6. An Exhortation against Sexual Sin (1 Corinthians 6)

Audio (34:04)

Pirene Fountain, in ancient Corinth, was said by legend to be the favored watering-hole of the winged horse Pegasus.
Pirene Fountain, in ancient Corinth, was said by legend to be the favored watering-hole of the winged horse Pegasus.

In this chapter Paul continues his strong teaching about sexual immorality. But since in chapter 5 he had been talking about the church meeting and taking action to excommunicate the unrepentant member, he continues with another problem existing in the Corinthian church -- not understanding the authority of the church and its leaders to settle matters between members. So Paul tackles that issue first, and then returns later in the chapter to strong warnings about sexual immorality.

The Church Should Judge Civil Cases between Members (6:1-8)

Paul has said that they aren't to judge those outside the church, but those inside. Now he chides the Corinthians for taking trivial disputes to the civil courts rather than allowing them to judged by church leaders -- bringing shame upon Christians for not being able to handle the affairs of their own community.

As you read this, consider the implications of what this says about the church, its authority, and its future.

"1 If any of you has a dispute154 with another, dare155 he take it156 before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge157 the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent158 to judge159 trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

4 Therefore, if you have disputes160 about such matters, appoint161 as judges even men of little account in the church! 5 I say this to shame162 you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute163 between believers?
6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another -- and this in front of unbelievers! 7 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? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers." (6:1-8)

It's important to realize at the outset that Paul is not saying that Christians shouldn't go to court -- that somehow civil justice is wrong. Certainly God is a God of justice! What Paul is objecting to is one Christian suing another in civil court. Suits between Christians in civil court say to the world that:

  1. Love. Christians, whose prime directive is to love one another, can't get along with each other.
  2. Ethics. Christians cheat and do wrong to their brothers (6:8).
  3. Competence. Christians aren't competent to settle internal disputes.

Thus to allow disputes to go to civil court is a defeat in the eyes of the world for the Christian community. That, the Corinthians, who have been so arrogant about their supposed wisdom, can't seem to understand.

But I am intrigued by what this passage says about the Church -- its nature, its authority, and its future. Let's examine some of the presuppositions that lie behind Paul's arguments in 6:1-8.

1. The local church has both the responsibility and the authority to settle disputes between its members. In the West, our view is that the church should handle religious matters, while the civil courts should handle civil matters. But that isn't what the Bible teaches. Just like the local synagogue leaders had responsibilities to settle matters between Jews in each town, so the church leaders have the responsibility to settle matters between believers in the church.

2. The church has the authority to appoint judges to consider disputes. Disputes are settled by appointed judges, not by the congregation as a whole. Christian communities contain people who are wise enough to decide civil matters -- in fact, we have "the mind of Christ" (2:15-16). Paul suggests in 6:4 with strong irony that even the least-respected member of the Christian community is competent to judge in trivial civil matters between Christians (NIV, KJV), (though some feel verse 4 means that civil authorities are incompetent to judge matters within the church -- NRSV, NIV footnote).

3. God's holy people, the saints, will be involved both in the judgment of the world at the Last Day, as well as of fallen angels. Probably Paul has in mind a passage from Daniel that reads (in the Greek Septuagint translation):

"... Until the Ancient of Days came, and he gave judgment (krima164) to the saints of the Most High; and the time came on, and the saints possessed the kingdom." (Daniel 7:22)

Jesus also alluded to his disciples' role in the final judgment (Matthew 19:28). Probably this is also involved in ruling and reigning with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:4, 6; 2:26-27). Indeed, often the idea of "to judge" is similar "to rule" in the Old Testament.

4. Christians have higher values than mere money and property concerns. Even Jesus instructed believers not to resist people who would take their property (Matthew 5:40). They are heirs of the kingdom of God, and don't have to be petty and greedy as mere pagans. Certainly, God is a God of justice. The Mosaic Law is clear that people should not be defrauded and cheated. Nevertheless, we Christians serve much higher purposes.

How should a local church in our day adjudicate disputes between members? Some denominations have clearly outlined procedures; others don't. If your congregation decides to fulfill this role, it could be done by duly elected church elders, deacons, board members, etc. -- or by a panel of people appointed to this task. Dear friends, this isn't rocket science.165

Our problem is that we in the church have turned over our responsibility to judge between members and given it to the civil courts. It's time to reclaim this responsibility.

