1 Corinthians 6


The Corinthians are reproved for their litigious disposition;

brother going to law with brother, and that before the

heathen, 1-6.

They should suffer wrong rather than do any, 7, 8.

No unrighteous person can enter into the glory of God, 9, 10.

Some of the Corinthians had been grievous sinners, but God had

saved them, 11.

Many things may be lawful which are not at all times expedient,


Meats are for the belly, and the belly for meats; but the body

is not for uncleanness, 13.

Christ's resurrection a pledge of ours, 14.

The bodies of Christians are members of Christ, and must not be

defiled, 15-17.

He that commits fornication sins against his own body, 18.

Strong dissuasives from it, 19, 20.


Verse 1. Dare any of you, &c.] From the many things that are

here reprehended by the apostle, we learn that the Christian

Church at Corinth was in a state of great imperfection,

notwithstanding there were very many eminent characters among

them. Divided as they were among themselves, there was no one

person who possessed any public authority to settle differences

between man and man; therefore, as one party would not submit to

the decisions of another, they were obliged to carry their

contentions before heathen magistrates; and probably these very

subjects of litigations arose out of their ecclesiastical

divisions. The thing, and this issue of it, the apostle strongly


Before the unjust, and not before the saints?] The heathen

judges were termed δικασται from their presumed righteousness in

the administration of justice; here the apostle, by a paronomasia,

calls them αδικοι, unrighteous persons; and it is very likely that

at Corinth, where such corruption of manners reigned, there was a

great perversion of public justice; and it is not to be supposed

that matters relative to the Christians were fairly decided. The

Christians the apostle terms αγιοι saints, which they were all by

profession; and doubtless many were so in spirit and in truth.

Verse 2. The saints shall judge the world?] Nothing can be

more evident than that the writers of the New Testament often use

οκοσμος, the world, to signify the Jewish people; and sometimes

the Roman empire, and the Jewish state; and in the former sense it

is often used by our Lord. When, says he, the Son of man shall

sit on the throne of his glory, then shall ye sit on twelve

thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Mt 19:28. It is

supposed that he refers to the same subject as that mentioned

here-the saints judging the world; and that St. Paul has his words

in view in what he says here to the Corinthians. By judging the

twelve tribes of Israel, some have imagined that having authority

in the Church is merely intended; but Dr. Lightfoot contends that

the words referred to the coming of our Lord to execute judgment

on the Jews, and to destroy their state; and that the doctrine of

the apostles, not themselves, was to judge and condemn that most

disobedient people. The place before us is generally understood

to imply, that the redeemed of the Lord shall be, on the great

day, assessors with him in judgment; and shall give their award in

the determinations of his justice. On reviewing this subject, I

am fully of opinion that this cannot be the meaning of the words,

and that no such assessorship as is contended for ever will take

place; and that the interpretation is clogged with a multitude of


1. The saints themselves are to appear before the judgment seat

of Christ, and shall be judged by him, after which they shall

reign with him; but it is never said in Scripture that they shall

judge with him.

2. It would be absurd to suppose that thrones should be erected

for the purpose of saints sitting on them to give their

approbation in the condemnation of the wicked; of what use can

such an approbation be? is it necessary to the validity of

Christ's decision? and will not even the damned themselves,

without this, acknowledge the justice of their doom? I therefore

think with Dr. Lightfoot, that these words of the apostle refer to

the prediction of Daniel, Da 7:18, 27, and such like prophecies,

where the kingdoms of the earth are promised to the saints of the

Most High; that is, that a time shall come when Christianity shall

so far prevail that the civil government of the world shall be

administered by Christians, which, at that time, was administered

by heathens. And this is even now true of all those parts of the

earth which may be considered of the greatest political

consequence. They profess Christianity, and the kings and other

governors are Christians in this general sense of the term.

Verse 3. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?] Dr.

