1 Corinthians 6: Stay out of the law courts

February 16th, 2007

It is much better for you voluntarily to suffer injustice than for you to go through court proceedings, spend all your money on lawyers, and then suffer a judicially imposed form of injustice at the end of the process. In today’s reading, Paul warns Christians about suing other Christians. If believing in Jesus is supposed to be about forgiveness and self-sacrifice, taking legal proceedings is not a good way of reflecting those values. It really is better if you do everything you possibly can to seek reconciliation rather than conflict.

Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians — Chapter 6

6:1 If you have a complaint against your neighbour, do you presume to seek judgment before an unrighteous tribunal, and not before the saints? 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more things relating to this life? 6:4 If you need arbitration on things relating to this life, do you choose judges who are not considered highly by the church? 6:5 I say this to embarrass you. Is there not even one wise person amongst you who would be able to decide between his fellow believers?

6:6 But one believer sues another believer, and that happens before unbelievers! 6:7 You have already failed if you have lawsuits with each other. Why not rather suffer injustice? Why not rather be defrauded? 6:8 No, you yourselves do wrong, and defraud, even against your fellow-believers. 6:9 Do you not know that unrighteous people will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Sexually immoral people, idol worshippers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 6:10 thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, profiteers — none of them will inherit the Kingdom of God. 6:11 Some of you used to be like that, but you were cleaned. You were made holy. You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.

6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are wise. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be ruled by anything. 6:13 “Foods is for the stomach, and the stomach is for foods,” but God will destroy them both. The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 6:14 God raised up the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power. 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ? Should I take the parts of Christ, and make them parts of a prostitute? Certainly not! 6:16 Do you not know that a man joined to a prostitute is one body? He says, “The two will become one flesh.” 6:17 But a person joined to the Lord is one spirit.

6:18 Run away from sexual immorality! “Every sin that a person does is outside the body,” but those who commit sexual immorality sin against their own bodies. 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, from God? You are not your own, 6:20 because you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

Entry Filed under: Generosity,Perseverance

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jenn  |  February 16th, 2007 at 10:14 am

    What about criminal matters? Is it better to avoid court if you know someone who is potentially dangerous to other people is ‘at large’ to do what they did again?

  • 2. John  |  February 16th, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Good question, Jenn. I think Paul was talking about disputes between Christians who belonged to the same church. There are 3 aspects to what he said: (a) a church member who has a dispute with another church member should make every attempt to resolve the matter within the church; (b) it is embarrassing to the church when two members slug it out with each other in court; and (c) court cases can be very draining and often have unsatisfactory results. I don’t think Paul’s observations were relevant to criminal cases or to disputes in which one or both of the parties are not Christians. A necessary function of government is to protect law and order and prevent crime, so the way I see it is that a citizen is obliged to assist the government in preventing crime. See Romans 13:1-5

  • 3. Beth  |  July 27th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    What about a divorce. A man beats his wife, can she go through the legal system to get full custody of the children and divorce him?

  • 4. John  |  July 29th, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Beth, in my view Paul is simply stating a general proposition, not an absolute commandment from God. Petty squabbles between Christians in court reflect poorly on the church. However, in some cases you don’t have a choice about whether or not you end up in court. In the case which you have mentioned, a parent has a duty to protect the interests of the children, and that may involve going to court to get custody.

  • 5. Beth  |  July 29th, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you so much for your response. We are in such turmoil over this. Ty.

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