16 July 2015
by Philip Layton


Paul tells the church to settle disputes internally

Click here to read 1 Corinthians 6

Discussion Questions

  • Should disputes between believers be taken to non-Christian judges or is this passage trying to help its readers see a bigger picture (vv 1-6)?

  • How do you interpret verses 9 and 10? Are any of the things mentioned acceptable in the Church today? Is it legitimate to ‘pick-and-mix’ theology based on social acceptability? 

  • Can this teaching (vv 19, 20) be expanded to include the need to ‘honour God with your bodies’ with regard to drugs, exercise, eating and sleeping?

Share your thoughts below, or tweet about it with the #boundlessbible hashtag. Don't forget this week's Children's Challenge!

Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'

Paul turns from talking about disputes and courtrooms but stays with the theme of what is lawful. The Corinthians were struggling with the implications of freedom from Old Testament law. Paul speaks to the limits of liberty here as he will in more detail later.

He flings out three of their own sayings and then counters them. First: ‘Everything is permissible for me’ (v 12). Although theoretically true, Paul reminds them that liberty needs to be qualified with the principle of love concerning both others and ourselves. Liberty that damages someone else doesn’t love. Liberty that enslaves us is a contradiction. 

Next: ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food’ (v 13). This saying reminds us of ‘We eat to live and live to eat’. Although we smile, it sounds hedonistic, especially when we extend the idea to other physical pleasures. Paul counters that a person is not compartmentalized. Christ’s resurrection shows that. What we do with our bodies affects our spirits. We are meant for union with the Lord. 

Finally: ‘All other sins a man commits are outside his body’ (v 18). Paul denies this directly with his comeback that sexual sin is against one’s own body. And if that were not enough, Paul indicates that sexual sin grieves the indwelling Holy Spirit as well as God the Father who bought us with the price of the death of his Son.

Seen in that light, Christian liberty is a serious matter. We are not our own. Our ‘rights’ are less important than our ‘oughts’ to our Saviour. Wrote Daniel Webster Whittle:

Not my own, but saved by Jesus,
Who redeemed me by his blood;
Gladly I accept the message,
I belong to Christ the Lord.

(SASB 881, 2015 edition)

To ponder

How have I experienced God’s forgiveness and deep cleansing? Do I ask for his pre-emptive aid?

Evelyn Merriam

Tags: 1 Corinthians