Lightfoot observes that "the apostle does not say here, as he said

before, the saints shall judge the angels, but WE shall judge

them. By angels, all confess that demons are intended; but

certainly all saints, according to the latitude with which that

word is understood, i.e. all who profess Christianity, shall not

judge angels. Nor is this judging of angels to be understood of

the last day; but the apostle speaks of the ministers of the

Gospel, himself and others, who, by the preaching of the Gospel,

through the power of Christ, should spoil the devils of their

oracles and their idols, should deprive them of their worship,

should drive them out of their seats, and strip them of their

dominion. Thus would God subdue the whole world under the

Christian power, so that Christian magistrates should judge men,

and Christian ministers judge devils."

Verse 4. Things pertaining to this life] They could examine

all civil cases among themselves, which they were permitted to

determine without any hinderance from the heathen governments

under which they lived.

Who are least esteemed in the Church.] τουςεξουθενημενους,

Those who were in the lowest order of judges; for the apostle may

refer here to the order in the Jewish benches, as Dr. Lightfoot

conjectures, of which there were five, viz:-

1. The great Sanhedrin, consisting of seventy-two elders, which

presided in Jerusalem.

2. The little Sanhedrin of twenty-five, in large cities, out of


3. The Bench of Three in every synagogue.

4. The Authorized, or Authentic Bench.

5. The Bench not authorized, εξουθενημενος. This latter bench

was so called because it received not its authority immediately

from the Sanhedrin, but was chosen by the parties between whom the

controversy depended. The apostle certainly does not mean persons

of no repute, but such as these arbitrators, who were chosen for

the purpose of settling private differences, and preventing them

from going before the regular magistrates. The following verse

makes it pretty evident that the apostle refers to this lower kind

of tribunal; and hence he says,-

Verse 5. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?]

Have you none among yourselves that can be arbitrators of the

differences which arise, that you go to the heathen tribunals?

Verse 6. Brother goeth to law with brother] One Christian

sues another at law! This is almost as great a scandal as can

exist in a Christian society. Those in a religious community who

will not submit to a proper arbitration, made by persons among

themselves, should be expelled from the Church of God.

Verse 7. There is utterly a fault among you] There is a most

manifest defect among you, 1. Of peaceableness; 2. Of brotherly

love; 3. Of mutual confidence; and 4. Of reverence for God,

and concern for the honour of his cause.

Why do ye not rather take wrong?] Better suffer an injury than

take a method of redressing yourselves which must injure your own

peace, and greatly dishonour the cause of God.

Verse 8. Nay, ye do wrong] Far from suffering, ye are the

aggressors; and defraud your pious, long-suffering brethren, who

submit to this wrong rather than take those methods of redressing

their grievances which the spirit of Christianity forbids.

Probably the apostle refers to him who had taken his father's


Verse 9. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom] The

unrighteous, αδικοι, those who act contrary to right, cannot

inherit, for the inheritance is by right. He who is not a child

of God has no right to the family inheritance, for that

inheritance is for the children. If children, then heirs; heirs

of God, and joint heirs with Christ, Ro 8:17. There are here

ten classes of transgressors which the apostle excludes from the

kingdom of God; and any man who is guilty of any one of the evils

mentioned above is thereby excluded from this kingdom, whether it

imply the Church of Christ here below, or the state of glory


Several of the evils here enumerated will not bear to be

particularly explained; they are, however, sufficiently plain of

themselves, and show us what abominations were commonly practised

among the Corinthians.

Verse 11. And such were some of you] It was not with the

prospect of collecting saints that the apostles went about

preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. None but sinners were to be

found over the face of the earth; they preached that sinners might

be converted unto God, made saints, and constituted into a Church;

and this was the effect as well as the object of their preaching.

But ye are washed] Several suppose that the order in which the

operations of the grace of God take place in the soul is here

inverted; but I am of a very different mind. Every thing will

appear here in its order, when we understand the terms used by the


Ye are washed, απελουσασθε; ye have been baptized into the

Christian faith, and ye have promised in this baptism to put off

all filthiness of the flesh and spirit: and the washing of your

bodies is emblematical of the purification of your souls.

