What does 1 Corinthians 6:7 mean?
ESV: To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
NIV: The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
NASB: Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather suffer the wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
CSB: As it is, to have legal disputes against one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
NLT: Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?
KJV: Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
NKJV: Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
Verse Commentary:
Paul has been clear that Christians must not take each other to secular court over minor disputes. His concern is not over blatant criminal actions or gross felonies (1 Corinthians 6:1–2). Rather, his concern is that believers not subject themselves to the judgments of unspiritual people (1 Corinthians 2:14–15), when believers are destined to judge even the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3)! He is also, likely, concerned over the damage such petty lawsuits can do to the name of Christ (1 Peter 2:12). Unless the concern is overtly criminal or heinous (Romans 13:1), believers should not involve secular judgment.

That leads to an important question: what if the issues fits the "trivial" description, but the other party is not willing to come to a reasonable agreement with the help of wise people in the church? Paul gives a simple answer: lose.

The reason for this relates to what Paul has already said about dragging fellow Christians into a secular court. For believers who are supposed to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the very act of doing battle in a secular court over a minor dispute is already a defeat. Whomever "wins," both lose in any way which really matters. Worse, the reputation of the church and of Christ Himself will be damaged in the surrounding community. Even worse, both parties will have demonstrated how little value they place on Christ's commands to love and serve one another.

So, Paul writes, why not lose one battle instead of both? Why not willingly suffer whatever injustice is at hand? Why not be cheated for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:10) instead of squabbling to get what is rightfully coming to you? This would be a far better outcome for everyone involved, including the "loser."

Paul's teaching here is hard to take. It grinds against our sense of fairness and justice. All the same, it is a direct application of the teaching and example of Christ. He scandalized those following Him by telling them not to retaliate when they were wronged, and to love their enemies (Matthew 5:38–48), then He did exactly that at the crucifixion.

It's not unreasonable to expect better treatment from fellow believers than from our spiritual "enemies." Yet, it is essential that we love each other and trust God to provide justice for us. That is far more valuable and beneficial than going to battle before secular judges to try to get it for ourselves.

We should keep in mind that Paul is writing about a presumably minor dispute, such as a civil case (1 Corinthians 6:2). He's not prohibiting the involvement of government or courts in cases of gross violation, wrongdoing, or crime. Scripture clearly teaches Christians to submit to human authorities (Romans 13:1). We are neither permitted nor allowed to hide sinful criminal activity from the secular world.
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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.
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