This chapter seems to be still answering the issues that Chloe’s household brought up. The believers were taking each other to civil court for a variety of issues. Also, this chapter contains one of my favourite passages.[Read 1 Cor. 6][i]
(Vs. 1-6) Remember in Chapter 5, how Sha’ul did not only address the man in sexual sin, but also addressed the pride in the congregation that had allowed this to happen? Here we see Sha’ul doing the same thing with two other congregational issues. The first of these congregational issues is about settling disputes. By saying “Don’t you know” Sha’ul is expecting them to remember the teaching that he has already given them. It is very possible that he had taught them what Yeshua had said in Matthew 18.[Read Matt. 18: 15-17]
From this teaching of Yeshua we see that when a brother or sister in Messiah sins against us, we are commanded by Yeshua to go and address the issue with this person in private. We are not supposed to simply ignore the wrong, for then it will simply grow into bitterness within us. Nor are we to tell everyone else. We are to go to that person and address the offence against us. If that person humbly hears you, you will have built trust, love, forgiveness and restored the relationship to better than it was before.
If they do not hear you, then take another believer with you as a mediator. The concept of mediation whether it is a friend, or a counsellor is completely Scriptural. However, as Sha’ul and Yeshua both say, this person should be a believer not an unbeliever. Sha’ul has a serious problem with the Congregation of Corinth in that they were going before unbelievers as mediators, when they should have been addressing and resolving these issues in-house. “Don’t you know that we will judge angels?” Sha’ul asks. (This concept of us judging angels is shown in Matt. 19:28, 2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6 and Rev. 2:26, 20:4.[ii] ) So why can’t they find one wise person who can mediate between those who have grievances against each other? I would love to say that once we accept Yeshua, we will never offend another person, and never step on someone else’s toes. But would it be true?
(Vs. 7-8) Sha’ul then follows up in the same why that Yeshua had in Matt. 18. He asks why they cannot simply forgive each other. Yeshua had done the same in that immediately after teaching about resolving issues when someone sins against us (Matt. 18:21-35), He goes into the necessity of forgiving those who repent of sinning against us.
(Vs. 9-10) This next passage is one of my most favourite passages. Here we have a complete summary of the Good News, the Bad News, the hope in Yeshua, and the power of the Ruach HaKodesh. Too many times we attempt to share with people the Good News without telling them the bad news. Might I suggest that the reason that Sha’ul starts out by warning the congregation, “Do not be deceived!” is precisely because they already were! Sha’ul mentions nine (9) different lifestyles who will not acquire access to God’s realm.
- Sexually immoral or fornicators. This is in the masculine and would have referred specifically to the man in Chapter 5 who was in the incestuous relationship.[iii] This comes from the Greek word pornos and includes all sexually impure activity.
- Idolaters. This includes all who would rather worship the creation instead of the Creator. Sha’ul is also foreshadowing Chapters 8-10.
- Adulterers. All sexual activity of married people outside the bonds of marriage is sin.
- Those who practice homosexuality. The Greek text uses two different words here. The first was a pejorative for men who would play a passive role. The second word seems to be a contraction of Lev. 20:13.
- Thieves. As with all of these lifestyles, a thief has a lifestyle of stealing.
- Greedy or covetous. Yeshua said, “Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the material goods he possesses.” (Lk. 12:15)
- Drunkards. This refers to those who abuse alcohol to the point of getting drunk. It is true that Yeshua’s first miracle was turning the water into wine, and Sha’ul later recommends to Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his frequent ailments. (1 Tim. 5:23) However the emphasis should be on the “little”, and Sha’ul also says to the congregation in Ephesus, “Do not get drunk on wine, for that is recklessness. Instead, be filled with the Ruach.” (Eph 5:18)
- Slanderers or verbal abusers. Peter used this word when referring to those who through taunts at Yeshua while he hung on the Cross. (1 Pet. 2:23)[iv]
- Swindlers. This is a mix between greed and thievery, and includes preying upon the weak.
Sha’ul refers to each of these as continuous actions that reflect the lifestyle of the individuals, and if this is where the passage stopped, I don’t think any of us would have hope.
(Vs. 11) However, Sha’ul now states, “That is what some of you were.” This statement alone, contradicts much of our modern culture. Many claim that people are born into these lifestyles, and that due to nurture and nature, peoples predispositions are set. Immovable, Unchangeable. And are therefore they are to be pitied and protected. But that is not what the Scripture states. Although these lifestyles may have defined us in the past, here comes the greatest hope for all mankind!
“But.” I love this word!
“But you were washed, you were made holy, you were set right in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the Ruach of our God.”
This is the very foundation of the Good News. That in the name of Yeshua and by the power of the Ruach, we can be forgiven! Washed! Cleaned! Purified! And Glorified!
As Adonai said through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart. I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Eze. 36:26) This is the future for Israel, and this is the hope for the world.
In Messiah Yeshua we have been justified: legally declared righteous in His sight because of the work of Yeshua on the Cross. When we are in Messiah, or in covenant with Messiah, then the penalty of our sin is passed to Him, and His righteousness is passed to us.
In Messiah Yeshua we are Sanctified: We are being made holy, set apart from the world and dedicated for God’s particular service. This is the ongoing work of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
In Messiah Yeshua, we are washed clean:
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh, precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know;
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.[v]
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[ii] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11 pg. 306.
[iii] ibid pg. 308.
[iv] ibid pg. 309.
[v] Robert Lowry