Study Sheet for I Corinthians 6:1-11 (click here for Study Notes)
If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another-and this in front of unbelievers!
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God. (NIV)
From the beginning of I Corinthians Paul has been chastising the Corinthians for their immaturity and un-Christ-like behavior. He's told them they were wordly and immature (3:1-4), divisive (1:1-17), boasters (3:16-23 & 5:6-7), prideful (4:6, 13), arrogant (4:18-21) and sexually immoral (5:1-5). Now he addresses their litigiousness. He criticizes them for taking their disputes to worldly courts. Even after the moral weakness he has pointed out in them, Paul still asks the Corinthians why they aren't bringing their disputes before the "saints". "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" he asks.
1. When will the saints judge the world, and what will they judge? (see Mt. 19:28, Juke 22:24-30, I Cor. 5:3-12, Rev. 20:4, II Tim. 2:12)
2. What makes them "saints"?
We won't only judge the world. Paul continues by saying, "Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!"
1. What angels will we judge, when will we judge them, and for what will we judge them? (see Gen. 6:1-4, Jude 6, II Peter 2:4 & 9, I Timothy 3:6 Rev. 20:1, 2)
2. How does this passage compare or contrast with the teaching many of us received about the saved judging the character of God?
Verse 4 could be translated two different ways. One is as it reads above, "Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!" The alternate translation is, "about such matters, do you appoint as judges men of little account in the church?" Either Paul is saying that the least believer is capable of judging disputes, or he's ironically asking if believers should take their cases to unqualified non-Christians for judgments. He further chastises them for suing each other at all-and especially in front of non-believers.
1. Why are non-believers not qualified to judge disagreements between Christians?
2. Why is Paul especially upset that they would take their disagreements outside the church? (see II Cor. 14, 15; I Tim. 5:8; I Cor. 1:19; 2:14-16)
Now Paul goes to the heart of the problem. "The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already." He asks why they would not rather be wronged and cheated than sue each other. Not only are they suing each other, he says, but they are actively cheating and wronging their brothers.
1. What does Paul mean when he says they have been defeated already?
2. Why should they rather be wronged and cheated than go to court? (see Matt. 5:38-40, 43-48; 6:14, 15)
3. Why was Paul especially upset that Christ-followers would wrong each other? (see Matt. 5:23, 24; I Th. 4:6; I Cor. 12:21-26; I John 2:9)
Paul reminds the Corinthians that "the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God". Then he warns them not to be deceived; "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." He further reminds them that many of them had had those very problems. But, he says, "you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God."
1. Why does Paul warn the Corinthians against deception in this passage?
2. How might they be deceived? (see Job 13:9; I Cor. 15:33; Gal. 6:7; Jas. 1:16)
3. What does it mean to be washed, sanctified, and justified?
4. Is there any significance in the order in which these three processes are mentioned? (see Acts 22:16; Psalm 51:2; John 3:5, Eph. 5:25; I Cor. 1:2; John 17:17-19; Romans 15:16; Hebrews 10:29; Romans 4:25; 5:1, 9, 16)
5. What is the difference between washing, sanctification, and justification?
6. Is any one of these dependent upon the others? Are they progressive?
Many of us have been wronged by others.
1. Is Paul suggesting in this passage that a Christ-follower should not go to court in the case of injustice?
2. Is there a difference in the way we should handle injustice when we are wronged by an unbeliever than when we are wronged by a believer? (see Matt. 5:40-48; 6:14, 15)
Many of us learned that justification and sanctification were sequential and that sanctification was "the work of a lifetime."
1. How does this passage in I Corinthians challenge that teaching?
2. Are there different definitions of sanctification?
3. Has your understanding of your position in Christ and your achievement of sanctification changed? If so, how has it changed?
4. Paul warns us in this passage against deception. Many of us have persistent sins and compulsions which we rationalize instead of submitting to God. Rationalizing sin is a form of self-deception. What are you rationalizing in your life?
5. What habit or anxiety do you have which causes you stress or overwhelms you?
6. What persistent concern or compulsion do you push to the far corner of your mind so you don't have to think about it?
7. What sin of pride or control do you need to lay before Jesus so you
can embrace your gifts of sanctification and justification before God?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.