1 Corinthians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. How dare one of you with a complaint against another go to court before pagan judges and not before God’s people?
2. Don’t you know that God’s people are going to judge the universe? If you are going to judge the universe, are you incompetent to judge these minor matters?
3. Don’t you know that we will judge angels, not to mention affairs of everyday life?
Believers, because they are united with the Messiah, will share in his exaltation to rulership (4:8, Psalm 8:7(6), 2 Timothy 2:12), which implies that they will judge the universe, including angels; however, curious though we may be, Sha'ul does not focus on the details of how we will judge angels. Y'hudah 6 speaks of a future judgment for evil angels; and Chapters 13-16 of the Book of Enoch, a Jewish writing from the 1st century B.C.E., show that the Judaism of that time recognized the idea that human beings will judge angels.
4. So if you require judgments about matters of everyday life, why do you put them in front of men who have no standing in the Messianic Community?
5. I say, shame on you! Can it be that there isn’t one person among you wise enough to be able to settle a dispute between brothers?
6. Instead, a brother brings a lawsuit against another brother, and that before unbelievers!
7. Actually, if you are bringing lawsuits against each other, it is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
8. Instead, you yourselves wrong and cheat; and you do it to your own brothers!
Verses 1-8 clearly forbid lawsuits between believers in secular courts. Although embarrassment at airing dirty laundry before pagan judges is a reason (v. 6, 10:32), one which Christians share with Jews ("What will the Gentiles think?"), there should be greater embarrassment at the failure of the Messianic community to function as it should (vv. 2-8). Also, those who are not God's people and therefore lack the Holy Spirit are incompetent to apply believers' principles properly. Compare (he Talmud:
"It was taught lhat Rabbi Tarfon [2nd century C.E.] used to say, 'In every place where you find pagan law courts, you must not make use of them, even if their laws are the same as the laws of Israel; because the Tanakh says, "These are the judgments which you shall set before them" (Exodus 21:1) — "before them" and not before pagans.'"(Gittin 88b)
9. Don’t you know that unrighteous people will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t delude yourselves — people who engage in sex before marriage, who worship idols, who engage in sex after marriage with someone other than their spouse, who engage in active or passive homosexuality,
10. who steal, who are greedy, who get drunk, who assail people with contemptuous language, who rob — none of them will share in the Kingdom of God.
11. Some of you used to do these things. But you have cleansed yourselves, you have been set apart for God, you have come to be counted righteous through the power of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and the Spirit of our God.
Unrighteous people will have no share in (literally, "will not inherit") the Kingdom of God, or, "God's rulership," a translation that perhaps fits the context here better, since very great prerogatives of rulership have just been discussed (judging the universe, including angels, vv. 2-3). In 4:20 the Kingdom of God is thought of as present, but in this verse and at 15:50 it is future; actually it is both (see Mt 3:2N).
Sha'ul is not saying that a single infraction will cause a person to lose his salvation; but that people who continue to lead a life of sin, who are habitual thieves, who intentionally go on committing one or more of the four enumerated varieties of sexual immorality, who refuse to give up the other egregious sins named, show by their behavior that they are not part of God's people (compare 1 Yn 3:9). Mere mental assent to doctrines or to the fact of Yeshua's Messiahship is not sufficient for salvation, for "faith without actions is dead" (Ya 2:26).
The idea that a person can profess belief in God or in Yeshua and still highhandedly go on sinning is repugnant to the writers of Scripture. Overly easygoing congregations bring shame on the Messianic Community by softpedaling the need for believers to change their lifestyles. Such congregations produce complacent pseudo-believers. Some take advantage of the notion that God is gradually changing them, thereby justifying continued indulgence in their sins. God, who has made his will clear, has provided through the power of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and the Spirit of our God everything needed to overcome known grievous sins like the ones named in these verses. We are not to presume on God's patience (Ro 2:3-6).
On homosexuality, see Ro 1:24-28N. Many in the modem world do not consider the activities listed to be sins, and perhaps many in the ancient world didn't either. God does.
Some of you used to do these things. But you have cleansed yourselves, etc. (v. 11). Although uncompromisingly opposed to sin (vv. 9-10), Sha'ul is equally open to and loving toward the repentant sinner. Because God forgives, we are to do the same (Mt 6:14-15, 18:21-35).
12. You say, “For me, everything is permitted”? Maybe, but not everything is helpful. “For me, everything is permitted”? Maybe, but as far as I am concerned, I am not going to let anything gain control over me.
"For me, everything is permitted" (the words, "You say." are not in the Greek text but are added to show that this was not a central principle of Sha'ul's teaching but a saying in use among a group of Corinthians who would later have been called gnostic libertines. Sha'ul does not deny the principle, but he cautions against its misuse by pointing out that not everything is helpful and that 1 am not going to let anything gain control over me. He taught the same lesson in another context at Ga 5:1, 13 and returns to the topic at 10:23, where a different criterion is brought to bear, edification of the community as a whole, as opposed to considering only oneself (see also 8:1—13N).
13. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”? Maybe, but God will put an end to both of them. Anyhow, the body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
"Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food" (approximately equivalent to, "If it feels good, do it"), apparently another gnostic saying. This is not said in order to oppose the Jewish dietary laws. Rather, the libertines offer it as a euphemistic argument against sexual self-restraint, in the context of Chapters 5-7. At the same time its literal sense previews the issue taken up at 8:1. eating food sacrificed to idols. According to the Talmud, "A favorite saying of Rav was: 'In the 'olam haba there is neither eating nor drinking... but the righteous... get theirenjoyment in the glory of the Sh 'khinah. as it says, 'They beheld God, and ate and drank' (Isaiah 32:9)." (B'rakhot 17a)
14. God raised up the Lord, and he will raise us up too by his power.
15. Don’t you know that your bodies are parts of the Messiah? So, am I to take parts of the Messiah and make them parts of a prostitute? Heaven forbid!
Heaven forbid! See Ro 3:4N.
16. Don’t you know that a man who joins himself to a prostitute becomes physically one with her? For the Tanakh says, "The two will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24);
17. but the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.
18. Run from sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the fornicator sins against his own body.
19. Or don’t you know that your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you, whom you received from God? The fact is, you don’t belong to yourselves;
20. for you were bought at a price. So use your bodies to glorify God.
Sexual immorality has been the subject of vv. 12-20; but these two verses go beyond that subject to remind us that a surprising number of believers fail to take care of their bodies, so that they become overweight, run-down, drug-dependent, out of shape, or otherwise insufficiently healthy to carry on the Lord's work effectively.
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