New Appreciation for the Local Church

It's interesting that from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians we see again and again an exalted view of what the Church is. In this letter, Paul teaches that the local church is a:

  1. Field (3:5-9).
  2. Building, a temple of the Holy Spirit (3:9-17).
  3. Court to Decide Disputes among Members (6:1-8).
  4. Body of Christ, made up of multi-gifted members who serve as Christ's hands and feet (chapter 12).

Have you devalued the local church in an unbiblical fashion? Perhaps it's time you upgrade your thinking.

Q1. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8) How does it hurt the Christian cause when Christians take each other to court? How should disputes be settled between believers? How might this be instituted in a local congregation? Among churches in a geographical region?

The Wicked Don't Inherit the Kingdom (6:9-11)

Paul now continues his thought by warning the church with all seriousness that the wicked aren't saved.

"9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (6:9-11)

This passage is both glorious -- "you were washed ... sanctified ... justified" -- and controversial. Some, who believe that a person who is truly saved cannot lose his or her salvation by any means, are troubled by the suggestion that habitual sinners won't go to heaven. Let's examine these verses carefully.

Serious Sins (6:9-10)

We looked at a number of sins that tempted the Corinthians in 5:9-10 (Lesson 5) above, but several are mentioned here that weren't mentioned previously. Let's consider them briefly:

"Adulterers." Adultery, of course, would be included under sexual immorality (porneia), but Paul pulls it out for notice here, probably, because it was still too prevalent in the Christian community at Corinth. The Greek word is moichos, "one who is unfaithful to a spouse, adulterer." Since our word is in the plural, the reference can be to both males and females.166

"Male prostitutes" (NIV, NRSV), "effeminate" (KJV) is malakos, "soft," here, "pertaining to being passive in a same-sex relationship, effeminate," especially of catamites, of men and boys who are sodomized by other males in such a relationship."167 Greek culture didn't look down on those who were the "penetrators" in a homosexual relationship, but it did look down on those who were passive, or the one sodomized. That's what's being referred to here. The translation "male prostitute," here in the sense of "effeminate call-boy" is suggested by the use of the word that follows in the list -- arsenokoitēs.168

"Homosexual offenders" (NIV), "sodomites" (NRSV), "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV) is arsenokoitēs, "a male who engages in sexual activity with a person of his own sex, pederast," that is, of one who assumes the dominant role in same-sex activity.169 Thus Paul considers both the active and passive participants in homosexual intercourse as committing sin.

This word refers to male homosexuality, not female. Paul mentions lesbian sex only once in Romans 1:26. Paul refers to male homosexuality also in Romans 1:27 and 1 Timothy 1:10. Homosexuality is condemned in the Old Testament also (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Genesis 19:5; Judges 19). Some Christian homosexuals have sought to convince us that we've misinterpreted the Scriptures, that a "committed relationship" is not condemned in Scripture. Frankly, I don't think they make their case. Homosexuality is clearly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. What seems clear is that both malakos and arsenokoitēs refer to persons who engage in a behavior. The terms do not refer to an attitude or inherent characteristic.170

Having said that, I believe that we Christians must show love and tenderness towards people who don't have a sexual desire for the opposite sex. For most of them, sexual identity is a huge struggle. Let us love them, dear friends. For those whose sexual desires tempt them towards immorality -- both heterosexual and homosexual -- we must encourage restraint and repentance.

Let's be clear, sexual attraction to the same sex is not sinful -- it just is! A person probably can't change that attraction, though counseling can sometimes help a person cope with it more effectively. But the Scripture teaches that homosexual acts are sinful. The answer is not to redefine homosexual acts as not being sinful, as our culture does. That goes against the clear teaching of Scripture. Like other temptations, sexual temptations may be difficult to resist. But with Christ's help we can live free of sexual sin.

Thieves. The word is kleptēs (from which we get our English word "kleptomaniac"), referring to a person who steals something that belongs to another person.171 Of course, a person who steals to support a drug habit is a thief. But so is the person who steals from his employer, by the unauthorized taking of company property or not putting in a full workday, etc.

Q2. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) What does the scripture teach here about participating in homosexual acts? What does the scripture teach about heterosexual immorality? Why is repentance so important for a believer?

