, and the interests of justice, and to see the appropriateness of their condemnation. And if they can enter into these important and eternal relations, surely they ought to be regarded as qualified to discriminate the nature of justice among men, and to settle the unimportant differences which may arise in the church." Or, perhaps, this may mean that the saints will, in the future world, be raised to a rank that in some respects will be more elevated than even the angels in heaven. (Prof. Stuart.) If this is the true interpretation, in what respects they will be elevated, can be only be a matter of conjecture. But the reason for their elevation may be assumed to be that they have been privileged to be recipients of the plan of salvation—a plan that has done so much to honor God; and all those who have been saved through faith in the Son of God, will have already received a higher honor than all the privileges which can be enjoyed by innocent angels. Salvation belongs only to mankind.

4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,
Paul does not say “WHEN ye have judgments,” but “IF ye have judgments” (or tribunals; courts) dealing with matters of this sort; the “IF” implying that they should not need such a thing. These cannot be judgments relating to life and death, because at that time the Jewish Sanhedrim did not have the power to make such decisions, and the Christian community had even less power than they did; these types of decisions were entirely in the power of the Roman magistrates. But they could make judgments relating to the common affairs of life, or what the Jews call "pecuniary judgments", which are distinct from "judgments of souls", or capital judgments. The Jews say, “That forty years before the destruction of the temple, capital judgments were taken from Israel; and in the days of R. Simeon ben Jochai, pecuniary judgments were taken away from Israel.” This Rabbi lived many years after the times of the apostles, so during Paul’s lifetime the Jews had the power to exercise such judgments; and no doubt the Christian's did also, though they were very little and insignificant at that time: and therefore since such judgments were within the scope of their authority, the apostle advises them “to set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” Christians were permitted to examine all civil cases among themselves, without any hindrance from the heathen governments under which they lived.

to set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
To begin with, Paul is not calling any of the believers in the church, “least esteemed.” The reference to “a wise man” in the next verse makes this clear. Neither is he making a command; he is asking a question—“Since you are abundantly qualified yourselves to settle your own differences, why do you employ the heathen magistrates, in whom the church can have little confidence in their integrity and justice?” It is a question designed to be a severe rebuke for what they had been accustomed to doing; and it implied an injunction that they should not do it anymore.

 “Who are least esteemed” means “Who are of no account,” “those of the lowest circumstances of life,” and “those with the least abilities.” Paul is saying that these sort of people are NOT to judge disputes within the assembly, and this in confirmed in the next verse where he requires a wise man for such business; but rather they are to appoint private persons, laymen, who were not in any office and without authority in the church, as opposed to pastors, elders, and rulers, that were in office, and held in high esteem, whom the apostle would not have troubled with cases of this nature.  But instead, they should choose from among the laymen, men with the best judgment and who are not likely to be influenced by any interested party, to be umpires and arbitrators in such worldly matters. The Jews, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, had two sorts of courts (called “benches”—see below), who judged less significant matters; one was called "the bench of authorized persons", experienced men, that were trusted, and had their authority from the Sanhedrim; and the other was called "the bench of idiots", "the bench of those who were not authorized", or did not get their authority, from the higher courts. They were honest men, chosen by the people to arbitrate disputes between them; and these are the men the apostle means here. 

Paul has made it clear that they are not to go outside the assembly of believers to obtain a verdict from those who are unbelievers; those who preside over Gentile courts; those who are of the world and do not even belong to the assembly. That is, they are of no value to the Church because they are not spiritual, and the natural man cannot understand or receive the things of the Spirit of God. Such men are in line to be judged by the lord Jesus Christ in that great judgment day and therefore are in no position to decide difficult matters that have arisen between born again people.

The heathen magistrates were in general very corrupt. Many of them were men of bad character, men who lived degenerate lives, men who were easily bribed, and men, therefore, in whose judgment Christians could place little confidence. If Christians are being prepared right now for such a glorious destiny, why do the Corinthian Christians allow those least esteemed by the church (that is, the secular judges) to decide disputes among Christians?


Jewish Benches

There were five Jewish benches, according to Dr. Lightfoot.

1. The great Sanhedrin, consisting of seventy-two elders, which presided in Jerusalem.
2. The little Sanhedrin of twenty-five, in large cities, outside of Jerusalem.
3. The Bench of Three in every synagogue.
4. The Authorized, or Authentic Bench.
5. The Bench not authorized. This latter bench was so called because it did not receive its authority immediately from the Sanhedrin, but was chosen by the parties involved in the controversy. The apostle certainly does not mean persons of no standing, but men who could serve as arbitrators, who were chosen for the purpose of settling private differences, and preventing them from going before the regular magistrates. The following verse makes it pretty evident that the apostle refers to this lower kind of tribunal.

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?

I speak to your shame.
Paul shames the believers for acting as they did. He is asking, “Has it come to this? Have you become so carnal that a wise man cannot be found in the entire assembly?” Compare this verse to 1 Corinthians 4.14, which says, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” His purpose may not have been to shame them, but now he speaks seriously. The sharpness of Paul's biting sarcasm in the previous three verses was no doubt keenly felt in Corinth; and by this expression Paul means, "I meant for it to hurt." It is a shame that little quarrels would grow to such a head among Christians, that they cannot be settled by arbitration of the brethren. Now we see his purpose for including this portion of the epistle—To shame you out of your present unworthy course of litigation before the heathen, I have said, "Set the least esteemed in the Church to judge (1Co 6.4)." Even this is better than your present course.

Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?
In this clause, Paul dropped the sarcasm for a moment, asking, "Why don't you appoint one of the wiser members to settle such disputes?" Therefore it appears that Paul could not have meant in 1 Cor. 6:4 that church members who were of "no account" should be entrusted with such an assignment. The apostles themselves when appointing brethren for such a purpose demanded that the ones appointed should be men "full of the Spirit and wisdom"—“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3; KJV).

