Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Courts of the Unrighteous (1 Corinthians 6:1-6)

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?" (1 Cor. 6:1)

Up to this point in his letter, Paul has charged the Corinthians with two evils: causing divisions and failing to expel the immoral brother. Now he moves on to a third charge, that of bringing their disagreements to the tribunal of heathens instead of settling their disputes among Christian brethren. Paul is greatly distressed by this practice because it lowers the esteem of Christians in the eyes of the world and undermines their dignity as coheirs with Christ.

Paul was not simply rebuking the Corinthians for taking their disputes before judges who were unjust but for taking them before heathen judges. “The reason why the heathen as such are called the unjust, or sinners, is that according to the Scriptures the denial of the true God, and the worship of idols, is the greatest unrighteousness; and therefore the heathen, because heathen, are called the unrighteous,” Hodge wrote. The complaint against the Corinthians was that they appealed to heathens, to unbelievers who were unrighteous in the scriptural sense of the term. It was not the moral character of the judges that was in question, but their religious status. The problem was not that heathen judges would be unfair in making their judgments, but that the Corinthians were acting unworthily of their dignity as Christians in seeking justice from men who denied the ultimate source of truth and justice. It was not wrong to appeal to magistrates for justice as Paul did before Caesar. But it was a sin and a disgrace for Christians to appeal to heathen magistrates to rule on matters among themselves.

Paul reminds them that the reason they are acting beneath their status as Christians was because Christians will one day sit in judgment over the earth. Should they who will one day be rulers of the world seek justice by those who reject Christ and dishonor God? Of course not. The Corinthians had not thought through what it meant to be Christians, that Christ, who is the ultimate judge is the head and representative of His people, in whom they reign and judge. As coheirs with Christ, they will rule with Him in the new heavens and new earth. This being the destiny that awaits all Christians, we should decide matters among ourselves instead of going to the world to air our dirty laundry.

Make a list of practical ways you can put this lesson into practice. For example, treat other Christians with dignity and respect, settle even personal matters among yourselves, not to gossip about any Christian brethren to the world (or to one another), and not to complain about your church to unbelievers who have no understanding.