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Lawsuits among Believers July 12, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

Summary: Paul begins by asking the Corinthians, “since you are filing lawsuits against each other, are you going to besmirch your Christian dignity by having unbelievers – instead of believers – judge them?” The Corinthians need to remember that believers will reign with Christ – as He is their representative; in light of this awesome fact, do they lack the ability to resolve even relatively minor issues? Moreover, believers will rule over angels – clearly they must be able to resolve earthly matters. Paul then asks the Corinthians why – when they engage in disputes over earthly matters – they allow unbelievers, who cannot be held in high esteem by the church, to resolve them. He states that he wants them to be ashamed of their conduct in this regard, as it must be possible to find at least one of their brothers who can resolve these disputes between believers. Yet in these instances, they seek legal redress and they allow unbelievers to resolve their disputes. Now the fact that they are filing lawsuits against each other in the first place implies that they have suffered loss; it would have been better for them to be hurt by nonbelievers instead of hurting each other. Yet they are unjust and fraudulent in their interactions. Indeed, the Corinthians need to remember that those who are unjust and fraudulent in their interactions – and those who commit all other sins – will not be saved. Paul concludes by noting that even though each of the Corinthians had committed at least some of these sins while they were unsaved, God has

  • made them pure
  • set them apart for His service
  • declared them to be righteous

through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: In verse 3, Paul states that believers will judge angels at the final judgment. Hodge offers his insights on this statement:

So in the case before us, Do you not know that we will judge angels? may mean, ‘Do you not know that we are to be exalted above the angels and preside over them? Shall we not then preside over earthly things?’ This…is consistent with what the Bible teaches about the subordination of angels to Christ and to the church in him.

I found Paul’s statement to be rather mind-boggling, as angels have played a critical role in some of the most famous moments in Biblical history. For example, Gabriel brings good tidings to Mary in the Annunciation, angels rescue Lot and his family from Sodom in Genesis 19, and an angel rescues Peter from prison in Acts 12. Yet this passage tells us that believers will reign over all of these angels in the kingdom of God. Admittedly I feel rather unqualified to rule over these angels. After mulling this over, I concluded that this special blessing is probably due to our close union with Christ, who, as noted in Hebrews 1, is superior to angels.

This passage marks the third instance in this letter that Paul has addressed a problem in the Corinthian church. First he deals with party disputes, then he deals with a problem of incest (and the Corinthians’ misguided tolerance of that act), and now he deals with the problem of believers who are suing each other – especially before non-believing judges. Thus far it appears that 1 Corinthians involves more “fire-fighting” on Paul’s part, especially when compared to the beautiful theological treatise (and practical application guide) that is the epistle to the Romans. Yet it can be asserted that 1 Corinthians is just as important to the modern-day believer as Romans, since all present-day churches have flaws that should not be left alone. In fact, the lessons in 1 Corinthians, more often than not, hit uncomfortably close to home – implying that we should not read this letter in a detached manner.

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