The Corinthian Christians were proud of what they thought was their "wisdom" (See 1 Corinthians 1:18-31). How can it be then, that in a Christian church, one that is as refined and enlightened as the Corinthian Church, that there is not a single member wise enough, intelligent enough, and prudent enough, that his brethren have confidence in him, and refer their trivial matters to him? Can this be the case in a church that boasts so much about the wisdom of its members, and prides itself so much in the number of its intelligent members and their impressive qualifications? Why do they think it necessary to air their differences before unconverted persons?

Of course, not every Christian is a capable judge, but Paul is saying, “I speak to your shame, isn’t there a wise man among you?” When you go to a secular court, you are saying that none of the saints are capable of judging. Well, I know some dear brethren in the Lord with whom I would be willing to risk my life. I am confident they would render a just verdict.

No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
Was there at least one person in the assembly who was spiritually minded enough to arbitrate between one believer and another? Paul intended this to be a very humiliating question. It should have humbled the proud Corinthians who had been advertising their great wisdom and who were conceited—both in their daily experiences in life, and in the church.

Although the “benches” mentioned in the preceding verse consisted of three persons, yet the contending parties might choose one man to be an arbitrator and judge between them. The rule with the Jews was this: pecuniary judgments are by three, but if he is authorized or approved by the majority, “he may judge alone".

The apostle hoped that this question would shame them into changing the way they resolve differences between the brethren: “Are there none that has wisdom enough to judge in these differences? Must brethren quarrel, and the heathen magistrate judge, in a church as famous as yours for knowledge and wisdom? It is a disgrace for you to have so many quarrels, and you should be ashamed of yourselves since none of your wise men step in to prevent them." Note, Christians should never engage in law-suits until all other remedies have been tried and failed. Prudent Christians should resolve their disputes within the assembly, especially in matters of no great importance.

6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

But brother goeth to law with brother,
The relationship meant here is a spiritual one, rather than a blood relationship. It was unusual for members of churches to be called brethren, even though they professed to be born again of the same Father, and that they belong to the same family under Christ: and it was a very wicked and shameful thing for persons in such a relationship, and belonging to such a family, to take another believer to court for the purpose of resolving a dispute existing between them.

It was a sad thing that there were divisions in the church, and that believers were suing other believers over minor issues that could have been settled “in house.” That was bad enough, but it was even worse for believers to bring their grievances before Gentile courts, and then to discuss those grievances before the world. It certainly brought disgrace upon the testimony of Christians, and it was a disgrace to the church of the living God that such a thing should be going on between believers in the assembly at Corinth. This is almost as great a scandal as can exist in a Christian society. Those in a religious community who will not submit to a proper arbitration, made by persons within the assembly, should be expelled from the Church of God.

It is wrong for Christians to seek justice from someone who is NOT a believer—

1. because they should accept the wrong and suffer themselves, even if they are injured—“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?
2. because they might have chosen some persons to settle the matter by arbitration, without a formal trial; and,
3. because the civil constitution would have allowed them to have settled all their differences without a lawsuit. Josephus says that the Romans (who were now masters of Corinth) permitted the Jews in foreign countries to decide private affairs among themselves, where nothing capital was in question. And Dr. Lardner observes that the Christians might have availed themselves of this permission to have settled their disputes in the same manner.

By his actions, Paul showed he was not against all legal action. In Acts 22:25—“And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?”  and Acts 25.10-11—“Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest…For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar”, he appealed to Roman courts for his rights. However, Paul knew it was wrong when brother goes to court against brother. It is important for Christians to settle disputes among themselves according to God's principles. This can be done either through the church, or through Christian arbitration. But today, even as in Paul's day, there is no reason for Christians to sue one another. Does this mean that it is permissible for Christians to sue non-believers who wrong them? This is an important question in our age where people are so ready to sue. Paul certainly does not bring up this specific issue, and he does not say the matter between Christians should be unresolved – only that it should be settled in the proper arena. Paul is also not saying that Christians should have their own court system to handle criminal law. In Romans 13:3-4, Paul says that it is appropriate for the state to handle criminal cases. Christians should, however, be able to handle civil cases among themselves.

and that before the unbelievers.
It was an aggravation of their sin and foolishness for taking their brothers in Christ to court with judges who are unbelievers. The apostle called them "unjust" (v. 1), and now he refers to them as "infidels", men who had no faith in Christ, did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and denied the whole Gospel; therefore, no faith or confidence should be placed in them. Generally speaking, those without faith, are not only wicked, but unreasonable; men lacking reason and conscience, and who do not project justice and fairness in their decisions; and therefore, they are very improper persons for believers to bring their causes before. The apostle is incensed over their conduct in this matter for at least two reasons:
1. That they took their brethren to court, at all.
2. That they went to court before heathen judges.

Ellicott's paraphrase of this verse is: "Your dragging these disputes before the tribunals of the heathen would imply that it is not possible to find a Christian friend to settle these trivial disputes."

In verses 7–11, the apostle probes some of the underlying causes for this situation existing in Corinth.

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?

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you,
The Greek word used in this place for “fault” is hettema, meaning “a defect or a loss.” Here it signifies spiritual loss, which would amount to a loss of: peaceableness; brotherly love; mutual confidence; and reverence for God, and concern for the honor of his cause. You could also say there was a “defect” in their character, or there would be no reason for them to go to the law at all. The proper men could have been called upon out of the assembly to be arbitrators and judge between them. There may have been a fault or defect in church leadership, since there is no indication that their leaders ever pointed out to them that such a method should be tried before they went to the lengths they did.

