What does 1 Corinthians 6:5 mean?
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,
NIV: I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?
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,
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?
NLT: I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?
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?
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).
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 6:41:41 AM
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