1 Corinthians Chapter 6:1-10

So we begin Chapter 6.

1 Τολμᾷ τις ὑμῶν πρᾶγμα ἔχων πρὸς τὸν ἕτερον κρίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τῶν ἀδίκων, καὶ οὐχὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων;

Should one of you should having a legal dispute against another (of you) be judged among the unjust, or among the holy?

IOW, he’s telling his audience to stop and think about what they’re doing. Why are they engaged in legal or business wrangles with other members of the community? How do they suppose that is being helpful? How can they not see the contradiction in this? Love one another.

1 Audet aliquis vestrum habens negotium adversus alterum iudicari apud iniquos et non apud sanctos?

2 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἅγιοι τὸν κόσμον κρινοῦσιν; καὶ εἰ ἐν ὑμῖν κρίνεται ὁ κόσμος, ἀνάξιοί ἐστε κριτηρίων ἐλαχίστων;

Or do you not know that the holy (ones) will judge the world? And, if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy of the smallest judgements?

First, I translated << ἅγιοι >> as ‘holy ones’ rather than the more common ‘saints’ because this is another situation where ‘saint’ has accumulated too much baggage. Like “Holy Spirit”.

Second, I’m not in the least sure that I follow this. I guess judging the world makes them too big for their britches? I’ve looked at all four of my crib translations, and none of them help. So, it appears that we have a consensus translation.

2 An nescitis quoniam sancti de mundo iudicabunt? Et si in vobis iudicabitur mundus, indigni estis minimis iudiciis?

3 οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἀγγέλους κρινοῦμεν, μήτι γε βιωτικά;

Or do you not know that we judge the angels, and no less so the things of life.

OK, we sort of have a theme here, about judging. Are we coming up to the Greek idea that “man is the measure of all things”? For it seems like the assembly is to judge the world, and the angels, and all else that pertains to this world. Because  the members of the assembly are the holy ones, that this does not refer to some other group of saints that is off in the clouds somewhere, which is what ‘saints’ would connote for me at first read. But this is an intriguing line of thinking, and I’m curious to see where it leads. Why do the holy ones of the community judge the world and the angels?

3 Nescitis quoniam angelos iudicabimus, quanto magis saecularia?

4 βιωτικὰ μὲν οὖν κριτήρια ἐὰν ἔχητε, τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τούτους καθίζετε;

For if in this way you may have the things of life judged, do you set them before those despised in the assembly?

“Things of this life” would be regarding  The question is, who are those that are despised, and why? Are they lesser in social stature, which is one way Greeks would consider someone despised, or contemptible. A similar thought in English is the word ‘mean’, as in, ‘you are so mean’. This originally meant low-born, not someone with an antisocial attitude. But why would you ask persons of low social stature to be judges of anything? In most cases, in the ancient world, you would not.

Or are these people contemptible because they lead lives that are less than exemplary, or virtuous? Again, this is a legitimate question that we hope will be answered. 

4 Saecularia igitur iudicia si habueritis, contemptibiles, qui sunt in ecclesia, illos constituite ad iudicandum?

5 πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λέγω. οὕτως οὐκ ἔνι ἐν ὑμῖν οὐδεὶς σοφὸς ὃς δυνήσεται διακρῖναι ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ;

I speak to your shame.  So is not one among you someone wise, who is the one who is able to judge among his brothers?

I had to sort of juggle tense, number, and positive/negative. It doesn’t really change anything; it’s just that the rules in Greek are often very different than the rules in English.

As for content, this continues the verse before. I have to say, this is another of those times when I just have a really hard time following Paul’s line of thinking. Each word makes sense, the words form into legitimate sentences, but the thoughts expressed just don’t seem to work as a whole. But, I guess if no one among them is a suitable judge, that means they’re letting those not worthy be judges. Right?

5 Ad verecundiam vestram dico! Sic non est inter vos sapiens quisquam, qui possit iudicare inter fratrem suum?

6 ἀλλὰ ἀδελφὸς μετὰ ἀδελφοῦ κρίνεται, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ ἀπίστων;

But a brother judges with a brother, and this (is how it is) among those without faith.

