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1 Corinthians 6:1-11

You can read the text here.

Paul's continues to express his dismay at behavior exhibited in the Corinthian church. Apparently members of the church were suing other members in secular courts. In all likelihood, higher status members were taking advantage of lower status members this way. Succeeding in court in the Roman world required having the right contacts and bribery was not uncommon.[1] Paul clearly wants to shame the Corinthians, though it's hard to know exactly what he is driving at in verse 2 or 3. Thiselton thinks that he may be citing a Corinthian catchphrase about their role in judgment while Ciampa and Rosner take his statements about the role of the church in judging the world and even angels at face value. Another possibility Thiselton suggests is that their status as judges is derivative from their status in Christ. They judge 'in him.' Whichever way, the effect is the same. The Corinthians should have someone in the congregation capable of judging these kinds of disputes. Going to court brings shame to the family.[2]

In fact there shouldn't even be disputes of this nature. Rather than dragging the church through the mud it would be better to be defrauded. Not only are they not willing to be defrauded, some in the community defraud!

Greed is a major problem in the Corinthian church.[3] Status seeking and greed are often linked. It's one of the many forms of wrongdoing that Paul highlights. Greed, schism, and sexual problems seem to be poking their heads up in the church and Paul wants to beat them back down. He notes that those who live that way will not inherit the kingdom, meaning there's no real future in chasing money, sex, and status at the expense of your brother or sister. True status comes via God's verdict alone. His word brings about a change in status and washes them clean so that collectively they can be God's temple, where God's Spirit resides.[5] There is no higher status that they can attain!

[1] Both Thiselton and Ciampa and Rosner have helpful discussions of the background here.

[2] Ciampa and Rosner helpfully point out the impact of the familial language. Taking other family members to court was seen as highly inappropriate in Roman society.

[3] Ciampa and Rosner point out again that greed appears in all three vice lists in chs. 5-6.

[4] Per Thiselton, justification is not fictional, it is a judicial speech act which creates the status.

[5] Again Ciampa and Rosner were helpful bringing up the tie between language of holiness and the temple.


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