Ye are sanctified] ηγιασθητε; from α, privative, and

γη, the earth; ye are separated from earthly things to be

connected with spiritual. Ye are separated from time to be

connected with eternity. Ye are separated from idols to be

joined to the living God. Separation from common, earthly, or

sinful uses, to be wholly employed in the service of the true God,

is the ideal meaning of this word, both in the Old and New

Testaments. It was in consequence of their being separated from

the world that they became a Church of God. Ye were formerly

workers of iniquity, and associated with workers of iniquity; but

now ye are separated from them, and united together to work out

your salvation with fear and trembling before God.

Ye are justified] εδικαιωθητε. Ye have been brought into a

state of favour with God; your sins having been blotted out

through Christ Jesus, the Spirit of God witnessing the same to

your conscience, and carrying on by his energy the great work of

regeneration in your hearts. The process here is plain and

simple:- 1. Paul and his brother apostles preached the Gospel at

Corinth, and besought the people to turn from darkness to

light-from idol vanities to the living God, and to believe in the

Lord Jesus for the remission of sins. 2. The people who heard

were convinced of the Divine truths delivered by the apostle, and

flocked to baptism. 3. They were baptized in the name of the Lord

Jesus, and thus took upon them the public profession of the

Gospel. 4. Being now baptized into the Christian faith, they were

separated from idols and idolaters, and became incorporated with

the Church of God. 5. As penitents, they were led to the Lord

Jesus for justification, which they received through faith in his

blood. 6. Being justified freely-having their sins forgiven

through the redemption that is in Jesus, they received the Spirit

of God to attest this glorious work of grace to their consciences;

and thus became possessed of that principle of righteousness, that

true leaven which was to leaven the whole lump, producing that

universal holiness without which none can see the Lord.

Verse 12. All things are lawful unto me] It is likely that

some of the Corinthians had pleaded that the offence of the man

who had his father's wife, as well as the eating the things

offered to idols, was not contrary to the law, as it then stood.

To this the apostle answers: Though such a thing be lawful, yet

the case of fornication, mentioned 1Co 5:1, is not expedient, ου

συμφερει-it is not agreeable to propriety, decency, order, and

purity. It is contrary to the established usages of the best and

most enlightened nations, and should not be tolerated in the

Church of Christ.

They might also be led to argue in favour of their eating

things offered to idols, and attending idol feasts, thus:-that an

idol was nothing in the world; and as food was provided by the

bounty of God, a man might partake of it any where without

defiling his conscience, or committing sin against the Creator.

This excuse also the apostle refers to. All these things are

lawful, taken up merely in the light that none of your laws is

against the first; and that, on the ground that an idol is nothing

in the world, there can be no reason against the last;

But I will not be brought under the power of any.] Allowing

that they are all lawful, or at least that there is no law against

them, yet they are not expedient; there is no necessity for them;

and some of them are abominable, and forbidden by the law of God

and nature, whether forbidden by yours or not; while others, such

as eating meats offered to idols, will almost necessarily lead to

bad moral consequences: and who, that is a Christian, would obey

his appetite so far as to do these things for the sake of

gratification? A man is brought under the power of any thing

which he cannot give up. He is the slave of that thing,

whatsoever it be, which he cannot relinquish; and then, to him, it

is sin.

Verse 13. Meats for the belly] I suppose that κοιλια means

the animal appetite, or propensity to food, &c., and we may

conceive the apostle to reason thus: I acknowledge that God has

provided different kinds of aliments for the appetite of man, and

among others those which are generally offered to idols; and he

has adapted the appetite to these aliments, and the aliments to

the appetite: but God shall destroy both it and them; none of

these is eternal; all these lower appetites and sensations will be

destroyed by death, and have no existence in the resurrection

body; and the earth and its productions shall be burnt up.

Now the body is not for fornication] Though God made an

appetite for food, and provided food for that appetite, yet he has

not made the body for any uncleanness, nor indulgence in

sensuality; but he has made it for Christ; and Christ was provided

to be a sacrifice for this body as well as for the soul, by taking

our nature upon him; so that now, as human beings, we have an

intimate relationship to the Lord; and our bodies are made not

only for his service, but to be his temples.

