1 Corinthians 6:4
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
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(4) If then ye have judgments. . . .—Better, If, however, you choose to have judgments to be given on matters of this life. The last words show that the questions which are alluded to are purely worldly and not spiritual matters. The Apostle subsequently urges that such disputes ought not to arise at all amongst Christians, and that if they do they ought to be settled by the interposition of some mutual friend. Here he says, with something of sarcasm, “The very meanest of those who are to be exalted above angels, and to be judges of spiritual existences, is of sufficient authority to settle such matters as you are bringing before legal tribunals.”

6:1-8 Christians should not contend with one another, for they are brethren. This, if duly attended to, would prevent many law-suits, and end many quarrels and disputes. In matters of great damage to ourselves or families, we may use lawful means to right ourselves, but Christians should be of a forgiving temper. Refer the matters in dispute, rather than go to law about them. They are trifles, and may easily be settled, if you first conquer your own spirits. Bear and forbear, and the men of least skill among you may end your quarrels. It is a shame that little quarrels should grow to such a head among Christians, that they cannot be determined by the brethren. The peace of a man's own mind, and the calm of his neighbourhood, are worth more than victory. Lawsuits could not take place among brethren, unless there were faults among them.Ye have judgments - Causes; controversies; suits.

Things pertaining to this life - Property, etc.

Set them to judge ... - The verb translated set καθίζετε kathizete may be either in the imperative mood, as in our translation, and then it will imply a command; or it may be regarded as in the indicative, and to be rendered interrogatively, "Do ye set or appoint them to judge who are of little repute for their wisdom and equity?" that is, pagan magistrates. The latter is probably the correct rendering, as according to the former no good reason can be given why Paul should command them to select as judges those who had little repute for wisdom in the church. Had he designed this as a command, he would doubtless have directed them to choose their most aged, wise and experienced men, instead of those "least esteemed." It is manifest, therefore, that this is to he read as a question: "Since you are abundantly qualified yourselves to settle your own differences, do you employ the pagan magistrates, in whom the church can have little confidence for their integrity and justice?" It is designed, therefore, as a severe reproof for what they had been accustomed to do; and an implied injunction that they should do it no more.

Who are least esteemed - (ἐξουθενημένους exouthenēmenous). Who are "contemned," or regarded as of no value or worth; in whose judgment and integrity you can have little or no confidence. According to the interpretation given above of the previous part of the verse this refers to the pagan magistrates - to people in whose virtue, piety and qualifications for just judgment Christians could have little confidence; and whose judgment must be regarded as in fact of very little value, and as very little likely to be correct. That the pagan magistrates were in general very corrupt, there can be no doubt. Many of them were people of abandoned character, of dissipated lives, men who were easily bribed, and people, therefore, in whose judgment Christians could repose little confidence. Paul reproves the Corinthians for going before them with their disputes when they could better settle them themselves. Others, however, who regard this whole passage as an instruction to Christians to appoint those to determine their controversies who were least esteemed, suppose that this refers to the "lowest orders" of judges among the Hebrews; to those who were least esteemed, or who were almost despised; and that Paul directs them to select even them in preference to the pagan magistrates. See Lightfoot. But the objection to this is obvious and insuperable. Paul would not have recommended this class of people to decide their causes, but would have recommended the selection of the most wise and virtuous among them. This is proved by 1 Corinthians 6:5, where, in directing them to settle their matters among themselves, he asks whether there is not a "wise man" among them, clearly proving that he wished their difficulties adjusted, not by the most obscure and the least respected members of the church, but by the most wise and intelligent members.

In the church - By the church. That is, the pagan magistrates evince such a character as not to be worthy of the confidence of the church in settling matters of controversy.

4. judgments—that is, cases for judgment.

least esteemed—literally, "those of no esteem." Any, however low in the Church, rather than the heathen (1Co 1:28). Questions of earthly property are of secondary consequence in the eyes of true Christians, and are therefore delegated to those in a secondary position in the Church.

If then ye have judgment of things pertaining to this life, that is, if you have any cause of suing or impleading one another for things that pertain to this life, be they of what nature they will,

set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church; rather commit the umpirage and determination of such little differences to the meanest members of your church, than go to contend before pagans and infidels: or do not employ your teachers about them, who have higher work to be employed in; but employ those who are of a lower order in the church, and whose business and concerns lie in secular affairs.

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life,.... Not judgements relating to life and death, for these were not in the power of a Jewish sanhedrim now, and much less of a Christian community, but were wholly in the power of the Roman magistrates; but judgments relating to the common affairs of life, or what the Jews call , "pecuniary judgments" (b), in distinction from , "judgments of souls", or capital ones. The Jews say (c),

"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.''