Here, ‘judges’, as in ‘brother judging a brother’ has a different sense than what we would say in English. Here, ‘judge’ means to ‘go to court’. So we have a brother suing another brother, just as if they were people without faith. Which, here, I think, would be well-translated as ‘godless’. As in, ‘you act just like godless heathens’. There is nothing explicitly to tie this to the complaint in Chapter 1 about the divisions among the members of the assembly, but this sort of litigiousness against another member of the community certainly is evidence that some serious rifts do exist.

6 Sed frater cum fratre iudicio contendit, et hoc apud infideles?

7 ἤδη μὲν[οὖν] ὅλως ἥττημα ὑμῖν ἐστιν ὅτι κρίματα ἔχετε μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν: διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀδικεῖσθε; διὰ τί οὐχὶ μᾶλλον ἀποστερεῖσθε;

Now on the one hand, y0ur whole problem is that you have lawsuits with each other. Because of this are you being more wronged? Because of this are you not being more defrauded?

OK, this makes a bit more sense. In V-5, when he asks about there being no one to judge, he’s saying that the way to handle disputes between members of the assembly is to have another member, someone wise, settle the dispute. Instead, they actually go to court and go through the whole legal apparatus, and this, naturally, creates ill-will and division among the members of the community.

7 Iam quidem omnino defectio est vobis, quod iudicia habetis inter vosmetipsos! Quare non magis iniuriam accipitis, quare non magis fraudem patimini?

8 ἀλλὰ ὑμεῖς ἀδικεῖτε καὶ ἀποστερεῖτε, καὶ τοῦτο ἀδελφούς.

But you wrong and defraud, and (you do) this to brothers.

8 Sed vos iniuriam facitis et fraudatis, et hoc fratribus!

9 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; μὴ πλανᾶσθε: οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται

Or don’t you know that the iniquitous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not wander/err. Do not (be) debauchers nor idol worshipper nor adulterers, nor softies, nor homosexuals.

Note that the last word does not exactly mean ‘homosexual’, but more like ‘one who commits homosexual acts’. Also note that this word occurs twice in the NT; once here, and another time in Titus. So the concept is something uniquely of interest to Paul. Why? This goes back to my thoughts on Chapter 5, I believe, that sexual morality is one of Paul’s particular themes, and I believe homosexuality in particular was something that he abhorred. And note, what I have translated as ‘softies’ is usually rendered as ‘effeminate’. My rendering is, technically, more accurate, since the word is especially used to describe soft clothing. So, for Paul, even non-masculine behaviour is a sin worth condemning. This is part of the basis of the belief of some Christians that homosexual acts are a sin. 

Now, we need to take note that here Paul explicitly connects sin with not inheriting the kingdom of God. This idea and message, and the form in which they are delivered are replicated from Galatians 5:21. There, we were given a somewhat different list of sins, and told that those committing the sins enumerated would not inherit the kingdom of heaven, either. There, sexual immorality was emphasized beyond the other vices, but Paul did not single out homosexuality there as he does here. 1 Thessalonians 4 also enjoins against fornication; reading these passages backwards, it’s fairly clear, I think, that Paul’s attitude towards sexual immorality is growing more censorious as time passes.

Mark also warned that sinners would not inherit or enter the kingdom of God as well. Notice, though, that it is not specifically stated that this entrance, or inheritance, would only take place in the afterlife. I think this is very important. The implication, I believe, is that the kingdom is near, and that most believers would enter as living persons. Recall the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 in which he assures his listeners that those who are alive will have no advantage over those who have died; the latter, in fact, will enter the kingdom first. Given this, the reward for a holy life will, for the most part, be bestowed to us in this life. I believe, then, that the idea of the afterlife was a response to the passage of more time in which the Parousia still had not happened. Mark is still rather vague about when or how the blessed ones will enter or inherit; it will be interesting to see what Matthew has to say about this. It’s a theme to watch.

9 An nescitis quia iniqui regnum Dei non possidebunt? Nolite errare: neque fornicarii neque idolis servientes neque adulteri neque molles neque masculorum concubitores

10 οὔτε κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐ λοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν.

(continuing from the previous verse) nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

And so the list concludes.

10 neque fures neque avari, non ebriosi, non maledici, non rapaces regnum Dei possidebunt.


About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on January 11, 2014, in 1 Corinthians, epistles, Paul's Letters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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