Reading for Monday, Sept 3: 1 Cor 6
Paul’s comments in this section of the letter indicate even deeper struggles in the Corinthian church. The matter of lawsuits against fellow believers leads Paul to make some interesting theological statements here. (“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? Do you not know that we will judge angels?”, v2-3.) Although these comments appear to be rooted in the deeply held Jewish concepts of creation and humanity’s command to exercise dominion over it — even the new creation someday — Paul’s primary point here is spelled out in v7: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.” This kind of behavior is unbecoming of disciples, people who have given themselves completely to love of God and neighbor. Paul reminds these believers of their primary identity, the formative experience of their shared life together: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” (v11).
Paul sees this issue on par with the aforementioned matters of sexual immorality, for each creates profound rifts in the body of Christ. What is permissible, per the letter of the law? (v12). As a citizen of these earthly kingdoms, we have the right to file suit when we’ve been done wrong. But what if we belong to another Kingdom? As for sexual immorality, some will argue that they’re simply following their natural impulse to its logical conclusion. Surely I’m not to blame for indulging this intrinsic appetite for gratification? (v13). But Paul counters this stream of thought as well: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body,” (v13).
Paul’s argument reaches its zenith in v15: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?…But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” What we do with our bodies matters very greatly. Paul urges the Corinthians to understand themselves as ambassadors for Christ, as living temples for the Lord (v19). His closing statement is a clarion call for us all: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”