1 Corinthians Chapter 6:11-20

Chapter 6 continues; we were discussing the catalog of sins that must be avoided to inherit the kingdom before the (rather artificial) break.

11 καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε: ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.

And these things some of you were; but you were washed, but you were made holy (sanctified), but you were justified in the name of the lord Jesus Christ, and in the spirit of our God.

First, let’s go back to the word << ἐδικαιώθητε >>, which almost always gets translated as ‘justified’. A large part of the reason for this is the Latin translation is <<iustificari>>; change the initial ‘i’ to a ‘j’ and you get ‘justificari’, and hence you see the short step into English. But a word of reminder: the Latin word is based on ‘ius’, which is the word for ‘law’. The Greek is based on << δικη >>, which means something closer to ‘proper order’ in the sense of ‘what is right’. The two concepts overlap, certainly, but the point is that the Greek term completely lacks the whole legalistic concept of ‘ius‘. One can ‘make it right’ without getting into legalities. So I suppose I could/should be translating this as ‘made right’, or ‘set right’ rather than take the lazy way out and use ‘justify’. 

OTOH, the noun form of the word is often translated as ‘righteousness’. For example, in Matthew 3:15, after John demurs from baptizing Jesus, the latter tells John to go ahead and do it, so that all ‘righteousness’ may be fulfilled. What Jesus is saying is that ‘all should be done according to right order’, or something along those lines.  So the Greek term can encompass both ‘justification’ and ‘righteousness’; the two terms are not unrelated, but they do both cover some disparate ground between them. The linking concept is ‘putting right’, which for which both ‘justification’ and ‘righteousness’ may, by themselves, be inadequate.

Second, we get another of those unconscious slips that sometimes betray more than the words that are chosen consciously. Some of the Corinthians were ‘set right’ in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and in the spirit of God. Once more, as was the case back in our discussion of 1 Cor 2:16, we get what is, in terms of the underlying logic of the assertion, a real distinction between Jesus the Christ and God. Now, this could just be a rhetorical flourish on Paul’s part; sort of like saying: the honor due to the president, and the respect due to the leader of the country. Obviously, these words from an American would refer to the same individual (although the same may not be true for a parliamentary democracy that has a PM as well as a President). But I don’t take this as rhetoric. One reason, of course, is that we ran into this same sort of distinction in 2:16.

To this point, we have come across literally nothing in Paul that would indicate that he would express a thought like the opening of the gospel of John: where the Christ was pre-existing with the Father. So this is just one more bit of evidence that the conflation of the person of the Christ and the person of the Father had not even been conceived, let alone that theologians were making any attempt to come to grips with the implications of this duality of the Divine Principal. Any distinction almost necessarily requires the precedence of one over the other, which means that strict Jewish monotheistic belief is being contravened. Given this, is it any wonder that Jews took exception to some of the teachings and beliefs of the followers of Jesus?

11 Et haec quidam fuistis. Sed abluti estis, sed sanctificati estis, sed iustificati estis in nomine Domini Iesu Christi et in Spiritu Dei nostri!

12 Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει. πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐγὼ ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπό τινος.

All things for me are allowed, but not all things are profitable. All things for me are allowed, but I will not be under the authority of these things. 

Comment deferred…

12 “ Omnia mihi licent! ”. Sed non omnia expediunt. “ Omnia mihi licent! ”. Sed ego sub nullius redigar potestate.

13 τὰ βρώματα τῇ κοιλίᾳ, καὶ ἡ κοιλία τοῖς βρώμασιν: ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ ταύτην καὶ ταῦτα καταργήσει. τὸ δὲ σῶμα οὐ τῇ πορνείᾳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ ὁ κύριος τῷ σώματι:

The meats to the belly, and the belly for the meats; but God will destroy this one and those (the belly and meats). But the body is not for debauchery, but belongs to the lord, and the lord belongs to the body.

I mixed up the way I translated the datives in the last half of the verse. The body is not ‘for’ debauchery is a pretty standard use of the dative: the indirect object. But it ‘belongs to’ the lord. This is the dative of possession, which is “c’est a moi” in French. We could say the body is for the lord, but I think this works better. But that is my opinion. Feel free to disagree. Note: I checked, and all four of my crib texts choose to render this as ‘the body is for the lord, and the lord is for the body.’ So I’m the minority.

