Sunday, 22 June 2014
But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 1 Corinthians 6:6
In the previous verse, Paul asked this question: “I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?”
Verse 6:6 is not a continuation of the question, but rather a reply to it. It is a rebuke that there “is not a wise man among you, not even one…” Instead of displaying wisdom (which will someday be used even to judge the angels), he notes that “brother goes to law against brother.” Instead of this, they should be willing to sit down and responsibly work out their differences among each other, not even involving the church for mediation.
Rather than this though, they not only fail to settle their differences, they were skipping right over the church for mediation and going directly to civil trial where judgment was rendered “before unbelievers.” It was an utter failing of their position in Christ and the knowledge, fraternity, and faith that they should have exhibited.
Albert Barnes notes that according to Flavius Josephus, “the Romans (who were now masters of Corinth) permitted the Jews in foreign countries to decide private affairs, where nothing capital was in question, among themselves.” How could it be that if they had this right, that they wouldn’t exercise it? They were considered a sect of Judaism at this time (see the dispute which arises in Acts 18 and the judgment rendered by the proconsul in Acts 18:14 concerning this) and so they had the legal right to mediate many such private affairs.
Remembering that 1 Corinthians is included in the Bible, it is a prescriptive letter from Paul explaining our responsibilities within the church during the church age. We should consider how to act in similar matters based on his words here and abide by them.
Life application: Of what true value is it to gain the upper hand in petty matters which arise between believers that we would violate the words of Scripture in order to bring suit against our brethren in the church? Looking at these things from the eternal perspective, it is better to let go of such offenses than it is to bring discredit upon ourselves as believers and, more importantly, the name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I would pray for wisdom in how to handle offenses which come between me and other believers in You. I know for certain that in comparison to the things I have been forgiven by You, the petty differences which arise are utterly insignificant. And so Lord, help me to view our disagreements from an eternal perspective and not from the displeasure of the moment. Grant me a heart of wisdom in such things so that You will be glorified in my actions. Amen.