In these verses Paul makes a contrast between their loss and the fullness they should have been demonstrating. Instead of going forward, they were slipping backward. Instead of gaining, they were losing. Because of their disputes and their habits of going to court before unbelievers, they had suffered a tremendous loss of respect from those outside the church, and they had suffered the loss of spiritual power in the church. The evil that was present within the assembly, not only marred the spiritual life of those involved in lawsuits against each other, but the word “utterly’ indicates that it had also marred the spiritual life and testimony of the entire assembly.

Note: a fault or defect indicates "a shortcoming" (it may not be a sin). You going to court at all is a falling short of your high calling as a Child of God, not to mention your doing so before unbelievers, which aggravates it. It is always a fault of one side (the plaintiff) to go to court, except in a case where the issue is indeed ambiguous, and there is a friendly agreement of both parties to refer it to the judgment of those learned in the law to decide it. And this is referring it, rather than contending about it, which is the thing the apostle seems chiefly to condemn.

In the last part of the verse, the apostle says it would be better to accept the wrong and be defrauded, than take a brother to court.

because ye go to law one with another.
Paul seems to pass over the question of “where” their lawsuits should be settled, and he scolds them for having any lawsuits with one another; but primarily, he is against them airing their dirty laundry before unbelievers. This was the point he was making, and the interpretation should be limited to this. Whatever may be the propriety or impropriety of going to court before Christian magistrates, the point which the apostle refers to was that of going to court before heathens. The passage, therefore, should not be interpreted as referring to all litigation, but only to that which was the subject of discussion. The apostle says that that was altogether wrong; that they should by no means bring their causes against their fellow Christians before heathen magistrates; that it does not make any difference who is on the right side of the question or what the decision might be, because the thing itself was unchristian and wrong. Rather than dishonor religion by a trial or suit, they should to be willing to take the wrong, and to suffer any personal and private injustice. The argument is, that more harm would be done to the cause of Christ by Christians appearing before a heathen court with their disputes, than could result to either party from the injury done by the other. And this is probably always the case, since although the apostle refers here to heathen courts, the principal is the same, and the same reasoning would apply to Christians carrying their causes into any court at all. It would NOT happen unless they were in spiritual decline (backsliding); and experiencing the decay of their first love, and of the power of religion and true godliness.

The Christian is of a different temperament from the man who is always screaming about his "rights;" it being a far better way of life to "go the second mile ... give the cloak also ... and turn the other cheek"—“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matt 5:38-42; KJV).

Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

Paul is asking, “Since you are a believer and you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior, why can’t you suffer for Him—even though you may suffer unfairly? You may be injured wrongly, but why not suffer physical injury and financial loss rather than suffer loss of spiritual power, and have your testimony damaged by the way you are acting?” Jesus Himself set the example. He said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt 5:11-12; KJV).

We know that the world has never loved the righteous. We know that in the eyes of the world, all who live godly are foolish. But Paul said, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” It is shameful, when a born again person is not willing to suffer a little reproach and financial loss for the sake of the Christ who gave His lifeblood so that we might have salvation!

Why do ye not rather take wrong? A Christian should be willing to put up with a little injury to avoid provoking others, by dragging them into court. His own peace of mind, and maintaining the calm of his neighborhood, are more pleasant than victory in a court room, or reclaiming his property, especially when the quarrel must be decided by those who are enemies of religion. They should put up with wrong:
1. Because religion requires its people to be willing to suffer wrong patiently—
• Matthew 5:39, 40: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
• Romans 12:17,19: Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:15: See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
2. Because great injury results to the cause of religion from trials before heathen courts. The private wrong which an individual would suffer, in perhaps all cases, would be a less than the public injury which is done to the cause of Christ by the legal proceedings and strife of Christian brethren before a civil court.
3. The differences among Christians could be adjudicated among themselves by one or more of their brethren. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the decision would be more likely to be just and satisfactory to all parties from an amicable recommendation, than from the decisions of a civil court. In the very few cases where it would be otherwise, it would be better for the individual to suffer, than for the cause of religion to suffer. Christians ought to love the cause of their Master more than their own individual interest. They ought to be more afraid that the cause of Jesus Christ would be injured than that they might be a few dollars poorer from the conduct of others, or that their character might suffer from the injustice of others.

To be defrauded means “to receive injury; or suffer a loss of property.” Grotius thinks that the word "take wrong" refers to personal insult; and the word "defrauded" refers to injury in property. Together, they are probably designed to refer to all kinds of injury and injustice. And the apostle means to say, that they had better submit to any kind of injustice rather than take the cause against a Christian brother before a heathen judge. The doctrine taught here is that Christians should NOT go to court with each other before a heathen court; that they should be willing to suffer any injury from a Christian brother rather than do it. And by implication the same thing is taught in regard to the duty of all Christians, that they should be willing to suffer any injury to their persons and property rather than dishonor religion by litigations before civil magistrates. It may be asked, then, whether lawsuits are ever proper; or whether courts of justice are ever to be resorted to by Christians to secure their rights. To this question we may reply, that this discussion by Paul relates only to Christians, when both parties are Christians, and that it is designed to prohibit an appeal to courts by them. If it is ever lawful for Christians to appeal to a civil court, it is thought that it can be only in circumstances like the following:
1. Where two or more Christians may have a difference, and they do not know what is right, and how the law applies in their case. In such instances it may be necessary to appeal to a civil court for a determination—to have what is called an amicable settlement, to ascertain from the proper authority what the law is, and what is justice in the case.
2. When there are causes of difference between Christians and the men of the world, the men of the world do not acknowledge the appropriateness of submitting the matter to the church; therefore it may be proper for a Christian to take the matter before a civil court. Evidently, there is no other way, in such cases, of settling a matter; but it must not be approached with a spirit of revenge, but with a spirit of love and kindness. Courts are instituted for the settlement of the rights of citizens, and men by becoming Christians do not alienate their rights as citizens. Even these cases, however, might commonly be resolved by referring them to impartial men, which is better than the slow, and expensive, and tedious, and often irritating process of carrying a cause through the courts.
3. Where a Christian is injured in his person, character, or property, he has a right to seek reparation. Courts are instituted for the protection and defense of the innocent and the prosecution of the fraudulent, the wicked, and the violent. And a Christian owes it to his country, to his family, and to himself, to see that the man who has injured him receives the proper punishment. The peace and welfare of the community demand it. If a man murders my wife or child, I owe it to the laws and to my Country, to justice and to God, to attempt to have the law enforced. So if a man robs my property, or injures my character, I may owe it to others as well as to myself to see that the law in such a case is executed, and that the rights of others are upheld. But in all these cases a Christian should engage in such prosecutions, NOT with a desire for revenge, NOT with the love of litigation, but with the love of justice, and of God, and with a mild, tender, candid, and forgiving attitude

