1 Corinthians 6
Vincent's Word Studies
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

"The insulted majesty of Christians is denoted by a grand word" (Bengel).

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?
Matters (κριτηρίων)

The word means, 1, The instrument or rule of judging; 2, the tribunal of a judge. It occurs only here, 1 Corinthians 6:4, and James 2:6, where it means judgment-seats. This latter gives a good sense here without having recourse to the meaning suit or case, which lacks warrant. So Rev., in margin, "are ye unworthy of the smallest tribunals?" That is, are ye unworthy of holding or passing judgment in such inferior courts?

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
How much more (μήτιγε)

It is hard to render the word accurately. How much more follows the Vulgate quanto magis. It is rather, not to speak of; or to say nothing at all of.

Things that pertain to this life (βιωτικά)

See on Luke 21:34.

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

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?
To your shame (πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν)

Lit., I speak to you with a view to shame; i.e., to move you to shame, as Rev. See on 1 Corinthians 4:14.

To judge (διακρῖναι)

Rev., better, decide; by arbitration.

But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Goeth to law (κρίνεται)

As in 1 Corinthians 6:1, and Matthew 5:40. Instead of accepting arbitration.

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 (ἤδη μὲν οὖν)

Μὲν οὖν nay, as in 1 Corinthians 6:4, at once looks back to the preceding thought, and continues it, bringing under special consideration the fact that brother goes to law with brother. Ἤδη already or at once is a temporal adverb, but with a logical force and enhancing the nay. The connection of thought is: Is there not one wise man among you who is competent to act as an arbitrator between brethren, so that christian brethren must needs take their differences into the civil courts and before heathen judges? Nay; such a proceeding at once implies the existence of a litigious spirit generally, which is unchristian, and detrimental to you.

Fault among you (ἥττημα ἐν ὑμῖν)

Only here and Romans 11:12. See note. Ἥττημα fault, is from ἥττων less. Lit., diminution, decrease. Hence used in the sense of defeat, Isaiah 31:8 : "Young men shall be discomfited lit., shall be for diminution." Similarly the kindred verb ἡττάομαι, in 2 Corinthians 12:13, made inferior; and in 2 Peter 2:19, 2 Peter 2:20, overcome. See note there. Compare 2 Macc. 10:24. In classical Greek ἧττα means defeat, and is contrasted with νίκη victory by Plato and Thucydides. The meaning here is loss. Ἑν among is omitted by the best texts, so that we should read a loss to you, which Rev. gives in margin, reading in the text a defect in you. The spirit of litigation which runs into wrong and fraud (1 Corinthians 6:8) is a source of damage, resulting in forfeiture of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9), and in loss of spiritual power.

Ye go to law (κρίματα ἔχετε)

Rev., more correctly, ye have lawsuits. Not the same phrase as in 1 Corinthians 6:6. Κρίμα in the New Testament almost universally means judgment or decree, as Romans 5:16. See on 2 Peter 2:3. In classical Greek it has also the meaning of the matter of judgment, the question in litigation. So Aeschylus: "The matter (κρίμα) is not easy to judge. Choose me not as judge" ("Suppliants," 391). Here the meaning is legal proceedings, lawsuits. So in Septuagint, Job 31:13; Exodus 23:6.

Suffer yourselves to be defrauded (ἀποστερεῖσθε)

Rev., more literally, "why not rather be defrauded?" In classical Greek the word means, 1. to rob or despoil. 2. to detach or withdraw one's self from a person or thing. Ἁποστερεῖν ἑαυτόν was a regular phrase for separation from civic life. So Oedipus says: "I, noblest of the sons of Thebes, have cut myself off (ἀπεστέρης ἐμαυτόν. Sophocles, "Oedipus Tyrannus," 1381). 3. To withhold or avert. So Io to Prometheus: "Do not, after proffering me a benefit, withhold it" ("Prometheus," 796). The maidens say: "May King Zeus avert the hateful marriage" (Aeschylus, "Suppliants," 1063). In the New Testament the word occurs five times. In Mark 10:19, defraud not is apparently Mark's rendering of the tenth commandment. According to the inner meaning of the commandment as conceived by Jesus, the coveting of another's goods is, in heart, a depriving him of them. In 1 Corinthians 7:5 it is used of connubial relations. In 1 Timothy 6:5, of those who are deprived or destitute of the truth. Dr. Morison, on Mark 10:19, justly observes that defraud is too narrow a rendering. The word means rather "to deprive of what is one's due, whether by 'hook,' 'crook,' or force, or in any other way."