What these two verses seem to be talking about is Jewish dietary restrictions, which is why I’m commenting on both together. I have to admit that “all things are allowed to me” raised my eyebrows on first reading. However, the thought is completed here, when he specifies that all meats are for the belly; that is, no reason to exclude pig, or whatever else the dietary laws forbid. We talked about this in Galatians: it seems obvious to me that Jesus really said nothing about the dietary restrictions; given that, I believe that, in this case, silence implies consent. Jesus said nothing because it never occurred to him to question, let alone nullify, the dietary restrictions. Had he done so, Paul would not have gotten into the brouhaha with James over this subject. 

Regarding this, when we were talking about Apollos, I wondered whether he was a Greek or a Jew. John Dominic Crossan–who is far, far more knowledgeable about this than I am–says that Apollos was a Jew from the city of Alexandria. JDC does not cite his source, or go into the argument to demonstrate how he knows this. As such, I have to reserve judgement until the proof, or the argument, is forthcoming. Now, being from Alexandria, Apollos was likely highly educated, which means a pagan/classical education in the Greek literary canon and rhetoric. As such, the reasons for Paul’s jealousy would not be affected in any way. In many ways, culturally, as an Alexandrian Jew, Apollos would have been indistinguishable from a Greek. The exception may have been dietary practice. So, if Apollos was a Jew, were he and Paul wrangling over the dietary restrictions? Possibly. And, honestly, the dietary issues could easily have been a problem for a Gentile community as well as a Jewish community as long as there was a preacher of Jewish background advocating adherence to the dietary restrictions. 

13 “ Esca ventri, et venter escis! ”. Deus autem et hunc et has destruet. Corpus autem non fornicationi sed Domino, et Dominus corpori;

14 ὁ δὲ θεὸς καὶ τὸν κύριον ἤγειρεν καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐξεγερεῖ διὰ τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ.

But God also raised the lord, and he will raise us up through his power.

“God raised the lord” in previous usages of this phrase has had the phrase “from the dead” attached. We were just told that God would destroy the belly, which could plausibly be taken to mean ‘the body’ as a whole. Given this, if we are ‘destroyed’, does that mean we’ve died? And if we’ve died, does that mean we’ll be raised, as in, ‘from the dead’. This is all about the equivalency principle: if a=b, and b=c, then a=c. Words, however, are not exact identities the way mathematical or logical expressions can be. Still, I believe that my formulation is at least possible, if not necessary.

But all these logical niceties aside, what does this say about the final goal here? What happens when we are raised? What is the message here? Any Christian from the Fifth Century on would have understood this in terms of our eternal salvation. But can we talk about salvation? If so, just barely. The word ‘salvation’ occurs twice in Philippians, the only epistle of Paul likely written prior to 1 Corinthians to use the term. Nor did it catch on for some time. Mark didn’t use it at all; it shows up a few times in Luke, but not in full force until the later epistles, the deutero-Pauline and those of Peter & the rest. So I think that term might be anachronistic.

Perhaps this is a reference to ‘the life’, a term that cropped up in Mark. The problem is, this term hasn’t shown up in the Pauline corpus yet (in the sense of, in the letters written prior to 1 Corinthians). So then again, maybe Paul is not talking about ‘the life’. We were told in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 that those who died before the return of the Christ would rise up, and precede the living as all rise up into the sky to meet the Lord as he descended from the heavens. Is that what ‘being raised’ means? Sort of an anticipation of the idea of the Rapture, when the blessed would be taken up into heaven? I think we have to consider that possibility. This would explain where the idea of the Ascension originated. That is actually kind of a big deal, because nowhere does Paul talk about what happened 

And then…what? That we are told here that we will be raised is a reference to that idea, I believe. And I further suspect that both here and in 1 Thessalonians that Paul is is more or less equating this idea of being raised, or rising into the air with ‘inheriting the kingdom of God’ that he mentioned a few verses back. The thing to note is how sketchy the idea is; and how unlike what we have come to think of as ‘heaven’. First, I have the distinct impression that Paul is talking about a corporeal–not a disembodied spiritual–resurrection. That is, I would suggest, what is implied in being raised by God: that it’s a resurrection of the body.