8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Nay, ye do wrong and defraud,
It is not only that they were unwilling to take the advice they were given, but instead of enduring wrong, they did wrong; and instead of tolerating being defrauded, they defrauded others—“ That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified” (1 Thess 4:6;KJV). It seems there were some in the Corinthian congregation who made a habit of defrauding their brethren by using sinful methods to manipulate the pagan system of justice. Such persons would have been experienced in lawsuits, or through some circumstance they might have enjoyed preferential treatment in the pagan courts. In any case, some of the Christians were being defrauded by other members of the church, because they submitted to the wrong rather than take those methods of redress which the spirit of Christianity forbids.

and that your brethren.
“Brethren” refers to other members of the congregation, fellow believers. There is emphasis on “ye” and “brethren.” The unChristlike attitude of individual believers not only did injury and spiritual hurt to those who were acting in this manner; it also caused injury to their fellow believers. It was as if they had injured those of their own family—those to whom they ought to be attached by the most tender ties. The offence committed in such cases is aggravated, not because it is in itself any worse to injure a Christian than another man, but because it shows a deeper depravity, when a man overcomes all the ties of kindness and love, and injures those who are near and dear to him, than it does where no such ties exist. It is for this reason that parenticide, infanticide, etc., are regarded everywhere as atrocious crimes, because a child or a parent must have blocked out all the tender cords of virtue before it could be done.

It was not only the individual that suffered loss, but the entire Church—and why? Because the Church of the living God is one body, made up of born again individuals that were of the same faith, of the same religion, and in the same church and family; and when one member suffers, ALL members suffer: in short, neither party, not the plaintiff, nor the defendant, sought anything more or less than to wrong, trick, and defraud each other. Such a sad corruption and degeneracy prevailed among them; therefore, the apostle sought to deal plainly and closely with them, as in the following verses. We will see that this is clearly taught later in this epistle. Those who were going to court with each other were not willing to be defrauded, they were not willing to suffer injustice individually, but because of their unChristlike actions they had defrauded the brethren and caused them to suffer. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”(v.9).

Note, It is absolutely a fault to wrong and defraud any; but it is an aggravation of this fault to defraud our Christian brethren. The ties of mutual love ought to be stronger between them than between others. And “love worketh no ill to his neighbor” (Romans 13:10). Those who love the brotherhood can never, under the influence of this principle, hurt or injure them.

Section 4-B: The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God

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,

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
There are many Christians today who cannot tell you what is meant by the “kingdom of God.” It can refer either to the kingdom of God in heaven, or to the church on earth--most probably the former is meant here. But the sense is essentially the same, whichever is meant. The man, who is not fit to enter into the one, is not fit to enter into the other. The man, who is fit to enter the kingdom of God on earth, shall also enter into that kingdom in heaven. It is a kingdom of righteousness, according to Romans 14:17—“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The church is God's glorious kingdom on earth, and its faithful members "inherit" the heavenly kingdom—“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34; KJV).

The apostle introduces this fairly long declaration with the phrase “Know ye not." It is a question meant to show the evil of their conduct, and especially the injustice which they did to one another, and their attempt to enforce and maintain the evil by an appeal to the heathen courts; “Don’t you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? If the believers did not know that these men who were guilty of the sins named and individually pointed out will not enter into the kingdom of God it was due to willing ignorance on their part. Surely Paul had preached the pure, unadulterated Gospel to them when they were saved, and even the humblest of them could not be ignorant of the plain truth that such sinners could not inherit the kingdom of God.

The term “unrighteous” is used here to mean all who are not born again; there is no middle ground. We are either believers, or unbelievers. We are either sons of God, or sons of the devil. We are righteous, or unrighteous, holy or unholy. God is light—He is never twilight; and we are either for Him or against Him. We are saved, or we are lost: there can be no neutrality here. The apostle has been pointing out that the unrighteous in their midst did injustice to others, and attempted to do it under the sanction of the courts. It was a lack of righteousness that cast the angels down from heaven, and turned Adam out of paradise; and whoever of his lineage: are destitute of righteousness, cannot enter the kingdom of God, because unrighteousness is not agreeable to the holy nature of God. Therefore, God will erect a judgment seat, before which all must stand; and those that will be found without righteousness, will be eternally excluded from the kingdom of heaven.

