[Originally posted on 8 April 2017 by irrianne]
This reading from 1 Corinthians 6 gives us an insight into the legal processes of Paul’s day. It appears it was common practice to bring legal proceedings against one another for many matters, large or small.
The judicial system in Paul’s day was somewhat different to what we’re used to now. I read the local judge sat in what was known as the “bema” seat of the civil magistrate, located in the heart of the marketplace. Because Greek culture found a good legal battle entertaining, anyone’s lawsuit soon became public knowledge. Judge Judy style perhaps?
Paul is not writing about criminal lawsuits, verse 5 Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong?
Paul berates the Corinthians for taking small matters before the judges for a ruling. Surely Christians can resolve problems between each other without “airing their dirty linen in public,” as my mother used to say. Accusations can be so divisive can’t they? There are always those who will take sides without hearing both sides of the story. The Corinthian judges were not necessarily Christians and Paul suggests it would be better to suffer wrong than to air a dispute with another believer and have a non-Christian rule on the case.
It seems that Corinthians were just like our own society, full of their own “rights.” By clinging to these rights so firmly meant they had already lost. It would be better to let themselves be cheated or accept wrong rather than bring God’s name into disrepute by public dispute. No one who accepts wrong for the sake of God’s glory will be a loser.
It is possible for Christians to settle disputes among themselves according to God’s principles. This can be done either through the church, or through Christian arbitration. Still today, I think, there is no reason for Christians to sue one another. Criminal cases, however, should be handled by the legal system. There is no place for dishonest dealings by Christians or even among Christians.
Verse 9a Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? encourages us to view all our sins as serious. The only outcome from cheating someone is eternal separation from God. The person who wrongs another by cheating is putting himself in bad company with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, revilers and extortioners and none of these will inherit the kingdom of God either. Not much comfort in that thought, but there is in the following:
Verse 11 And such were some of you. 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.
What a great reminder of the privilege we have to be part of the Creator of the Universe’s family. No matter what our sins are, Jesus has washed us clean and made us acceptable to our Heavenly Father.
Thank you Jesus.