Verse 14. And God hath both raised up the Lord] He has raised

up the human nature of Christ from the grave, as a pledge of our

resurrection; and will also raise us up by his own power, that we

may dwell with him in glory for ever.

Verse 15. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of

Christ?] Because he has taken your nature upon him, and thus,

as believers in him, ye are the members of Christ.

Shall I then take, &c.] Shall we, who profess to be members of

his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, connect ourselves with

harlots, and thus dishonour and pollute the bodies which are

members of Christ? God forbid! These passages admit of a more

literal interpretation. This, if given at all, I must give in a

strange language.

Membra humana, ad generationem pertinentia, vocantur Membra

Christi, quia mysterium conjunctionis Christi et Ecclesiae per

conjunctionem maris et faeminae indigitatur, Eph 5:32.

In Vet. Test. idem valebat de membro masculino, guippe quod

circumcisione, tanquam signo faederis, honoratum est. Vide

Schoettgen, Hor. Hebr.

Verse 16. He that is joined to a harlot is one body] In Sohar

Genes., fol. 19, we have these remarkable words: Whosoever

connects himself with another man's wife, does in effect renounce

the holy blessed God, and the Church of the Israelites.

Verse 17. Is one spirit.] He who is united to God, by faith

in Christ Jesus, receives his Spirit, and becomes a partaker of

the Divine nature. Who can change such a relationship for

communion with a harlot; or for any kind of sensual gratification?

He who can must be far and deeply fallen!

Verse 18. Flee fornication.] Abominate, detest, and escape

from every kind of uncleanness. Some sins, or solicitations to

sin, may be reasoned with; in the above cases, if you parley you

are undone; reason not, but FLY!

Sinneth against his own body.] Though sin of every species has

a tendency to destroy life, yet none are so mortal as those to

which the apostle refers; they strike immediately at the basis of

the constitution. By the just judgment of God, all these

irregular and sinful connections are married to death. Neither

prostitutes, whoremongers, nor unclean persons of any description,

can live out half their days. It would be easy to show, and prove

also, how the end of these things, even with respect to the body,

is death; but I forbear, and shall finish the subject with the

words of the prophet: The show of their countenance doth witness

against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it

not; wo unto their soul, for they have rewarded evil unto


Verse 19. Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost] What an

astonishing saying is this! As truly as the living God dwelt in

the Mosaic tabernacle, and in the temple of Solomon, so truly does

the Holy Ghost dwell in the souls of genuine Christians; and as

the temple and all its utensils were holy, separated from all

common and profane uses, and dedicated alone to the service of

God, so the bodies of genuine Christians are holy, and all their

members should be employed in the service of God alone.

And ye are not your own?] Ye have no right over yourselves, to

dispose either of your body, or any of its members, as you may

think proper or lawful; you are bound to God, and to him you are


Verse 20. Ye are bought with a price] As the slave who is

purchased by his master for a sum of money is the sole property of

that master, so ye, being bought with the price of the blood of

Christ, are not your own, you are his property. As the slave is

bound to use all his skill and diligence for the emolument of his

master, so you should employ body, soul, and spirit in the service

of your Lord; promoting, by every means in your power, the honour

and glory of your God, whom you must also consider as your Lord

and Master.

There are strange discordances in MSS., versions, and fathers,

on the conclusion of this verse; and the clauses καιεντω

πνευματιυμωνατιναεστιτουθεου, and in your spirit, which is

God's, is wanting in ABC*D*EFG, some others, Coptic, AEthiopic,

Vulgate, and Itala, and in several of the primitive fathers.

Almost every critic of note considers them to be spurious.

Whether retained or expunged the sense is the same. Instead of

price simply, the Vulgate and some of the Latin fathers, read,

pretio magno, with a great price; and instead of glorify, simply,

they read glorificate et portate, glorify and carry God in your

bodies. These readings appear to be glosses intended to explain

the text. Litigious Christians, who will have recourse to law for

every little difference, as well as the impure, may read this

chapter either to their conviction or confusion.

Copyright information for Clarke