Now this is said, partly to dissuade the Corinthians from going to court with each other before unrighteous persons, who have no right to the kingdom of God; and therefore, since they are not to be fellow heirs and companions with them in Paradise, they should not bring their causes before them; and partly to scold them for their injurious and unrighteous actions against their Christian brothers, along with other sins they were guilty of; which, if not repented of, would show, that in spite of their profession, they lacked the grace of God, and were unfit to be in the kingdom of God. He who is not a child of God has no right to the family inheritance, for that inheritance is for the children. If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ—“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17; KJV).

A vast proportion of the whole Corinthian population participated in sins such as those that are mentioned in this passage; and the prevalence of such wickedness throughout the ancient empire resulted in its total destruction; but it was not the destruction of an empire that Paul had in view here; it was the loss of souls. The various actions mentioned in this passage are designated as unrighteousness. The people who continue in such wickedness "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Be not deceived:
Paul uses this phrase often in his epistles. There is no excuse for any believer becoming the victim of deception, because all believers possess the Holy Spirit. I Peter 2.6 tells us plainly, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him (Jesus) shall not be confounded (confused).” Believers have THE LIGHT, and if we walk in that light as the Holy Spirit directs, we will not be deceived. We have the word of God—a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway (Psalm 119.105).

This warning is against them deceiving themselves: Be not deceived. Those who know the truth mentioned in the beginning of this verse are too apt to ignore it. Men are inclined to flatter themselves by supposing that God is like one of them, and that they may live in sin and still die in Christ, they may lead the life of the devil's children and in spite of that go to heaven with the children of God. But this is all a gross deception. But, the truth of the matter is that we cannot hope to sow to the flesh and yet reap everlasting life. The tendency to divorce religion from morality has manifested itself down through the ages, and under all forms of religion.  The pagan, the Jew, the Muslim, the nominal Christian, have all been faithful in the performance of religious services, and fervent in the affirmation and defense of what they regard as religious truth, while indulging in every evil passion. This view of life arises from looking upon religion as an outward service, and God as a being to be feared and pacified, but not to be loved and obeyed. According to the Gospel, all moral duties are religious services; and piety is the conformity of the soul to the image and will of God. So, to be religious and yet immoral is, according to the Christian system, as blatant a contradiction as to be good and wicked. It is evident that among the members of the Corinthian church there were some who retained their pagan notion of religion, and who professed Christianity as a system of doctrine and as a form of worship, but not as a rule of life. The apostle warned all such people of their fatal mistake. He assures them that no immoral man – no one who allows himself the indulgence of any known sin – can be saved. This is one of the first principles of the Gospel.

In this verse and verse 10, Paul names certain individuals who will not under any circumstances enter into the eternal kingdom of God’s eternal glory. Certainly a book could be written here, but for the sake of time and space I will only briefly discuss the ten categories.

neither fornicators,
“Fornication” is used here as a general term to describe several kinds of sexual vice, but it typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other; but sometimes it means forsaking God and following after idols (Isa 1:2; Jer 2:20; Ezek 16; Hos 1:2; Hos 2:1-5; Jer 3:8, 9). In modern usage, the term is often replaced with the more judgment-neutral terms such as premarital sex, sex before marriage or extramarital sex. So then, is an occasional act of fornication or homosexuality a big deal to God? Of course it is; because it goes against everything we have been given in Jesus, and because a lifestyle of sin begins with single acts of sin. In every form, it was sternly condemned by the Mosaic law (Lev 21:9; Lev 19:29; Deut 22:20, 21, 23-29; Deut 23:18; Ex 22:16).

nor idolaters;
Idolaters are those who worship more gods than one, and not the true God; who serve them that are not gods, and perform what the Jews call "strange service." They not only worship animals and stones, but serve various lusts and pleasures; the idols of their own hearts. Fornication and idolatry are frequently associated with each other in scripture. Many of the religions of idolatry practiced—and still practice—gross sexual immorality in the name of religion. During Paul’s time, the temple of Aphrodite atop the Acro Corinthus, dominated the Corinthian scene. As Halley said, "A thousand public prostitutes, kept at public expense, were always ready (in the temple) for immoral indulgence as worship to their goddess!" In such an atmosphere, some of the Corinthians were finding it difficult to adjust to the strict code of Christian morality.

nor adulterers,
“Adulterers” are persons who are not faithful to the marriage vows.  Jesus sheds light on adultery in the Sermon on the Mount, declaring that if a man looks upon a woman and lusts after her, he has committed adultery with her in his heart. (Man looks upon the outward appearance, but God always looks upon the heart.) I could say a lot about adultery, but one thing must be said: Ladies should be very careful how they dress, and how they conduct themselves when around men. A well-meaning woman can be used by Satan to cause men to commit adultery, which could be the first step on the road that would eventually lead them to the lake of fire. We are our brother’s keeper in this respect.

nor effeminate,
Macknight wrote that this word is translated from a Greek word meaning "catamite," the technical word for "a boy used in pederasty.” Pederasty is an English term that means sexual relations between a man and a boy (with the boy as a passive partner). Those wretched souls who suffered this abuse were called pathics, and they dressed and behaved like women." The word translated effeminate is malakoi. This word occurs in Matthew 11:8, and Luke 7:25, where it is applied to clothing, and translated "soft raiment;" that is, the light, thin garments worn by the rich and great. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament except here. Applied to morals, as it is here, it denotes those who give themselves up to a soft, luxurious, and apathetic way of living; who make self-indulgence the grand object of life; who can endure no hardship, and practice no self-denial in their service to God. The word is applied by the classic writers to the Cinaedi, the Pathics, or Catamites; those who are dedicated to wantonness and sensual pleasures, or who are kept to be prostituted to others. That is probably the interpretation that should be applied here. It is well known that this vice was common among the Greeks—and was prevalent at Corinth.

Nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
I am confident that this refers to the sin of sodomy and the culture of homosexuality.  It should be remembered that an apostle of Jesus Christ condemned such persons with the judgment that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God. I recommend that you read Romans 1.18-32, paying special attention to verses 26 and 27—“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

William Barclay's masterful discussion of homosexuality should be read by every Christian. This was the cancer in Greek life that invaded Rome, and brought the vaunted empire to destruction. Fourteen of the first fifteen Roman emperors practiced this vice; others guilty of it were Socrates and Plato. Nero castrated and married a boy called Sporus, which he held as his wife, and at the same time married Pythagoras and called him his husband!

What is to be thought of churches which not only condone this sin, but in widely publicized cases have actually ordained homosexuals to the ministry? It is the judgment of this writer that churches exhibiting such a total disregard of the New Testament have, in so doing, forfeited all identity with Christianity.

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Nor thieves,
A thief is, of course, a person who takes away another man's property, secretly or openly, by fraud or force. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not steal.” There are many ways in which we can steal from our fellow man, but there is no place in heaven for a thief. A thief not only breaks man’s law, but he breaks God’s law as well. The Bible mentions “thieves” in many places, and none of it is good; Matthew 21:19; Matthew 23:14,33; John 12:6; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:6; 1 Peter 4:15. 1 Peter 4.15 says, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.”

Nor covetous,
The prohibition against covetousness is another one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not covet.” Covetousness is sin, and a covetousness person—one who is always longing for what another has, simply to satisfy the flesh and the mind—cannot enter heaven. This sin is often seen in persons with a ravenous sexual lust or those who are greedy for worldly gain, and determined to increase their resources by circumvention, fraud, and deceit. The love of money is a ruling passion in their lives, not only with the unregenerate, but also with many, who despite their prosperity give little or nothing to the church. “Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world…But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor 5:10-11; KJV). It is remarkable that the apostle always ranks the covetous with the worst classes of men.

Many examples of covetousness appear in the Bible: Gehazi’s greed (2 Kin. 5:20–27), Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:14–15), the rich fool (Luke 12:13–21), the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–25), and the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11). The apostle Paul labeled this sin as idolatry—“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5; KJV); and he warned believers not to associate with a covetous brother (See 1 Cor. 5:10–11 in the preceding paragraph).

The best way to avoid a self-centered, covetous attitude is to trust the Lord and to face one’s responsibilities (Gal. 6:7–9; 2 Thess. 3:6–15). To those tempted by “covetousness” and “worthless things” (Ps. 119:36), Jesus declares, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

Nor drunkards,
It is crystal clear that “drunkards” cannot go to heaven. This does not only include the man found drunk in the gutter, but anyone who indulges in strong drink. The Bible is very specific about this:
• Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. (Prov 23:31; KJV). Do not let the color, the odor, the sparkling, etc., of the wine (This of course means fermented wine.), when poured out; tempt you to drink it. However good and pure it may be, it will prove to be a snare to you, because you are addicted to it, and do not have the self-control to resist it.
• Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! (Hab 2:15; KJV). This has been considered as applying to Pharaoh-hophra, king of Egypt, who enticed his neighbors Jehoiachin and Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar, whereby the nakedness and imbecility of the poor Jews was soon discovered; for the Chaldeans soon took Jerusalem, and carried its kings, princes, and people, into captivity.

It is definitely a sin to drink intoxicating beverages, and drunkards cannot enter heaven. Who is the drunkard? He sits down on purpose to intoxicate himself, does it frequently, and when he is drunk alcohol corrupts his thoughts and he loses self-control, and physical control. Today there is no longer such a character, since the drunkard has been elevated in the popular mind to the status of "an alcoholic"! As such he is not to be blamed for merely suffering from "a disease," rather he is to be treated, tolerated, and even appreciated by the community. This is merely a part of the blindness of worldly wisdom. No man can become an alcoholic except by his own repeated violations of the Christian law of sobriety. While it may be true, of course, but only in a sense, that drink No. 5,689 is a disease, drink No. 1 is a moral problem. The liquors on sale today are not fit for human consumption; and the use of any of them, even socially, is reprehensible. This writer does not expect social drinkers to approve of this viewpoint; but there is actually no intelligent denial of it. If one is really concerned with living the Christian life, the best thing for him to do is to refuse all alcoholic beverages. The whole Moslem world has known for centuries the true nature of the curse of alcohol, making abstinence from it a cardinal rule of their faith.

Nor revilers,
The word translated “revilers” is the same word translated railer in 1 Corinthians 5.11: “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor 5:11; KJV). Webster’s dictionary describes “revilers” as “one who decries another with abusive or contemptuous language.” This is certainly contrary to the admonition in Colossians 4.6: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col 4:6; KJV). The reviler will attack the character of other men and take away their good names; either openly or secretly, either by gossiping, and backbiting, or by raising and spreading scandalous rumors in public.

Nor extortioners,
“Extortioners” (or oppressors) advance their circumstances or resources at the expense of others, through extortion. This is a time when there are many extortioners and I am ashamed to say that many of them belong to the churches of our day.

shall inherit the kingdom of God.
After naming these ten groups (vs. 10 and 11) Paul makes a bold, clear-cut statement. Those who are guilty of the sins named here “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” It is not that these sins, any or all of them, are unpardonable; since those who have been guilty of committing them may, through the blood of Christ, have their sins transferred to Him, and through the grace of the Spirit of God obtain forgiveness for them, and have the right to enter the kingdom of heaven.

I found this little article concerning courts and lawyers very amusing. The following questions were actually rendered by attorneys in a court of law. Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning? —The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?—Were you alone or by yourself?—Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?—How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision? —You were there until the time you left, is that true?—You say these stairs went down to the basement. Did these stairs go up also?—Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people? (Houston Chronicle, Nov. 8, 1998, p. 12F)

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.