Inherit the Kingdom of God (6:9)

What does, "inherit the kingdom of God" mean? It is similar to what we mean when we say (rather imprecisely), "go to heaven." Consider the following New Testament passages that use this concept:

"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (15:50)

"I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne ... everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." (Matthew 19:28-29)

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world' .... Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:34, 46)

"Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?'" (Matthew 19:16). Also, "A certain ruler asked him, 'Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'" (Luke 18:18)

It's hard to escape the conclusion that the phrase "inherit eternal life" means to receive salvation and eternal life -- as opposed to eternal punishment -- at the Last Judgment.

Just to point out that Paul's teaching here is not an isolated instance, we see something very similar in his Letter to the Galatians when comparing the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit:

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)

Paul is saying that if you continue in gross sin, without repenting and attempting to turn away from it, you won't go to heaven. Period. End of story.

Forgiveness and Cleansing for Sin (6:11)

But Lord, I'm tempted by sin and sometimes give in. Then I feel awful and ask for forgiveness and cleansing. Does that mean that since I fall, I won't go to heaven either? That I'm only saved as long as I don't sin? No! Thank God, Jesus died for all our sins -- those committed before we put our trust in him, and those committed after we received him! The Scripture is clear. Let me quote from the Apostle John.

"If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense -- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 1:7-2:2)

Okay, we've established that there is forgiveness for sin. Even if you slip, you can be forgiven if you repent and call on the Lord. Hallelujah!

In the congregation at Corinth -- and I daresay in your own congregation -- there were a lot of people who had been into some pretty gross sin. Paul says something wonderfully freeing:

"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (6:11)

Let's look at each of those words:

"Washed" is apolouō, "wash something away from oneself, wash oneself," used in imagery of purification and Christian baptism.172 It is used as a figure of baptism in Acts 22:16. We see the noun loutron, "bath, washing" at Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5. Paul is saying: You have been baptized, signifying the washing away of your sins.

"Sanctified" is hagiazō, "consecrate, dedicate, sanctify,173" set apart as holy. You no longer belong to yourself, you now have Jesus as your Lord. You belong to him body, soul, and spirit. As Paul says a few sentences later, to sum up his teaching, "You are not your own; you were bought at a price" (6:19b-20a).

"Justified" is a legal term, dikaioō, "to render a favorable verdict, vindicate ... justify, treat as just." There's another connotation as well: "to cause someone to be released from personal or institutional claims that are no longer to be considered pertinent or valid, make free/pure," in the New Testament in the passive voice, "be set free, made pure."174 In other words, whereas we were condemned under God's law, we have been freed from that law and declared just and righteous in God's sight. Hallelujah!

These words are in the Aorist tense in Greek, of an event which took place at some definite point in the past. Paul is saying that you are not who you were. Many of you Corinthians were gross sinners, but now you are new persons in Christ. In other contexts, Paul exhorts people not to continue as they were, but to "put on" their new identity in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:24; Romans 13:12, 14; Colossians 3:10; Galatians 3:27). As Paul writes to the Ephesian church:

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old person, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new person, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Authority and Power (6:11)

Paul concludes his exhortation in our passage with the words:

"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (6:11)

The phrase "in the name of" refers to authority. Onoma, "name," in the New Testament refers to "something real, a piece of the very nature of the personality whom it designates, expressing the person's qualities and powers."175 The Corinthians were baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 19:5). But at the same time the Spirit of God came into them and made them into something new. In his letter to Titus, Paul combines these two concepts:

"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5b)

Jesus suggests the same thing when he talks about being "born of the Spirit" (John 3:1-8). The presence of the Spirit of God is absolutely essential to any Christian life and to the growth of Christian virtues in one's life (Romans 8:9; Galatians 5:22-23).

Q3. (1 Corinthians 6:11) Why is the gospel such good news to those who have been involved in gross sin? On what basis can a person be forgiven? On what basis can a person be cleansed from sin?

Christian Assurance

Our passage can be terrifying to those living in sin -- that is, those who continue to commit adultery, have sex outside of marriage, engage in habitual intoxication, etc. We err if we try to minimize Paul's exhortation. He says flat out to the Corinthians -- if you continue to live like this you won't get to heaven! Don't you dare give assurance of salvation to someone living like this! But you can give assurance of forgiveness and cleansing according to 1 John 1:9. God is seeking repentant hearts. As we yield to the Spirit in our lives, these sins will lose their power over us.

Doesn't the Bible teach "eternal security" -- sometimes characterized as "once saved, always saved"? This isn't the place to discuss that doctrine, since our text doesn't speak directly to the issue of predestination. But perhaps, we need to come back to the Sunday school song:

"If you're saved and you know it....
Then your life will surely show it."