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,
Kingdom of God

See on Luke 6:20.


The besetting sin of Corinth. Hence the numerous solemn and emphatic allusions to it in this epistle. See 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:15-18; 1 Corinthians 10:8.

Effeminate (μαλακοὶ)

Luxurious and dainty. The word was used in a darker and more horrible sense, to which there may be an allusion here.

Abusers, etc.

See on Romans 1:7.

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.
Washed - sanctified - justified

According to fact the order would be justified, washed (baptism), sanctified; but as Ellicott justly remarks, "in this epistle this order is not set forth with any studied precision, since its main purpose is corrective."

Ye were justified (ἐδικαιώθητε)

Emphasizing the actual moral renewal, which is the true idea of justification. This is shown by the words "by the Spirit," etc., for the Spirit is not concerned in mere forensic justification.

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.
Are lawful (ἕξεστιν)

There is a play between this word and ἐξουσιασθήσομαι be brought under the power, which can hardly be accurately conveyed to the English reader. The nearest approach to it is: "all things are in my power, but I shall not be brought under the power of any."

Will - be brought under the power (ἐξουσιασθήσομαι)

From ἐξουσία power of choice, permissive authority. See on Mark 2:10. This in turn is derived from ἔξεστι it is permitted. See above on are lawful. This kinship of the two words explains the play upon them.

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.
Meats for the belly, etc.

Paul is arguing against fornication. His argument is that there is a law of adaptation running through nature, illustrated by the mutual adaptation of food and the digestive organs; but this law is violated by the prostitution of the body to fornication, for which, in God's order, it was not adapted.

Shall destroy (καταργήσει)

Rev., better, shall bring to nought. See on Romans 3:3. The mutual physical adaptation is only temporary, as the body and its nourishment are alike perishable.

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
Will raise up us

The body being destined to share with the body of Christ in resurrection, and to be raised up incorruptible, is the subject of a higher adaptation, with which fornication is incompatible.

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.
Members of Christ

The body is not only for the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:13), adapted for Him: it is also united with Him. See Ephesians 4:16.

Members of a harlot

The union of man and woman, whether lawful or unlawful, confers a double personality. Fornication effects this result in an immoral way.

What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
He that is joined (ὁ κολλώμενος)

See on Luke 15:15. Compare Aeschylus: "The family has been glued (κεκόλληται) to misfortune" ("Agamemnon," 1543). The verb is used Genesis 2:24, Sept., of the relation of husband and wife: shall cleave. In Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 11:22; Jeremiah 13:11, of man's cleaving to God.

To a harlot (τῇ πόρνῃ)

Lit., the harlot. The article is significant: his harlot, or that one with whom he is sinning at the time.

Shall be one flesh (ἔσονται εἰς σάρκα μίαν)

Lit., shall be unto one flesh: i.e., from being two, shall pass into one. Hence Rev., rightly, shall become. Compare Ephesians 2:15.

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.

See Genesis 39:12. Socrates, in Plato's "Republic," relates how the poet Sophocles, in answer to the question "How does love suit with age?" replied: "Most gladly have I escaped that, and I feel as if I had escaped from a mad and furious master" (329).

Sin (ἁμάρτημα)

See on Romans 3:25.

Without the body (ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματος)

Lit., outside. The body is not the instrument, but the subject. But in fornication the body is the instrument of the sin, and "inwardly as well as outwardly is made over to another."

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?
Temple (ναὸς)

Better, as Rev., in margin, sanctuary. It is not only a temple, but the very shrine. See on 1 Corinthians 3:16.


See on John 7:39. Omit and in your spirit, which are God's.

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

Bible Hub
1 Corinthians 5
Top of Page
Top of Page