This is important because, to this point, there is no idea of a spiritual-only heaven. Mainline Christian belief is that our souls survive and go to reward or punishment, and then, on the last day, Judgement Day, the bodies rise from the tombs and we are all judged on our merits and our souls are reunited with our bodies. We don’t have that part about just the soul surviving here, and I think that is significant, in that it shows how the concept of ‘the afterlife’ hadn’t really taken shape yet. Paul is not, truly, describing an ‘afterlife’, but something more like a continued life, in which our corporeal existence is extended–but for how long isn’t really specified. Maybe it’s eternal, or maybe we’re just reading that back from later developments.

This is also has implications about the divinity of Jesus. We talked about this at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians, how God raised Jesus. Paul is consistent about this.

14 Deus vero et Dominum suscitavit et nos suscitabit per virtutem suam.

15 οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν μέλη Χριστοῦ ἐστιν; ἄρας οὖν τὰ μέλητοῦ Χριστοῦ ποιήσω πόρνης μέλη; μὴ γένοιτο.

Do you not know that your bodies are rather for the Christ?  In this way, taking up one intended for Christ,  will I rather make you  for a harlot?Let it not be so!

I’ve mentioned the possibly Gnostic, or quasi-Gnostic implications in a few of the things that Paul has said. This would include both secret knowledge, but especially the flesh=bad, spirit=good dichotomy that was so prevalent among a lot of dualistic believers. Here, OTOH, these two verses show us that show us pretty clearly that Paul did not take that last step into a full-blown dualism. The spirit was, in the best traditions of Greek philosophy, the ‘higher’, or the more ‘pure’, but here he shows the value he still put on the human body. Some dualists–supposedly–believed that, since the body was inherently corrupt, and since the real person was the spirit, there was no harm in indulging in physical pleasures. Paul is adamantly not in that camp. The body is not meant for debauchery, and one reason for this may be that the body will be physically assumed into the kingdom when the lord returns.

15 Nescitis quoniam corpora vesta membra Christi sunt? Tollens ergo membra Christi faciam membra meretricis? Absit!*

16 [ἢ] οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ὁ κολλώμενος τῇ πόρνῃ ἓν σῶμά ἐστιν; Ἔσονται γάρ, φησίν, οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν.

[ Or ] do you not know that the one joining with the harlot is one body with her? “For they will be”, it is said, “the two will be one flesh”.

The two being one flesh is a cite of Genesis 2:24.  And perhaps this is why Paul does not disparage the physical world, the human body: because it’s still a creation of God. This is what prevented the later Christian Church from embracing a full-blown dualism; God made the material world, so it had to have value. And it’s also a neat piece of logic; the principle of a=b, and b=c, so a=c.

16 An nescitis quoniam, qui adhaeret meretrici, unum corpus est? “ Erunt enim, inquit, duo in carne una ”.

17  ὁ δὲ κολλώμενος τῷ κυρίῳ ἓν πνεῦμά ἐστιν.

For the one joining the lord is one in the spirit.

But here we swing back to the superiority of the spirit over the physical. And let’s notice something else: the word I’ve translated as ‘joining’ is the same word used for ‘joining’ with a harlot; IOW, entering into (obviously) sexual union. Now, it strikes me as…well, it just strikes me that Paul would use the same word, with–in some sense, anyway–the same implication for both of these unions. This is not the last time there will be an overlap of the imagery of sexual union and the imagery of divine union. There is a famous statue called “The Ecstasy of St Theresa”. The statue represents a moment when the saint entered into a mystical union with God. But Lord Kenneth Clark referred to the woman in the statue as a ‘swooning beauty’, thereby pointing out how the artist had used sexual imagery as a representation of divine ecstasy.

17 Qui autem adhaeret Domino, unus Spiritus est.

18 φεύγετε τὴν πορνείαν: πᾶν ἁμάρτημα ὃἐ ὰν ποιήσῃ ἄνθρωπος ἐκτὸς τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν, ὁ δὲ πορνεύων εἰς τὸ ἴδιον σῶμα ἁμαρτάνει.

Flee the debauchery; all sin that a human may make is outside the body, the one debauching sins within his own body.