Our passage is a hard teaching, particularly because there isn't any room for fudging. Paul is saying, you used to be gross sinners. But Christ has intervened in your life by the Spirit. You have been changed into saints. Now you need to act like it! Don't kid yourselves. People who don't repent of their sinful lifestyles won't get to heaven.

Countering Corinthian Justifications for Going to Prostitutes (6:12-13a)

As I mentioned in Lesson 5, even married men going to prostitutes was considered legitimate in Corinth -- and it was still a problem with men in the church. It seems that they were arguing that they had a right to do so. That it was part of the Christian freedom that Paul had taught them previously.

Paul has reminded the Corinthian believers of the seriousness of repenting of sin in 6:9-11 -- the fear motivation, if you will. Now he provides the intellectual basis for his position that going to prostitutes is wrong -- the logical argument.

"12 'Everything is permissible for me' -- but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me' -- but I will not be mastered by anything.
13 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food' -- but God will destroy them both. (6:12-13a)

The Corinthians appear to have used a couple of slogans to justify their attitude towards sex with prostitutes:

  1. "Everything is permissible for me." This represents a view common among Cynic and Stoic philosophers of the time. Perhaps they had applied it to Paul's own teaching on Christian freedom with regard to eating foods, then twisted it to excuse sex with prostitutes. Paul corrects this saying of theirs again in 10:22.
  2. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food" -- that is, that the stomach and the rest of the body were not connected to one's spirituality, thus justifying sex with prostitutes, since it was irrelevant to one's religion. This philosophy reflects a Greek dualism that made a sharp distinction between the body from the spirit, between what is done in the body and what is done in the spirit. The phrase, "God will destroy them both," probably is representing the Corinthians' thought, that food and sex just have to do with what is physical, and the physical will ultimately come to an end.176

Paul takes these misapplied and invalid theological slogans and applies the appropriate corrections to them:

  1. Not everything is beneficial to us.177 Just because you have the authority or ability to do something doesn't mean that it will help you. Paul isn't saying that they have the authority to sin. He's just helping them think through the logic of their own value system.
  2. We should not be mastered178 by anything. It's not hard for us to think of things that overwhelm or dominate a person's life. Some are obvious -- drinking to excess, drugs. But even good things can take over our lives -- overeating, sexual compulsions, prescription pain killers. Just because it's legal doesn't make it beneficial to you. Jesus said, "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (John 8:34).

The Essential Unity of Body and Spirit (6:13b-18)

The dualistic Corinthians contended that sexual intercourse was merely bodily, not spiritual, and seem to have concluded that God will ultimately destroy these merely physical things.

"13b The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!" (6:13b-15)

Paul argues:

  1. Our bodies are designed to serve the Lord (6:13). Away with Greek dualism. Our bodies are not destined for just the menial, the physical, all of which is essentially irrelevant, and will pass away. Our purpose here on earth is to serve the Lord. Sexual immorality is contrary to our purpose here on earth.
  2. Our bodies will survive this life through resurrection (6:14). The Corinthians are wrong about the body being destroyed, because many of them denied the resurrection of the body. Paul takes most of chapter 15 (Lesson 14) to present an argument in support of the resurrection of the body.
  3. Our bodies are "members179 of Christ" (6:15a), that is, physical extensions of Christ here on earth, to do his will. Paul develops this argument about us being the "body of Christ" in chapter 12 (Lesson 11), as he discusses spiritual gifts.

Paul's conclusion is clear:

"Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite180 them with a prostitute? Never!" (6:15b)

Q4. (1 Corinthians 6:13b-15) What does it mean that "your bodies are members of Christ himself"? What are the implications of that with regard to sexual sin? What are the implications of that with regard to your ministry?

Now Paul undergirds his assertion that sexual intercourse unites people with a reference to Adam and Eve in Genesis.

"16 Do you not know that he who unites181 himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, 'The two will become one flesh.' [Genesis 2:24] 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit." (6:16-17)

Paul's assumption here, based on the wording of Genesis 2:24, is that joining of genital members in sexual intercourse not only constitutes a physical union, but also a spiritual union -- since one can't separate what one does in the body from one's spirit. Thus sex with prostitutes places a person in a major contradiction -- a man is joining himself in an illicit union while at the same time he is united with Christ.

When we united ourselves with the Lord -- initially through faith and baptism -- we are one with Him, we are "one with him in spirit" (6:17b, NIV), literally, "one spirit" (KJV, NRSV).