And such were some of you:
According to this, some of the believers at Corinth had been guilty of these sins—drunkards, thieves, fornicators—but that was in the past. The practices named in verses 9 and 10 identify sinners; but the new birth changes all this, because when one becomes a Christian the old sinful heart is replaced with a new heart—“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26; KJV). Once this takes place “all things are become new”—“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17; KJV). Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23; KJV). All evil, regardless of what it might be gets its start in an unregenerate heart; and there were many in Corinth who had such hearts. Therefore, it was not with the expectation of collecting saints that the apostles went about preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. Only sinners could be found there and over the face of the earth; they preached that sinners might be converted unto God, made saints, and forged into a Church; and this was the result as well as the object of their preaching.

Paul wanted to call their attention to the conditions from which they had been rescued by Christ, and that they were now under an obligation to lead better lives; and that is the reason he said “And such were some of you”—drunkards, covetous persons, thieves, revilers, and extortioners—and this shows the awesome grace of God; that He could salvage sinners as shameful and degrading as you were. It would be a good idea for all Christians to look back on what they once were. It will produce humility, gratitude, a deep sense of the sovereign mercy of God, and an earnest desire that others may be saved from their sins like you were—“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:1-2;KJV). At the same time, the point is readily understood by the Corinthian Christians and by us: And such were some of you. Paul clearly puts it in the past tense. These things are never to mark the life of a Christian, and if they do, they must be immediately repented of and forsaken.

When an unbeliever accepts the lord Jesus Christ through faith in His finished work, divine nature immediately replaces the old sinful nature. This does not mean that the old nature is completely eradicated, because as long as we live in this flesh we will be tempted. God is an eternal Spirit and He cannot be tempted with sin—“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13; KJV). But as long as we remain in the flesh, we can be tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is giving in to temptation—“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37; KJV).

“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5; KJV). “He that believeth” overcomes the world, and this is victory that overcometh the world, even our faith—faith in Jesus who conquered the world, the flesh and the devil, death, hell and the grave, that we might be “more than conquerors.” How glorious a change does grace make! It changes the vilest of men into saints and the children of God. Such were some of you, but you are not what you were.

But ye are washed,
This does not refer to baptism, even though baptism symbolizes the washing away of sins. It is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us from all sin—not just from a few sins; we are not just partially clean; but we are cleansed from ALL sin, and without the shedding of blood there is no cleansing and no remission—“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22; KJV). Every sin under the law required atonement, and no atonement could be made without blood.

These Corinthian believers were genuinely saved; they did not just “join the church.” Paul had preached the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; he did not preach a social gospel, a message simply of religion; he preached the Cross, the blood, the resurrection. They received his message and were washed in the blood.

Washing is a symbol of purifying. They had been made pure by the Spirit of God. They had been baptized in water, and their baptism was a symbol of purifying; but the thing predominantly referred to here is not baptism, but it is something that had been done by the Spirit of God, and must refer to His action on the heart in cleansing them from these pollutions. Paul uses three words—washed, sanctified, justified—to denote the various activities of the Holy Spirit by which they had been cleansed from sin.

“Ye are washed.”
• It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration …” (Titus 3:5). Regeneration refers to the new birth which is produced by the Holy Spirit; not by baptism, which is a unique symbol commanded by God.
• And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16; KJV). We can have our sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.
• And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Rev 1:5; KJV). We are washed by the work of Jesus on the Cross for us.
• That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. (Eph 5:26; KJV). We can be washed by the Word of God.

But ye are sanctified,
When an unbeliever receives Jesus and becomes a believer, through the action of the Holy Spirit he is translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, removed from the kingdom of the devil, and placed over into the kingdom of God—“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col 1:13; KJV). God, through the gospel, had rescued them, and has translated them into Christ's kingdom. This occurred when they were converted. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32; KJV). All Christians are spoken of as sanctified. The “sanctified” are set apart, away from the world and unto God—by the work of Jesus on the Cross, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10; KJV); by God's Word, “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19; KJV); by faith in Jesus, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18; KJV); and by the Holy Spirit, “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:16; KJV). Sanctification is separation; you are separated from earthly things to be connected with spiritual. You are separated from time to be connected with eternity. You are separated from idols to be joined to the living God. Separation from common, earthly, or sinful uses, to be entirely employed in the service of the true God, is the IDEAL meaning of this word, both in the Old and New Testaments. Their becoming a Church of God was the consequence of their separation from the world—Ye were formerly workers of iniquity, and associated with workers of iniquity; but now ye are separated from them, and united together to work out your salvation with fear and trembling before God.

The sanctification referred to here is not something the believer gets by living a good life, or even by consistent Bible study, prayer and service. The moment a person becomes a Christian and is born into the family of God, this sanctification takes place. The instant the sinner exercises faith in the finished work of Christ, the instant the unbeliever believes on Jesus as Savior—in that instant, God the Father takes him out of the kingdom of darkness and places him into the kingdom of light. He does this on the grounds of the finished work of Jesus. This sanctification is through God’s grace—not by human merit: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30; KJV). In him we are made righteous, and obtain sanctification and redemption. This sanctification is the effect the death of the Lamb of God has on the relation of the born again believer to God the Father, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10; KJV); Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Heb 13:12; KJV). In order to cleanse his people by becoming the complete atonement he was willing, as an accursed thing, a sin offering, to be led without the gate and to suffer there.

