What does 1 Corinthians 6:3 mean?
ESV: Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
NIV: Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
NASB: Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?
CSB: Don't you know that we will judge angels--how much more matters of this life?
NLT: Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.
KJV: Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
In the previous verse, Paul mentioned a startling idea. Apparently, this is one he had previously taught to the Corinthians. In the end times, the saints—meaning all who are saved, those in Christ—will judge the world—meaning those who are not saved, not in Christ. Now he adds to that an even more startling fact: We Christians will also judge angels.
The Bible is not entirely clear about what form this judgment by the saints over the world and the angels will take. This does not likely mean deciding the ultimate fate of these beings (Matthew 25:41). More likely, is it about taking positions of authority over them (Revelation 2:25–26). Are the angels Paul mentions here fallen angels, demons, who will face Christ's judgment in the end (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6) or the un-fallen angels who still serve God?
Whatever the case, those who are in Christ will share His authority and participate in His judgment somehow. That is our destiny. The details of that role are beside the point Paul makes here: if this is their ultimate future, shouldn't the Corinthians be able to settle minor disputes among themselves in the present? Why ask divisive, unfair secular courts to judge believers, when believers will one day judge the world and angels (1 Corinthians 2:14–15)?
Paul will continue to urge the Corinthians to live up to who they are in Christ instead of living down to the standards of their pagan culture.
First Corinthians 6:1–11 details Paul's objections to Christians taking another to secular court over a minor issue. Believers will one day judge the world and angels. They should be able to judge small disputes amongst themselves. It would be better for a believer to be defrauded than to ask unbelievers to settle an argument between brothers in Christ. After all, unbelievers will not inherit God's kingdom. They are known by all the sins they do. Christians, though, have been cleansed from those sins and are now known only as belonging to Christ. This passage includes a passionate, powerful reminder that no person's sins are beyond Christ's power to forgive.
First Corinthians 6 continues Paul's confrontations of the Corinthian Christians over issues in the church. Earlier passages discussed problems of division into factions, and tolerance of heinous sexual sin. Paul is also outraged that they would take one another to court in a lawsuit over minor issues. Instead of suing each other before unbelievers, they should settle trivial issues in the church. Second, Paul urges them to live up to their new identities in Christ instead of living down to the sexually immoral standards of the culture. This sets up discussions of marriage in chapter 7.
Paul confronts two major issues happening in the church at Corinth. First, he is outraged that one of them has brought a lawsuit against a brother in Christ over a minor dispute. It is absurd to think that Christians—those who will judge the world and angels—cannot even judge a small matter between themselves. Second, Paul warns his readers to run from sexual immorality. Sex creates a powerful bond intended only for marriage. Since our bodies belong to and are part of Christ, we have no right to bring Him into a one-body union with someone to whom we're not married.
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:11:35 AM
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