Now this Rabbi lived many years after the times of the apostles, so that as yet the Jews had a power of exercising such judgments; and no doubt the Christian's also, who as yet were very little, if at all, distinguished from the Jews by the Romans: and therefore since such judgments were within the compass of their authority, the apostle advises

to set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church; meaning, not those of the lowest circumstances of life, and of the meanest abilities and capacities; for in the next verse he requires a wise man for such a business; but private persons, laymen, who were not in any office and authority in the church, in distinction from pastors, elders, and rulers, that were in office, power, and high esteem, whom he would not have troubled with cases of this nature; but should rather choose out from among the laity persons of the best judgment and capacity, to be umpires and arbitrators in such worldly matters, which do not so properly come under the notice and cognizance of spiritual guides. The phrase, "to judge", is not in the original text, where it is only "set", or "put in the chair"; but is added in the Vulgate Latin version; and to which agree both the Syriac and Arabic versions; the former reading the words, "they that are despised in the church, set for you in judgment"; and the latter, "make them to sit judges". The Jews, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, besides their great sanhedrim of seventy one persons, and that other of twenty three in their cities of note, and their triumvirate in every synagogue, had also two sorts of benches, who judged of lesser matters; the one was called , "the bench of authorized persons", experienced men, that were approved of, and had their authority from the sanhedrim; and the other was called , "the bench of idiots" (d), or private persons, or , "the bench of those who were not authorized" (e), or had not their authority, from the higher courts; but being judged proper persons, were chosen by the people to arbitrate matters in difference between them; and these are the men the apostle means, at least alludes to, before whom he would have the causes brought.

(b) Misn Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 1.((c) T. Hieros. Sanhedrin. fol. 24. 2.((d) T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 32. 1.((e) Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 17. sect. 13. T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 88. 2. Gloss. in. ib.

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

(4) The conclusion, in which he prescribes a remedy for this wrong: that is, if they end their private affairs between themselves by chosen arbiters out of the Church: for which matter and purpose, the least of you, he says, is sufficient. Therefore he does not condemn judgment seats, but shows what is expedient for the circumstance of the time, and that without any diminishing of the right of the magistrate. For he does not speak of judgments, which are practised between the faithful and the infidels, neither of public judgments, but of controversies which may be ended by private arbiters.

(c) Courts and places of judgments.

(d) Even the most abject among you.

1 Corinthians 6:4. Βιωτικὰ μὲν οὖν κ.τ.λ[905]] takes up βιωτ. at once again with emphasis. Comp Herod. vii. 104: ΤᾺ ἊΝ ἘΚΕῖΝΟς ἈΝΏΓῌ· ἈΝΏΓΕΙ ΔῈ ΤΑὐΤῸ ἈΕΊ.

The sentence may be understood as a question (of astonishment), so de Wette, Tischendorf, Ewald, al[907]; or as a reproachful statement, so Lachmann. The former, if τ. ἐξουθ. be correctly explained, corresponds best with the whole structure of this animated address (see on 1 Corinthians 6:3). ΜῈΝ ΟὖΝ is the simple accordingly, thus.[908] Κριτήρια are here also not lawsuits, but judicia, as in 1 Corinthians 6:2. The meaning therefore is: If ye then have courts of trial as to private matters, i.e. if ye are in such circumstances as to have to hold courts of that kind. Comp Dem. 1153. 4 : ἘΧΌΝΤΩΝ ΤᾺς ΔΊΚΑς, qui lites habent administrandas. Hofmann’s rendering is a most involved one, making βιωτ. κριτ. predicate to τοὺς ἐξουθ. ἐν τ. ἐκκλ., and ἘᾺΝ ἘΧ. a parenthetical clause, to which we are to supply as its object ἐχουθενημένους.[910]

