1 Corinthians 6:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 6:5, NIV: I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?

1 Corinthians 6:5, ESV: I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,

1 Corinthians 6:5, KJV: I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

1 Corinthians 6:5, NASB: I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you anyone wise who will be able to decide between his brothers and sisters,

1 Corinthians 6:5, NLT: I am saying this to shame you. Isn't there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?

1 Corinthians 6:5, CSB: I say this to your shame! Can it be that there is not one wise person among you who is able to arbitrate between fellow believers?

What does 1 Corinthians 6:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is outraged that the church in Corinth has allowed minor disputes between members to be taken before a secular, un-spiritual Roman court (1 Corinthians 2:14–15). He is very clear: the Corinthians should be ashamed about this. The following verses will indicate that going to an outside court is already a spiritual defeat.

The question asked here is pointed, and cutting: is there nobody in the church wise enough to settle a "trivial" dispute between brothers (1 Corinthians 6:2)? It's not that fellow believers can never be in conflict. We are human and limited, so we will disagree from time to time. Paul's expectation for those in Christ is to resolve those conflicts as people who are in Christ. Others within the church ought to help them do that.

Proper resolution of minor disputes requires two things, however, that the Corinthians had not been practicing. It requires humility on the part of those involved in the conflict. They must be willing to voluntarily submit to a decision made by others in the church. It also requires a willingness of fellow believers to take responsibility by helping resolve conflicts, and holding each other to the standards of Christ.

Paul may have been referring to a very specific case here. Or, this might have been a pattern for the church in Corinth. Either way, he made clear his concern is over a minor dispute between Christians (1 Corinthians 6:2). This teaching does not imply that Christians should never submit to the authority of secular governments or laws. Scripture teaches the opposite of that in Romans 13:1. Christians live under the law of the land.

In addition, most interpreters do not read this passage to imply that Christians should never sue each other for any reason. This is especially true in serious, non-"trivial" cases, where one is living in open rebellion to Christ or the issue at hand is catastrophic.

The point, in brief, is that those in Christ should take mutual responsibility for settling conflict. We ought to demonstrate the humility needed to settle civil—not criminal—disputes between one another, rather than submitting to the judgment of those who are in no place to make such decisions (1 Corinthians 2:14–15).