Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
1 Corinthians 6:2-3
I. The Apostle seems to refer to something in the Christian doctrine which was well known then, but certainly it is very obscure now. We always look forward to being judged, not to judging others, and therefore the appeal of the Apostle has no force for us. If the words stood alone, indeed, we should probably be inclined to think that they only spoke of judging in the sense of condemning by contrast or example, as our Lord said that the men of Nineveh would rise in judgment with that generation and condemn it. But this reference to future judgment does not stand alone; there are several passages having the same reference (Daniel 7:22; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 20:4). That all these references are obscure is plain enough, but it is also plain that they mean something, and that the exercise of judicial authority on the part of the saints shall be real, however difficult for us to comprehend.
II. The saints shall judge the world, and yet they must themselves be judged, and it is plain that one judgment will decide the fate of all. There can be no favouritism with Him before whom we must all stand. These things can only be reconciled by the supposition that the saints will be called to the first (and strictest) account, and that, having been approved and found worthy, they will then become assessors of their Judge in passing judgment on the rest, and sit beside Him, hearing and approving His sentence.
III. When it says that the saints shall judge the world, I think that reason and analogy of Scripture teach us to limit "the world" to the heathen world. I cannot think that judging their fellow-Christians can ever be the lot of any, however perfect. The judgment of angels we must certainly limit to bad angels, for it does not appear how the others which never swerved from their allegiance would be liable to any judgment at all; none can be judged unless there be some accusation against them. Surely the solemn thought that we shall be called upon to assist in passing sentence upon immortal beings may serve, as the Apostle intended it, to show the pettiness, the unworthiness, of much of our daily life and strife! We are quarrelsome over trifles, exasperated over slights, driven to extremities over imaginary wrongs. God forgive us Christians! We had forgotten that we were to judge the world, and angels too, in a little while.
R. Winterbotham, Sermons and Expositions, p. 299.
References: 1 Corinthians 6:7.—G. Calthrop, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 165. 1 Corinthians 6:9.—W. M. Arthur, Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 253. 1 Corinthians 6:11.—E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, p. 177. 1 Corinthians 6:12.—A. Mursell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 264. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. v., p. 147. 1 Corinthians 6:17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 961. 1 Corinthians 6:18.—R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, p. 119. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.—E. Garbett, Experiences of the Inner Life, p. 179. 1 Corinthians 6:19.—J. Pulsford, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv., p. 312; Church of England Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 253.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20Note:—
I. God's consecration of the body. The image of the text is that of a shrine in which a god dwells. The body of a Christian believer holds another tenant than his human spirit; a Divine presence is within him, at once his glory and his power. And that Divine presence confers an unutterable sacredness upon his body. The body is a medium of Divine service. That is one of the suggestions of God's consecration of it. The impulses of the indwelling Spirit ask for its co-operation; they need its ministry if they are to pass from gracious thoughts into Christian acts. We can set no limits to God's consecration of the body of the Christian believer, can form but little conception of the complete and noble service which is possible to us because He has made such a shrine in which to dwell. These things speak of the "temple of the body," and lend an awful, glorious meaning to the admonition which bids us glorify God in our body as well as in our spirit, since the body, equally with the spirit, is His.
II. Our consecration of our bodies. The first essential to our glorifying God in our body is that we regard it with reverence. That is the use Paul is here making of the fact that it, equally with the spirit, is redeemed; that it, equally with the spirit, is a sphere of Divine service. Irreverence for the body, disregard of all its noble capabilities, and the ends to which it may be made to minister, was closely connected with the sin of impurity, which the Apostle is rebuking. We may make another application of our text. It is a Christian duty to do all in our power for the relief of bodily suffering, both in ourselves and others. Next to the work of preaching the gospel and healing the spiritual woes of men, which are the root of all their bodily sufferings—a work which remains in its importance first and unapproachable—comes the work of fighting against and destroying the pains that afflict humanity. A wonderful framework is the human body, writing out the story of sin in sickness; lending itself to all the process of human discipline; aiding the endeavour after spiritual perfection; making the noblest human ministries and a high Divine service possible to us.
A. Mackennal, The Life of Christian Consecration, p. 100.
(See also Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 276.)
References: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 1004; vol. xxvi., No. 1554; Sermons for Boys and Girls, p. 340; Three Hundred Outlines, p. 143; W. Hubbard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 102; Homilist, vol. iii., p. 370. 1 Corinthians 6:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx., No. 1163; W. Lamson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 239; Ibid., vol. xi., p. 31. 1 Corinthians 7:3.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. ix., p. 388.
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?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
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?
But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
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?
Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.
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,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
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.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.