καθίζετε] do ye—instead of taking some from among yourselves for this purpose—set those down, etc.? namely, upon the judgment-seat as judges, which follows from κριτήρια. Comp Plato, Legg. ix. p. 873 E; Dem. 997. 23; Polyb. ix. 33. 12. It is the indicative, and the ἐξουθενήμ. ἐν τ. ἐκκλ. are the heathen. So in substance Valla, Faber, Castalio, Luther, Calovius, Wolf, al[912], including Pott, Flatt, Heydenreich, Schrader, Rückert, Olshausen, de Wette, Ewald, Maier, Neander, Weiss; Osiander is undecided. To this it is objected that ΚΑΘΊΖ. does not suit heathen magistrates, and that ἘΝ Τ. ἘΚΚΛ, indicates the ἘΞΟΥΘ. as members of the church (see especially Kypke, II. p. 201). But neither objection is valid; for the term ΚΑΘΊΖΕΤΕ is purposely selected as significant of the strange audacity shown in making the matter in dispute dependent on the decision of a heathen court, and that in special keeping with the contrast (τοὺς ἐξουθ.), while the text does not give ΤΟῪς ἘΝ Τῇ ἘΚΚΛ. Moreover, by Τ. ἘΞΟΥΘ., Paul does not mean to describe the contempt for the heathen as justifiable (Hofmann’s objection), but simply as existing, as a fact, however, the universal existence of which made the absurdity of the procedure here censured very palpable. Other interpreters make καθίζ. imperative, and the ἐξουθ. members of the church held in small account: take (rather) minimos de piorum plebe as arbiters. So the Vulgate, Peschito, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Vatablus, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Wetstein, Hofmann, al[913] But not to speak of the rather generally supplied from imagination, nor of the fact that to designate those less capable of judging as τ. ἐξουθ. ἐν τ. ἐκκλ. would be far from wise, and likely to lend countenance to the specially Corinthian conceit of knowledge,—if this were the true sense, Paul would have had to lay stress upon the church-membership of the despised persons, and must have written at least τοὺς ἐξουθ. τοὺς ἐν τ. ἐκκλ. For ΟἹ ἘΞΟΥΘ. ἘΝ Τ. ἘΚΚΛ. are those who are despised in the church, which leaves it altogether to the context to decide whether they themselves belong to the church or not. Now, that the latter is the case here is shown by 1 Corinthians 6:1-2, and especially by 1 Corinthians 6:5 : οὐκ ἔνι ἐν ὑμῖν. Arrangements of words like ΤΟῪς ἘΞΟΥΘ. ἘΝ Τῇ ἘΚΚΛ. for ΤΟῪς ἘΝ Τ. ἘΚΚΛ. ἘΞΟΥΘ. are common enough in classical writers also. See Kühner, a[914] Xen. Anab. iv. 2. 18.

τούτους] with an emphasis of disdain. See Dissen, a[915] Dem, de Cor. p. lii. f., 225; Krüger, Anab. i. 6. 9; Ellendt, Lex Soph. II. p. 460.

[905] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[907] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[908] Introducing the more detailed development of the thought to which expression had been given already. See Baeumlein, Partik. p. 181.

[910] How meaningless this would be! Moreover, see below. Comp. also Laurent. neutest. Stud. p. 127.

[912] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[913] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[914] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[915] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 6:4-5 a. 1 Corinthians 6:4 is rendered in three diff[912] ways, as (a) τ. ἐξουθενημένους ἐν τ. ἐκκλησίᾳ is taken to mean the heathen iudges, the ἄδικοι of 1 Corinthians 6:1 whom the Church could not respect (ἐν, in the eyes of; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:11); then τούτους καθίζετε becomes an indignant question—“Do you set up these (as your judges)?” so Mr[913], Hn[914], Tisch., W.H[915], R.V. text. The position of καθίζετε and the strain put upon its meaning speak against this view—the Cor[916] Christians did not appoint the city magistrates; also the unlikelihood of Paul’s using language calculated to excite contempt toward heathen rulers. (b) The prevalent construction (Vg[917], Syr., Bz[918], Cv[919], Bg[920], Ed[921], El[922], Lt[923], A.V., R.V. marg.) understands τ. ἐξουθ. ἐν τ. ἐκκλ. as the despised of the Church itself (καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρ., 1 Corinthians 3:21, 1 Corinthians 4:6 ff. implies such a counterpart); then καθίζετε’ is read as impv[924], and P. says in sarcasm, “If you have lawsuits in secular affairs, set up the lowest amongst you (for judges of these low matters)!” κριτήρια however (see note on 2, and R.V. marg.) signifies not trials, nor matters of trial, but tribunals, and is therefore an unsuitable obj[925] to ἐὰν ἔχητε: βιωτικὰ κριτήρια are the things wanting to the Church, which P. is advising them to set on foot. Moreover, Paul would hardly speak of Christians as “despised” among their fellows, without some touch of blame for their despisers. (c) For these reasons, it is better, as Hf[926] suggests, to put the comma before, instead of after, ἐὰν ἔχητε, attaching τοὺς ἐξουθ. to this vb[927] and reading βιωτ. κριτ. as a nom[928] (or acc[929]) pendens to the sentence (cf. Romans 8:3, Hebrews 8:1; and Bm[930], pp. 379 ff.): we thus translate, “Well then, for secular tribunals—if you have men that are made of no account in the Church, set these on the bench!” That this prideful Church has such persons is undoubted; P. puts the fact hypothetically, as a thing one does not like to assume. μὲν οὖν throws into relief, by way of emphatic resumption, the βιωτικάκριτήρια.—πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λέγω, “Unto your shame (lit[931] for a shame to you) I say (it)”: this relates to the foregoing sentence (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:34); it is a shame the Cor[932] Church should have members looked on with utter contempt (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:21-25); but since it has, it is fitting that they should be its judges in things contemptible! P. writes with anger, whereas he did not, though he might seem to do, in 1 Corinthians 4:14.