Here’s another instance in which Paul distinguishes between flesh and spirit, to the detriment of the former. The defilement of the body is bad; but what really matters is the way the sin is internalized. To some degree, IMO, this is something of a reaction to Jewish practice of ritual lustration: the requirement to cleanse oneself if one has been in contact with a dead body, or a menstruating woman, or other such persons. And there’s the bit in Josephus where he tells us that John’s baptizing was the end, not the beginning the process. One was baptized after one had repented one’s sins. It was an outward act, not a spiritual act as Christians understand it. To some degree, this distinction that Paul posits is the difference between the shame culture and the guilt culture. In the former, it was the outward act that mattered; in the latter, it’s what’s inside that counts. The Greeks of Homer’s day followed a shame culture; one of the minor characters in The Iliad went into exile from his home city because he killed his father. What’s interesting is that he doesn’t seem to be all that remorseful; rather, he’s annoyed because the action–intentional or not–was what mattered, and he could not live with that shame in his home city.

18 Fugite fornicationem! Omne peccatum, quodcumque fecerit homo, extra corpus est; qui autem fornicatur, in corpus suum peccat.

19 ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν ναὸς τοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν ἁγίου πνεύματός ἐστιν, οὗ ἔχετε ἀπὸ θεοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἑαυτῶν;

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the sacred breath that is in you, do you not have this from God, and are you not his own?

First, the Latin uses “qui = who” rather than “that”. Technically, the Greek doesn’t use either, but I believe this means that it would or should default to “that” as a result. The Latin translation was done several hundred years after Paul wrote the letter, during which time the idea of the Trinity had been developed and had taken root. As such, we get “…the Holy Spirit who…” rather than “…the sacred breath that…” I hope the distinction here is clear, and that it’s clear why I say this, and why this matters, and why it’s not necessary that this  be taken in the sense of “Holy Spirit”. 

And I’m not sure if this is where the idea of the ‘body as temple’ motif, or analogy came from. Paul may have been tapping into an older tradition; however, in Judaism there was one Temple, and I don’t recall having encountered this concept in pagan thought. But, I don’t claim that my knowledge is comprehensive, so I may easily have missed this. More importantly than who coined what phrase are the implications this brings up about attitudes towards the body. Once again, this goes in the opposite direction of the way Gnosticism and the dualists would go: such groups would never suggest that the body was a temple. Rather, they would say that the body was a prison, something putrescent to be scorned. So, again, while Paul has his moments of brushing up against what sound like they could be Gnostic beliefs about ‘secret knowledge’, here he is clearly on the side of what would become orthodox Christian doctrine.

19 An nescitis quoniam corpus vestrum templum est Spiritus Sancti, qui in vobis est, quem habetis a Deo, et non estis vestri?

20 ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς: δοξάσατεδὴ τὸν θεὸν ἐν τῷ σώματι ὑμῶν.

For you were purchased for a price; so glorify God in (with) your body.

20 Empti enim estis pretio! Glorificate ergo Deum in corpore vestro.

Purchased. That is a very significant word. Paul is stating that Jesus, by dying, paid our purchase price to…or is it for?…Jesus purchased us, but from whom? And for what purpose? I am trying to look at this as if I do not know the past 2,000 years of Christian thought; of course, the problem is that I am reasonably familiar with what the Church ended up teaching. But this is the first use of this term in proto-Christian writing, so we have no context for it, nor any preliminary thought. It does not occur in Mark. In fact, this usage, and another in the next chapter are the only times this thought is expressed in the entire NT, with the exception of a couple of uses in Revelation.

So again, purchased from whom, and for what purpose? At this point, there are no answers to these questions. Perhaps the next time we run across this in Chapter 7 we may get some more clues. Let’s wait and see.

Unable as I am to know when to stop, I just want to throw this out for the time being: this idea of us being bought obviously occurred fairly early on in the development of proto-Christian thought. However, it’s something that the QHJ people tend to ignore in their discussions of Jesus’ actual message. I will leave it there for the moment, but this needs to be borne in mind as we go forward, and especially when we try to figure out what it was that Jesus–as opposed to all his followers–said during his ministry.

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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 17, 2014, in 1 Corinthians, epistles, General / Overview, Paul's Letters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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