The implications are important for us to ponder today. A sexual union with one's own spouse is good and holy -- as Paul discusses at length in chapter 7 (Lesson 7). Sex within marriage may be private, but it is nothing of which we should be ashamed at all. God approves. Indeed, he invented the concept. But sex outside the bounds of marriage compromises our essential unity with Christ, in the same way that sex outside of marriage compromises the essential unity of our marriage. Yes, the effects of adultery can be healed, but only through repentance and forgiveness and a great deal of God's grace. It's the same way with our relationship with the Lord. Yes, it can be healed -- but if we keep sinning without any real repentance we are acting completely contrary to the spirit of "marriage."

 Now for the practical exhortation:

"Flee from sexual immorality." (6:18a)

"Flee" (NIV, KJV), "shun" (NRSV) is a strong verb, pheugō, basically, "to seek safety in flight, flee." Here it is used figuratively, "to keep from doing something by avoiding it because of its potential damage, flee from, avoid, shun."182 We're not to toy with sexual immorality. This isn't a game. Sexual immorality is potentially a "game-ender." It is serious! We have an example in Joseph who fled from Potipher's wife (Genesis 39:12).

Paul concludes this section with words to help his readers reflect the seriousness of sexual sins:

"18b All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually183 sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (6:18b-20)

Paul finishes with three points that can help the Corinthians resist sexual temptations that were an integral part of their culture:

  1. Sexual sin involves your core person (6:18b) in a different way than other sins. You might object to Paul's statement, "All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." Surely sins like gluttony, drunkenness, and suicide are sins against the body -- and Paul is not unaware of this. But Paul wants us to see that sexual sins are somehow unique.184 There are two main ways that we might construe verse 18b: (1) As qualifying a Corinthian slogan: "All sin (you say) is outside the body. But that's not true of sexual immorality -- it directly affects one's body." OR (2) No sin is directed towards one's body in the way that sexual immorality is, because it defiles the Lord and this body that belongs to the Lord.185 Whichever is the best interpretation, Paul's point is that sexual sin is uniquely harmful to your person -- and your relationship to Christ.
  2. The Holy Spirit lives within you (6:19a), thus making your body a holy temple that must not be defiled. Notice that this is different from 3:16-17 which refers to the church as a temple of the Holy Spirit. In both passages, however, Paul underscores the sanctity of that temple.
  3. You belong to God, not yourself (6:19b-20a). You are a slave, purchased, redeemed at great cost by the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19). He refers to the fact that we are Christ's slaves again in 7:23.

Q5. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) What are the implications of the truth that you don't belong to yourself, but to God? What category does it put us in if we resist that truth?

Western culture in our day has its own variety of sexual sins. Adultery is universally seen as wrong -- though it is common. For the most part, going to prostitutes is frowned upon -- even if it is illegal in most places. But premarital sex is expected in our culture. Pornography, seen mainly as a bad habit, has become mainstream and tempts many, many men and some women. Homosexuality has become politically correct, especially in the cities.

1 Corinthians: Discipleship Lessons from a Troubled Church, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available as a book in paperback, PDF, and Kindle formats.

The prohibition against sexual immorality isn't just a Pauline fetish. Jesus himself saw it as defiling the person (Mark 7:21). As we learn to see our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, then what we do with them matters. Indeed, the Holy Spirit desires to refresh our whole life with healthy "fruit of the Spirit" as we yield ourselves to him.

The Bible's prohibition against sexual immorality shouldn't be seen as a way of obstructing our freedom, but making us free to serve Christ fully -- body, soul, and spirit.


Lord, we humans have been mastered by sin and need a Savior. Thank you for redeeming us by your precious blood. Now, O Lord, empower us so that we can live free and please you with the way we live. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Thank you for your deliverance. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

"And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)


154. "Dispute" (NIV), "grievance" (NRSV), "matter" (KJV) is pragma, "deed, thing, matter," here, "a matter of contention, dispute, lawsuit" (BDAG 859, 4).

155. "Dare" is tolmaō, "to show boldness or resolution in the face of danger, opposition, or a problem, dare, bring oneself to (do something)," here, in a negative sense, "bring oneself, presume" (BDAG 1010, aβ).

156. "Take it to (court)" (NIV, NRSV), "go to law" (KJV) is krinō, "select, prefer, judge," here a legal technical term, "to engage in a judicial process, judge, decide, hale before a court, condemn, also hand over for judicial punishment" (BDAG 569, 5aβ).