[912] difference, different, differently.

[913] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[914] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[915] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

[916] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[917] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[918] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[919] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[920] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[922] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[923] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[924] imperative mood.

[925] grammatical object.

[926] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[927] verb

[928] nominative case.

[929] accusative case.

[930] A. Buttmann’s Grammar of the N.T. Greek (Eng. Trans., 1873).

[931] literal, literally.

[932] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 6:5 b. Laying aside sarcasm, the Ap. asks most gravely: “(Is it) so (that) there is no wise man found amongst you, who will be able to decide between his brothers?” οὕτως intensifies the question (cf. Galatians 3:3)—τοσαύτη σπάνις (Cm[933])—“so utter a lack of men of sense amongst you Cor[934], with all your talent and pretensions?” (1 Corinthians 1:5, 1 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 4:10). ἐνί, prp[935] with ellipsis of ἐστίν (Wr[936], p. 96)—there exists, is found (see parls.).—ἀνὰ μέσον (Hebraistic prpl[937] phrase) τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ—lit[938] “between his brother”—a defective expression, as though due to confusion of τῶν ἀδελφῶν with the more Hebraistic ἀδελφοῦ καὶ ἀδελφοῦ: an example of the laxity of Paul’s conversational Gr[939]; unless, as Sm[940] conjectures, there is a “primitive error,” and τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ should be corrected to τῶν ἀδελφῶν.

[933] John Chrysostom’s Homiliœ († 407).

[934] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[935] preposition.

[936] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[937]rpl. prepositional.

[938] literal, literally.

[939] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

P. Schmiedel, in Handcommentar zum N.T. (1893).

4. judgments] domes, Wiclif. See note on 1 Corinthians 6:2. The meaning (2) seems the only admissible one here, inasmuch as Christians were not likely as yet to possess secular tribunals or to hold secular trials in the technical sense of the word. Secular causes they had, and as we see, they carried them before the heathen courts.

set them to judge] This passage may be taken in three ways. (1) as in our version, imperatively, set them to judge, i.e. the matter is so trivial that any person, even the most contemptible for his understanding in the Church, is quite fit to undertake the settlement of it. Or, (2) indicative, ye are setting, as though it were the heathen who were the most despised in the Church. Or (3) as a question, Is it your custom to set such persons to settle such matters? much less then should you bring them before the heathen, who in points of moral perception are infinitely below the least esteemed members of the Christian Church. Of these (1) is preferable as falling in best with the context: while (2) is open to the objection that it was not the custom of Christ or His Apostles to represent one’s fellow-men, even though they were heathen, as fit objects of contempt.

least esteemed] Literally, thought nothing of.

1 Corinthians 6:4. Τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ) those who are even least esteemed in the church, any persons whatever rather than the heathen. Every one, even the least, is capable of taking on him the decision of even the greatest interests in external affairs [and therefore is able to come to a decision, not indeed according to the ancient laws of the heathens, but on the true principles of equity.—V. g.]—Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:28, 1 Corinthians 11:22, and therefore καθίζετε, set ye, is the imperative. [It was not, however, to be thought of to give way at all in that matter to the jurisdiction of heathen judges.—V. g.]

Verse 4. - If then ye have, etc. The verse implies that civil disputes might naturally occur among them. What he is here reprobating is their objectionable method of settling them. Set them to judge who are least esteemed in the Church. This implies an utter scorn of trivial quarrels about personal rights. Surely the lowliest, the most unregarded members of the Church - those of no account - have wisdom enough to decide in such small matters. Thus when there arose a murmuring between Hebrews and Hellenists about the daily distribution to widows, the apostles, thinking that they had much more important work in hand than the adjustment of such jealousies, left the whole matter in the hands of the seven deacons. Some understand "those held of no account in the Church" to mean heathens; but he is here forbidding them to bring their quarrels before the heathens. Of course, ideally, none ought to be "despised" or "held of no account" in the Church; but St. Paul is here speaking relatively, and with reference to the views of the Corinthians themselves, and not without irony. The perfect participle, "those who have been set at nought," perhaps means persons of proved inferiority of judgment. 1 Corinthians 6:4Judgments (κριτήρια)

Better, tribunals or courts, as 1 Corinthians 6:2. If you have to hold courts for the settlement of private matters.

Set (καθίζετε)

Seat them as judges on the tribunal. It is disputed whether καθίζετε is to be taken as imperative, set (A.V.), or as interrogative, do ye set (Rev.). The A.V. seems, on the whole, preferable. The passage is well paraphrased by Farrar. "Dare they, the destined judges of the world and of angels, go to law about mere earthly trifles, and that before the heathen? Why did they not rather set up the very humblest members of the Church to act as judges in such matters?"

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