Friday, 20 June 2014
If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 1 Corinthians 6:4
Paul is continuing on with his same train of thought concerning judgments – who should judge matters in what context? The believers in Corinth had taken civil matters, such as lawsuits, (things pertaining to this life) to the pagan courts to be settled. He has shown them the utter folly of this and now goes on with that line of thought.
He says “If then you have judgments…” In this, he is saying that these things have arisen and will from time to time arise. It is natural for there to be disputes. At the time of Moses, while in the wilderness, there was a constant stream of such matters which were brought to him. This is recorded in Exodus 18. It was at a time when people were living in tents and not even settled into a home with land and a large number of possessions. How much more is it expected that such things would arise among those living a regular life in a community.
And so when such judgments “concerning things pertaining to this life” would arise, there would need to be a judge. It is inevitable and natural. But who would be the judge? Who would be chosen to preside over such petty matters of “this life?” Paul wants them to think the issue through based on what he said in the previous verse, that as believers “we shall judge angels.”
And so he says the following words, which need a careful evaluation – “…do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?” The verb for “appoint” is the Greek word kathizete. It is actually unclear whether Paul wrote it in the imperative mood (meaning a command) or in the indicative mood (meaning interrogatively). And so a couple possibilities arise –
1) If a command, he is telling them: You are to appoint those who are the least esteemed by the church to judge (meaning the least knowledgeable in the church would still be preferable to appointing unbelievers over them for such judgments).
2) If interrogatively, he is asking them if they would actually dare to “appoint those who are least esteemed by the church” (meaning unbelievers).
The debate over which is his intent has continued on since the letter was written and scholars disagree, but in the end the thought is clear either way. It is a rebuke to them for their unsound practices. It could be that Paul was intentionally ambiguous in his wording so that we would look at this from different angles and still come to the same conclusion. The practice of going outside the church for judgments was wrong and even the least informed in the church would be preferable to the most knowledgeable outside of it.
Life application: Disputes within the church and among fellowshipping believers should be mediated by those within the church. It is a concept which seems all but forgotten today, but when thought of from the eternal perspective, it is the one that certainly makes the most sense.
Lord, as I sit here, tired from the load of work and the pressures of life, I still have a wonderful sense of joy about my situation. It’s a feeling which transcends the pains and difficulties that come my way. When times aren’t right, I keep remembering that You have promised an end to the trials and have given us a much better hope of things to come. Yes, the world wears me down, but the thought of being with You some wondrous day fills me with joy. I just can’t wait for it to come. Yes, come Lord Jesus. Amen.