157. "Judge" in verse 2 uses the same verb krinō, used in verse 1 (BDAG 569, 5bβ).

158. "Not competent" (NIV), "incompetent" (NRSV), "unworthy" (KJV) is anaxios, "unworthy," here in the sense of "are you not good enough or not competent to settle trivial cases?" (BDAG 69).

159. "Judge" in the phrase "judge trivial matters" is kritērion (from which we get our English word "criterion"), basically, "means for judging/trying, a standard," here, perhaps, "are you unfit to form even the most insignificant courts" (i.e., those that have jurisdiction over the petty details of everyday life)? (BDAG 570, 1).

160. Kriterion, as in verse 2. It also could mean here, "case before a court, lawsuit, legal action" (BDAG 570, 2).

161. "Appoint as judges" (NIV, NRSV), "set to judge" (KJV) is kathizō, "set, seat," here, "to put in charge of something, appoint, install, authorize" (BDAG 492, 2).

162. "Shame" is entropē, "the state of being ashamed, shame, humiliation" (BDAG 341, 1).

163. "Judge a dispute" (NIV), "decide" (NRSV), "judge" (KJV) is diakrinō, "differentiate," here, as a legal technical term, "to render a legal decision, judge, decide" (BDAG 231, 4).

164. Krima, "action or function of a judge, judging, judgment" (BDAG 567, 3).

165. Of course, if a Christian refuses to have his case considered by the local church, then it's difficult to stay out of civil court -- unless the other party decides to forego justice rather than go to civil court.

166. Moichos, BDAG 657, 1.

167. Malakos, BDAG 613, 2.

168. Fee, 1 Corinthians, pp. 243-244.

169. Arsenokoitēs, BDAG 135.

170. It's interesting that in December 2013, Phil Robertson, head of the family in the reality TV show "Duck Dynasty" was widely condemned in the press -- and briefly suspended from the show -- for his comments on homosexuality. It turns out that he was condemned for quoting this very passage we're studying.

171. Kleptēs, BDAG 547.

172. Apolouō, BDAG 117.

173. Hagiazō, BDAG 10, 2.

174. Dikaioō, BDAG 249, 1a and 3.

175. Onoma, BDAG 713, 1dγGimmel.

176. The exact sense of these sentences is difficult. I have chosen to take "God will destroy them both" as part of the Corinthians' argument, rather than Paul's correction, since that makes better sense to me in the flow of Paul's argument. Here I am taking the Greek particle de that begins this clause as connective or continuation, "and" (NRSV, ESV) rather than adversative, "but" (NIV, KJV) (De, BDAG 213). So Fee, 1 Corinthians, pp. 253-257.

177. "Beneficial" (NIV, NRSV), "expedient" (KJV) is sympherō, "to be advantageous, help, confer a benefit, be profitable/useful. something is good (for someone), something is useful or helpful (BDAG 960, 2a).

178. "Mastered" (NIV), "dominated" (NRSV), "brought under the power of" (KJV) is exousiazō, "to have the right of control, have the right/power," here in the passive voice (BDAG 353).

179. "Members" is melos, "a part of the human body, member, part, limb" (BDAG 628, 1).

180. The word "unite" (NIV, NRSV) in 6:15 is as the KJV translation, "make them members."

181. "Unite" (NIV, NRSV), "is joined" (KJV) in 6:16 and 17 is kollaō (from which we get our word "collagen," the chief component of connective tissue), "to join closely together, bind closely, unite," here, "join oneself to, join, cling to, associate with" (BDAG 556, 2b).

182. Pheugō, BDAG 1052, 3. Paul uses pheugō elsewhere to strongly warn against sins of the flesh (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22) and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14).

183. "He who sins sexually" (NIV), "fornicator" (NRSV), "he that commiteth fornication" (KJV) is porneuō, used in Greek literature in of a variety of 'unsanctioned sexual intercourse,' "to engage in sexual immorality, engage in illicit sex, to fornicate, to whore." (BDAG 854, 1).

184. "Against" in 6:18b is eis, "into, towards," but perhaps is used here in the sense of "within" (Fee (1 Corinthians, p. 261, fn 54) cites R.H. Gundry, "ΣOMA in Biblical Theology," Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 29 (Cambridge, 1976).

185. Fee, 1 Corinthians, pp. 262-263.

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies, why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text