Sanctification in the Corinthian epistles is of two kinds, but I think here it means positional sanctification, that is, being in Christ. This denotes the gradual and evolving process of purifying which comes after the regeneration of the Christian. Regeneration is the beginning of it—its ending is the perfect purity of the Christian in heaven; and it will be fulfilled in all in whom it is begun. It does not mean that they were perfect, because the reasoning of the apostle shows that this was far from being the case with the Corinthians; but that work was advancing, and they were under a process of sanctification. This means that Christ is on our side and all believers are brothers in Christ. If another Christian judges me, it means that one of my brothers is judging me. I would be willing to trust myself to the judgment of a brother.

The believer is separated from the world, separated unto the Lord. There is no middle ground: “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:18-22; KJV).

The work of righteousness is entirely God’s part in our salvation, but after we are saved by grace and placed into the kingdom of God, it is the responsibility of the believer to maintain a holy walk and a separated, sanctified life by trusting in the finished work of Christ, relying upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and studying the Word of God untiringly.

“‘Putting on Christ’ is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. —C.S. Lewis

But ye are justified
The Greek word used here for “justified” means “to declare to be right.” Justification has reference to the status of the believer "in Christ" who by virtue of his identity with the Savior does not deserve any punishment whatever; his sins are pardoned, and he is accepted as righteous, and will be treated as such on account of the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is a total and complete justification bestowed upon the believer the instant he receives Jesus as his Savior.

Some great Bible scholar of the past said, “To be justified in the eyes of God is to be just as just as Jesus is just; to be just as though one had never committed a sin”—and this is true; because when we are justified we stand before God covered by the blood of Jesus, possessing the divine nature, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. When God looks at us He sees the blood, and when we are covered by the blood we are just as pure in the eyes of the Father as the blood of the Lamb that covers us.

When the death-angel passed over the land of Egypt, God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The same is true in essence today. It is the blood of Jesus that makes us fit for the kingdom of God—not those works of righteousness that we may do, but the finished work of Calvary, the shed blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish. Justification takes place the split second we believe or exercise faith in the finished work of Jesus: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20; KJV). No human being can claim to be saved by keeping the law for two reasons; first, because no one ever kept it, nor can they; and second, the law reveals what sin is and it is that knowledge that condemns the sinner.

Justification brings peace; hostilities cease between the unbeliever and God: “Now that we have God's approval by faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done” (Romans 5:1; GW). The process whereby we are justified is plain and simple:
1. Paul and his brother apostles preached the Gospel at Corinth, and implored the people to turn from darkness to light—from worshipping idols to worshipping the living God, and to believe in the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins.
2. The people who heard were convinced of the Divine truths delivered by the apostle, and flocked to baptism.
3. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and made a public profession of faith in Him.
4. Being baptized into the Christian faith, they were separated from idols and idolaters, and became members of the Church of God.
5. As repentant sinners, they were led to the Lord Jesus for justification, which they received through faith in his blood.
6. Being justified freely-having their sins forgiven through the redemption that is in Jesus, they received the Spirit of God, which produced that universal holiness without which no one can see the Lord.

The third reason my brother is capable of being a judge is that his sins are already forgiven, as mine are. He has been declared righteous before the throne of God, as I have been. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Rom. 8:33). “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). A fellow Christian knows this, and I feel that he could handle my case better than anyone else.

In the name of the Lord Jesus,
This and the following clause, may refer to all that was said before, but particularly to that which is said in 1st Corinthians 6.9 and 6.10. And by "the name of the Lord Jesus" he may mean the Lord Jesus Himself; and the sense of it is that they were washed by his blood, sanctified by his Spirit, and justified by his righteousness—that is, by His authority, appointment, and influence: “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6; KJV). Or he may have intended by this the merit and effectiveness of Christ's blood, sacrifice, and righteousness; because their sins were pardoned, and they were cleansed from them through the merit of the blood of Christ shed for the remission of their sins; and they were regenerated and sanctified through the effectiveness of Christ's resurrection from the dead. Or else the name of Christ may mean His Gospel, through which they received the knowledge of God's way of pardoning sinners, and of justifying them, and that the Spirit of God is God’s agent in the attainment of regeneration and progression of sanctification. “Scripture also says that by the authority of Jesus people would be told to turn to God and change the way they think and act so that their sins will be forgiven. This would be told to people from all nations, beginning in the city of Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47; GW).

God can take the kind of people described in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 10 and make them into the kind of people described in 1 Corinthians 6:11! How great is the work of God is this!

and by the Spirit of our God.
This refers to the Holy Spirit and His work as the holy Agent through whose power we are washed, sanctified, and justified. This statement (“the spirit of our God”) is not found in any other place in the New Testament. The Bible never refers to “God the Spirit,” or to “God the Son,” as if there was three gods. There is ONE God manifest in THREE persons. We should be very careful to use scriptural terms when referring to the Trinity.

This verse brings in the entire subject of redemption, and states in a most emphatic manner the various stages by which a sinner is saved; and by this single passage a man may obtain all the essential knowledge of the plan of salvation. God’s plan is condensed here in a few words.
1. He is by nature a miserable and polluted sinner—without merit, and without hope.
2. He is renewed by the Holy Ghost, and washed or purified from the stain of sin, which is covered over by the blood of Christ.
3. He is justified, pardoned, and accepted as righteous, through the merits of the Lord Jesus alone.
4. He is made holy—becomes sanctified—and more and more like God, and fit for heaven.
5. All this is done by the power of the Holy Ghost.
6. The obligation that results is that he should lead a holy life, and forsake sin in every form.

It should be observed, that all the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are mentioned here, as being jointly concerned in those acts of grace: “the name of the Lord Jesus…Spirit…our God.” The three clauses ("washed, sanctified, justified") belong to the triune God. The "our" reminds the Corinthians and us as well, that amidst all accusations made by the apostle, God is still the common God of himself and them.

Note, All who are made righteous in the sight of God are made holy by the grace of God.

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