1 Corinthians 6:1-11 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Of what does Paul remind the church in verses 2a and 3a (printed below?)

Or do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to judge the most trivial cases? (3) Do you not realize that we will judge angels? This being so, should we not much more be competent to judge cases pertaining to everyday life? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)

In verse 2 the apostle Paul reminds these Corinthian Christians—actually informing them of something they should have known—that “the saints shall judge the world” (note Psalm 149:6-9). Paul finds it incredible that these Christians who will one day join Christ in judging the world are incapable of judging and settling the mundane disputes pertaining to the things of this world. In verse 3 the apostle further reminds the church that we shall “judge angels.” The apostle reminds the church of our participation with Christ in the final judgment in order to encourage us to recognize that in Christ we have the competence to handle these lesser issues that belong to this present life (note James 1:5). He also reminds of this in order that we might have a proper perspective on how insignificant our present disputes are in comparison to the great issues to be decided at the final judgment.

2. How does the apostle Paul describe the disputes that were the focus of the church’s attention? See verse 2b (printed above under question #1)

The Corinthians themselves no doubt viewed their disputes as involving matters of great importance: weighty matters of personal rights, personal possessions, and personal offenses that they may have suffered. But Paul defines the Corinthians’ disputes as being “trivial” (which they certainly are when viewed from the standpoint of the final judgment).

3. Speaking facetiously, how does Paul instruct these Corinthian Christians to handle the disputes that were disrupting the church’s unity (see verse 4 printed below?)

Now then, if you must judge cases pertaining to everyday affairs, appoint as judges those men for whom the church has no respect. (1 Corinthians 6:4)

Resorting to a bit of sarcasm, the apostle suggests that when the members of Christ’s church have a dispute over worldly matters (personal possessions, personal rights, etc.), they should select a man for whom they have no respect, (perhaps a drunken bum who lives in the gutter,) and appoint him to be the judge and arbitrator—such a man would make a fit judge to handle such trivial and worthless disputes! The point being made is this: in the light of eternity and the kingdom of God and the final judgment, the disputes involving the things of this world are so insignificant that they should not become major divisive issues between Christians.

4. What did the fact that these Corinthian Christians were bringing lawsuits against one another indicate (see verse 7a printed below?) How were they treating one another (see verse 8 printed below?)

Actually, the fact that you have lawsuits against one another is already a defect in you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be cheated? (8) On the contrary, you yourselves are doing wrong and cheating, and you are doing these things to your brothers. (1 Corinthians 6:7-8)

Contrary to the Corinthians’ personal evaluation of themselves (note 1 Corinthians 4:8), the apostle Paul points out a glaring spiritual defect: the fact that they have lawsuits and personal disputes with one another (verse 7). If the Corinthians really had attained to full spiritual maturity, they would imitate the mind and attitude of Christ our Savior; like Christ, they should endure wrongs and mistreatment with a spirit of forgiveness and confidence in God (note 1 Peter 2:21-23 and Matthew 5:38-42). Far from imitating the example of Christ, these Christian people were doing the exact opposite. Not only were they unwilling to endure any wrong perpetrated against themselves; they were committing acts of wrongdoing against their brothers!

5. What warning and what assurance does the apostle give the church in verses 9-11 (printed below?)

Do you not realize that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor those who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

We must not be deceived; the fact is that those who continue to engage in sinful conduct shall not inherit the kingdom of God. A Christian profession apart from a Christian lifestyle is not a true profession of faith and it must not be allowed to become a fatal deception (note Luke 6:46 and Matthew 7:21-23). Note that coupled with such “notorious” sins as immorality and perversity, are such sins as thievery, greed, slander, and swindling. Following the sober reminder that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God, comes the reminder that when we, by faith, have entered into Christ, we have left the old sinful life behind (verse 11). When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ we become united to Him and enter into His spiritual life of holiness. By the grace of God, that holiness must become increasingly evident in the life we now live in the body in this present world—our former sins should become an anomaly to our new Christian life, they must not remain the normal pattern for our life (note 1 Peter 4:2).